Over it. Over not feeling healthy. Over being overweight. I woke up one morning in early May 2019 and stepped on the scale. It was an icky number and not a surprising one. I put off weighing myself because I knew I wouldn’t like it. I was right. I didn’t like it. I was at least 60 lbs too much. I say at least because it seemed more achievable than, say 70 lbs. Even that wouldn’t get me to what I weighed in my early 20’s. I’d have to lose 80 lbs to meet that goal. To lose 70 or 80 lbs, I don’t know, seemed aggressive with an outcome I might not like in terms of being too frail, and too wrinkly. I set my sights on 60-ish lbs, give or take.
When I started on this health-kick journey I was 59 years old. I was a former runner turned walker. It felt impossible to run being so overweight. The more weight I gained over the years the less effective exercise was for me. The joints in my ankles and bones in my feet hurt. The more I hurt the less I ran until I stopped altogether.
Exercise has always helped my peace of mind. As the ability to run faded over the years I introduced morning walks. Walking in the early morning is delicious. We live close to the beach. The morning sky often fills my soul. It wasn’t a terrible alternative to running. Exercise in almost any form is good for us. It’s good for our heart, digestion, and mindset. For me, it wasn’t a dependable way to control my weight as I aged. It was what I was eating, and how much I was eating, that was the problem.
I was opposed to dieting and still am. Dieting seems like a scam. It seems like something one goes on and one goes off and on and off. One will cheat on the diet, then feel terrible about themselves. When someone meets their goal they think they are done and then go back to their same eating habits. They gain the weight back, maybe even more than when they first started the diet they were just on. Some diets have maintenance plans and that seems to be a struggle to stay on as well. I, therefore, rejected the concept of dieting but did nothing about my weight gain until 22 months ago.
My only experience with a diet plan was when I was a kid. My mother became a Weight Watcher lecturer when I was 5 years old. Sometimes I would go to meetings with her. I would sit at the back table where people checked in. Their names were on an index card with their dates and weights. People would lose a quarter of a pound or half a pound or more. People would gain weight. Before the lecture started people would be invited to share how they were feeling about their weigh-in. I can’t even say why this bugged me when I was so young but it was like I sensed their vulnerability in that moment. Like if they gained weight they seemed to feel awful. When I was a toddler I had a disfiguring eye injury that left me legally blind in one eye. The pupil is permanently enlarged. It was super noticeable to kids. Some kids were mean about it. It often felt like a shaming moment when I was made fun of by other kids. I suppose I sensed this when people at my mom’s meetings admitted their weight gain to the group. I believe it is how I came to reject the concept of a diet.
If I reject diets then how did I lose weight over the past 20 months? I changed my way of eating. I made a lifestyle change that would stick. The first thing I did was dedicate a notebook to the cause. I set my daily caloric goal at 1,200 a day if I didn’t exercise, and maybe 1,400 depending on how much exercise I do. There are plenty of free apps that will do this for you but I needed to write it down so I could understand where the hidden calories were coming from. I needed to see it on paper. I look up calories of foods on my phone. I create dinners that are flavorful while not overdoing the calories. I give myself grace twice a week with pancakes for breakfast though I do so reasonably these days in terms of caloric load. Why pancakes? Because I love them. I’ll crave them and then eat too much of them at some point if I don’t build it into my week.
I used my notebook on a daily basis for about a year. I took notes daily on the calories I consumed, how much I weighed, and what exercise I did that day. I am gluten-free so in that way, I’ve had to be a little more creative in good food choices. Gluten-free foods can be quite high in calories. I’ve essentially cut out bread most of the time for that reason. Again, being a believer in the power of grace, I sometimes indulge in a sandwich. Instead of feeling guilty, or that I cheated, I relish each bite.
Each time I lost a pound I celebrated with my second favorite food: ice cream. Sure, it may seem crazy, like I sabotaged myself. I didn’t though. I was celebrating my success. I found joy in the positive messaging I offered myself. If I couldn’t pat myself on the back then really no one could.
The weight has been slow to come off for several reasons. I chose not to starve myself. I chose to make lifestyle changes in how much I was eating and what I was eating. I am in my early 60’s now. The older we are the slower our metabolism is. I have hypothyroidism, controlled by medication. I am of the opinion that even when hypothyroidism is in control the metabolism still suffers, not like when it is out of control, but almost like it’s never what it was.
Walking became running for me once again after I lost about 20 lbs. I run five days a week and love it. I love running because I lose my mind while doing it. I forget everything else and just run. I lift light weights and do Yoga on the days I run. Yoga helps to stretch these old lady muscles I have. It also grounds me emotionally. I take two days off, not back to back, from exercise each week. I haven’t felt this healthy, this fit, ever. I have lost 55 lbs. Initially, my goal was to lose 60. I may lose that last 5 or I may not. I will continue to do what I have been doing since May of 2019 without making an extra effort. If those few more pounds come off great, if they don’t, great. Now when I weigh in a few times a week I am all in on feeling I have done my best to take care of my physical, spiritual, and mental health. The most important thing is that I feel successful in my endeavor to change my life for the good.