I am over 50. I had convinced myself that due to age, being slender and fit would now be impossible. Oh- I tried. Believe me, I tried. Since my first go-round with a "liquid diet" at about age 15, I have never stopped dieting. A chubby kid and teen, I have never fully recovered from being a "fat kid". But if I tried really hard, I could keep my weight in check. Then I turned 48. My middle expanded by several inches, my upper arms inflated and my face puffed up like a yeast roll. It seemed like nothing would make a dent in my expansion.
During the Bye Buy year, I had to remain in strict control of my diet since larger clothes would not be an option. I actually finished the year smaller than when I started. And settled into my new, fuller-sized self.
Then my husband joined the Biggest Loser contest at work. As you know, men simply have to create a tiny thought bubble over their heads that reads "diet" and--poof! They lose 10 pounds. He got serious, employing his Fitness Pal app. He started spouting calorie counts, questioning portion sizes and inventorying the ingredients in my cooking. Calorie counts? I know them backwards and forwards. No one has to tell me how many calories are in a slice of cheese. He continuously encouraged me to join Fitness Pal. I refused on principal. I don't need no stinkin' Fitness Pal, I can count calories in my head! He lost more weight, I stayed the same. I See? What did I tell you? NOTHING works after 50.
As his weight loss approached 20 pounds and he was looking fine (the good fine), I began to worry that my hotter than ever husband would be embarrassed by his puffy wife. I toyed with the idea of Fitness Pal again, but the principal of it ... And then I found an alternative app, My Net Diary and in my opinion it is the same as Fitness Pal (but it's not Fitness Pal, hah!) Whoa. If you use the app correctly, you can't get away with anything. I've done Weight Watchers before but this was way easier than the "points" system. I programmed myself in to lose two pounds per week. And I did. Wait, what? Okay, maybe it will work for a week. But it kept working. Confession: I have a mortal fear of scales so I don't actually weigh myself but I know how my clothes fit. Yes, there were days when I felt a little hungry or deprived. Honestly, doing it with my husband made it mush easier because we wheeled and dealed snack and meal options like day traders. If I cut 100 calories from my lunch, I can have some popcorn tonight, what are you having for breakfast ...
There is one way, and one way only to lose weight. There is no magic combination or pill, not exclusion of food groups. Eat less and exercise more. That's it. So we joined a gym last fall. I was very intimidated and recovering from a knee injury so I limited myself to walks on the treadmill while watching the gym television. My husband continuously encouraged me to try the weights. "No!" I said. I'll worry about muscles when I lose weight. And I can't lose weight, so there.
As My Net Diary really began to reveal progress, I knew that kicking up the exercise would speed the process up even more. I started jogging at the gym. Very slow. Very, very slow but working on it. More progress. I eyed the weight machines. I really wanted to refuse (again, on principal) but gave it a shot. I was so weak, I could only lift the lightest possible weights, and that scared me.
Fear. What I used to consider a "healthy sense of self preservation" was fear. I was afraid to truly track my calories because, one, I was afraid to be hungry, and two, I was afraid it still wouldn't work rendering my permanently puffy. I was afraid that I would try to jog and tire out. That I would look like a silly, weak fool at the weight machines. I was afraid that my knee injury would flare up. I was afraid of being photographed for fear I would actually see how I looked. I was afraid of another long, chubby bathing suit summer. Afraid of being old. Afraid of failure. I was being ruled by fear.
Me? Stunted by fear? The girl who rode a bike down Pike's Peak? The girl who swam to the super-far away buoy in the ocean? THE GIRL WHO DIDN'T BUY CLOTHES FOR A WHOLE FLIPPING YEAR? Yep, that girl.
I had to admit my fears then face them head on. And guess what. I'm down two full sizes. I am wearing a size I haven't seen in nearly 10 years. My recent vacation photos reveled what I expected, I still have work to do but I am making progress every week. Like a Bye Buy year, it's a long, slow, steady process to really change the way you live. I use my calorie tracking app every day but also enjoy treats now and then. Exercise has become part of the routine and although I don't love going to step class, I love the feeling of accomplishment afterwards.
Here are the things that have helped me:
- I was inspired by my friend who worked to become very slender after the age of 50. She made me realize it was still possible. I was also inspired by another friend who lost 100 pounds on her own and has kept it off for 10 years.
- I am owning my progress. In the past, if someone complimented my progress, I would shrug it off. I could say, "oh, I'm just having fun chasing my grandson around." But that's not true, it's really hard work. So now I say, "Thank you! I've been working very hard at it."
- My stubbornness is not always a good thing and I have had to let go of some pride to admit that things like apps and weight-lifting are good.
- Like my husband, I lose the big clothes as soon as I can leaving no room to return.
- Working with my husband to change the pattern of our lives was so helpful. We encourage each other and are having fun with it.
- We used to eat out once or twice a week because I would claim to be exhausted. I don't make good food choices eating out. Now we may go out one or twice a month and the money we save pays the gym membership.
As I said, I am a work in progress. It took a year to change my evil buying ways. I suspect it will take a long time to cement this lifestyle. I don't really know how fit I can become but at least I am no longer afraid to find out.