Wednesday, July 01, 2009

My Weight Loss Journey

I've been wanting to share this for awhile. I already posted a version of this on but never got it posted here. So for what it's worth, here's my story.

On February 26, 2006 I was reading Oxygen magazine’s “Fat Loss” special edition. In it was an article about how to lose 49 pounds by July 1. The basic premise was in order to lose weight you need to burn calories through exercise and eat fewer calories. The plan that was laid out was to lose 2 lbs per week by eliminating 500 calories and burning 500 calories each day. For whatever reason, the article made sense to me. Something clicked. I knew then and there that I was finally going to follow through on losing weight. I wasn’t ever a real dieter. I didn’t drift from one fad diet to another, losing and gaining weight; I simply kept on gaining until I topped out at 260 pounds. That night was truly the beginning of my journey. A few days later, I even had the presence of mind to mark the day in my calendar because I knew it was a significant day in my life.

It took me two years to lose 105 pounds. I’ve been hovering around 155 for a little over a year. I’ve been as low as 149 (for about 6 hours) and have sneaked up to 159 but for the most part I’m steady at 155. It’s nice because I haven’t been religiously logging all of my food this past year. I’ve been able to eat about right and exercise enough to stay right around the same weight. This is reassuring because I was very nervous about keeping the weight off. I don’t want to screw up everything I’ve accomplished.

Surprisingly, I’m still trying to get a handle on my eating. I still don’t eat when I’m hungry; I eat when I think I should eat or when I simply want to eat. I still crave food simply for the satisfaction of eating. It’s not hunger, it’s emotional or habit or …. something. This really bothers me and I’m really trying to figure out what is going on. I have a few theories but I’m just not sure. When I get home at night, I eat dinner but then keep on snacking until bed. Granted I’m snacking on almonds and carrots (not too bad) or peanut butter and jelly (not horrible, but not great) but it’s calories I don’t need. The food isn’t serving any purpose other than to allow me to eat. I’m not binging or stuffing myself to discomfort, but I’m not eating to fuel my body. I’m concerned that this need to eat simply to eat will derail me achievements. I even had a dream a few nights ago that I was looking in the mirror and my face was fuller and I knew I was gaining back the weight I had lost. It's another bump on the weight loss road and there have been many. I've made it this far. I need to have faith that I will continue with my success and figure this out as well.

What’s next? Tackling my debt. This may not seem to be related to weight loss but I really believe it is. Right about the time a reached my goal weight, I decided to change the way I approached my finances. I realized I was living beyond my means and needed to stop using my credit cards and start actively paying them off. This decision didn’t happen one memorable night like my weight loss decision did. I don’t have a date marked in my calendar of when I sat and decided to finally become fiscally responsible but I do know that it occurred very close to when I finally reached 155 lbs. I believe my weight loss success gave me the courage to take an honest look at my debt and make a plan to actively start paying it off. I also think I needed something else to control. I had taken control of my health by logging every single bite of food and every single minute of exercise and had been successful. I think I needed another area to direct my efforts so I could continue to see results. If I wasn’t going to be losing weight anymore then I needed to be losing something so why not my debt? In the past year, I haven’t used my credit card once. I’ve been on two vacations and paid for everything in cash and I’ve paid off 40% of my debt. It’s such a great feeling to know I’m making financial progress while still keeping off the weight.

So there it is, my weight loss journey to date. I’ve heard that those who are able to maintain their weight loss for 2 years have a very good chance of keeping it off permanently. So my journey is not over by any means. I have another 6 months minimum to keep off the weight and hopefully come to terms with my eating. I’ve decided that reaching my goal weight was simply the beginning of a lifelong journey. The past 3 years have been very illuminating. It’s bizarre to realize I’m just now really starting to understand who I am and what I’m capable of accomplishing. How is it a person can go 40 years and not know who they are? I really think the fat literally and figuratively insulated me from not only the external world but from allowing myself to step out and just really be who I was meant to be.

I think it’s important to realize that if I can do this, anyone can. I want people to know that I still struggle, the work continues. Just because I’ve reached my goal doesn’t mean I’m skipping through meadows, singing with the birds. But guess what? IT’S WORTH IT! I wouldn’t change a thing! My struggle with food, the skin that hangs from my stomach, the aches and pains from exercising, the several hundred dollars I’ve spent on new clothes, IT’S ALL WORTH IT!

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