It's taken me 50 years to figure out how to eat right. Slow to learn? No. I was simply misguided, as we all have been at different times in our lives. I've been heavy most of my adult life, especially since childbearing. You would think that raising two very active children would help keep the pounds off but it did not. I think I ended up eating anything they wouldn't finish in addition to my own meal. Not that this was the only source of my problem.I was not only eating the wrong foods but did it with bad timing. I would sometimes only have coffee for breakfast as I would prepare my children's lunches for the day. Lunch was a sandwich or bagel with cheese or whatever leftovers lurked in the fridge. Dinner was another story. Dinner included not only the beautiful meal I would prepare with a protein, veggie, and of course, a starch but it would go on and on until bedtime. I would follow the beautiful meal with a beautiful dessert, like a cake I had baked from scratch (I love to bake) and then perhaps something salty like pretzels or chips. After the salty had to come sweet again so I'd chase the chips with a nice chunk of chocolate (milk chocolate, that is).This pattern continued for twenty odd years until one day as my 5oth birthday approached I had a sudden realization. I was turning into my mother.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Barbara's Weight Loss Success Story

As I got out of my car I looked up and saw my mother through the window of the store in front of me. I raised my waiving arm and shouted out, “Mom”, in an effort to catch her attention. I gasped for breath as I realized it was my own reflection in the glass storefront. It was shocking and scared me to death. “Oh god”, I was turning into my mother.
My 50th birthday was coming and I looked like I was going on 60. For months I’d been watching Oprah and Dr. Phil and all these reality TV shows about weight loss successes. It seemed to me that there were people, everywhere, taking control of their fat situations but I, somehow, couldn’t find the power within me. I thought that if they’d pick me for one of these weight loss challenges, I’d be able to do it with all the help they give you. But no one ever called in response to the letters I wrote. So I just stayed fat.
I have been on many diets in my life and I’ve always failed ending up bigger than I was when I started. There was a point where I had given up and tried to believe that it was healthier just to stay fat rather than yo-yo with my weight. My doctor had put me on a pill to control my blood pressure and threatened me with another to reduce my cholesterol if I didn’t start exercising. I knew I had to do something fast, but first, there were several facts I had to accept in order to begin to change.

I was fat, really fat, and I knew it, especially every time I saw a picture of myself. I looked just horrible and had been denying the impact it had on my self-esteem. Being fat has stopped me from doing so much in my life. I’ve never been able to proudly walk from my lounge chair to the pool. I’ve never stood in a bathing suit on the beach having a nonchalant conversation. I’ve never worn shorts, and haven’t shown my knees to civilization since 1983, when my second child was born. There was even a bar mitzvah I didn’t attend because I didn’t want friends, who hadn’t seen me in some time, to say to themselves “Wow, I can’t believe how big she got!” I was never going to have a private chef, I couldn’t afford a personal trainer more than twice, and I couldn’t stay on appetite suppressors for the rest of my life, and I don’t want to die from any preventable ailment. Okay, so now I’ve accepted that I was the only person who could take responsibility for my fat, but where was I going to find the power to do it right, once and for always? It took me almost 50 years to get to this unhealthy place and I was afraid to try and fail again.
Down the street a new ladies fitness place called Curves, had opened. I stopped by to see what it was all about. I really liked the concept of not having to decide which machines to use or not, just jump in for 30 minutes. I could deal with that. I told my neighbor about it and together we made the decision to join and go there together 3 times a week. I thought it would be easier if I had a pal to go with. We went just about every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and in the first 6 months I actually gained weight. I was so disappointed. You know how they say if you work out you can eat more? Well, I tried but it doesn’t work. I had gained 8 pounds and was up to a whopping 240. Nonetheless I felt pretty good about the fact that I had stuck with anything for 6 months and even though I was still fat the exercise had to be helping reduce my blood pressure. So I pressed on.
Things really started to change when I read through a few books like Curves -The Power to Amaze Yourself and The South Beach Diet It all seemed so logical…increase fiber, stop eating white carbs, use only the right fats, increase my activity level, and eat more often. This sounded perfect to me! I read how I didn’t have to give up eating, all I had to do was substitute the parts of my diet that were causing me to gain weight with better choices. How hard could that be?
Using the lists of allowed foods I went shopping and prepared my refrigerator and pantry with as many good choices as I could. That way when I got an urge I could reach for a handful of nuts instead of toasting another bagel. I could have a cheese stick or yogurt in place of the quick bowls of cereal I used to grab. Little by little I made the transition, along with the pledge to myself, that this time was going to be different and I wasn’t going to stop, not just when I reach my goal, but not stop ever. I had to change my lifestyle or I was afraid I was going to die. There was no more putting it off. The time had come for me to, stop making excuses, and take charge of myself. No one can control me other than myself.
I love cooking and it was challenging to find new ways to prepare vegetables. It was a daily task to prepare alternatives to that pile of mashed potatoes or mountain of rice, but I did it. Day after day, I planned, shopped, cooked, ate, and went to Curves.
At this point I’ll fast forward so I can tell you what I’ve done.
In one year I have lost 65 pounds and 40 something inches. I went from a size 22 to a size 14. My doctor has taken me off the medication and told me that I no longer have high blood pressure.
My blood profile is completely within normal limits, and the ratio between my good and bad cholesterol is right where it should be.
I look fantastic and I’m reminded of it everyday when I hear the compliments from my friends and the ladies at Curves who admire and find inspiration in my success. It makes me feel so good when they tell me and I can see it in the mirror. I no longer look like my mother. Now I look like a younger and better me.
There are so many factors that came together at just the right time for me. I’m so grateful for the help & encouragement I got from the counsellors at Curves and from my friend and neighbor who kept her promise to go with me. I would like to share with you the very best part of this whole life changing event. More important than the fact that I look and feel better than I have in 20 years, more important than the fact that I feel alive again and that I’m healthy, is the fact that I’ve set an example for my children and my mother, and so many women I’ve met who found strength in me and my success. My 23 year old son has lost 53 pounds and now has found a passion in body building. My 82 year old mother has lost 34 pounds and feels great. I have a long list of email addresses, from women at Curves, from women I’ve met in airports, and department stores, and all over, that I now routinely send inspiring words and information to, at their request.
I found my strength, I’ve saved my own life, and I get even stronger whenever I can share it with someone who needs a little help to get started and to keep going. It’s forever. I’ve changed the way I live my life, in the best way ever, forever.

We can all benefit from each other's successes, and failures and draw on each other's strengths. I hope you will stop by 'comments' below and take the time to share your story with all of us. C'mon "LET'S LOSE IT TOGETHER!".