Most of my life, I’ve dealt with weight issues. I have been to countless endocrinologists, gynecologists, bariatric doctors, nutritionists, naturopaths, and weight loss centers. I’ve read books, taken diet pills, and tried everything from Weight Watchers to The Zone to the Cabbage Soup Diet and more. I had little to no success, sometimes ballooning 10 pounds in less than a week.
After two or three years, I’d gained 150 pounds.
Depression and self-loathing kicked in. I shut myself off from friends so they didn't see how big I had gotten. My family, many of them struggling with their own weight, didn’t say much. Thankfully, my husband loved me, thick or thin, but he was worried.
It wasn’t that I didn’t exercise or ate too much, or even ate too much junk food. I was just cursed with a slow thyroid and an even slower metabolism.
I was stuck. No matter what I ate or didn’t eat, nothing changed. I felt doomed to be fat and sometimes I just gave up and binged until I was sick. Then I’d hear of a new diet pill or program or book and I’d jump on the bandwagon, hoping that this time I’d have success. This went on for a good 15 years.
Then one day about five years ago I looked in the mirror—I mean, really looked—and I didn’t see myself looking back at me. I saw this big round head with two chins, tiny eyes, and no neck. That wasn’t me. I didn’t recognize this person and I didn’t like her. I had lost my shape, my energy, my humor and spark. For me, that was rock bottom. I knew I had to do something, but I also knew I had to do it for myself.
Maybe you have loved ones who want you to lose weight or who make you feel guilty for not trying hard enough. But I think until you hit your rock bottom—whatever yours may be—you won’t succeed. You have to set your mind to it and decide to do it for yourself and no one else.
I researched bariatric procedures, including the lap band, but it was pretty drastic. I decided to eat small amounts of healthy food several times a day instead.
After trying so many different diets, I took elements from each and comprised my own plan. I eliminated everything but a few lean meats, fish, and easily digested fruits and vegetables—no added fats, dairy, or sugar. I allowed myself coffee, tea, and lemon water.
The hard part was learning to eat only when my body was physically hungry, instead of when I felt emotionally hungry or bored. I ate until I was physically satiated, but not stuffed.
I alternated a few weeks of this with a few weeks of less restriction, allowing dairy and more variety, but no junk food. I repeated this cycle for a couple years until it became a part of my life. And that is really what it comes down to—changing your ways.
Success does not come from a pill or a tincture; it comes from consistency. I had to learn to exercise—consistently. I had to learn to eat right—consistently. I had to learn to say no to convenience foods, like instant box mixes, frozen dinners, and fast food. I had to watch my dairy intake and give up most sugars and “fast carbohydrates,” starchy foods that the body quickly converts into sugar.
What’s left? Well, a lot of things that your body needs, like lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, good fats, and dark chocolate for indulgence.
I know what you are thinking, “I can’t survive on that! I love pizza and bread!” Trust me, you can survive and you will feel better. We need to learn to feed our bodies what it needs, not to feed it what it wants. Eating Smart is about finding healthy recipes and substitutions that taste good and don’t take a long time to prepare, especially if you plan—consistently.
Granted, my situation is extreme. I was not blessed with a healthy thyroid or metabolism. However, I was blessed in that I never completely gave up. I failed a lot, but I kept trying. I am by no means thin, but I am comfortable in my own skin, if still not happy with the naked me. I feel 20 years younger, and I look pretty damn good for being almost 50.
More importantly, I’ve learned about nutrition and exercise, and I’ve learned that I am stronger than I thought possible. I am still trying to lose the last 50 pounds to reach my personal goal. I may get there or I may not, but I will not give up. Consistency is the key to success.