RUBENESQUEANGEL is a SparkPeople Motivator!
"The Edge", said Hunter S. Thompson, "there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over."
On April 8, 2007, I walked to a proverbial cliff, looked over the edge and jumped off. After steadily gaining weight for several years (though I was not an overweight child at all), due in large part to the development of numerous chronic illnesses in my later teens (and the use of many medications to help combat their symptoms, which brought upon rampant weight gain), with the loving support of my husband by my side, I mustered the courage to get on the scale - something I had not done in over three years. I had to know.
255.5 pounds, the scale flashed nonchalantly, entirely unaware of the devastating news it had just delivered. I was dumbfounded, I knew I was heavy and over 200lbs, but to see such a staggering number was both horrifying and surreal. Tears instantly welled up, spilling over and running down my cheeks, as I sunk on the sofa. There was nothing to say, which the scale had not already said, and so I made a silent promise to myself, no matter what it took, come hell or high water, I was going to lose weight - a lot of weight.
Losing weight is rarely an easy or straightforward task for anyone, but the act becomes considerably more challenging when you add in chronic illnesses such as interstitial cystitis, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, severe gastrointestinal problems, vulvodynia, pelvic floor dysfunction, Hidradenitis Suppurativa, coccydynia, and most recently gluten intolerance - amongst others.
I try never to define who I am by my heath, but sometimes mentioning my medical problems is necessary so as to best explain my situation. As a means of making my weight loss goal easier to achieve, I made the very difficult decision to stop taking all of the prescription medications that had wrecked my metabolism and contributed greatly to my weight gain. This choice meant that a lot of my medical conditions grew (or more accurately reverted to their pre-medication levels) in terms of their severity, but to this day I feel that it was a worthwhile trade-off.
In addition to being in chronic pain around the clock, I'm restricted in terms of what sorts of physical activities I can due and also in what types of foods I can eat, as I follow a very stringent Interstitial Cystitis and gastrointestinal system friendly (and wheat/gluten/dairy/egg free) diet, as a way of helping to manage some of my symptoms. This point merits mentioning because it means that I'm not free to eat whatever I want. In fact, hundreds (I kid you not) of every day foods that most people would never think twice about consuming (from citrus fruit to tomatoes, red mead of any type to chocolate) are off limits to me as the act of consuming them exasperates my IC and/or bowel symptoms.
My diet (what I ate) had already been greatly modified for a few years due to the above mentioned conditions, but when I introduced weight loss into the picture, the number of foods that I had at my disposal dwindled ever further. Yet, on the other hand, as I was already accustomed to not eating high fat/oily foods (as they provoke bowel problems) and not drinking any sodas, teas or coffees, it meant that I didn’t have to suddenly give these sorts of foods up as they were already long gone from my diet. Instead of focusing on what I wasn’t eating, I dove head first into concentrating on what I could eat that would be both a-ok with my medical conditions and also help me lose weight by being low in fat, calories and often sodium and sugar.
The vast majority of people who try to shed excess pounds make changes to their diet, but for me, my diet was just about the only tool I had at my disposal to lose weight. Though, over the years, I’ve tried in earnest to find physical activities that I could that wouldn’t cause me excruciating pain, so far I’ve only found walking and light swimming (in fresh water, as I’m allergic to chlorine).
I’m not physically capable of lifting weights, riding a bike, running, doing aerobics or a myriad of other athletic pursuits, but as I can walk, I do try to take 5 to 30 minute walks (that’s as long as I can go, on a really good day, without needing to use the washroom) when I’m able to do so. This is less about the small amount of calories such a walks burn and more about keeping things like my heart healthy, my endocrine system moving, and my metabolism from falling asleep.
From the get-go, I set my caloric limit at between 1,200 and 1,400 calories per day, as well as (ideally) no more than 35 grams of fat. I also tried to ensure that I got a minimum of 25 grams of fibre and 35 grams of more of lean protein (a day). I am the first to admit that this is not a lot of calories at all, in fact, it is generally medically recommended that an adult woman should not eat less than 1,200 calories per day unless instructed to do so by a doctor. However, as my daily physical activity level is not very high (most of my activity comes from doing chores, cooking, and taking small walks), such a low level was not absurd. I love to put my memory to work (which is especially important as I’m prone to pain and FMS induced “brain fog”) and every day I kept (and still keep) a running total in my head of absolutely everything I eat – no matter how small a bite. Initially I would usually eat about 1,300-1,350 calories a day, but after a year or so of losing weight, I shifted more towards 1,250-1,300 per day, however even now, I will still permit myself up to 1,400 if necessary.
I’m a strange contradiction of sorts, I am madly in love with food and the act of cooking (particularly for others), but I’ve never been a very big eater, so reducing my calories to such a low level wasn’t the end of the world for me. Every day I tried (and still try) to use those precious calories as wisely as I can. I eat three meals a day (breakfast, lunch and supper), which was a challenge for a long time, as I was really accustomed to only eating one or two meals a day; but I almost never snack or have dessert. I drink only water and occasionally unsweetened herbal teas (such as peppermint and fennel), and when dining out, I make wise choices and try to order items like grilled or broiled white meats, vegetables and healthy potato and rice options. I never allow myself to binge or stop counting calories and in doing so, I’ve been able to lose a great deal of weight.
How much you may ask? Enough to not only meet my initial goal of going from 255.5lbs to 150lbs, but to lose a grand total of 135lbs as of the spring of 2009 (for a current weight of 120lbs, which I’ve maintained for over a year and a half now).
I’ve gone from a women’s size 22 (which to be honest, was almost to too small) to a size 6 and no longer need to shop at plus size stores (which is a huge blessing, as we have so few of them in Canada). Every part of my external body has gotten smaller, from my waist to my wrists, hips to calves – I’ve even lost half a shoe size! I’ve always struggled hugely with self esteem, but as I’ve lost weight, even that has improved a bit.
When I sit here now and look back, I’m just as dumbfounded as I was back in 2007, that I ever weighed as much as I did, but I don’t beat myself up over it. Instead I focus on what I’ve been able to achieve and what I believe with all my heart I will be able to maintain. The experience of losing weight is incomparable to anything else I’ve ever lived. It was both easy and challenging, it brought joys (like when the scale moved!) and frustrations (like my frequent 3-4+ week plateaus), but it also gave me something truly incredible to work on every day.
I looked my chronic illnesses square in the face and refused to let them prevent me from losing weight. When during the winter and spring of 2008 I developed a new medical problem that left me entirely bedridden, unable to walk or stand, in a wheelchair, and in and out of the hospital for a few months, I still tried to eat at least 1,200 calories or more a day so that my body wouldn’t go into starvation mode and halt my weight loss (surgery helped me get past this particular medical problem). I simply had to stick with my goal, faltering from it was never an option.
I know “the Edge” Thompson was talking about and it’s s a scary, forlorn place indeed. Yet in going over the Edge, you’re able to reach a point of no return. The sort of “now or never”, “live or die trying” location from which a geyser of will power and hope springs forth.
Coupled with the inherent belief in yourself that no matter how hard, no matter how long it takes to achieve, any (weight loss or otherwise) goal is possible. The Edge, yes, I’ve been there, but these days I’m on the most level field you’ve ever seen and couldn’t be more thankful that I got on that scale, beat the odds and met my goal with fierce determination and a smile.
This page was last updated in January 2011.
~ My Goals ~
-Learn or try something new every day.
-Never forget who I am and what truly matters to me.
-Live every day to its fullest.
-Never be afraid to fail.
-Smile as often as possible.
-Laugh and cry, both cleanse the soul in different ways.
-Hold true to my dreams.
-Remind myself that I am worthy, wonderful, intelligent and important .
-Be creative wherever possible.
-Read countless books (including cookbooks - my literary, mentally caloric buffet).
-Always treat others as I wish to be treated. (It is called the golden rule for good reason.)
-Love with all my heart. Unabashedly, proudly, passionately.
-I watch my calorie and fat intakes extremely closely, and eat between 1,200-1,400 calories per day.
-I balancing proteins, carbs, fiber, sodium, sugar, vitamins, fats and calories. (If you eat at least one serving of fruit or veg with every meal you'll already be miles ahead of the number of servings a lot of people have each day - and your body will benefit greatly for it!)
-I cook and/or prepare as much of my food as possible from scratch. Cooking (and baking) is so cathartic and I could never fathom not enjoying my time spent creating in the kitchen.
-Trying to sleep well (which easier said than done), as sleep has been shown to play an important role in weight loss.
-Believing in myself (there's something to be said for positive thought!).
I'm a 26 year old happily married, life-loving, creative, optimistic woman who just happens to be chronically ill.
I don't have kids yet, but we do have a darling cat that we adopted from a shelter program in November '08, who brings a wealth of joy and fun into our lives.
I was born in Vancouver, but have lived in numerous place across three Canadian provinces and various parts of Europe. Currently my soul mate and I reside near Toronto, Ontario.
* A smattering of my interests *
~ Peace and human rights
~ Crafts and Crafting (DIY)
~ Dolls and other toys
~ Cooking and gastronomy
~ Retro, vintage, and antique items and style.
Secrets of Success
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Happy Valentine's Day!!
2231 days ago
Amazing story ; thank you for sharin 28 yr. old daughter who had Chronic fatigue syndrome for at lg. I have aeast 7 yrs., and 6 of those also had fibromyalgia in her 5th grade through early college. I kno w what you mean about the weight gain and exercise limitations, food sensitivities. She got progressively better -- not sure which part of her treatment, faith, her meds , helped most, but since nasal surgery for a deviated and perforated septum in 11th grade, she was able to get oprogressively better, out of her wheelchair and chronic illness state and gradually build strength and health. When she was at her worst, the fibromyalgia prohibited 15, or 3ven 5 of the "simplest" exercises and walking up and down stairs or to the corner could be a major challenge or exhausting. However, she got stronger, and fully recovered. She is now married, in med school, and lost weight down to her goal of c. 120 pounds, and ran a marathon. I know your conditions may or may not ever resolve, but healthy eating and weight will certainly assit your body in coping with the symptoms and help your self-image and strength. So impressed with all you have done and your courage/persistence in keeping off the weight. GOOD FOR YOU!!!
2232 days ago
Comment edited on: 2/13/2011 2:35:12 PM
Your story is very inspiring.
2232 days ago
Comment edited on: 2/13/2011 2:36:17 PM
Wow that is amazing and so gutsie to go off the medication. It is so easy when you have so many health issues to give up. You did not! You are such a wonderful inspiration!
2325 days ago
wow reading your spark page took my breath away you inspire me sooooo much thank you!
2397 days ago