photo credit: www.slowisthenewfast.com
Hi, I am Ann.. . I am nearly 48-years-old and have been married 28 years. I have two sons: a 22-year-old Marine, stationed at Quantico, VA, and a 9-year-old boy whom I homeschool. We live in the Dallas metroplex. I have been reading the posts here at the Sisterhood since its early days and I feel that they have become an integral part of my life! That’s why I am so excited to be one of the newest writers.
My story starts way, way back….like all the way back to when I was a kid! I was always thin and active as a kid. I grew up in a small town where we ran around the neighborhood, biking and playing games in the evenings with neighborhood kids. My mom would call for dinner by screaming my name. I was expected to show up. As a teenager I remember riding my bike around town and, once I got an odometer to tell how far I was riding, saw that I rode at least 3 miles a day. I wanted to be healthy and fit, so I rode my bike. I also wanted to stalk some boys that lived on the other side of town, so I would often ride up and down their street just in case they were to randomly come out of their houses as I was riding down the street for the 10th time in one afternoon! Oh the joys of being a teenage girl! J
Once I hit 16 or so I got a real job and my bike riding/stalking days were limited. I got a drivers license and my bike wasn’t used as often since my job was too far to ride safely. This was the beginning of my weight issues, although I didn’t think much of it till I was in my mid-twenties. Going from being on a bike for at least an hour a day to maybe once a week definitely cuts down on the activity level of a teenager. I continued working and slowly gaining weight, though when I married at 19, I still only weighed 105 pounds. We were both college students and working part time so you can imagine what my health and fitness were like…how about NON-EXISTENT!! Every spare minute was spent being a student, employee, and wife. My health and fitness were not even something I ever thought about with the exception of an occasional “healthy meal.” But when you are poor and in college a “healthy meal” isn’t usually too important. After a year of juggling marriage, college, and full-time employment, we both decided working to provide for ourselves was more important so we quit college. As a young couple, busy with work and church life, it never really occurred to us to exercise.
Once we hit 22 or 23 we both started gaining some weight that we weren’t really happy about. We had a friend who helped set up an exercise/eating plan for me to lose weight. (I mean – come on – I had gotten up to 121 pounds!! I seriously needed to lose at “least 15 pounds!”) In reality, I just needed to exercise. As in ride a bike, walk, or something….anything besides sitting all day long!! Instead of losing weight, I pretty much stayed the same but started some REALLY BAD habits: restricting foods and restricting calories to less than 1200 a day, not seeing food in the correct way. “This food is bad.” “Don’t eat this.” “Do this…but don’t do that.”
All of these were sure signs of failure for me. Why didn’t this friend just say, “Move more and eat more fruits/veggies?” I don’t know, but it is what it is.
Fast forward to fall of 1989 and you will find me a very excited, pregnant young lady who still wore size 6 dresses and only weighed 123 pounds. BUT…not for long! If you were around me you would see me eating an entire box of Kraft mac & cheese every day for lunch and gaining weight at an alarming rate. I believed in the philosophy of eating for 2 and cravings were to be fed! By the time I was ready to give birth I had gained 50 pounds and was being watched for high blood pressure and diabetes. The doctor was NOT happy with my weight gain but I gave birth to a healthy son in late July 1990. Honestly, I wasn’t happy with my weight gain, either. “That’s ok, I will get it off,” I told myself. But how do you lose weight when you are breast feeding a baby?
I had no idea, but I knew I needed to do something. I got a couple of workout videos and managed to do them while my baby son slept.
By the time he was one, I had lost most of my weight but I wasn’t very well toned. I was now 26 and my metabolism was beginning to slow down. Sadly, I didn’t really change the habits I had picked up as a college student or young adult- little to no exercise and sitting far too often, as well as eating food that wasn’t really good for me.
Fast forward to 1995. We moved to Texas and I was lonely and miserable. I turned 30 that summer and I had no friends and a 5 year old son who was only interested in playing Legos and batman action figures! I also weighed 132 pounds (and wore a size 8), … but was still terribly “untoned.” I met a lady in the neighborhood and started walking with her in the evenings. My goal was to get back to 125. But, instead of losing weight, I slowly continued gaining. I was walking some but was not paying attention to my food intake. I didn’t really adjust to living in Texas, with no family or friends nearby and I fed my depression with food over the next few years. We moved to another part of Dallas and I met a “friend.” This friend, unfortunately, just fed my depression (and my weight gain) more. Before I knew what had hit me, I had gained 30 more pounds and was hovering in the 165 range, wearing large and extra large size clothes. I had never been more miserable! In the spring of 1998, I had a miscarriage, due in part to my unhealthy weight gain. My depression escalated and all I could think of was “losing weight so I could have another baby.” I started looking for quick fixes and ways to lose weight, but never found a way that I could make it stick. I would lose weight and gain it back, plus some more. I started feeling that it was just in my “genes” to be overweight and unhealthy. I mean, look around you and you will see thousands of overweight and unhealthy people. There must be “some reason!” (It certainly couldn’t be the way we live, eat, or lack of exercise!)
In 2003, after a couple more miscarriages, I got pregnant with my now 9-year-old son. I was thrilled but scared at the same time! I think the thing I was most afraid of was the fact that I was quiet overweight. At my first appointment I weighed 184 pounds! Unbelievably overweight and over 35, I was instantly considered a high risk pregnancy. I so desperately wanted this baby, so I asked the doctor to help me. I ate properly and got moderate exercise, like walking. I only gained 23 pounds with this pregnancy. It helped a lot that I ate a ton of fruit and salads.
Once I had my son, I was determined to get the weight off once and for all. However, I again had the problem of taking care of a newborn baby (who didn’t sleep much) AND a busy teenager! I “tried” to lose weight but was always tired and didn’t eat right. I continued fluctuating in my weight. I would lose a little, gain a little. I was frustrated and depressed that I was so “fat!”
In the fall of 2008, I found the Shrinking Jeans website. I was excited to find a support system and was determined, with their help, that I would lose the excess weight. I started gradually losing weight a little at a time, but then something would happen and I would gain some back. After months of being unsuccessful in losing weight, I decided to see a doctor in hopes he could tell me what to do. The doctor’s exact words were, “If you want to see your 5-year- old graduate high school, you will lose weight and get healthy.” He gave me several suggestions and told me to follow the low GI diet plan, since I had all the signs of pre-diabetes and weighed in at 226.8. I also had a severely low thyroid, sleep apnea, and heart disease in my family. Basically, I was a walking time bomb, with a 5-year-old son waiting at home!
I walked out of that office with a couple of prescriptions and drove to the nearest QT and drank a huge 32oz coke and told myself this was it. I was going to do whatever I could to lose weight and get my life back. I signed up for the next Shrinking Jeans challenge and gave up coke for 6 weeks. In that time I lost 15 pounds. I was thrilled and so was my doctor. He told me to keep it up and soon I would be back to feeling better and healthy again. Within one year I lost about 35 or 40 pounds, just through eating healthier and getting consistent exercise. My doctor was able to take me off the thyroid medicine.
Shortly after being taken off the medicine I got slammed with some unexpected life situations. My older son went away for college. The economy started tanking and I took on an overnight job. I was active at my job, so it helped me to continue losing a pound here or there. However, once I was able to quit working I didn’t continue with my exercise habits. I felt pressure to get my life back on track and was beginning to do so when, my best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. I struggled with staying on track and eating and exercising properly. I played around at losing weight but didn’t really do anything to actually do it. I joined challenges here at the Sisterhood but wasn’t successful since I wasn’t changing my habits again to line up with my goals.
2011 and 2012 were both what I am calling my “wasted years.” I went through the motions of a healthy lifestyle but didn’t do anything productive to actually lose weight. I started gaining weight and didn’t take the time to focus on the reasons. The reasons were simple….calories in and calories out, combined with having an uncontrolled thyroid condition. During these two years, I wasn’t paying attention to any of these things!
During the month of November, 2012, I found myself drinking at least one 32 ounce coke a day, sometimes two a day. On November 11th I drank three 32 ounce cokes. That day I decided “NO MORE!”I had to get a grip on reality and start focusing on me again. I decided that day to start focusing on exercise and eating properly once and for all. I started my coke fast on November 12th and went more than four months without soda!
During our Christmas vacation I decided that enough was enough with the weight gain, too. I had gained most of the weight back that I had lost previously and I came up with a true plan to help. I went back to the doctor and received thyroid medicine and some practical advice to help me lose weight in a healthy way. January 1st, I weighed in for the newest Sisterhood of Shrinking Jeans challenge. That morning I weighed in at 215.8. I was mad at myself but determined to not get me down. I was seeing this as my own personal challenge to see how much weight I could lose in two months. During that two month period I lost 12 pounds through exercise, eating properly and taking my thyroid medicine daily.
Me: Left; Spring, 2009 and right; May 2013
Over the past six months I have exercised most every day (at least 30 minutes a day) and have taken my thyroid medicine. I have made myself a priority and most days, put myself first – meaning I exercise in the morning. I have had soda but it is now a special occasion or a treat, not something I drink when I am thirsty or bored. I have not joined Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig or taken special supplements to help me lose weight. I have eaten real food (and sometimes even donuts, cake and ice cream as well as drinking an occasional coke!) I haven’t done anything bizarre except eat real food to feed my body, exercise every day, and track the foods that I am eating everyday into the My Fitness Pal app on my phone. Seeing those food calories add up and those exercise calories delete those calories has helped me tremendously!
People have been asking what I am doing different to lose the weight. ? My answer is “consistency, determination and having people to love and support me as I strive to achieve my goals.”
The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans has done that for me and we will for you as well! As of this week I have lost 43 pounds since January 1, 2013, and now have a BMI under 27% (vs. 43% at the beginning of the year). I still have around 25 pounds to lose but I am well on my way and nothing will stop me!