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It's a long road, but so worth it


Seventeen months, 3 pair of shoes, lots of sweat, a handful of tears, and even some blood have brought me to the place I have wanted to be: 100 pounds lighter.  And it feels awesome to hit that triple digit number.

Before I tell you how I got here, or even why, let me tell you where I've been and how I got to the point that I needed to lose 100 pounds....

As a kid, I was very active and wasn't overweight.  TV was not watched a lot, since we only had 3 channels (yes, I'm that old), so rather than being a couch potato I was always outside playing - riding my bike, or playing baseball with the neighbor kids.  Even into high school, I wasn't overweight since I swam and played volleyball...but I thought was fat anyway since I spent a lot of time comparing my weight to other girls at school.

Big mistake since I'm 5' 10" and towered over everyone else at school....but nobody ever told me about height/weight differences back then.  So while I was healthy at 170 pounds (and fastest on the swim team), I compared my weight to the 5' 2" cheerleaders who weighed just over 100 pounds.  I felt like a Beluga Whale and always had an unhealthy view of myself....which didn't change until, well, recently.

After high school, since I had no concept of healthy eating and the role exercise plays to keep you healthy, I started gaining weight, and didn't understand why and I didn't like it.

Let's fast forward a few years and let me just say I've done this whole weight loss thing before....more than once, just not as much as this time.  It's true what they say, though, that when you gain it back you gain it back - and more.

In 1993-1994 I lost 35 pounds by eating too little, exercising a little, and going thru a divorce...then gained it back along with more.  I got remarried in 1997 to my current husband, had our daughter literally 9 months after the wedding, and in 1999-2000 I lost 75 pounds by enrolling in a hospital monitored liquid diet (can you say protein shakes?).  In December 2000 we both took new jobs in a new city, which meant we also moved and I lost my support system. 

I managed to keep it off until around 2002/2003, but then started getting lazy with exercise and eating right.  I would always tell myself "you can do it tomorrow, one day won't make a difference".  One day turned in to several years, and I gained the 75 pounds 25 more.  God bless my husband, he never once said anything negative to me, ever. Love him so much for that!

However, I hated myself. I hated the way I looked, I hated that I couldn't walk into any clothing store and try on cute clothes since they weren't plus sized, I hated not being able to ride roller coasters with my son since I didn't fit in the seats, I hated flying since I could barely fit in the seats, and I hated that I'd failed.  Again.

Oddly enough, rather than DO SOMETHING about it, I got stubborn.  I told myself that I was a great person, and that if someone didn't like me for me they weren't worth getting upset over. I resigned myself to being the 'healthy' fat lady since my 'numbers' were all spot on (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc). I was just fat and people would have to accept me for me, or the hell with them.

An almost sound approach, except I couldn't accept me for me.....and I secretly wished I could find the motivation to lose the weight.

In late September 2010 I was at work listening to our department staff meeting and learning about a new change that was coming to our health benefits.  And what a big change it was!  They announced that as of 2011, if we were not healthy (including our BMI!) or working on a plan to get healthy, we would pay more out of pocket for our health insurance.  While our paycheck deductions would remain the same from work, the insurance company would bill us more!  

That was exactly the push I needed to make the change.  I refused to cause my family to pay more for something if I had it within my power to not pay more.  Why would anyone want to pay more if they didn't have to?

On September 27, 2010 I started the ball rolling by exercising nearly every day and counting calories.  I was soooo out of shape that walking 3.5 mph for 2.5 miles was grueling - but I kept at it on my treadmill. Music is what really keeps me going when I walk (now run).  I have to have something that keeps me pumped up and motivated.  I have listened to everything from Eminem to Justin Bieber to Carrie Underwood, and try to change it up every few weeks.

As for eating, I recorded what I ate in a food journal I bought online and used a reference book to look up calories (check Calorie King if interested).  All I did was walk and eat better for the first several months...mostly.

About 2 weeks after I started I injured my knee and it hurt so bad I went to see an orthopedic surgeon, who thought I'd torn the meniscus and ordered an MRI. OH NO! I was crushed that I might be derailed so quickly, but the surgeon recommended I get a recumbent bike to use until we knew for sure what was going on.  I bought one at WalMart that very night and used it without any pain, thank goodness.  I found out a week later that I only had a bone bruise, and was told to keep using the bike for another week or 2 before getting back on the treadmill, which helped a LOT.

By New Years 2011 I was power walking at almost 4.5 mph on a slight incline and had lost 42 pounds.

By Feb 20, 2011 I lost 50 pounds and on vacation in Florida I wore a bathing suit for the first time in 10  years and swam with my daughter, who was absolutely thrilled.  Yet more motivation to keep going since my daughter loves to swim, especially with me.

I kept on with the calorie counting and exercise thru the Spring and into the Summer and in June 2011 I decided to start running again.  Back in 2000 when I lost the 75 pounds I was running 3 miles nearly every day, and I really wanted to get back to that.  

I started slow, apparently a lot like the Couch to 5K program - walk some, run some, walk some, run some, until eventually the walking became less and the running became more. 

My sister in law asked me to run a 5K with her over the first weekend of August 2011 and I was pumped!  I had never run any organized race before, and was excited to see how I would do.  I knew running outside was different (sometimes harder) than running on a treadmill, so I was simply hoping to finish in under 35 minutes....and I did!  My official time was 31:25!  I was thrilled!  I then ran another 5K race on Labor Day and did a little better still, which has kept me going with the running bug.

I had joined MFP in January 2011, but didn't use it much for anything, since I had my little food journal to use.  In November I  decided to start using just MFP it because I could input my food using the app on my phone, which was definitely more convenient than writing it down in a book.  I was also using the tools to figure out my calorie goals, which is what really helped me lose the last bit of weight I wanted to lose.

So I've covered the exercise part  pretty well, but not so much the food part.  "Eating better" doesn't come easy to most people, I don't think.  Eating better means having to think and plan what you are going to eat, and learning how to say 'no' and not feel deprived.

For breakfast nearly every day I have coffee (LOVE my Keurig!!) with a full cup of 1% steamed milk, as well as a container of Chobani Greek yogurt with a little bit of vanilla protein powder.  The protein in the milk, the yogurt, and the powder helps keep me full until almost lunch time.

For lunch, at least during the week, I plan having a salad.  To plan for this I cut up a 3-pack of romaine lettuce and keep it in a large tupperware container in the fridge, along with either lowfat turkey breast deli meat or grilled chicken breast.  This makes it very easy in the morning to make up a salad and take it with me to work.  To add some flavor, I sprinkle the salad with Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil seasoning, and will also some McCormick's salad topping for extra crunchies.

For snacks I will have a Snackwells cereal bar (8g protein!), sometimes a banana, sometimes reduced fat Pringles or Wheat Thins.

For dinner I will make pretty much anything and will have a small portion of it.  Everything from venison lasagna, chicken casserole, grilled chicken, chicken tortilla soup, chicken enchilladas.....are you sensing a pattern here?  Lots of low fat meals, and small portions.  I can post recipes if you'd like.

Weekends can be a challenge, since I'm home, and the food is much closer at hand than it is when I'm at work, but I don't beat myself up if I eat a little more - I just plan to work out  little more to make up for it.

In a nutshell I've upped my protein, and lowered the fat and carbs, but not drastically and I don't really count any of them - I still only count calories since that's what has worked for me.  That's my story....and I'M STICKING TO IT! :)

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