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Go-o-o-oal!!!! Or a weight loss journey in pictures

Friday, May 04, 2012

I've been meaning to write this post for a while and I can't think of a more appropriate time than today, now that I've reached my goal weight.
[I'm also a huge hockey fan and with the Stanley Cup playoffs in full swing, I am totally Cup crazy right now. I couldn't resist putting the goal chant into my title.]


Three days ago I got on the scale and the number read 129.6. I did not believe it. 129.6 lbs would mean that I have met the goal weight I set for myself back in January of this year. On January 4, 2012, I set the goal to lose 20 lbs in order to weigh 130 by May 18th. I thought this was an extremely reasonable and attainable goal to meet as I hate setting myself up for failure. Although I have done well with weight loss, nutrition, and fitness over the last 4 months, I still wasn't ready to accept that I had actually met my goal. And a whole 2 weeks early too!. "The scale lies!" I thought to myself. "Weight fluctuates day to day" I told myself. But now, 3 days later, my weight has stayed at 129.6 lbs. This means it's real, right? I'm still kind of in shock.


I do not think that I am alone when I say that I have struggled with weight for most of my life. I was always the 'fat kid.' Nowhere was this harder than in high school when the thin and popular girls (I went to an all girls school) liked to be particularly vicious to anyone who wasn't a stick insect. Looking back, I was probably just sort of chubby, a little bit overweight yes, but not by much. Luckily I never derived my self-esteem by how pretty I was or by how skinny I was. And to this day I still do not. This is not to say that I do not feel good about myself now that I have slimmed down and met my goal weight. What I mean is that my overall sense of self worth is not and has never been tied to my physical attributes.


May 2002, "before" photo, college graduation




When I graduated college in 2002, I was finally tired of being "fat." So the summer after graduation, I started the SlimFast diet and joined Jazzercise with a friend. It was the first time in my life I had done regular exercise. I totally do not recommend the SlimFast diet; I was hungry all the time and I have no idea if I was eating enough or getting the right amounts of all the nutrients I need. But between that and Jazzercise all summer long, I did lose weight and I returned to my high school weight and became a size 6 again (which is where my body seems to be happiest). [Unfortunately, I do not seem to have an "after" photo from this time as this was still pre-digital camera era for me and I haven't had a chance to convert my physical photos into digital yet.]


July 2004, "before" photo




Then I started graduate school in the fall. Let's just say grad school is no walk in the park. It was incredibly stressful. I don't have a huge problem when it comes to stress eating but I'm not exactly immune to it either. Two years into grad school, I had regained all the weight I lost and then some. I was now a personal high of 154 lbs. 154 lbs just does not sit well on someone who is 5'2". When 2005 started, I knew I had to make a change.


Weight loss was again due to diet and exercise. I started using the school gym and I subsisted on Lean Cuisine meals and eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Again, that's something I don't recommend; those pre-packaged meals are way too high in sodium. Live and learn, Jen, live and learn. This time I started tracking (with Excel) my nutrients so I at least know I was eating enough. My friends and fellow lab-mates joined Weight Watchers. Although I did not, it was still extremely beneficial to have friends who were going through the same thing I was. As all of you Sparkers know, having a support group is so important. It was during this time I gave up soda. I realized that having a soda every day was not good for my health. I first switched to diet soda and from there to flavored carbonated water and then eventually just plain water. It took me almost 2 years to wean myself off soda.


September 2006, "after" photo, I was a bridesmaid at my best friend's wedding. This was the skinniest I had ever been in my entire life. I was ~127 lbs and a size 4/6.




I stopped "dieting" by the end of 2006. I went back to my normal eating habits (except with more fruits and vegetables) but I continued to exercise. I managed to maintain this weight (130 lbs) for the next 3 years. I gained back a little once I stopped exercising but it wasn't much. Weight-wise this was my favorite time in my life. I ate sensibly most of the time but I lived my life. I ate what I wanted. I drank what I wanted. There was no need to track. I felt like a "normal person" at a normal weight.


In 2008, I defended my thesis and finally graduated from grad school (aka the toughest 6 years of my life). The week before Thanksgiving 2008, I started my new job as a postdoc in a lab at a major medical university. [A postdoc is to a PhD what residency is to an MD]. This job was the most stressful job I ever had. Almost 4 years later and it's not any better. Yes, I hate where I work but that's a long story and I don't want to b*tch about those issues here. I know it was the most stressful job I ever had because in 3 short months I gained 15 lbs. Nothing else in my life had changed. I wasn't eating differently, I wasn't sleeping differently. I wasn't exercising less. It was the job. So when I read all those studies that say our jobs or stress can make us fat, my polite comment is "duh, I knew that already."


November 2008, "before" photo, the day after Thanksgiving, my husband (boyfriend at the time) and I attended a friend's wedding.




I went from the above photo to the photo below in just 3 months. Scary, right?


November 2009, "after" photo, ~145 lbs, just barely fitting into size 8s

[OK, granted, this photo is from November 2009 but I can't seem to find a photo from February 2009 when I realized that in 3 months, I could no longer fit into that red dress anymore.]



Things pretty much stayed like this and I pretty much stayed at 145 lbs until spring of last year. I was really unhappy with being overweight and there was no way I was walking down the aisle carrying so much extra weight. I had to lose the weight because I bought my dress off the rack at some random little store in NYC. The dress fit but it was slightly too tight in the waist. Yeah, big surprise, that's my problem area. The guy who sold me the dress actually grabbed my belly and asked if there was a baby in there! I was so horrified. Not that there's anything wrong with a shotgun wedding but I was not pregnant! That was one of the most humiliating moments of my life but at least I can laugh about it now. There is simply no greater motivation to lose weight than having to fit into an unforgiving white wedding dress. Or having the guy selling you your wedding dress ask if you're pregnant.



According to my SparkPage, I joined SparkPeople in August 2010. Yes, this is when I registered but I do not consider that when I actually joined. I had signed up for an account back in August 2010 and then promptly ignored SP (yeah, yeah, how could I? SP is awesome!). Last March is when I feel like I really joined and started to take SP seriously. Except back then I was really only using it for the nutrition and fitness stuff. With SP, I was able to lose the 15 lbs I needed to lose, was back down to a size 6/8, and was able to fit into my wedding dress. Woohoo!!!


July 2011, "after" photos, Yay! We got married!





After the wedding, I didn't keep up with eating so well but I did manage to exercise 4X a week for 45 min each time. I think keeping a regular exercise routine was what I needed to help me maintain my weight. But then we went on our honeymoon in October: first to Taiwan to stage wedding #2 for my relatives there (yes, I know, 1 wedding is crazy enough, we had 2 so we are doubly crazy) and then off to Hawaii. The honeymoon totally did me in. The food in Taiwan is incredible and I ate and ate and ate. Then we got to Hawaii and I ate and ate and drank and drank. I didn't exercise at all. I don't know how much weight I gained in 2 weeks but I do know that a pair of jeans I brought with me at the beginning of the trip no longer fit by the end. As in, I could no longer button them over my belly. Yeah, it was that bad.



October 2011, "before" and "after" photos, Honeymoon in Taiwan and Hawaii
I went from this at the beginning of our two week trip....


to this at the end of the two week trip...



Then we got back home and it was time for Thanksgiving. And then Christmas. Once again, my weight swelled up to 150 lbs.


December 2011, "before" photo, work holiday party




Right after Christmas, I said "screw it, I've got to start exercising again." So I bought a Groupon (or Living Social or one of those things) for a gym membership and joined the gym. That and SP's January Jumpstart challenge was what I needed to well, jumpstart my routine again. Yes, I did hit a plateau but picking up running and joining the 5% Spring Weight Loss challenge (Go Cats!) helped me to break through it. The spring challenge has really helped since it keeps me accountable. Since January 4th (which I consider my SP rejoining date), I have now lost 20 lbs and 3.5 inches off my waist. I'm way more conscientious about nutrition now. I went from thinking "I need to eat less" to "I need to eat right." I started running which I thought I could never do. I completed my first 5K in 36 min last week.


So much has changed but here I am, at my goal, feeling deja vu all over again. I've been down this road before. I've lost the weight and had it come back really fast and with a vengeance. I've also lost the weight and have kept it off. So which will it be this time? I guess that's why I'm not jumping up and down and shouting from the rooftops now that I'm at 129.6. It's because I know how precarious this can be for me. I have lost weight, regained, and lost weight again all in the span of one year. So even though I'm at my goal weight now, the battle has really only just begun. Getting to 129.6 lbs was one thing but staying there is a whole different struggle.


What am I going to do? I'm going to continue to Spark. I'm going to continue to track my food, track my exercise (cardio and strength training as I have been slacking in ST lately), and participate in the Spark community. I'm going to continue to join challenges and set new goals for myself. I'm going to be vigilant this time and not allow things to slide.


My immediate goal is to continue running and to run at least one 5K each month of the summer. So far I have registered for one at the end of May and a 4 mile race at the end of June. I have joined the Spring into Shape challenge and BOSS61's 100 days of summer challenge to continue to hold myself accountable.


I want to stay at this weight for the next 4 months. I want to survive the summer months. I want to stay looking like this:

April 2012, Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden


And dammit! I want to fit into that red dress again!



I will not allow myself to fail this time. I WILL NOT!!!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • GERMANIRISHGIRL
    emoticon emoticon emoticon

    maintaining is doable emoticon
    2387 days ago
  • JEANNEMARIE23
    woohoo! emoticon
    2389 days ago
  • LRSILVER
    Thank you for sharing. Great blog!!
    2389 days ago
  • 1CRAZYDOG
    GORGEOUS . . . that's YOU! Congratulations on your goal!! I had to laugh because that's EXACTLY what I titled MY post when I met goal. HEE HEE Great minds.

    The best wishes for the continuation of this journey.
    2389 days ago
  • FUNKY5RED
    What an amazing journey! Congratulations on reaching your weight loss goal! Thank you for being so honest about your thoughts and feelings about what happened and what worked or didn't work. You are very inspirational!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2390 days ago
  • BEYOURBEST1
    Congratulations on your wedding, and on reaching your goal weight.
    I think you have learned a lot about nutrition and your weight. That will help you out along the road. I think the main thing is to know that even at goal we cannot take our weight for granted. We always have to manage our nutrition and be aware of our weight so that we can manage any gains at the early stage.
    I think you looked beautiful all the time.
    I wish you a healthy and happy weight maintenance.

    2390 days ago
  • XRSIZE18
    What an awesome blog post. And a HUGE congratulations. You are absolutely gorgeous and glowing. Just think about all you've learned along the way and how many people (like me) you get to inspire with your story. WOOHOO!!!
    2390 days ago
  • SHARON10002
    First of all, emoticon on reaching your goal weight! That is a HUGE accomplishment! What a story! I loved all of your pictures!

    I too have been on that diet roller coaster all of my life. I lost 30 pounds about 5 years ago, only to gain it back and more when I joined Spark People. From what I've read on here, maintenance demands as much, if not more of our attention. But you've got the right attitude, and have demonstrated the commitment to a healthy lifestyle! emoticon
    2390 days ago
  • RABBLERRABBIT
    I feel lucky to have read this post - first, I'm so happy for you that you reached your goal! Second, your perseverance is inspiring. Third, you have such an artistic approach to writing and putting together your posts that make them a joy to read. Fourth, you always bring up things that help the rest of us and are so honest about your struggles without ever complaining about them (I'm so jealous, I'm such a whiner). Finally, you fought the good fight, got the boy, and are living happily ever after! A great ending and beginning! I would NEVER bet against you fitting into that red dress again! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2390 days ago
  • CHEPRBYTHEDOZN
    OMG! what a great blog! Maintenance has to be more difficult than losing-although at my age(nearly 43) losing is very tough,too.
    I"m a few lbs shy of goal weight now and will stay on SP,too for maintenance. Make sure you post NOW pics of you in that hot red dress!!
    2390 days ago
  • DALMOM2007
    Congratulations on the weight loss! That is just fantastic. You are beautiful in all the pictures. Love the wedding pictures and the red dress is an inspiring one. (If I wore a red dress, I'd look like a giant tomato! emoticon )

    Happy we're on the same team: BOSS61's 100 days of summer challenge! I'm sure that it will be fun and keep us all accountable through the summer (that is when I get lazy and really indulge in beer more then I should.) emoticon
    2391 days ago
  • JERZEYFRESH
    I am much like you - my weight has gone up and down for years. Take it off, feel really good, and then life (i.e. the job, a bad relationship, family troubles...) gets in the way and next thing you know, that 20 or 30 pounds is back in the blink of an eye.

    So congrats to you for hitting your goal, and I know that with continued accountability and all your Sparkpeeps cheering you on , you will stay there. I'm on my way, and I vow to never look back again.

    emoticon emoticon
    2391 days ago
  • MONICA_W
    Hey! Having just "met" you, it's great to see your whole story like that.

    CONGRATULATIONS on reaching your goal! I agree - you've reached your goal but you still have to maintain a balance now. Less restriction, more flexibility, but still lots of exercise and healthy eating. The running will work wonders for maintenance, I know it! Keep it up and ENJOY your life. It's worth it! (Now if only you could sort out those work issues, you'd have a healthy lifestyle all wrapped up! But that's a story for another day, you say? One goal at a time, I suppose!)

    Good luck transitioning to the maintenance phase, and emoticon
    2391 days ago
  • HOLLYBERRY005
    Thank you for sharing!! I appreciate reading your story. SP is awesome and blogs like yours keeps us coming back and staying committeed!!


    Congratulat
    ions on reaching your goal weight!!!
    2391 days ago
  • SPEEDY143
    I went from thinking "I need to eat less" to "I need to eat right." Totally the key to keeping weight off. We all have to eat so why not "Eat to live... not live to eat?" emoticon Loved your story emoticon emoticon on ALL of your successes... it's just the beginning emoticon
    2391 days ago
  • DGFOWLER
    Congrats on not only getting married but also your weight loss. You are beautiful....
    2391 days ago
  • POLARBEARSCAT
    Great Post! I'm right there with ya on the diet merry-go-round (or is it more like a Ferris Wheel -- up and down?) More power to you to make this a permanent lifestyle!

    Congratulations on your success! and Go Cats!
    emoticon
    2391 days ago
  • ABIGAILJ22
    AMAZING! Wow. Very inspiring!
    2391 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.