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My Story

Friday, May 31, 2013

Earlier this week, I did a presentation at work on my weight loss journey. I was hoping to record it, but network issues with the recording software for online meetings messed up the recording. Instead, I've decided to post the written portion of my presentation here. The presentation went well, it was well received, and I even had pictures from my gallery in the presentation. Next time I'm asked to do this presentation again, I'll be sure to get it recorded properly. :-D

"What is/was your weight loss goal?

11 years ago, my weight loss goal was to lose 180lbs, to be at 120lbs. I was at my top weight, at 300lbs. Today, my goals haven’t changed, though the timeline has.

How long did you give yourself to achieve your goals?

Originally, I had allowed myself 3 years to lose 180lbs, figuring 60lbs/year. In reality, weight loss was different for each of the last 11 years. Some years I only lost 10lbs and had a lot of non-scale victories, while other years I lost up to 50lbs.

How are you doing in your goal achievement? (For example, if you're attempting to lose 100 pounds, how much of that have you lost and kept off?)

So far, I have lost 130lbs. I have also completely changed my ways of eating, including eliminating caffeinated products, most fruit drinks, and all pop, no chips except at special occasions, and choosing a smaller plate when I’m at a buffet or food-inclusive gathering.

What prompted you to take charge and make a change in your life?

I had an “A-HA!” moment while on vacation 11 years ago. I was talked into getting on top of a 4’ bench to dance the night away at a bar. I had plenty of room on the bench, but at one point I looked down to the floor, and while fear didn’t grip me, a very sobering thought occurred: “When, not if, I fall, I’m breaking a hip. And when I break that hip, how am I going to keep up with my husband?” Yes, he was a major influence on the decisions I made along the way. In the beginning, I will admit I was doing it for him, so he would be proud of what I could accomplish. I’m not quite sure when it happened, but the focus switched from him to me. And that’s when it started to really happen, when the real changes started, when real food addiction healing started. For the first time in my life, I was finally not focusing on food to deal with emotional issues I experienced.

What strategies did you use?


The first one that I used for nearly 4 years was a low-carb/food combining eating plan.

I also stopped using the word “diet”, and replaced it with “eating plan”. It made it sound less like a punishment and more like a choice.

I had my husband hide his junk food in cupboards that I couldn’t easily reach. I also had him not eat those junk foods in front of me for nearly 2 years, until I was ok with my own food choices for those snacking times.

I stopped buying foods that I couldn’t control how much of it I ate, like chips, cookies, crackers, pretzels, peanut butter and jam. Some of those foods are now back in my eating plan, but most are not.

Getting exercise is always hard, even today sometimes. I started out by walking the hallways at Centennial Building, one floor at a time, and the first few times I did it, I had to promise myself I would stop walking at the half hour mark. At first, I could only go either up or down to each floor, not both. Eventually, I was able to do both. That spring, I finally decided to dig up my Big Girl Attitude, and get outside for a walk. When was the last time you knew a country girl who was afraid of flying insects? That was me. It took a lot to get outside and go for a walk. I eventually brought my walks up to 45 mins every weekday. I also did Aquasizes, which is perfect for very overweight people, because we’re much more buoyant in water, and I could get a much more intense workout. When my office was moved to St. Mary’s St., I learned to walk some of the roads along the Reserve. Some days I could get 2.5 miles in, other days I was lucky to get a whole mile done. When weather was bad, I would head over to Willie O’Ree’s to walk the mezzanine area. When I finally made it to (new work location), I started on the treadmill, but discovered my walking style made it difficult to use. That’s when 2 ladies from the Service Desk asked me to join them in doing 30-Day Shred by Jillian Michaels. At first, it was all I could do to get to the end of the episode, even with modified moves. I lost a little more weight, and suddenly, people started bringing me their workout DVD’s and light weights, to add to the gym. I had tried a handful of walking videos, but I couldn’t find my groove. Then I found Walk Away the Pounds by Leslie Sansone. For me, that one works, because I really like how Leslie encourages me to keep going and that it was a different kind of encouragement than what Jillian Michaels delivers. I’m still not a big fan of walking, especially outdoors, for a workout, but once I start it, my fears slip away with the adrenaline rush of being outdoors and breathing in fresh air.

In 2009, I finally signed up to SparkPeople, and started tracking my foods, as in how many grams of saturated fat I was actually eating, and how much sodium I didn’t know I was eating. I really had no idea I was consuming that much food, and it explained why I had a 2-year plateau.

I kept my bedtime snack, and learned to eat fruit in the morning.

I didn’t tell anyone for a long time that I was trying to lose weight, other than my husband. I figured if it was working, others around me would notice, and I would only tell them I was working at this if they asked.

I learned how to cook, especially to be more patient when the burner is turned to less than medium, and how to flavour my foods without additional fat or sodium. I’ve also discovered I don’t like cooking all that much, even less so for just one.

How was SparkPeople helpful in achieving your goals?

SparkPeople has so many features that all the ones I used helped me with my goals. The biggest ones are the Nutritional Tracker, the Fitness Tracker, some of the reports, and SparkTeams; those tools seem to work best for me, especially when I’m struggling to stay on track. I have found SparkFriends who have lost as much weight as I have, with very similar starting points – I have leaned on them so often, because I know they’ve walked this walk too.

What are the specific improvements that you've noticed in yourself since losing weight?

There are so many! When I say I don’t always remember how difficult it was to move around at my top weight, it’s like a part of my brain shut that reality out so I could make progress. That said, I remember living in an apartment for about a year, and it was on the 2nd floor of an old Victorian house. Stairs were straight up, about 1 ½ stories to get to the landing. The whole time I lived there, while at top weight, I always had to stop at least twice to catch my breath and ease the pain in my legs.

My cheeks aren’t as high on my face, so I seem to have a little more peripheral vision looking downward.

My calves have some nice definition. I’ve been told other body parts do too.

I have a collar bone and ribs that I can feel, finally.

I can usually do at least 30 minutes of activity, even intense activity, and every day.

I don’t need 9-10 hrs.’ sleep every night, 7-8 works well.

I’ve gone from a tight size 26 to about a size 16 now.

My stomach doesn’t feel like it’s going to explode or do flip-flops or feel yucky anymore…. Unless I eat something I know won’t agree with me. I had to learn that the hard way, many times over.

PMS symptoms were much less intense after I started controlling my sugar intake. Today, when I pay attention to what I eat and the type of workouts I do, those symptoms are not as severe as most of the women in my family.

Body image issues are still there, but they’ve taken on a different form of their own. It’s flattering and a little scary at times, to get appreciative looks from men when I walk by. I think the day that I get my first wolf whistle is going to catch me off-guard, and make me very aware of all the hard work I’ve done.

My blood sugar has come down a lot, as have my blood pressure and bad cholesterol (LDL) levels.

I’ve learned I really like the country life, including off-roading on logging roads. Losing the weight has made those truck rides a lot more fun, and a lot easier to do. My capacity to scream while going through 3’ mud puddles hasn’t changed, but my ability to hang on to the “holy sh!t” handles has greatly improved.

And my life still isn’t perfect, and no amount of weight loss will give that to me. Being able to tell the difference is something weight loss has shown me.

Weight loss hasn’t brought me happiness, either. I haven’t had a lot of happiness since my husband died in October, yet I still have all this weight loss. Happiness & weight loss are connected, but happiness can live on its own without the weight loss; I’ve already proven that."
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Wow. Amazing blog. Thank you for sharing your story - not just here, but also at work. Congratulations on your progress so far.
    1706 days ago
    That was wonderful Jo!!!! I love your story. :)
    1738 days ago
    emoticon emoticon for sharing with us here. I'm proud of you.
    1752 days ago
  • KAT7457
    emoticon emoticon
    1752 days ago
    What an inspirational talk you must have been swept off your feet by people wanting to ask questions. I really enjoyed where you made the changes and allowed your self a long time to get to your goal.

    I'd rather talke a few more years and maintain on the way than lose quick and then bounce back!!!

    Thanks for sharing
    Country Living Team
    1754 days ago
  • LINDAF49
    thanks so much for sharing your story per blog. read it all twice and am impressed and then encouraged...I can do this with patience, persistence and a little help from my friends. Hugs and Thanks!!!
    1754 days ago
    that is awesome.. i wish this got passed around spark and everyone answered the same questions.
    as you already know-you're such an inspiration to us all.
    1755 days ago
    An inspirational story and to think you are still with us. Anyway I had to share with my facebook weight loss group.

    1755 days ago
  • TLG71567
    emoticon That's a great story. You are doing an amazing job. So sorry about your husband. That must be so hard. I hope that this pain eases for you and that you will gradually find happiness again. emoticon
    1755 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

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