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Saturday, January 05, 2013

(Near my 231.5-pound max.)

At 231.5 pounds, the heaviest I’d ever been in my entire life, I was a big girl. I knew I was big. But as big as I was, I don’t think I saw myself as being THAT big.

(Near my 231.5-pound max.)

(How could that be?!) No matter what my mind thought, I was having trouble breathing while seated, because my stomach fat was pressing up on my lungs. In addition, I thought a thinner me might have better luck at finding a job. I started eating more healthfully and exercising (45-60 minutes a day, five times a week), but progress was slow. The more I exercised, the hungrier I was, the more I ate, the less weight I lost. I was frustrated.

In March 2010, still at 228 pounds, I joined SparkPeople and immediately started reading articles and blog posts. I joined a few groups and started writing my own blog posts. I used the nutrition and fitness trackers. I learned about portion control and about daily caloric ranges. The very first week I saw results. From there, I made a slow, but consisted progression downward. Until April 2011 when I found out that I would be moving to England.

My weight slowly crept back up between April and December 2011. I was stressed and busy finish up at my job, then visiting friends and family all over the United States before my move, then packing and moving, then adjusting to a new country and all its wonderful and delicious new foods that I had to try (every single last one of them!).

One year ago, on the first of January 2012, I weighed 194.5 pounds.

(January 2012 at 194.5 pounds)

With a goal weight of 163 pounds (65 pound loss from my 8 March 2010 start date on SparkPeople), I had a ways to go. I rededicated myself to my weight-loss efforts, resolving to reach my goal weight by the end of the year.

I recall the first 8 months of the year as being a slow struggle to lose weight. I ate well, was mindful of portion sizes and calorie counts, and exercised regularly; but I was leaning too much, once again, on food for comfort. I found that each bout of emotional eating set me back, undoing so much of my positive efforts. This led to frustration at my seeming inability to control myself and disappointment in my progress.

In September, I was becoming disillusioned about my ability to reach my goal weight by the end of the year. After all, I’d lost only 13 pounds in over eight months. A loss is better than a gain or even than staying at the same weight, but how was I going to lose 18.5 pounds in four months when I lost only 13 pounds in eight?

(September 2012 at about 181.5 pounds)

Then something amazing happened.

I was walking on the treadmill at my gym thinking that what I needed was a weight-loss mentor. Someone who was an expert and could offer me guidance. Someone who could show me what I was doing wrong and guide me to a better way. Just as I was thinking this, one of the personal trainers at my gym came up to me (mind you, while I was still walking on the treadmill) and asked me whether I was taking advantage of what they gym had to offer to reach my health and fitness goals. I told him about my challenges and he replied that he actually worked successfully with clients with similar issues. At this point I didn’t really believe in the benefits of a personal trainer, because I was self-motivated and knowledgeable about exercise and fitness equipment. I had also tried working with a personal trainer twice before (3 sessions with each trainer), but both trainers worked me so hard that I ended up almost passing out. BUT I had just mentally asked for a mentor so I thought the least I could do was listen to what he had to offer.

A few days later, after hearing about the science behind his program and about the great results some of his clients had achieved, I signed up for five weeks of diet menus, an exercise plan, and personal training sessions (one per week). After the five weeks, I had all the knowledge I needed to continue on my own, but I had such good results (almost 10 pounds down) that I ended up signing back on for an additional 10 weeks.

While working with my personal trainer, I learned new and effective exercises, received diet guidance, including evaluation and menu adjustments, as needed, and discussed diet and exercise struggles, which resulted in a lot of mental-barrier breakthroughs. In 15 weeks, I lost over 22 pounds. Not as much as we’d predicted, but I had to be happy as the time frame included Thanksgiving and a trip to Belgium (think Belgian waffle topped with melted Belgian chocolate and whipped cream! Okay, not a good idea. Think carrot sticks!). In addition to the weight loss and mental-barrier breakthroughs, I also discovered a way of eating based on glycemic load that completely eliminated all my cravings, allowing me to eat real food when I was actually hungry and to avoid emotional eating. This truly was a life-changing development!

By year’s end, not only had I reached my goal weight, but I’d surpassed it! I lost 33 pounds in 2012 and rang in the New Year at 161.5 pounds! Instead of losing a total of 65 pounds since starting on SparkPeople, I lost a total of 70 pounds since I started my weight-loss journey. Amazing!

(November 30, 2012, at 164.5)

(November 30, 2012, at 164.5)

(Christmas Day 2012 at 161.5)

Although I gained so much from working with my personal trainer (who is always motivating and never degrading), I spend only one hour a week with him. The rest of the time I am on my own, so I still find myself logging in regularly to SparkPeople for motivation, information, and support. My trainer, SparkPeople, and SparkPeople's people were all instrumental in 2012's weight loss success. So, thank you!!!!

Even though I’m below my goal weight, which had been chosen somewhat arbitrarily, I know that I want to lose more weight, because I’m still carrying too much fat on my abdomen and back. But I’m feeling very positive about the process and can continue eating as I am doing well into the future. I don’t know what weight is best for me, so I’ve decided to set 5-pound weight loss goals, reevaluating as I go, until I’m at a weight where I look and feel my best.

Year-end goal for 2013: Reach the ideal weight for my body where I look and feel my best.
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