Sunday, April 10, 2011

One Year Later - Operation Get Healthy

A year ago this week, I embarked on my weight loss journey.   

At that time, I blogged about how I had been waiting to care enough for all the work and dedication it takes to lose weight.  That day came one morning on the first warm day in early April, as I opened a drawer full of shorts and tee shirts that no longer fit me, and pulled on my old ratty sweatpants, disgusted with myself.

I knew I was overweight; I thought I had about 20 lbs or so to lose.   Like with so many things in life, I wasn't seeing what I didn't want to see:  I had over 50 lbs to lose to get to a healthy weight.   When I stood on the scale at my first Jenny Craig visit and saw how much I weighed, I cried. 

When I set a weight loss goal of 55 lbs, however, I laughed.   I couldn't imagine losing that much weight.  I told my Jenny Craig consultant I would be thrilled to lose half that much.

I sit here one year later and 63 lbs lighter, and now I'm in a different kind of denial; I can't remember what it felt like to be heavy.   That version of me seems really far away now.

My daughter had her annual physical last week, and when they weighed her the nurse looked at me and said, "Greta weighs 63 lbs!  A wonderful, healthy weight for a girl her size."

It stopped me dead in my tracks.  I had lost the equivalent of my eight year old daughter.  For kicks I tried to pick her up, and I couldn't fathom having that much extra weight on my frame.

Just like with sobriety, it's important for me to remember, though, because the devil lies in the forgetting.    I don't think much about dieting anymore, just like I don't think much about having a drink anymore.   When the urge for a drink comes, one of the first things I do is conjure up a memory I'd rather forget, something that reminds me what drinking did to me.

And just like with drinking, I got into trouble with food gradually, over time, ignoring the little alarm bells that would sound ever so faintly in my head from time to time, like when I shopped for pants and had to go up a size.  I told myself it was just a temporary fix until I could get that extra 20 lbs off.  I did that until it was 60 lbs, not 20, that I had to lose.

And just like sobriety, I couldn't think about the end game.  Losing that much weight seemed impossible.   Just like never drinking again seemed impossible in the early days of recovery.   Thinking about the rest of my life without alcohol sent me into despair, so I didn't think about my whole lifetime.  I only thought about that hour, or that day.   Little by little the hours and days turned into months, and before I knew it I was on my way.

The same thing was true with food; I couldn't imagine a lifetime of watching my weight, so I took it one meal at a time.   It was hard - very hard - in the beginning.   Just like with quitting drinking, I avoided restaurants, parties, social occasions that would tempt me.   What I hated was that feeling of 'other than' - watching people stuff their faces with food while I nibbled on a carrot stick made me feel different, alone.   It made me downright angry. 

Unlike alcohol, though, I couldn't quit food altogether, so I had to learn to respect it.   More than that, I had to learn to respect myself, my body, my health.   My well being had to be an important enough reason not to cheat.   And unlike alcohol, my life wouldn't fall apart if I snuck an extra cookie or two.  I had to be enough of a reason to do the right thing.  

Once I made it through the first month or so, the rewards started coming.  I could dash up the stairs and not be winded.   I could pull on shorts that hadn't fit me in years.   I could get up in the morning and throw on a tee shirt without having to tie a sweatshirt around my waist to hide my bulk.    When I was tempted, and I was tempted a lot, I would think about how temporary the gratification of eating is - how fleetingly it provides comfort, and then all I would be left with was the deflated, empty feeling of letting myself down.    Somehow, I had become enough of a reason not to cheat.    It felt wonderful.

Now I don't think about food that much.   I eat regular food in healthy portions; I work out two or three times per week.   I go to restaurants and eat a salad.   I skip dessert, opting for a bite or two of one of the kids' desserts instead.   Those two bites?   They taste amazing.    

For snacks I eat fruits and veggies and I actually like them.  For dessert I'll have a sugar free popsicle, or strawberries with a dollop of whipped cream.    It's just how I am now; I don't really have to think about it much.

I never, ever thought that day would come. Ever.  Just like with sobriety, I couldn't have imagined how good I'd feel, once I got over the pain of adjusting.    Now feeling good is its own reward.   And it's more than enough.

Last April doesn't feel like very long ago.  At the time, when they told me it would take at least nine months to lose the weight, I was crushed.   Nine MONTHS?    It seemed like forever.   Now it feels like it went by in the blink of an eye.   Life's funny like that.

I will always have to watch what I eat.   I'm finally okay with that.  The hard things in life are hard for a reason, because the rewards exceed my wildest expectations.   Every time.

So if you're struggling with food, if you're waiting to care, how about now?  Don't think about the end game.   Just think about today.   Put yourself first.  

You're worth it.


  1. I needed this so bad right now. At the beginning of the year my husband and I went to the gym regularly, but now we've trailed off and on top of that, he's taking a pay cut next week that may kick the gym out of our budget altogether. So, I have to start buying the right food, because now, if it's in the house, I'll eat it. Thanks for this post, Ellie.

  2. This is so inspiring! Thank you. I needed to read this today.

  3. Yes. You inspire. I, too, needed this. Your before pic is me. Time to work on the after picture!

    Congrats, pretty lady! You are one hawt momma!

  4. You are such a hottie! :)
    This week? Please? Please? Please?

  5. wow, what a difference! you look amazing. You know, I've been wanting to write this book for years and yet I don't b/c it seems like it's impossible. I can't type 80,000 words. Then I read this and I thought okay, today I will type 100 and see what happens. Thank you for the inspiration.

  6. I remember when you posted that. I wasn't ready. I wasn't ready until November. Since then I've lost 15 pounds, gained the ability to do handstand and forearm balance in yoga, and noticed distinctly on my bike ride today how my belly is not in the way when I use the lower handle bars. Also, hiking while carrying 15 fewer pounds up a mountain is so much better.

    I have about 25 more to go, but even just a few pounds make a difference when you are finally making the decision to respect yourself and you body.

  7. wow. don't you just stop to say sometimes..."I really can do anything."

    You remind me that I can, too. I'm so grateful for you :)

  8. thank you for this post. just what i needed to read this morning.

  9. There should be dozens of comments here. You are so centered, and wise, and I admire you so much.

    You're an inspiration.


  10. you are very inspiring. I have my own demons to face that I finally feel ready to deal with, and reading about how you did it helps. Thanks. And thanks for your comments on my blog the other day, I am doing much better this week :)

  11. WOW.

    Congratulations, Ellie! I think the food thing often does go hand in hand with the alcohol thing. Thank you for opening my eyes a bit more to this. It's all about loving ourselves, living with intention, and believing--truly believing--that we deserve to take up space in this world.

    Thank you for being you. xo

  12. Congratulations on your accomplishment, Ellie. Truly outstanding.

    I just posted a status update on Facebook yesterday that I've lost 30 pounds (since November). Not quite halfway to where I want to be. Some days it is HARD. Really hard. You definitely have to be enough reason, just you, because eating extra food won't have immediate consequences. But you're right - the feeling good is its own reward, every time.

    Just like with alcohol... crazy how much addictions are the same, deep down.

    Again, congratulations. I bet you feel wonderful. xo

  13. Bravo. This is so inspirational - thank you for sharing your story. xoxo

  14. Look at you-- you look absolutely radiant! What a wonderfully inspiring example you've become!

  15. Ellie, you truly are inspiring. I know I say it all the time to you, but really, I'm just glad I get to read your words and follow your journey and be your friend.

    By the way? You look hot.

  16. AMAZING! you are truly amazing!!

  17. Wow you are so amazing. Your story is very inspirational! Keep up the great work!

  18. You look great! This is really inspiring!

  19. I couldn't have imagined how good I'd feel, once I got over the pain of adjusting. Now feeling good is its own reward. And it's more than enough.WOW
    2nd pic is so beautiful.