Birthday Present to Myself!
Since middle school I’ve struggled with my weight – not being naturally athletic and being a lover of cooking and food did not help matters. My twenties and thirties were sprinkled with personal struggles – both of my parents died in their 50’s of cancer and my fifteen year
marriage ended, I ate for solace, and my weight went up and down. Over the next decade I was focused on raising my two children and working to stay afloat. Family meals were comforting and often filled with delicious but unhealthy food, I was fortunate to have two lean, athletic children who did not inherit my weight issues.
Happily, I found love again in my early forties which was good and bad for my weight battle. Dating and new love often goes hand in hand with eating out and social gatherings. Within two years my weight hit its all time high of 259 pounds – I was obese, inactive and sick of the yo-yo diets – I decided I needed serious help. With the support of my family I pursued Lap-Band surgery; I was not a candidate for insurance assistance but I was desperate so I dipped into my retirement and went forward. The first few years were a mix of weight loss and struggling to adjust to the Lap Band and the restrictions it forced on my life. I was happy to have the tool and very encouraged to lose fifty pounds in two years.
Unfortunately, last year I began to have difficulty with the Lap-Band; it’s not a perfect solution for everyone and for me there were issues with GERD and flank pain that had me in and out of doctor’s offices, my frustration was worse than ever. The fluid in my Lap-Band was removed in order for healing to occur and before I knew it I weighed 230 – back to obese, and once again trying to figure out how to break the cycle.
This past March – wearing a size 18 again, I faced my 52nd birthday. My mother died at age 52 and I had dreaded this particular birthday, often referring to it as my “death year birthday”. Certainly I couldn’t help but think I too would have a short life if I continued on the path I was on. My blood sugar was registering at the pre-diabetic level and my asthma was a daily problem.
After deep soul searching and countless conversations with myself I made a decision to face my 52nd year doing everything that was opposite of dying. For one year I vowed to be as healthy as I could be and see if I could get this weight off the old fashioned way.
During this year I promised to eat healthy, exercise daily, and to fill my life with as many positive behaviors as possible. I wanted this year to be about honoring my mother so I even began listening to her favorite music – who knew Bobby Goldsboro and Tom Jones could entertain me? I also turned to the media which is filled with inspiring stories of people who lose huge amounts of weight through diet and exercise, why not me I wondered?
I turned 52 on March 17th and the beginning of April I joined a unique local Gym called Fitness MD. My daughter was a member of Fitness MD and is in a serious relationship with one of their trainers, so I had a built in exercise support system. They both insisted that with determination and consistency I could make a huge change in my health and body. Fitness MD offers daily “Fit Club” classes that last one hour, are primarily high intensity interval training and cater to anyone, whether fit or flabby. I took the plunge, signed up and agreed to exercise 360 minutes per week and follow a high protein, lean diet of 1200 calories per day.
My first few weeks I was so sore I joked that I should buy stock in Aleve; I iced my knees and soaked my aching muscles but was determined to stick it out. On my first day I could barely do one sit-up and could not run a step. But every Monday through Friday afternoon I went back and attempted nearly everything the other members were doing – I walked when they ran, I stepped when they jumped and I lifted the weights I was able to lift, each day getting just a little stronger and more confident.
I was surrounded by caring trainers that knew when to adapt or modify an exercise, I was encouraged by other members with success stories and then, low and behold, the weight started to come off. My set goal was to lose 2 pounds per week which I consistently met or exceeded. I logged everything I ate or drank on My Fitness Pal, including lifesavers and coffee creamer and I stuck to my new life with determination.
I left work each afternoon and headed to a Fit Club class for one hour, when I felt overwhelmed I reminded myself that one hour is a very small price to pay for health and that my mother would want me to live life to its fullest.
In order to make it easier at home my husband and I prepare one week’s worth of grilled chicken and vegetables every Sunday which we eat every day for lunch and dinner, changing it up slightly with sauces or greens to create some variety.
I am now in my 6th month of this journey; I currently weigh 163 pounds which is 96 pounds lighter than the day of my Lap-Band surgery. Most of my weight was lost without the aid of the Lab Band. While I don’t regret having the surgery, I do wish I had been confident enough to give something like this a try first.
I am amazed everyday at how far I have come in just six months. I can run a mile without stopping, I can briskly walk over five miles, jump on boxes, do over thirty full sit-ups in a row, lift weight I’d never have thought possible and have toned arms that I am proud of. For the first time since middle school I wear a size 8 and my BMI is within the normal range, my total cholesterol dropped 30 points to 169, best of all, exercising for an hour a day is something I look forward to rather than dread. I committed to doing this for one year but I am hopeful that I do it for a lifetime instead
I know that if I can do this, anyone can; I was an obese, middle aged asthmatic with little or no athletic ability; just a fierce desire to be healthy and live a longer life than my parents. I started with a step and then added two more. I read other people’s stories; watched The Biggest Loser, I did whatever it took to get inspired. I hope others are able to find a gym that focuses on the HIIT Method – after all, anything is possible in short intervals!
Recently an unexpected outcome of my weight loss was the self discovery of a very large Uterine Fibroid Mass that likely was well hidden by belly fat for quite some time. Thankfully the mass is benign but it does need to be surgically removed. This is just another reminder that carrying excess weight can hide and create problems.
There are many ways to lose weight. For some, weight loss surgery is the best solution and for others it is diet and exercise. For me it was a combination of both, turning 52 and deciding to honor the memory of my mother by honoring myself!
Originally posted 2014-07-02 08:00:12. Republished by Blog Post Promoter