When I first began teaching, I did an exercise in adjectives with my high school students. They had to go around the room and use two adjectives to describe the person next to them. Of course, they had to be kind. It was going fine until we got to the last student, a young man who shall remain nameless, that had to describe me. His first adjective was “funny”. I didn’t mind that one at all and then came his second adjective…”squatty”. Excuse me? Squatty? How did he even know that word? Squatty?! Who uses a word like “squatty”? The worst part was, I knew he was right. I was squatty. Squatty can happen when you’re 5’2″ tall. The worst part, squatty creeps up on you.
Squatty for me, happened when I turned 50. That was the year that the fat hit the fan, literally. Before 50 I could eat anything, anytime, anywhere, and barely gain a pound. I remember glorious days when my kids were young. Days of hiding in the bathroom to eat an ice cream or some cookies and milk all by myself. The kids always knew, of course. Mostly because it was the only time I locked the door. When I came out it was usually to an inquisition. “Mommy, what were you eating?” “Nothing.” Convinced that I was lying, they would stare me down and make their demand. “Let me smell your breath.” I knew I should always brush my teeth before I left the bathroom, but I always forgot. Those were good days.
It’s been 10 years since I turned 50. Life has changed some. I have changed some. I think it really probably began in my 40’s. It was a slow churn, like ice cream, a little more weight every couple of years that found a cozy place on my backside and added to my squattiness. I didn’t pay attention to it for a long time, and then, I woke up one day and realized I looked like a Botticelli painting. Always the optimist, I quickly reminded myself that those women were considered beautiful and so I did my best to ignore it. I realized that my clothes were kind of uncomfortable when worn for any length of time and I started living in loose-fitting yoga pants. I didn’t like yoga, just the pants. I realized that the scale, which I rarely stepped on, had higher numbers than I’d ever seen. Numbers that were higher than when I was 9-months-pregnant-and-ready-to give-birth. Those kind of numbers.
It was time to make a decision. And so, while eating a bag of Fritos, I determined that I had to do something. The problem came when I tried to decide what. I think I can honestly say that I’ve tried every diet out there. “Ooh, I need to do this diet! This is going to work.” “Oh no, wait, THIS one, THIS one is much better!” “Hey, carbs are the problem. If I just stop eating carbs…”. And so on, and so on, and so on…It really was a vicious cycle. And everything worked for about 15 minutes. I’d lose weight and then the weight would come back and bring a few “friends”. I’d get part way in and decide I didn’t like this diet. Or, my favorite, I’d start something and convince myself that within hours I had already lost weight! I could feel it! And then, ever so proud of myself, I’d eat an ice cream to celebrate! Sometimes being an optimist works against you.
So, here’s the rub. First, can I tell you that I am married to a very wonderfully, patient man. He never told me I needed to lose weight, but always allowed me to try whatever I thought I needed to try. He still does. Last week, after weighing in at my all time high, I was more than a little concerned and, more than that, extremely frustrated, partly because I have a lovely history of coronary heart disease in my family, partly because I was fed up with dieting, and partly because I have a closet full of clothes that I can’t comfortably wear and school is starting soon. I can always squeeze, and I really do mean squeeze, myself into them; but that’s not very comfortable for a full day of classes. Knowing that the “Eat less, move more”, “Eat to live, don’t live to eat”, mantras were not going to work for me, I began to do research.
Last year I found a lady online, Meredith Shirk of Svelte Media. She has this 7 minute exercise program on YouTube. Thinking I could do anything for 7 minutes, I decided to try it. I liked it! Then she introduced an eating program called, “One and Done”. I tried it, I liked it; but, as was my usual, some weight came off and then came right back with a vengeance. I never hit my goal. For one of the few times in my life that I can remember, I was discouraged. That was last year.
Recently, I’ve had plenty of time for research. I started with my taller, skinnier sister. I asked her what she eats in a typical day and she told me. (I always tease her that she’s moved to the dark side and only eats brown food, and I probably will continue to, but even though she’s 4″ taller than me, she does weigh less than me, so there is that.) Next, I thought about what exercises I will do. My 7 minute lady was still in the running for this one and I really do like to walk. Enter my poor husband who now walks a little over 2 miles with me almost every morning at 6:30 a.m., because I’m not consistent unless I have a walking buddy and he really is my best buddy.
Unbeknownst to me, my 7 minute lady who has a degree in Biology among other things, was doing research of her own. She’d heard from a lot of women that the “One and Done” program was not working for them. These ladies were all over 40. She came out with another program specifically for those of us 40 years and up. She told me that weight gain was not my fault, but my metabolism’s. I liked that. A quick download later and with a little bit of anxiety, I figured I’d try it. That was last Thursday. I know diets always start on Monday, but it took me a few days to psyche myself up.
It’s been a week. Seven minutes each morning of all standing exercises, walking my dog with Cliff, and eating what is listed on my “eating plan” for that day. The best part, I’m actually enjoying it! AND, I’ve been able to do it without cheating and craving carbs and sugar the whole time! The recipes are easy and I’m not hungry. My husband has even commented, “How can you lose weight when you’re eating so much food?” In fact, Cliff has eaten some of the dinners with me and likes them! Why am I telling you all of this? Partly, because I know how frustrating it is to hit a certain age and struggle with your weight and now is as good a time as any to concentrate on getting healthy. What else do we have to do?
I’ll end with this, for the first time in 10 years, I weigh less than 140 lbs., my starting weight was 146, and if that doesn’t seem like a lot to you, remember that I’m a small-framed 5’2″ person. My weight today is 138. My goal is 130 or less…depending on how I feel. Right now, I’m feeling great! Will I make it to the end? I plan to. I have 3 days left. If I’m not at my goal, I’ll do it again. You can tune in next week for an update if you want. If not, well, it’s really not that big a deal!
Good for you, you encouraging friend, you! I’d say you can do this, but since I am a few years ahead of you, I won’t make any pronouncements. By the way, I’ve been on a diet for 49 years. It’s a little depressing. Thank God for the pregnancy years! (I really think you can do this!)