As a child, I never had an issue with my weight. I was one of those teens who could eat anything that came by, without any worries. I never dieted, and didn’t really do anything to “stay thin”. Staying thin happened naturally, until I was in my 20’s. My weight loss story doesn’t even begin until my late 20’s.
Early Eating Habits
I would love to say that in my childhood I was taught to eat well, and take care of my body. Unfortunately, I can’t. I was raised on fast food, TV dinners, soda pop and more sweets that I care to remember. We did get “real meals” when visiting my dad’s house, twice a month. That being said, I honestly don’t know how I didn’t have a weight problem earlier in life than I did.
When I met my husband, at 19, I didn’t even know that you could buy broccoli fresh from the produce department. I thought the only way you could buy broccoli was frozen in a bag. He introduced me to fun, healthy dishes like Stir Fry, as well as having all different kinds of veggies in the house and with our meals.
Initial Weight Gain
The first time I gained weight, was when I went on the pill. It wasn’t a lot of weight, or an uncontrolled, never ending weight gain. But, it was noticeable. I remember my Grandma coming up to me in the kitchen and asking me how come my butt had gotten so big!
I changed shape, and probably put on a little bit of weight after the births of my children. Looking back at photographs, however, it wasn’t really anything that bad. Knowing what I know now, it was more of a body tone issue than actual accumulated fat.
This all changed in 1997, when my mom passed away. It was at this time, when we were living in Europe, and I was a stay at home mom, without the necessary support and tools to deal with my grief, that I really started to gain weight. I steadily gained weight for the next several years, until I was about 50 pounds too heavy.
My First Weight Loss
We all have some kind of breaking point, or threshold that we refuse to cross. For me, it was having to shop in the Plus Women’s Department for clothes. I just wouldn’t do it, and I found myself having to hunt harder, and harder for clothes that I could squeeze into.
I finally signed up for Weight Watchers. It worked! The weight pretty much just melted off. I easily averaged a weight loss of a pound per week. I was about 10 pounds from my “final goal” when I stumbled pretty hard, and fell off that bandwagon.
While I had learned very valuable skills in portion control, a balanced diet and holding myself accountable. However, I hadn’t learned anything about how do keep my stress from overloading my whole life.
The First Bounce Back
All it took to undo all of my success was starting over in a new state. I moved first, with just the kids, while my husband stayed back until the house sold. It took about four months. Needless to say, it was a very stressful period, being the sole support for the middle school aged kids while they are starting in a new school. I was also learning the ropes at a new job. Plus, we didn’t know when our house was going to sell. It seemed to take forever.
I tried keeping up with WW, through this. However, it just felt like one more added stress to my life. I didn’t find any support in the group I joined. It was just really all I could do to survive the day to day living.
All in all, it took us about a year to get settled back in. But, by this time I had already fallen so far off the wagon, I couldn’t fathom getting back on.
Another Method, Another Weight Loss Failure
I’m really not proud of my next move. When I reached my personal threshold, again (not shopping in the plus size dept.), I looked around for a new answer to my problem. I found myself at one of those places where they lure you in with “we will help you loose weight quickly, and teach you how to keep it off.” Then, they give you this 3″x5″ note card of all of the food choices you have for the next month, and set you up with their high protein drink mixes. They tell you that this is the only way to loose weight fast, and promise again, that there will be a better light at the end of this tunnel.
Yes, the weight came off amazingly fast, for about the first three months. During that time I never cheated, I followed the program to a T. I was absolutely miserable!!! The more unhappy and miserable I became, the less weight loss occurred.
Towards the end, I went out of town and visited some people I didn’t really know. They had prepared some pecan pie and whipped cream for our visit. I couldn’t say no, that would be unbelievable rude. When I went back to the center the following week, I had actually lost more weight eating that pie, than I had the entire previous month!
It took another month to “wean” myself off of their protein drinks, and be done with the center. I did manage to keep this weight off, for a year or so, until I started another new job.
Nothing experienced is without it’s lesson. This is no exception. Here the biggest lesson was about listening to my body, and treating it with a little dignity and respect. You can’t “force” your body into submission.
The Cycle of Weight Loss & Weight Gain
Over the next few years, I have steadily put on weight, taken a little off, etc. I have tried many different methods including another trip back to WW, hypnotherapy and an elimination diet.
Weight Watcher’s Part 3
I just want to say that I think the skills that can be learned at WW, are very good. But, you really have to have your heart into it. I did not. I had a hard time finding a meeting that I liked, at a time that worked consistently with my job, and taking care of teenagers. We also became a gluten free house, at this time, due to my husband’s food allergies. This added one more extra bit of work to tracking my points, and I just wasn’t up to it.
At this point in my journey, I was looking for another easy way out. So, its not a big surprise that it didn’t work for me. I have known people for whom it has worked beautifully. I did get my first real lessons in stress relief, and found my way to a Meditation group, which was a life saver in so many different ways.
In 2013 I came across an article in the magazine What Doctors Don’t You, about how food allergies can actually cause you to gain weight. I actually started the Elimination Diet before I ordered The Six Secrets of Successful Weight Loss, by Dr. John Mansfield. It is very interesting to note, that the top 20 food allergies include foods like citrus fruit, sugar, potatoes and meat. For me, it was onions (which are in everything!), wheat, chemicals and shell fish.
The very basis of this elimination diet is that your body knows what it healthy, and what it harmful. One of the ways your body has to communicate this to you, is through weight loss or gain. By the way, this is almost instantaneous. While the actual process of going through the top 84 food candidates takes several weeks, you are testing new ones almost every day.
I did successfully lose around 20 pounds the first time I tried this diet. Then, as with before, I let life get the upper hand, and I just didn’t stick with it.
Success of the Last Year
After all of these years, I finally came to the conclusion that in order to successfully lose weight, I have to learn to listen to my body. So, a year ago, I did another round of Dr. John Mansfield’s elimination diet. My goal was to find out what foods bother my body, and which foods nourish it. One good thing is onions no longer bother me. However, the tap water in my new town is really not liked by my body.
I did loose another 20 pounds. However, I went into this with the mindset that I was not going to focus on losing weight, until I figured out how to maintain my weight. I’m getting off the roller coaster.
For the last year I have used the scale, on a daily basis, to maintain my 20 pound weight loss. Through listening to my body in this way, I have learned that my body wants a clean diet. My next step is to employ all of the skills I’ve learned and tools I’ve acquired into a plan for a permanent weight loss.
Next Stop: Release the Weight
Over the past year, I have not only learned how to listen to my body. I have changed the way I look and talk to myself. I’ve journal-ed my way through the emotional baggage I’ve carried with me since childhood. Plus, I have learned to have better expectations of myself. Part of my issues the first time I lost the weight is believing that by only way to be successful is to get back down to the weight on the chart. I’ve redefined success to be having the energy to do all of the activities I want to do & being comfortable in my own skin (regardless of what some chart says).
Finding the right way to eat for your body takes time, and patience. Through this long journey, I know that I have to find a permanent, long lasting healthy way of eating. I cannot just pick the most popular diet off of the shelf, and expect long term results. Maintaining last year’s weight loss, has helped me with this. This is a long term process, not a quick fix with fingers crossed. I am finally ready.
Stay tuned for the next step: How I combine my dietary requirements into a lifestyle that is still fun, healthy and flexible.