For many women losing weight is a lifelong battle. Dieting and exercising like crazy, followed by binge eating and complete inactivity. The weight comes off then the weight goes back on…plus a little more. And the cycle gets repeated several times. How can you get off this cycle? For some women it’s easier than others…but for all of us it’s quite a journey. In this post I’m going to go back and forth with Mary, who is on the path to losing weight and getting to a place where she’s more comfortable and content with herself. I have been on the diet roller coaster before with a 55 lb diet swing, but I’ve finally kicked the habit. I wanted to go back and forth with Mary because her story is so inspiring and she’s working so hard to get to a great place in her life. I love women’s success stories and I thought this may be interesting to see two different perspectives, one from a woman who’s in the process, and one from a woman who’s won the weight war. What’s your weight story? Mary: In high school I was depressed and gained weight until I hit a high of around 255 or 260 pounds. On a 5'2" frame, that is a lot of weight. When I first went to college I decided to finally do something about the weight and try and change my life. My freshman year of college I started working out and eating healthier foods and I dropped 60 pounds. It was a very good first year of college. After that I went on a continuous cycle of gaining weight, and losing, and then gaining it all back. With every major change in my life, such as going to university, or moving to Europe, or moving home again, came another cycle of weight gain and loss. I’m making a huge effort to lose weight again and I've lost over 20 pounds since the decision to lose weight and am continuing my journey of weight loss. Hopefully now that I have freed myself from the destructive habits and environment I was in I will lose the extra weight and find a comfortable place for my body. Ingrid: For me losing 45 pounds was almost accidental. After my first year in university I tipped the scales at 165 pounds and size 10 pants. At 5’3 that’s quite a lot. I carried it all in my upper half; chubby cheeks, big boobs, thick arms and a full belly. I wouldn’t think twice about eating heaps of tater tots and a pile of cream cheese on a toasted bagel, followed by my two Mr. Big chocolate bars and a few cans of Coke. I never exercised. Then I got a job as a gardener. I was outdoors all summer long digging holes, planting flowers, pushing heavy wheelbarrows and walking all over the university campus. I also moved out of the college dorm and ate healthier and lighter foods, not on purpose but just because when I cooked for myself I didn’t eat much instant or packaged foods. I would have toast for breakfast, soup or a sandwich for lunch and pasta with tomato sauce for dinner. I wore dirty gardening clothes every day, and since it was summer, and I had a bit of pocket money from my gardening job, I bought new summer clothes for after work. When the fall came around I put my old clothes back on…and they fell off my hips. When I weighed myself at my friends house I couldn’t believe I weighed 120 lbs. Without realizing it I’d lost 45 pounds! What’s your goal weight? Mary: To be honest I'm not sure what my goal weight is and to me it's not very important. I've never weighed under 190 as an adult so I'm guessing it is somewhere around 175 is my goal, but I'm just shooting blindly and going to let my body figure it out once I get closer. Ingrid: 120 lbs. I’m where I want to be weight wise, I just want to get more toned. I’m always checking to mix up my exercises so I can maintain my weight where it is.
What’s the secret to your weight loss? Mary: Secret? Heheh. That is such a funny question. Their isn't a secret, so hopefully you will never believe someone who tells you there is. For me it was all about making that decision that I wanted to lose weight and be healthier. Once I made the decision and it became part of my mindset I knew I could do all the work necessary to lose weight. Ingrid: It’s not a secret, but a mind shift. It was a total change of lifestyle that had me exercising daily and eating better. What’s the one thing that makes weight loss difficult for you? Mary: I struggle with emotional and stress eating, so for me, weight loss has been difficult because I've so often fallen back into those traps and erased all the work I did previously. Not having a good handle on why I used food in the ways that I did made weight loss very, very hard. Ingrid: I think so many corporate work environments are dreadful for our health. I’ve worked in several offices and the best office environment is one that’s close to home (i.e. I can walk there), and has lots of amenities and walkable areas nearby. That way you can run errands, step out for a walk or go to the park. A commuting lifestyle is soooo horrible for our health, and usually suburban offices are surrounded by fast food joints, they don’t have walkable areas, and you need to drive to get there so you can’t walk to work.
How does weight loss affect your confidence? Mary: Well, I'm not going to lie - I feel a lot more confident when I've lost weight. I've been slowly becoming more confident during the last few years regardless of my weight, but I still have always remained below my highest weight ever. And that has definitely helped me build confidence in other areas of my life. Ingrid: It’s a chicken and egg story. I feel confident when I’m a good weight, but I watch my weight because I’m confident and don’t want to let myself fall into depressing patterns again. They work together very carefully, and one doesn’t come before the other. Are you on a weight roller coaster? Mary: I would have to say yes. I think I am at the end of the ride now and the weight is coming off for good, but I'm still on a ride that has taken me up and down weight wise for several years. I would lose weight during college then move back home and regain 30 pounds in a summer or in the year I spent there after graduation. That move out, move home weight fluctuation was a crazy roller coaster but I think now that I'm on my own and moving on I will finally be hopping off and settling at a healthy weight for me. Ingrid: I was before. After the gardening job I kept on slowly losing weight, and at one point I was 110 pounds. I had big dark bags under my eyes, no energy and was pretty unhealthy. But I was skinny! Two years later I’d graduated from university and was working in the corporate world. Sitting down all day, surrounded by unhealthy drinks and snacks all day a bit of weight crept back on. I was about 125 lbs for a few years, but now I’m at 120lbs and that’s where I want to stay. I look fit, but not skinny and I feel great. I eat well, exercises regularly and course correct whenever I feel myself putting weight on again. How does it feel to get more attention because you lost weight? Mary: It is a strange feeling. I've always dealt with feeling self-conscious and insecure, so having people compliment me often is something I still don't know how to deal with. I accept compliments and enjoy them because I've worked hard to feel and look better, but it feels strange to receive them and makes me wonder why we don't compliment people all the time. I would have liked to have been noticed and appreciated before I lost the weight, but I feel like I was almost invisible then. Ingrid: When everyone saw me they would always say “You look so good” or “Oh my god, you’re half the person you were before!”. After a while it started to bother me. Wasn’t I compliment worthy before? Did I have to be skinny to look good and have people notice me? After a few weeks I would cringe every time I’d hear someone say something about how much weight I’d lost. I was never weight conscious before, but after I lost so much weight, and had internalized the idea that skinny equals pretty I started to watch what I ate more and more. But now I’m totally comfortable with myself. I love the way I look and I’ll gladly accept compliments. How’s your relationship with food now? Mary: Much, much better. I won't say it is perfect, because I still have times where I want to eat for comfort instead of nourishment, but those times are less often. I've learned how to eat mindfully and listen to what my body is telling me. If I'm full I can stop eating instead. I'm much more in tune with what my body wants and needs regarding food now. Ingrid: I think about food totally differently. I eat to nourish my body, not to fill up. When I’m hungry I always ask myself “Is this a good food choice?” I eat pretty healthy, but it takes a big effort on my part. -- For all the ladies that are looking to make some positive changes in their lives – don’t delay! There is no better day than today to start living your dream life Mary is a healthy living blogger at amerrylife.com. She has been up on the scale and down, but is confident that no matter what weight she is at she will be living a happy and healthy life. For more on her weight loss journey, visit her personal weight loss blog: amerrylife.com.