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Fat to Fit

Weight Loss: Don't Go at It Alone

After years of trying to manage her weight alone, Micky finds comfort — and success — by joining others on a quest for healthier living.

Fat2Fit: Unite Your Fitnes Team to Beat the Bulge

— Tony Garcia

6/21/2010

Here's a story from Fat to Fit community member Micky Pearl. Micky sent me this information in January, and gave me permission to share it with you. I hope you find it inspirational and motivational.

All the best,

Carole

Micky's story:

I'm 57 years old, and a recently retired RN. I live with my partner and best friend of the past 6 years, with whom I share two beautiful grandchildren. Back in April, 09, my partner and I began participating in an activity program sponsored by our local health club. In "Active Living Every Day," we learned ways to incorporate more movement and fitness into our lives without traditional gym work. I like cardiovascular and strength training, but have joint problems which prevent me from prolonged periods of exercise. Focusing on my health led me naturally to an awareness of my diet and those extra pounds I’ve been yo-yoing since age 13. 

The support I received from my classmates and coach also convinced me I’d been doing something all wrong: trying to manage my weight alone. That’s when I began seeking out the encouragement and advise of others waging the same battle, and found AARP's Fat2Fit.

What I've learned in Fat to Fit

Since joining F2F, I have been given new insights into the physiologic and emotional aspects of overeating, a multitude of strategies designed to guide me past pitfalls, and the overwhelming support and testimonies of other members whose trials and triumphs I read daily. Coach Carole, with her personal encouragement, has been instrumental in snatching me from the jaws of a box of Godivas more than once. I’m proud and happy to report that with the assistance of F2F, I have lost 30 pounds. Starting at 161 pounds in late April 2009, I joined F2F at 158 pounds in May 2009.  Around the end of November, I reached 131 pounds! 

I've always eaten too much junk food — chocolate, fat and sugar have long been the base of my food pyramid. And as a retired diabetes educator, I knew better! Duh!  I finally came to the realization that for me, eating those foods was sabotage. So I made the tough choice to give up those trigger foods. To my surprise, I found the cravings and unending hunger I previously experienced were fading into the background. Instead of skipping breakfast and lunch, with one big evening gorge, I found small frequent meals were satisfying me. I’ve become a nibbler.

How I changed my behavior

Key components in my behavioral change include:

1. Getting support! Your neighbor, your best friend, your spouse, a weight group, exercise buddies, a wonderful on-line community. It’s essential.

2. Being accountable. I kept both a written food and activity log and joined a 2nd online site which allowed me to enter my daily food intake and activity. Reporting weekly to my activity class had kept me accountable in the early weeks. But now it’s my journal, and you guys. I’ve also joined a walking website, which allows me to upload my steps at the end of each day for prizes, when I meet my goal activities.

3. Don't obsess on the scale: For me, a little water weight could send me into a spiral of negativity and brownies! I was much more likely to quit my healthy lifestyle practices if I felt they weren't producing the desired effect. I know others who weigh daily as a guide, but for me it was just too much pressure. So I weighed monthly and focused on daily behaviors. Was I eating healthfully and in the right proportions? Was I getting in the activity I had planned for each day? If the answer was yes, no worries! Work the program and the results will follow. And they did. 

Challenges

My big challenges have been laziness and a sweet tooth. It is soooo hard for me to stick with an exercise program for very long. I find myself getting bored after 3 or 4 months. The good news is that lately when that happens, I’ve been switching to something else instead of just hanging it up completely. 

And then of course, there is that bigger challenge. The elephant in the room. The one I don't like to think about. But because it is staring at me in the form of the disability check laying on my desk, I'll mention it. In 1990, while pursuing a degree in nursing, I broke my back during a hospital clinical. I braced up with girdles for 2.5 years until the rest of my 4-year program was completed. The day after my nursing boards, I had spinal fusion, complete with a nice set of plates and screws. These allowed me to function more or less until 2005, when a second fusion was required. Since then, my joint problems seem to have spread. I’ve had a knee surgery, hand surgery, epidural steroid injections, hand injections, knee injections. I have bone spurs in my spine and on the sole of one foot, and zero cartilage left in either knee, arthritis in both hands and a herniated disc in my neck. 

Thus my exercise/activity choices are somewhat limited. I try something for a while, until something gives out. Most recently it was weight machines, until I discovered that my hands can't bear the weight that my arms and shoulders can easily lift. 

So for now, I am wedded to my pedometer with a goal of 8,000 steps daily, in short intervals throughout the day. This keeps me from sitting at the computer to excess, and spares my joints. My big and happy challenge of the moment is learning how many calories I can consume to maintain my weight, and to find new ways to maintain muscle mass.

My weight has been an issue since the age 13 when my mother pleaded, “You‘d look so pretty if you‘d lose just 5 pounds!” God bless her. She was probably right; but thus began a cycle of dieting and binging which has lasted some 40 years. But before I whine too much about dear old Mom — who could eat her weight in Twinkies daily and never weigh more than 113 pounds — let me admit to an irrepressible sweet tooth. I am one of those individuals who simply cannot have one piece of chocolate, one bite of cheesecake. I  must absolutely abandon those fatty, sweet desserts or I will eat everything in my house and go begging at the neighbor’s. One thing about aging: You begin to recognize those things which are not necessarily in your best interest!

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