One December day in 2014 I got a call from my friend Sue. She said that she and a mutual friend had read a book that had inspired them and they were determined to follow all of the recommendations to the letter. This book was it! The answer they had been waiting for to lose weight and improve their health once and for all! The author recommended forming a support group with other like minded folks to follow all of the recommendations in the book exactly as prescribed.
Every step was so vital and important; all of his research made everything clear once and for all. Sue asked if I wanted to read it as well and join with them. It was an intriguing idea. I had been through Weight Watchers’ revolving door more times than I care to remember, but at the time I wasn’t doing squat for my health, and I could see the handwriting on the wall if I didn’t lose some weight and start to exercise. I decided to get the book and dove right in. I was instantly a convert. I highlighted so many passages that I finally just gave up because each and every line was the truth and the way and was vitally important. They asked me if I would take the lead when we met because of my background as a therapist (not because of any success I had had on the scale; that was non existent). We decided to start meeting in January.
Great, I thought. This will give me time to really follow every recommendation without fail and be prepared to be a glowing role model when we met. Some of the recommendations made sense. Eat whole foods. Reduce carbs. Well, not reduce. Eschew carbohydrates and sugar 100% percent of the time, always. Under no circumstance were you ever to even look at a starchy food. Seemed a bit drastic but I had the zeal of a convert so I was on board. Some of the recommendations seemed harder to follow. Never drink anything with artificial sweeteners, ever. Diet coke was out. Only drinking out of glass containers. Portable, convenient, plastic water bottles were out. Do 10-day fasts. Detox (whatever that means). Take fistfuls of supplements (conveniently sold on his website). Sheesh. I tried, I really did, and for a few weeks by God I lost weight. And I was miserable. I was hungry, and every waking minute seemed to demand that I do a million things perfectly to follow the plan exactly as prescribed. One day after I took gobs of vitamins and supplements I suddenly had a weird side-stitch. I was convinced it was my liver, rebelling against all of this nonsense. You have to understand that I am a very level-headed gal and this was just the most insane behavior I had engaged in in a long time. But I felt so desperate, and I really thought this would be IT!
I went to the first gathering of my friends with a heavy heart. I was going to have to tell them that I just couldn’t do this. It was too hard and too crazy. I am not saying the expert was wrong (well, kinda I am) but really, I am saying no matter how well it might work, I knew I couldn’t do it. I would bow out, wish them well and let them do their thing without me. And do you know what happened? All three of us seemed to have come to the same conclusion at the same time because we spent the entire first meeting talking about everything BUT the good doctor’s plan. Our feelings about our weight, our bodies, our failures and our struggles. How we were baffled because we had really been able to achieve everything else we had ever set our minds to. Really: we were three bright, accomplished women and we just could not nail this weight loss thing. We felt ashamed and angry, but were not willing to give up. Something had to change. We had to change. In our 50s and 60s we had to make lifestyle changes that we could live with. I started reading everything I could online about losing weight. The last time I had seriously tried was well before podcasts and the blogosphere and I was delighted with all of the resources I came across (though few were specifically for people my age).
Luckily I stumbled upon Heather Robertson and The Half Size Me Community. The minute I heard the first podcast I took a deep breath and knew it to be right and true. Not crazy. Doable. Heather advocates making habit changes that are sustainable. Nothing drastic. Not even all at once. That is how she lost 170 pounds and has kept it off for over 3 years.
The thing I heard that was most arresting from the Halfsizeme.com podcast was this: Your current lifestyle supports your current weight. That hit me hard. My lack of exercise or even just general movement, my habit of eating pizza on the couch while watching a movie, drinking too much wine and going out to dinner three or more nights a week, hiding out at home, eating to numb uncomfortable feelings: these things supported my being overweight. I knew that I had to change not just the food that I put in my mouth but the way I lead my life if I wanted lasting change.
And so here I am. I have high hopes. This is hard work, but I am creating the life I want as I grow into late middle age and beyond. I hope you’ll peek in from time to time. I could use the support.