The other thing I focused on right away was walking. I set a goal of walking one mile each day, to the grocery store and back. To make sure I stuck with it, I never bought more than one package of whatever I needed, so I’d have to get back to the store within a day or two at most.
This small amount of walking was very difficult at first. My excess weight made it painful and very slow going. But after a few weeks, my muscles loosened up, I experienced less pain, and it started getting easier.
It took over two months for my weight to register under the maximum on the scale (370 pounds). So early on I developed the habit of looking for other signs of progress—my walking, my eating habits, my moods. For the first time, I started thinking that maybe I wasn’t doomed to be the way I was for the rest of my life, and that change really was possible.
Good News from the Doctor
The next stage in my weight loss began when my doctor said that all my lab results had improved so much (in just three months) that he held off prescribing medication to see if things continued to improve with diet and exercise.
Over the next several months, I worked with a certified diabetes educator to get my diet on the right track. I also spent some time in physical therapy, strengthening my ankles and legs. By the end of month six, my weight was down to 330 pounds, my lab results were still improving, and I was using the stairs to reach my third floor apartment several times per day. I had also found some healthy foods that I actually liked—berries and yogurt, oatmeal with strawberries, apple slices with just a bit of peanut butter and stir-fried veggies.
My First Plateau
For the next two months, I lost only five pounds. I had been steadily increasing my exercise—using a stationary bike for 15-20 minutes most days, walking and climbing the stairs—and I was sticking to my low-saturated fat diet. But the weight loss had just stopped, and it was really starting to get to me.
Up to this point, I estimated my calorie intake in my head, without actually counting or writing it down. After a few days of honest tracking, I saw that I was still eating almost 3000 calories each day, about 800 of which came from soda…and the extra spoonfuls of peanut butter I ate from the jar while making snacks. So, I traded in the regular soda for diet soda and water, and stopped dipping into the peanut butter jar.