While I have never considered myself to be an “unhealthy” person, I have certainly struggled with making healthy choices throughout my life. In January 2010, I started what has turned into a commitment to myself to change that. My goal was to lose 60 pounds by May 20, 2010. I did not want to be the “fat” sister at my brother’s wedding. I knew it was an ambitious goal, but that I could do it if I worked really hard. I joined a gym and weight watchers.
I had lost and gained weight in the past. There are very few “fad” diets that I hadn’t tried. Atkins, South Beach, Hollywood, Grapefruit, Cabbage Soup, the list goes on and on. I cleansed, fasted, detoxed, took herbal supplements and sometimes lost weight, though sometimes not. In 2007, I tried weight watchers for the first time. I also joined a gym. I was working in retail at the time and there was a gym in the mall where I worked. It was very convenient and I got used to the points system pretty quickly. Over the course of about 6 months I was able to lose 50 pounds. I was thrilled. I made it to my goal. Then I did what I have come to realize is the fundamental flaw in my weight loss history, I stopped. I had always thought of reaching the goal as “crossing the finish line”.
I knew that if I wanted to make my goal before the wedding, I needed to have a serious plan. I am the administrator for a small law firm and I work very long hours. I also have a 6-year-old god-daughter, who I help to raise. Needless to say, I do not have a lot of free time. I had used that as an excuse for how I put all the weight back on. Just like anything else, if something is important to you, you have to find a way to make time.
I started going to the gym 5-6 days per week, gave up all sweets and was religious about my points. At first I was doing cardio only, but I decided to take the gym up on their offer of a free personal training appointment. I waited a month before scheduling, so I had a little time to build up my stamina and not be quite so embarrassed during the evaluation. I assumed we would be on the “machines” but my trainer informed me that using free weights gives you better results for your effort. I was scared of what I had always referred to as “the boys’ side” of the gym. We started small, but he was right, I did see results fairly quickly. Next I added a yoga/pilates class, which really helped with my balance and flexibility. Seeing my results only made me want to try harder. I ended up losing 65 lbs for the wedding. I couldn’t have been more proud.
After the wedding, I decided to give myself a break. It was summer and I didn’t want to spend my time in the gym. My god-daughter and I did a lot of walking and I tried to spend as much of the summer outside as I could. I took a sailing class and tried to walk rather than using my car, whenever possible. I stopped tracking my points, trying to watch them mentally instead. By the end of the summer, I had slipped a little. In August, I told myself that it was time to get back into the gym. I went one night after work, and before I knew it, it was September and I was saying the same thing. My life got very hectic, both personally and professionally in October. I was frustrated and stressed, and one night I decided to go to the gym to blow off some steam. I felt so much better afterward; I had worked through the stress and also relieved some of the guilt I was feeling about not working out. It was that night that I made my renewed commitment to myself.
When I had started in January, I had told myself that it would be awesome to lose 90 pounds before the end of the year. I had put a few of my 65 pounds back on over the summer, so I would need to lose 30 in order to make this goal. I had 10 weeks until the end of the year, and I decided that I was going to go for the goal. I was back in the gym at least 5 days per week, working with the trainer to set up routines for myself, and decided to take a hula hooping class. As I neared my goal, I was feeling that “finish line” feeling again, except this time I recognized it. I thought about how I could keep myself from repeating the yo-yo cycle and realized that my goals didn’t have to be weight-related, just health-related. Around that time, I read an article in the paper about a race that was going to be run in Milwaukee over the summer. The group had gotten permission to close down a freeway bridge at the lakefront and run a 10k race on it. There is not a pedestrian path on this bridge, so it would be the first time in 30+ years that pedestrians would be allowed to cross the bridge. This became my new goal. I lost the 30 pounds with a week to spare and started working on the new goal. The trainer and I created a plan to have me ready by race day. My race is July 10, 2011 and as of May 20, I am running 3 miles twice a week with a long run on Sundays and stretching/breathing in a hot yoga class on Wednesdays. Last week I was able to run 5 miles without walking a step, right on track for my race. I have lost an additional 10 pounds, which brings my total weight lost to 100 pounds, and I have kept the first 65 off for one year.
I am hoping that by sharing my experiences, I will remind myself to think of my goals as relay races, rather than finish lines. I would like to offer support to anyone who struggles with their goals and I am hoping that people will share their stories with me as well. Sometimes all we need is to know that we aren’t out here alone.
Thank you for letting me share my story. Feel free to ask questions, make comments, or share your story.