Gerda Rediscovered Her Optimism and Lost 64 Pounds
Name: Gerda Harms
Height: 5 feet, 10.5 inches
Before weight: 211
How I gained it: The first major pounds came on when I was busy with exams and left myself no time for real exercise. Soul food was very welcome back then, and I ate a lot of candy and cookies. But the biggest chunk of weight came on when my relationship with my now ex-husband turned bad. I tried too hard to take care of him, thinking my optimism could drag him out of his constant pessimism. I didn’t get a “thank you” for all my help and that made me feel more and more crummy. My own optimism started to fade.
Between that and my full-time job, I had no energy, so I recharged my batteries on food and candy. I love the taste of good quality food, so my pounds didn’t come from fast food and sodas. They came from homemade food with lots of butter and from mindlessly eating the big portions and richer food in restaurants. Think Caesar salads with full-fat dressing and Wisconsin-style, breaded, deep-fried fish.
Breaking point: I got a divorce when my daughter was barely a few months old. That was a first big step toward returning to my former, happier self. Even though that made me a single, working mom with an infant daughter, my life became much easier and predictable. My optimism came back.
Then my family recorded videos over the holiday season in 2007. I couldn’t stand to see myself waddling through those movies! The image didn’t match how I felt inside. In late February 2008, a spontaneous decision clicked in me, and I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting.
How I lost it: I used a combination of Weight Watchers online and going to meetings. Weight Watchers really educated me that I am not born to be big and that I don’t have a slower metabolism than the skinny ones out there.
Weight Watchers taught me to look at food with different eyes. It showed me, for example, that the salad served at a restaurant is not necessarily the healthiest choice, thanks to the grease-laden dressing. Now when ordering a salad, I always ask for the dressing on the side and drizzle just a little on the salad, instead of dumping on the whole cup. I choose grilled meats instead of deep-fried things.
I also learned that I still can have candy and richer foods every once in a while. I don’t deprive myself entirely of those things. Instead, I allow myself “gluttony days” where I don’t count points but eat what I feel like eating. These gluttony days help me to appreciate my new lifestyle of not feeling too full, tired and burned-out. I know it sounds weird, but those gluttony days help me to stay on plan!
I was never a real couch potato, so starting a fitness program wasn’t too hard. Even at my heaviest, I still did 10K walks and never avoided the stairs. When I started Weight Watchers, snow shoveling season gave me a built-in kick start!
When it got warmer, I started walking after work with my daughter in the stroller. The kid in me insisted on a pedometer to track my steps, and I still wear it. In March 2008, I got an elliptical trainer. I started out at very light resistance and now I’m at a high resistance level that I would never have dreamed of back then.
There is no going back for me! I donated all my baggy clothes as soon as I was close to my Weight Watchers goal weight. It felt so good. The energy I feel now is priceless, and this year of maintenance has made me feel even better because I’ve increased my fitness. My body shows more muscle definition than a year ago, and all of those single-mom tasks are easier, too.
After weight: 145
Gerda has maintained her weight loss since September 2008.
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