Sunday, August 06, 2006

A Little History

Let's get back to the topic of my weight. I know you've been waiting for the gory details.

The first time I went to Weight Watchers was in sixth grade. In the first week I gained two pounds. The "scale lady" was a bit perplexed since apparently the idea was that I was suppose to lose weight, not gain weight. It seemed to restore her faith in the miracle of Weight Watchers when I mentioned innocently that I had eaten two jars of pickles; pickles being an "unlimited food" like yellow mustard and beef boullion cubes. Yum. Surely the two pounds only reflected water retention from the high intake of salt and next week I would be sure to see a big weight loss.

The problem was I hadn't eaten any pickles at all. In actuality I had eaten one pound of salt water taffy every night for a week; candy I was suppose to be selling as a fundraiser for my church youth group. Let's do the math. Seven nights + One pound of candy = Seven pounds of candy. I learned a valuable lesson. Candy fundraisers and Weight Watchers do not mix.

That was my first attempt at weight loss. The following 30 plus years would look something like this in bullet points:

  • Countless attempts at Weight Watchers. They have a plaque in their corporate office with my name on it for "Most Likely to Pay The One-Time Start Up Fee Again and Again and Again."
  • Jenny Craig, Nutrisystems, and a whole bunch of other weight loss programs that the years and pounds have erased from my memory.
  • Metracal and Sego Diet Food. The first liquid diets in a can.
  • Ayds. Those yummy chewable caramel appetite suppressants. The directions said "Eat two 30 minutes before a meal with a glass of water." What the directions didn't say was "Eat an entire box at once," but I found that when I did, it really curbed my appetite. Warning: Do not try this at home.
  • Optifast Liquid Diet. For forty days I drank nasty tasting thick mock-chocolate swill, ate n-o-t-h-i-n-g and had my blood pressure monitored once a week. Oh yes, and I also poured over every food and recipe magazine I could get my hands on while salivating copiously. Food porno.
  • The Yogurt Diet, The Grapefruit Diet, and The Melon Diet. The name says it all.
  • The Hi-Protein Diet, The Lo-Protein Diet, The Hi-Carb Diet, The No-Carb Diet, The No-Carb Hi-Protein No-Fat Hi-Fiber I-Am-Going-To-Lose-My-Freaking-Mind-And-Kill-Everyone-Before-I-Do Diet.
Every diet worked, but there was a certain progression that would follow without exception. It went something like this - go on a diet, lose some weight, stop the diet, return to old way of eating, gain the weight I originally lost, gain a little bit more, go on a diet, and repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat... 180, 165, 192, 172, 215, 201, 256...

On May 8, 1999, at the age of 40-something I came to the stark realization that the best that all my attempts at a solution had gotten me was a crazy head and a 325 pound body. That morning I walked into a room filled with people just like me, found a chair with my name on it (metaphorically), and have never left. It's a program of anonymity so I'm not saying anything - - - click here but don't tell them I sent you.

Since that day I've never been on a diet again since historically a diet is something I do for a short time to lose weight so that I can start eating again like I was before I went on the diet. Over the last seven years I've had a plan of eating, a plan that I can live with for the rest of my life. My plan of eating or food plan looks something like this:
4 ounces protein
6-8 ounces fruit
1/3 cup oatbran
1 tablespoon fat

4 ounces protein
2 cups or 14 ounces of veggies
1 tablespoon fat

4 ounces protein
3 cups or 21 ounces of veggies
1 tablespoon fat

Three meals a day, nothing in between. Okay, revise that. Four shots of espresso on ice with a splash of lo-fat milk once, sometimes twice a day, and during my LSD walks (over 8 miles) I eat a Larabar around mile 6. Why a Larabar? No sugar. No flour. Just nuts, dates, and natural flavorings. It's not a snack. It's fuel.

That's the other thing. In seven years I haven't eaten any sugar, honey, molasses, white flour, and only trace amounts of rice and potatoes. These are the foods I don't eat because if I eat a little, I crave a lot. If I don't eat them, I'm free from them.

You'd think eating this way I could lose more weight but for the past four years I've been in a holding pattern somewhere between 185 and 200. Never more, never less. I can be on vacation, eating in restaurants and having less control of my food in terms of quantity and ingredients, but not gain any weight. I can follow my food plan precisely, walk miles a week, cross-train a couple times and have the stomach flu on top of it all, but not lose any weight.

Frustrated? Nah, not really. I'm grateful. Grateful for a quality of life I never thought I'd ever experience when I was 325 pounds. Hopeful that if I continue to eat healthy and moderately, and give my body the exercise and rest it needs, the scales will eventually move downward, and as I've said, I want it to for the sake of improving my walking endurance and speed. How do I make it happen? Heck, if I know but between now and the Portland Marathon on October 1, here's what I'm committed to doing to giving myself the best chance of losing a bit of the excess baggage I don't want to cart around for 26.2 miles:

  1. Continue to follow my food plan and follow it in reality and not in theory.
  2. Drink more water.
  3. Get enough rest.
  4. Continue with my training schedule (Mondays - 5/6 miles, Wednesday - 3/4 miles - Fridays - LSD).
  5. Core training 2/3 times a week.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


Jules said...

I was checking my own blog and pushed the "next blog flag" (I'm new and didn't know what it did). Anyway your blog came up and it was if God had a plan. First, I am a Disciple of Christ in Ohio and as you know we aren't quite as prevelant as say Catholics.
Secondly, I have had a weight problem for several years after a series of surgeries(and a pregnancy) left me 80 pounds heavier than I had ever been. As a person who never had a weight problem I can not tell you how depressing this has been. I have to say I am now in a cycle of emotional overeating that has prevented successfully getting healthy. I didn't know that OA existed but I found a meeting in my area and I am going to contact the group leader.
Thank you for sharing your story, you have sent me on the road to recovery.

Anita said...

Jules, It's a pretty awesome God-moment not only that you accidentally found my blog but that it was less than an hour after I posted this entry about that thing that I can't mention because it's an anonymous program :)

jeanne said...

I'm so impressed with your weight loss and commitment. amazing.
I've been there, done that, too, with just about every program you mention. I too, refuse to "diet" anymore. it doesn't work, and it just makes me mental. So, I too, am in a holding pattern, but I'm OK with it, too!

But, I can't say "me too" when it comes to giving up white flour, sugar and all that other crap that you've given up for years! I can say: GREAT JOB! I'm gonna work on that.

Anita said...

Trust me, if I could eat a couple cookies and call it a wrap, I'd run back to sugar and flour and embrace them like long lost children. The problem is, one bite leads to the fulfillment of "Bet you can't eat just one." I can't unless of course, you're talking about one box, one bowl, one bag, one pound....