I just want to share a wonderful adventure I had this past year.
I got slim.
Oh, I know I'm not skinny. Here I am in my bathroom taking a selfie (never thought I'd do THAT like a goofy teenager) and I'm a size eight, right smack in the middle of my target weight range for my height and optimal BMI).
Being slim is marvelous. I do activities I didn't do before. I enjoy trying on, buying and wearing pretty clothes. I can knit items for myself and have them look good (that's a sweater in the photo).
At my highest weight, I was wearing a 22. Here is my embarrassing "before" picture. I'm front left with my hands together.
I had actually reached the sad place where I thought it was probably impossible to lose my excess weight. I really would have settled for losing enough weight to feel better and have more energy. After all, at age 60, I required medication to keep my blood pressure down. My feet hurt. I was getting too old to lug all that around. When I stood up after sitting at my desk a while, I'm gimp along stiffly the first few steps.
Over the years, life has beaten some amount of self-discipline into me. Although I'd dieted hundreds of times before, in my late 50s, I decided to work hard and make some progress. I faithfully attended meetings for over a year and a half at a somewhat expensive, famous commercial weight loss program, but made little headway. I wasn't all that surprised though, since it wasn't my first rodeo. This time, it was especially discouraging, though, because I'd been very dedicated and serious, tracking all my food and following their plan. After losing some weight painfully slowly, I got stuck. I showed up week after week, and my weight just went up or down a little. Clearly, I needed to move on and do something else.
I read some recommended books - hah, as if I hadn't already read dozens of diet books in my try-to-lose-weight career - one about sugar in the American diet, and another about the activity of carbohydrates in general in producing problem weight gains. Based on the books, I did another six months of very, very low carb dieting. All I accomplished with that was stabilizing my weight so I didn't gain back everything I lost in the meeting-based program. At least that was something!
Then I ran into a friend who had gotten slim, stayed slim, and looked wonderful. I asked her how she did it. She took me to visit an all-volunteer, non-commercial weight loss group, and I lost all my weight.
So what was it like?
- It didn't really cost any money. I'll toss a couple bucks in the basket to help pay for meeting space and some admin costs.
- No scary stuff - no surgery, no diet drugs, and no fasting.
- I ate a LOT of food. My food program is managed by another person. She told me what to have in each meal, using food categories and easy measurements. We eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, but also grain, legumes, meat, fish, and dairy. The meals are large, but we don't snack. If I don't like some item or have an allergy or dietary issue, I don't have to eat that because there are plenty of other things in that category. Once I lost all my weight, my sponsor increased my amounts, so now I eat even more.
- Getting certain foods out of your system is the hardest part. We don't use sugar or flour, and it takes a week or two to feel better after getting those items out of their diets. I had already gone through that with the low carb regimen, though.
- I was held accountable. I check in regularly with my sponsor, the same lady who gave me my food plan. I also attend group meetings and talk to other members on the phone.
- I receive tremendous support and encouragement. I have described this as a self-help group to people who ask me about it (I get asked a lot, because I lost so much weight), but I realize that's untrue, because this is actually a help-each-other group.
- I don't weigh very often. At first, I weighed once a month. I lost ten pounds the first month - lots of members lose much faster, but my sponsor was looking to take my weight down gently and slowly because of my age. Of course, for me to lose ten pounds the first month was stunningly fast! After that, I lost more slowly, but I learned not to worry about it because I finally began to believe that it would come off. I lost 58 pounds in ten months, and now I'm holding at 60 pounds down. I came into this program already down from my highest weight because of those other efforts, so altogether, I'm down about 80 pounds.
- Less worry about food and weight. Since I don't snack, I find more time in the evenings to do other things. I just prepare my planned meals. Since I know I followed the plan, I don't worry all the time anymore about whether I did something wrong and I'm going to start gaining weight again.
- You have to want this - seriously. I am really surprised, as miserable as it is to be fat, how many people just won't bother to do this. I guess they're not ready yet. If you do it, it absolutely works, but you do have to show up, attend meetings, follow the plan, and be honest with yourself and others. Gosh, I thought I'd be the one person for whom it wouldn't work, and it did.