My journey all started with high blood pressure and “not feeling my best, ” but it had been building since late 2019. It was hard to get comfortable enough to go to sleep in bed, and I couldn’t cross my legs anymore. My thyroid medication couldn’t keep up – but it was a handy excuse. I wore the same pair of black pants at least three times a week because I refused to buy the next size up and didn’t want to commit to the longevity of an additional pair at the same size ~ because that would be admitting complacency, right? And my shirts had to be long enough to cover my back end, like a Band-Aid “hides” a wound. When we went kayaking, I had to wiggle myself down into the seat of my boat. Then I prayed as I paddled that The Gypsy Soul wouldn’t take on water and sink me somewhere out in the middle of a lake. I was in a stuck spot, and I wasn’t liking the out-of-breath adventurer I had become.
Those were hard realities for a former distance runner. In 2019, I was at the bottom of my goal weight range, running competitively and occasionally placing in my master’s women age category in 5Ks. I endured a knee injury that stalled my running, and then Covid hit. My weight went mountain climbing and enjoyed all the scenery along the way. Straight to the 206# summit.
That’s where I drew the line.
I’d always cried out to Weight Watchers whenever I needed to drop some pounds. As a Lifetime Member, I counted points and made goals and set rewards along the way when I’d stepped out of bounds by ten or twenty pounds. But this time was different. I was so far out of bounds that I needed a personal coach.
Optavia answered. I knew Jennifer Carden was an Optavia health coach, and she lives within two miles of my house. I called her, and we began my journey – we talked through initial interviews about the type of eater I am, my habits and lifestyle, and my food preferences. I placed the order for the box of fuelings that would begin my “five fuelings and one lean and green meal” per day. I would eat every two or three hours, and I could choose whether I needed to satisfy my salty tooth or my sweet tooth. My sweet tooth has forever been the screaming baby in my life.
When the box arrived on a Tuesday, I didn’t want to “wait until Sunday” to get started. I did the gut-wrenching work of owning my weight and measurements and took my “before” pictures on Wednesday, August 10, 2022 – much like confessing to a crime and taking those convicted criminal mug shots. I did a lot of this without thinking or allowing emotional involvement. I willed myself to go on autopilot. One mission: lose weight. Just do it.
I’m posting these pictures, but it really, really hurts to do this. Here goes:
And then I went to the kitchen and made my first fueling. A chocolate shake.
At work, I said NO every time the office food gifts made an appearance in our work kitchen. We’d get an email: “(Local business) brought doughnuts by this morning. Help yourself!” or “We’re celebrating (occasion) – – cupcakes for everyone!” And let me point out: they were good – these are regular offerings by those in our community. It took everything in me to turn down the white fluffy cream-filled doughnuts and the red velvet cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting. I had to remember: auto-pilot. Don’t think about it.
By August 17, I was down ten pounds, to 196. On August 22, I was at 193.9, and on September 6 I was at 188.3. I’d lost almost 20 pounds in one month. I was already able to tell a difference in my black pants, and I considered getting some new ones. But I made an agreement with myself: whenever I bought a new size, I made myself get rid of garments in the old size. I didn’t want to keep the space in the old clothes available for regrowth. So I donated the 20s when I bought 18s, 18s when I bought 16s, 16s when I bought 14s.
By September 19, I was down to 184.6 and looking forward to entering the 170s on the scale. Every time I passed a tens digit, I bought shoes as a reward; I can keep them across the pounds, and they may be my biggest reward motivator other than traveling. By the last week of September, I was down to 182.1 and looking forward to a Fall Break hiking trip to Fort Mountain State Park in Chatsworth, Georgia (with a new pair of hiking boots)!
Instead, I gave a whole new meaning to Fall Break when I missed the last step at work and broke my ankle. Hiking wasn’t to be, but I continued steadfast along my journey and on October 2 weighed in at 180.9. I was 30 pounds from my goal. I was also convinced that if I had fallen at my former weight, my break would have been far worse. Somehow, I had avoided the need for surgery. I give the weight loss full credit for that!
Through the fall, I stayed the course – five fuelings, a lean and green meal, and plenty of water. By October 24, I was at 174.2. Though I was hoping to cross the next tens digit on Halloween (171.6), I wouldn’t get there until November.
During this month, I knew that Thanksgiving would hold its challenges with food temptations. I flew to California to give a presentation at the NCTE Convention with my writing group, and I flew home to enjoy time with my family at Thanksgiving. My daughter in law cooks an amazing turkey, so I focused on that delightful plate of dinner with a side salad. I kept trucking, setting my sights on new successes.
And then I got Covid. I didn’t feel like eating, so while I wouldn’t have chosen to be sick, the silver lining in the cloud was that I wasn’t craving anything. I doubled down on my water, and by November 28th I weighed 165.0.
December was quickly approaching, and I knew the main thing that would give me trouble: eggnog. I like both the mild grocery store brands and the loaded liquor store brands, so I figured out that I’d need to identify a “substitute.” I took the Golden Blonde Brownie mix and blended it as a shake with almond milk, and then sprinkled it with nutmeg. It did the trick! I knew that once I figured out a way to avoid the feelings of deprivation, I could be successful through the holidays. So I looked for my weakest link and set about problem-solving.
December 12 gave me the momentum I needed: 159.9. I’d crossed another tens digit, and the timing to celebrate success was just the motivation I needed to get through the Christmas holidays.
On January 1, I weighed 160.0, and I rejoiced – not only because I was ten pounds from my goal weight, but also because I’d minimized damages over Christmas. Even though I was up by a half a pound or so, I’d somehow gained only a little, and I suspected that some of it could be salt intake. Plus, my tens digit re-crossing was a breath away. I spent the day doubling down on water and choosing shakes, and by the next morning I was at 158.2. Salt.
This year, I have two weight goals: reach my goal of 150 and maintain it.
With careful planning and a mindset that doesn’t tolerate emotional eating, I’m confident that 2023 will be the year of getting back to the adventurer I was meant to be! I’ll be tracking my goals the last day of every month on my blog. There’s no better time than today to set new goals and start a new journey! Many thanks to Jennifer Carden for always being there and talking me through the struggles.