At my SP starting weight (194 pounds)
Summer 2008: Approx 160 pounds (after long illness and majory surgery)
Circa 1990: Last photo of me before my weight began to balloon (approx. 110 pounds)
Shared Food & Fitness Trackers
FIVE YEARS OF WEIGHT-LOSS ATTEMPTS: FIRST TRY
In 2007, I joined Weight Watchers online, with a goal of going from 197 to 125 pounds. Over that summer, I slowly lost 15 pounds, despite having major mobility issues due to inflammation in both feet. I'd just joined a gym, and I was feeling hopeful about both its water aerobics program and the private sessions I'd signed up for with a personal trainer.
Then the Crohn's Disease I've had since 1981 reared its ugly head in the worst flareup I'd ever experienced. Ultimately, in late December 2007, I had to have major surgery: an ileostomy. By the time I recovered and returned to work, I'd lost a further 22 pounds and my weight was at 160. I figured the weight loss was the silver lining to that ghastly period: although I couldn't recommend such a grueling ordeal as a diet tactic, at least it had gotten me more than halfway to my goal.
But of course I'd lost that weight the "wrong" way, because the illness basically starved it off. So as soon as I resumed eating more or less normally, my body hung on to every morsel.
By the time I joined SP (in June 2009)--after a year that included losing my job, plunging into a clinical depression that last several months, and applying for long-term disability--not only had I not lost any more, but I'd regained all but a few of the pounds I'd lost, including the 15 I'd lost the previous summer.
The dietary restrictions involved in having an ileostomy proved to be a considerable challenge in resuming my weight-loss efforts. Lots of foods that would normally be part of a healthy weight-loss plan were forbidden for a long time, because they tended to cause nasty blockages. Verboten foods included anything with a skin that's not easy to remove (i.e., many vegetables and fruits, as well as beans), leafy greens of any kind, and very high-fibre foods (e.g., celery, broccoli, cauliflower). Certain other foods are best avoided because they cause excess gas, which can precipitate embarrassing noise and messy "bag blowouts."
With SP's help, though, I eventually figured out some healthy ways to eat within those restrictions--and without costing more than I can manage on my bare-bones disability pension.
And I found some free or extremely low-cost exercise options that I was able to stick with for several months: mostly walking, with SP's 10-minute exercise videos thrown in when a time crunch or inclement weather interfered.
All told, I lost 26 pounds that time. Then I got sick again. By the time I resurfaced from the 6-month hiatus brought on by that episode and its aftermath, I'd regained two-thirds of *that* loss. On March 26, 2010, I recommitted myself to this goal. See my blog entry of that date for full details.
In December 2010, I updated this entry as follows: "Haven't been active on SP for 202 days due to other priorities. Have continued slow-but-steady progress toward weight goal. Am now 163. Nearly halfway there, and just 3 pounds above my lowest post-op weight from 2008. Earlier this month, I bought a pair of non-plus-size jeans for the first time in 20-odd years!"
By January 2011, I'd lost 36 pounds. Once again, I was more than halfway to my goal. And I was 2 pounds below my lowest post-op weight from 2008, so by my lights, I'd begun to lose "new" weight.
Then something happened. My energy levels plunged. Doctor tested me for anemia, thyroid, and a few other things, but all looked normal. Meanwhile, my appetite skyrocketed. It wasn't that I was hungry all the time, exactly--just that I was interpreting low energy as meaning that I hadn't eaten enough. I craved carbs, particularly fatty ones like fries, potato chips, and croissants. As 2011 wore on, I began to pack on the pounds again: 10 had crept back on by Apr 24. The more I (re)gained, the more I assumed that my persistent low energy was related to carting around those extra two, three, and eventually nearly four bowling balls' worth of weight. By the end of 2011, the entire 36 lbs I'd so carefully lost in 2010 had found me again--along with another 6 for good (bad) measure.
In February 2012, I was scheduled for major abdominal surgery--a followup to the ileostomy I'd had 3 years earlier. Three days before the operation was scheduled, the surgeon's office called to postpone it, because my pre-op bloodwork had shown some anomalies. Two weeks of further investigation ensued, and the third round of bloodwork revealed that I'd developed Type 2 diabetes.
That certainly explained a lot about how I'd been feeling during the previous year or so. Both the out-of-control appetite and the lack of energy had the same root cause: because my body was no longer producing enough insulin and/or wasn't able to use what it did produce properly, my cells were getting only a fraction of the energy they needed from the food I ate--no matter how much I consumed.
A NEW LIFE
Fortunately, I am the poster child for being proactive around a health issue. (I'd *better* be: since 2009, I've been a Peer Leader of Stanford-model workshops--called, locally, "Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions"--which teach self-management skills.)
The day I got the diagnosis, I spent hours on the Internet confirming what I already knew--that this is a serious but manageable condition--and beginning to educate myself about the changes I'd need to make in order to live well with it.
The next day, on my way to the clinic to be taught how to measure my blood glucose and prescribed meds (Januvia and metformin), I bought four books on the subject. Later that day, I bought a treadmill and signed back on to SP, where I was delighted to discover that in my year-long absence, a Diabetes module had been added. Joined a couple of relevant teams and resumed using the food and fitness trackers. (Stopped again once I'd learned enough about the new ways of eating to be confident that I could keep making progress without those tools.)
The meds (which my doctor expects me to be on only temporarily) had an immediate effect. Within 24 hours, I began to feel almost normal for great swaths of time. The raging appetite vanished. Before 48 hours had passed, I had discovered that I could bring down a high blood-glucose reading by taking a 15-minute walk. And my energy level had already picked up enough that I felt both willing and able to do that. I began doing 15 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days, usually divided into two 15-minute blocks. Later I added dancing, yoga, and some SP workout videos back into the mix.
Thanks in part to the meds, my blood sugars had returned to normal or near-normal within three weeks. And between the increased activity levels and re-instituting the healthy eating habits I'd honed here during 2009 and 2010, I'd begun to drop the weight again--12 pounds in the first month. At the 3-month mark, I eased wheat out of my diet, and my already improved blood-sugar control took another significant leap. As of Jun 21, 2012 (4 months post-diagnosis), my A1C was 5.9--the top of the Normal range. As of this update (July 12, 2012), my daily blood-sugar tests have been averaging 5.8 (104 in the U.S.) for the past 6 weeks (since eliminating wheat), I've lost 29 lbs since Mar 1, and I have more energy than I've had in years, if not decades.
P.S. The pictures on this page show me at my 2009 starting weight, 194 lbs (wearing the tie-dyed top); near my 5-year low in summer 2008 (a few months after recovering from that long illness and surgery), around 160 lbs; and at 105 or 110 (in early 1990, the last time I weighed that little, though to get there I'd had to diet off a 3-year accumulation of 35 lbs that started when I hit 30, using NutriSystem and therefore learning next to nothing about how to actually change my eating habits in the real world). Not sure I can ever expect to be quite *that* slender again. My current goal weight is 125, which will at least put my BMI back into the Normal range.
NEW GOAL: 75 lbs
RE-START DATE: 03/01/12
NEW GOAL DATE: 12/31/12
*193: -7 lbs (~10% of goal): 3/15/12
*190: -10 lbs (5% of starting wt): 3/22
*185: -15 lbs (20% of goal): 4/14
*181.25: -18.75 lbs (25% of goal): 4/28
*180: -20 lbs (10% of start wt): 4/28
*177.5: -22.5 lbs (30% of goal): 6/21
* 175: -25 lbs (1/3 of goal): 7/5 (173 lbs)
*170: -30 lbs (15% of start wt; 40% of goal): 7/26 (168)
*165: -35 lbs (17.5% of start wt; 47% of goal): 8/16
*164: -36 lbs (total lost in 2010, pre-diabetes): 9/13 (162)
*162.5: -37.5 lbs (50% of goal): 9/13 (162)
*160: -40 lbs (20% of start wt; matches lowest recorded wt in past 5 yrs): 9/20
*159: -41 lbs (losing NEW WEIGHT; everything from here down is a 5-yr low): ??
I began by tracking my food intake again for a few weeks, which helped me make healthier food choices, control portion size, & learn to spread my carbs across 6 small meals/snacks a day.
And I increased my activity levels, beginning with 15-minute walks once or twice a day.
By the end of March, I'd found a pay-what-you-can hatha yoga class, and rejoined a semi-regular English Country Dance group.
On 6/10, after reading "Wheat Belly," I began experimenting with eating wheat-free, as well as lowering my carbs generally (not rock-bottom, but lower than what official ADA/CDA guidelines allow/recommend). Noticing a sustained surge in energy levels, and *zero* carb cravings.
Next, I plan to re-introduce strength training and some SP workout videos (Bollywood Basics looks like great fun!) just to change things up.
I live in Toronto, Canada. By training, I'm an editor, proofreader, and indexer. I also design and deliver seminars on various related topics.
These days, I take on only the occasional small contract, as my health allows. I focus instead on volunteering.
My two favourite volunteer gigs: serving as a Peer Leader for Stanford-model groups on chronic disease self-management; and working in the gift shop of a local rehab/complex-chronic-care hospital.
I'm also active in the local and national Ostomy Associations, and recently signed on as a volunteer for--what else?--the Canadian Diabetes Association.
Besides volunteering in my community, I enjoy reading, knitting, playing Scrabble, doing logic puzzles, singing, and dancing.
Secrets of Success
| current weight: 160.0