By: Gail McQuarrie
I was never a small person. Never skinny. Always overweight. Being active as a child and young adult helped me keep a lot of weight off over those years, but by September 11, 2018 I had had enough. The weight that was creeping up over the years as I became much less active took me to 325 lbs and I decided it was live healthy or die before my time.
That was my foremost reason to talk to the person in the mirror and decide this was not going to be another attempt at weight loss. This was going to be a lifestyle change. There were things I wanted to do in life – now and later- and my present path was not going to allow me to do those things.
I was 325 lbs, (I am 5’8) my Blood Pressure was a whopping 145/95 or higher most of the time and on BP medication it was still a little higher than normal. I had surgeries that took their time healing and honestly it scared the crap out of me. I didn’t walk far before I was winded and I saw myself headed where my mom currently is (wheelchair bound) if I continued on this self-destructive course.
I wanted to be healthier. I wanted to live longer. I wanted to feel better about me. I wanted to live a less sedentary life. I wanted to horseback ride with a friend. I wanted me to be me… a person I felt like I hadn’t been for a long time. If maybe ever. I just knew who I was mentally, emotionally and physically wasn’t the me I knew in my mind. And my weight was a large reason for that poor self-esteem and who I had become.
I decided it was time for a change and the time was right to make that change. Doctors, family, friends; everyone can tell you you need to lose weight, “it’s best for your health”, “you will feel better about yourself”, “you will live longer”. BUT at the end of the day until YOU decide it is time and YOU are going to do it, that YOU are going to make the lifelong commitment to succeed, truth is, YOU won’t.
I know you want me to tell you there is some quick fix, some magic pill, some protein drink or right amount of some food or drink that will make the weight disappear. Sorry. That is not the way this works. But I can tell you what worked for me.
I started by taking a couple of things out of my diet- Potato chips (my staple), pastries, white bread, rice and potatoes. I stopped drinking my beers every night and they became a treat. I stopped eating out every other day. I concentrated my food intake on foods that filled me and tried to include the healthiest food groups. I probably went from eating 4500-5500 calories a day to about 2200 or so, and these changes helped me see success on the scale every week.
At this same time I started going to the gym. I started with short, low impact activities at the gym. I did the recumbent bike for 20 minutes. I went 6 days a week for about the first 2 months, and some days I didn’t make it the whole 20 minutes. Some days I went a little faster. By the end of two months I was up to 30 minutes and was even able to increase my speed and resistance a little bit. I always went to the gym when I could, even if it was only for 10 minutes.
Despite deciding on my own to lose weight, I wasn’t alone! I had a very knowledgeable friend who would give me great feedback and positive reinforcement. You NEED to find yourself one of these people. It doesn’t need to be a spouse. It just needs to be someone who will share valuable health conscious information with you and be that cheerleader for you. The mental boost is incredible. This person will be that person who will help you through the no weight loss weeks, the plateaus that can be so frustrating, the person who will give you the positive feedback to continue when it would be easier to quit. This person will also remind you when you need it, that you’re doing great, you’re looking great, remind you to ‘feel’ the difference you are making in yourself. This person truly is someone who cares about you… this person is your very own cheerleader… and that person who will do more for you than they will ever realize. The important thing is you will know it. And thrive because of it.
So then comes an event… with food… good food…lots of food…. Like Christmas. You’re still living your life, so you won’t be able to avoid events and holidays like this forever. Go ahead… eat that dressing, those candies, or even that potato – but do it in moderation. Remind yourself of your end goal. You will have lots of occasions in your lifelong journey. Treat, but do not overindulge. You can do it. BUT it does take some discipline. And it is discipline that will become part of your life.
So what did I eat when I wasn’t treating myself? Well for the first six months or so, I did this on my own (with help and a little exercise). I ate eggs, fruit, yogurt, whole wheat bread pretty much faithfully for breakfast. I ate snacks that consisted of crunchy vegetables and fruit (remember I gave up my ‘go – to’ snack potato chips. I needed that psychological crunch replaced). And I didn’t care how much I ate when it came to fruit and vegetables. So long as it filled me. Lunch no longer consisted of take-out chicken Caesar salads. It consisted of salads, chicken, tuna, pork, almonds, fruit. Sometimes the odd sandwich.
My dinners most often consisted of mostly proteins with vegetables. And all lunches and dinners consisted of eating an apple prior to my meal. (this will help fill you and it’s fiber!!). Oftentimes I would eat a small salad prior to dinner as well. You cannot eat a lot after an apple and small salad!!! I found a strategy that worked for me, and I was able to make it part of my routine without feeling upset or deprived.
After six months of eating well, exercise and having success I had my first long plateau. And yes you will have them too. YES! They are frustrating and discouraging. But instead of getting off track, I get creative. I try to change up what I am eating. I’ve gone from heavy on the proteins to cutting out my snacks to replacing my dinners with a fruit smoothie rather than a full meal. And honestly, even letting myself indulge in moderation a bit has helped restart weight loss.It also helped me to increase my gym time during extended plateaus. I just try to remember, during a plateau, your body is telling you it is used to what you are doing. So change it up.
Faithfully every day morning and night I weigh myself. I know people say weigh yourself once a week. Well, I find doing this gives me an average of your weight. You will weigh probably 2 pounds heavier at night than in the morning. If my weight is up on a morning I find it helps me eat more disciplined that day. I never let myself get more than 3 pounds up in any given week. I don’t know why I picked that number, but it works for me. Your weight can fluctuate because of what you eat, but little things can make a difference especially for us women (I am 57 so menopause is behind me)- so learn to not be too hard on yourself depending on when you weigh yourself.
Sometimes worse than a plateau period is a yo-yo period. Up 2 pounds this week, Next down 2. The next up those 2. It was frustrating, I was still eating well and exercising but I felt stuck in a weird gain/lose cycle.
After 7 months of eating healthier and 2 months of yo-yo’ing I was down 54 pounds, feeling much better but getting frustrated so I reached out to my cheerleader for support. They recommend I try something really different or find a support group or structured program to help. So, onto Weight Watchers I went. And just like those changing up the foods I ate to rid myself of the plateau’s, this worked to get rid of the yo-yo’ing. And I am not here to promote any program over any other. I am only speaking to what has worked for me. I have been doing it now for 9 months and am down a total of 100 pounds.
This new way of eating jump started things again, but my exercise fell off to pretty much nothing. It’s ok for things to slow down or to focus on other things besides weight loss. In fact, it has been awhile since I have hit 100 pounds of weight loss and I have almost intentionally taken a break from the work of losing weight. And it is work. It is every single day, work. But I made a choice consciously and I’m holding steady. I’m getting there.
Another thing I did from the get go is I set small goals. I was always one of those people who asked.,” How the Hell does someone lose 100 pounds?” I still ask it!!!! I always set small goals. They started at 5 pounds, and every 5 pounds I set the goal for the next 5 pounds. Then I got brave and I set my goals at 10 pound increments. It’s easier to reach small goals!! “I can’t lose 100 pounds.” BUT I can lose 25 pounds 5 pounds at a time and then 70 pounds in 10 pound increments, add 5 more pounds and VIOLA!!! 100 pounds!!!!! REALLY?? DID I REALLY JUST LOSE 100 POUNDS!!!!???? Yes I became one of those people I only dreamed of becoming.
I was never a person to accept a compliment. The words “Thank You” were just not in my vocabulary when it came to me. But I have learned to accept them. I must admit I find it a little amusing now when people see me who haven’t seen me for a couple years and their reaction to my weight loss. I take all the compliments now and I use them as power to continue, because I am not finished yet. I have the rest of my life to be healthy now. This is a life long journey. And I know that sounds corny but it truly is and the sooner you believe it the sooner your journey of successful weight loss will start.
This website is tremendous. I utilized the comments and stories and support on the facebook page so much when I first started. I haven’t been around much lately….life happens…. Maybe that is one of the reasons my weight loss has also stalled some. Capitalizing on support is paramount to success. I really believe that. And if my story can help to motivate you and be that cheerleader for you? Then that is awesome!!
I hope I have shared some ideas you can incorporate and help you succeed. Keep sharing your stories and working because it really is worth it. You are worth it.
Believe me I am the last person I ever thought would be asked to share my story about losing weight to help motivate others. My Doctor has called me the poster child for weight loss and decreased Blood Pressure (oh yes that is now hovering around 110-75 regularly now, without meds). She has said to me, “I wish you could talk to my patients about losing weight and what to do.” Like I said to you here, I said to her. “We all know it is only the person in the mirror that can decide when it is time” to do it for you, no one else, you and you alone. DO IT FOR YOU. I HAVE. YOU CAN!
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