Losing weight has always been a challenge for me. I have yo-yoed up and down the scale my entire life. I would lose a few pounds, then gain them back plus some extra. I was tired of feeling like I couldn’t control my own body. I was tired of being ashamed of how I looked. So, I finally decided to get healthy and lose weight once and for all! Here is a lowdown on my weight loss journey so far.
My Family History
I have struggled with my weight as far back as I can remember. At age 4, my paternal grandmother, Mabel, patted me on the head and told me I had sturdy legs. I am not sure I fully comprehended what she meant. But I got the gist, even at that age. After all these years, I have never forgotten that comment.
It didn’t help that my mom was a fantastic cook. Coming from a single-income, working-class family, we didn’t have a lot of frills growing up. But we always ate really well.
I had two older brothers who ate implausible amounts of Chocodiles, peanut butter, Hostess Pies, and other assorted junk food. I always accompanied my mom to the grocery store to push one cart, and she would push another. Our grocery bill, in the mid-1970s, would often top out over $100 (the equivalent of over $500 today).
My mom always struggled with her weight. When I was 8, she and our neighbor joined a TOPS organization (Take off Pounds Sensibly). While she was not successful in losing any significant amount of weight, she picked up the skill of calorie counting and taught me. I would have little notepads as a 10-year-old where I would log my food with the calorie counts provided by a little calorie guide. Mind you, this was LONG before you could find nutritional information on anything.
Funnily enough, it wasn’t long before I could add up a day’s worth of calories in my head. To this day, I can still do that. So, I would categorize this era as the start of my organized attempt at my weight loss journey. A journey 40+ years in the making!
The School Years
Being an overweight kid in grade school is one thing, but being overweight, as a girl in high school, is social suicide. Teenage guys are cruel. And high school girls are ruthless. I decided to lose weight between my 8th grade and Freshman year in school. I was successful, dropping close to 20 lbs. People noticed; bombarded me with compliments. And I was thrilled.
But, how I accomplished it was dangerous. I limited myself to around 500 calories a day. I was hungry most of the time. And felt pretty miserable physically. Once high school started, I continued that path. Not eating breakfast and just eating an ice pop for lunch. Dinner would consist of a can of Swanson chunk chicken topped with American cheese and 10 carefully counted Wheat Thins. This regimen kept me relatively thin throughout high school. But I am sure I did irreparable damage to my metabolism.
Enter the college years. I was reasonably active. Worked out a bunch and had a job where I was on my feet for hours at a time. My relationship with food was still not the best. But I managed to stay within the normal range. It wasn’t until I got married that the weight started creeping on. A few pounds here and there until I topped out at about 100 lbs. over my high school weight. I have remained at that weight for 10 years. Trying different diets and workouts along the way. Sometimes losing a few inches and pounds. But never able to make a significant difference. My weight loss journey was on pause for these years.
Dang that Covid!
I caught Covid-19 in October 2020. Luckily, it was not a severe case. I recovered after about a month. When 2021 rolled around, I noticed that I was breathless when climbing stairs and doing simple things. I admit it freaked me out. I didn’t know if it was a covid-related issue or a sitting-on-my-butt-for-far-too-long-related issue.
I would turn 52 in April. I lost my mom in 2009 when she was just shy of 68 years old. She suffered from heart issues, diabetes, and high blood pressure for a long time. All weight-related. I often think about my mortality in terms of the age my mom passed. How many years are there left between my current age and the age she died? In February 2021, that number would be 16 years.
Where to Start a Weight Loss Journey in my 50’s
After the covid-related breathing scare, something in me snapped. I was just ready to get healthier. One day, I was flipping through Facebook, ran across an ad for the Noom app, and signed up. I made up my mind to get myself in shape and lose a significant amount of weight. It hasn’t been easy, but, I am proud to say I am well on my way, folks! As I write this article (in November 2022), I am down 35 lbs. It may take me a while to get to my goal, but the goal is to change my mindset and the habits that surround food.
How did I do it? Well, it all went back to the beginning: calorie counting. Thanks to Noom (which got me kickstarted), MyFitnessPal, and an excessive amount of walking (thanks to the fabulous Rick Bhullar), I can climb stairs without being breathless, my resting heart rate has dropped from 87 to 69, and I am a full size smaller than I’ve been in 23 years. I will keep you posted on how I’m doing and share my tips and recipes that have helped me stay on track. So, stay tuned!
So there you have it. That is my weight loss journey (so far) in a nutshell. I hope that sharing this was as cathartic for you as it was for me, and if you are struggling with your own weight issues, know that you are not alone. We all have our demons, but ultimately it is up to us to decide whether or not we want to let them control our lives. If you need some motivation to stay on track with your wellness goals, be sure to check out our other blog posts here. Until next time!