Trust Your Gut is a series of stories about real people with weight issues, and complications arising from those issues. It will explain what the person is facing, what their options are, what they have decided to do to take action, and why they chose the path they are on. Each person’s story will be based on truth, so it won’t all be happy, but it will be real. The goal of this series is to get people talking about options that are available for people who have weight issues, on either end of the scale. If you would like to contribute to this series, please contact Tish. I know there are people out there that want to help people like them; as I do.
The names here may or may not reflect the person’s real name. If someone wants to remain unknown, we will choose a different name for that person’s story. The goal is to help people, and anonymity is a valid personal choice for contributors. I will use a person’s name only if they give permission to do so.
This week I am pleased to share the story of a friend. It is written in her own words, and she submitted it with her permission to share it as a part of the series.
Here is Trust Your Gut: Jane’s Story; Charting My Weight | Gaining Perspective
I have spent over 40 years in a love-hate relationship with my weight. As a result, I have many, many records of my weight at various times—weights were taken at the Doctor’s office, at various weight loss programs, and at home. An excellent record for purposes of analysis—after so many ups and downs over the years, I can look at my weight with some perspective.
I began my first weight loss efforts in Grade 9 (!) at the urging of a Physical Education Teacher. I weighed 118 pounds. She gave me the Mayo Clinic Diet of the day and my poor mother must have been frantic supplying me with hard-boiled eggs and grapefruit which is all I can remember eating.
The next weight loss effort was in Grade 11 with TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly). My only memory from TOPS are fragmented bits of the motto: “I am an Intelligent person … every time I am tempted to overeat in private … my excess poundage is there for all the world to see … what a fool I’ve been.” In 1972, I left Grade 12 at 168 pounds.
Armed with these rather dubious wisdoms, I spent the next eight years in an upward pattern that would govern the rest of my young adult years. I joined Weight Watchers which did teach me something about eating behaviors, returned to TOPS a time or two, attended sessions with a dietician, and designed my own wellness systems many, many times.
Now, years later, I realise that my weight really started to climb when I had my own money, was preparing my own food, and was under work stresses I never encountered in school or university.
When I was married, I weighed 180 pounds.
I was fit and active. My work in those days meant hiking and climbing regularly to wilderness places throughout the province. I was fit and active, but I was fat. I could not shake the belief that I didn’t look as good as I should. And looking good was all-important.
That, I realise now, was beside the point. The challenge was to stay fit and active—to avoid high blood pressure and all its risks, stress on my knees and back, and diabetes. My goal should have been to live a long and able life.
When I was 30, I had a baby, the best thing I ever did for so many reasons! But I had a difficult pregnancy and spent most of it inactive and on my back and I gained weight. I topped the scales at 280 pounds and spent the next thirty years trying to get rid of the weight.
My Doctor tried to help me. My Mom tried harder than anyone, including me.
She copied out diets that might interest me. She sent me twenty dollars a month (I made a decent salary of my own) to buy healthy snack foods. She suggested things she thought might help me lose weight. I realise now, as a Mom, she wanted good health for me and, like me, had no magic wand to help her daughter be healthier. By the time I was forty, I had high blood pressure, and lots of medications to control it. By the time I was fifty, I had Type 2 Diabetes, and lots of meds to control it. And I had a trusty cane, the first hint of the osteoarthritis that now plagues me every day and keeps me from being fit and active.
When I retired from work in 2012 at 58, I lost a lot of the stress that ruled my life and I think I finally got a clue. I started a program of exercise, stationary cycling accompanied by seeing the world virtually (with Street View). Over the next years, I cycled through central France, southern Ireland, the Cornwall coast of England, and northern New Brunswick. This month I am ‘touring Scotland and the home of my ancestors. I got control of my diabetes with insulin and a wonderful medication called Forxiga which also results in some weight loss. And this past summer, I had a bout with salivary gland cancer.
During the process of surgery and radiation, I lost my sense of taste for a few weeks. At the end of that time, I find am no longer interested in food as a way of approaching life. I am more interested in building back the muscle mass I lost while lounging around the hospital between radiation treatments last summer.
I am now at 214 pounds, and still on the way down. The last time I weighed 214 was when I was 28 years old. I am not really aiming for any particular weight, but I’d really like to fit into my wedding dress again.
So, what is the ‘magic wand?’ Oh, how I wish I knew.
I know that human beings have one major fault: ‘the bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.’ So that slice of blueberry pie will always look more delightful than the bottles and bottles of blue blood pressure pills you might never have to take (since I started taking them in 1994, I have taken 19,656 pills of Inderol to control my blood pressure). That bowl of ice cream will always taste better than days and days of blood glucose readings under 7.0. And that chocolate bar will always smell more delicious than leaving the cane or walker in the closet where it belongs.
You can have good things to eat but only once in a while and in smaller portions. And you can spend as much time as possible walking and swimming and cycling. Save yourself a huge amount of misery down the road.
If you’d like to follow my progress on getting fit and active, have a look at my blog.
Thank you Jane for your honesty and for sharing your story here. I know it can be hard to put it all out there, but it is time that people like us speak out to try to help others. It is interesting to see your chart, and I love the artwork you submitted. Keep celebrating every little success, and be proud that your decision is certainly the right one for you. I am very impressed with your success and determination. Keep going, my friend, you are an inspiration!