I don’t know about you, but the idea of stepping on the scale makes me cringe. Weight is something I’ve struggled with my entire life. I was a chubby kid, a curvaceous teen. A far too-plump mom of two. I’ve quite literally been on a diet forever. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on workout machines, weights, videos. I’ve tried all the fad diets. I’ve tried Jazzercise, a tea you drink to help you poop more (attractive, I know). I even briefly took up running. When I say briefly, I mean for like three days.
When I had my son in 1992, I was back in my jeans two weeks after delivering him. I’d only gained 20 lbs with his pregnancy and I was thrilled to be one of the lucky ones whose body readjusted so quickly.
Then I had baby #2 in 1996. Since my daughter’s birth, I’ve been stuck at a solid size 16. There are years I’ve pushed the boundary of that number…. squeezing myself into a size 14 when I could….refusing to size up to an 18 when the jeans would hardly button. Reaching my 50’s only made this weight struggle of mine more difficult. I could literally not eat for an entire week and I would STILL struggle to button my jeans.
Menopause sucks, in case you’re wondering.
Last year I finally decided that enough was enough. I’d spent too many days avoiding the mirror, fooling myself into believing that my dryer must be malfunctioning to shrink all my clothes like it had. In October when I went on vacation, my cousin and I decided to take up the weight loss challenge together. Her son is getting married in June and that seemed like the perfect motivation we both needed to make a change in our lives. The week after we returned home, we signed up for Weight Watchers. Having someone to be accountable to does help. When another cousin decided to join us in this battle, I was thrilled. I don’t know if I could stick with it were it not for my cousins and our weekly check-ins.
Here’s the thing about trying to lose weight in your 50’s….you have to work twice as hard to get anything to happen. I’m working out 5-6 days a week, using any opportunity to move when I can. Since I have a sedentary job, and writing isn’t exactly a mobile profession either, I have to work very hard to get my butt up and away from the desk.
This is the third time I’ve been on Weight Watchers. I come back to it because it works. It works really, really well. And now that there’s an app for it, it’s almost too easy to track what you’re eating and account for everything that goes into your mouth. What’s ironic about this program is that it’s not a diet (or at least I don’t consider it one). It’s a lifestyle. It’s the way we should all be eating (portion control, emphasis on eating frequently and incorporating fruits and vegetables every single day). In case you’re wondering, Weight Watchers is not paying me to say that. I just happen to really believe in the program.
All that said, there are still days I wake up and don’t want to exercise at all. There are days all I want to eat are Oreos and chips. Thankfully there are many more days when I want to do well so I can feel better, and hopefully look better too. The thing with this program is that you never feel deprived. You can have the Oreos and the chips….just not the entire package. It’s all about balance.
Since I started the program in November, I’ve lost more than 10 pounds. In truth, that number might be higher, were it not for a malfunctioning scale that I had to replace…that promptly showed me 4 lbs heavier than the other scale had. Honestly, the number is secondary. My jeans are looser, my entire body is leaner, and I feel really good.
I’m proud of myself. I’ve worked really, really hard. I’ve said no to glasses of wine, said no to cocktail parties because I simply didn’t want to set myself back. I’ve said yes to weekly hikes with my hubby, even though my knees are killing me. I’ve said yes to raw carrots and slices of bell pepper, even though I’m so sick of eating them I have to force-feed myself sometimes. I work like hell during the week to exercise and eat well, and reward myself with a few days off. I admit, I’m careful not to go too overboard and off the rails during my cheat days. I also admit that I weigh on Friday mornings, so I can spend the weekend cheating if I want; then spend the week days getting back on track. It’s all about the compromises I suppose.
It’s not easy to be a woman in this culture of size zero movie stars and skinny jeans. Body image is something our girls start thinking about as preschoolers. I wish we lived in a world where you were accepted for whatever size you are, but that is simply an unreal expectation. Overweight people will always be thought of as lazy. Want to hear a secret…this overweight gal right here works out far more often than many of the “skinny” people I know. I might enjoy a Saturday afternoon on the couch, but I am far from lazy.
I’m most certainly not striving to become skinny. I’m mature enough to know that’s a very unreal expectation. When I signed up for Weight Watchers, I set a realistic goal of 20 lbs, even though I probably should lose 50. I want to be healthy. I want my jeans to look good and to be able to breathe when I wear them. And whether or not its 20 pounds or 50, I’m losing and that’s a good thing.