Changing the Way I Looked at Food
Recently I posted my current picture on Facebook. I received so many replies, “WOW! You look amazing. People have asked, “How did you do it?
This is my journey… Losing weight was not an easy road, but I had achieved the goal I had fought for so many years. Unlike many, I did not have a weight problem while growing up. At 18, being 5'2, I was only 115 pounds. But for some reason, I thought I was overweight. Later on in life, I realize I had a distorted body image of myself. That is another story for another time.
For right now, this is about my fight with adult obesity. By the time I was 44-years-old, I found myself tipping the scales at 250 pounds. How did I let myself get to this point? Was it from the three pregnancies I had? Or was I the victim of my own environment? Would this help anyone if I blame my weight gain on others? I could write a long list of excuses. Blame everyone. Why waste valuable energy?
For years I have been telling myself sure I will lose weight. I marked on the calendar Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday as the days I will work out. Each time I failed. I failed because I continued to make excuses for not having time to go to the GYM. Who will watch my children as I become selfish by taking time away from them to exercise. Even though they offered childcare for parents. I made excuses. I truth is I did not want to spend the extra funds. There was a list of excuses which filled my brain.
I found myself in so much pain. Always complaining of my snapping and popping knees. The way I barely was able to step out of bed without weeping of the aching throbbing lower back pain. I disliked going to the doctors. It was like going to the principal’s office. I had to brace myself for bad news.
“Mrs. Rivera, your knees have lost all the Cartilage,” the doctor said. She explained the cartilage was the spongy part between the bones, which I was informed mine had disappeared. She continued, “You will need a knee replacement, but first you need to lose weight.” She treated me as if I was over 800 pounds. I’m only 250, yet here we are talking about knee surgery. I have seen some of my loved ones who too are overweight undergone knee replacement and they have not been the same. I was not about to go through that hell. No way.
Unfortunately, this did not motivate me to lose weight. I was a single mother, not happy with the way I felt and looked in the mirror. I had developed a double chin. My clothes did not seem to fit right. I barely can move around. I did not recognize the young Hispanic woman anymore.
When I took my son to an amusement park, I was very embarrassed because either the creator of the coasters made the seats to small or my backside was just bigger than I thought. I barely fit on the rides. Once I cram myself in the seats, I had the great complication of putting on the seatbelts and harness on. I usually had an operator come by and push down on the harness for it to click. The moment of takeoff I just felt this will be the moment I will die because of my weight. Still, this did not motivate me to lose weight.
I dreaded shopping for clothes. Nothing would fit right. It was like Goldie and the three bears, except even the big items, just did not fit right. I have an hourglass shape. This means, my top is small, my waist is smaller, but my hips are big. Clothes are not made for woman shape like me. I would have to get everything tailored. That is just so frustrating. Being, only 5'2, which means the regular size pants are way too long and the petite sizes are too short.
There are certain situations that may be reasons why women my age may gain weight and have a difficult time losing it. Here are a few I thought was my reasons for this difficult weight loss issue:
1. Age — Age is a huge factor why the pounds just sticks to the bones. When I was young I was able to bounce back eat whatever I wanted, but as time and gravity move in I realize that the juke that I was consuming was not my friend. Slowly without notice, the pounds moved right in and I did not evict them. It was not easy. Something inside of me had to change. What, I did not know?
2. Food — Convenience is on every corner. Leading busy lives work, school, and family, who has time to cook a well-balanced meal. If I did, I did not have control over my portions. Finally, there is the metabolism war.
3. Metabolism — When young my metabolism was working overtime even when sleeping. At some point in my life, Mrs. metabolism got lazy. I got married. A year later I was pregnant, but still young I bounced back quickly. Before my daughter turned one I was giving birth to my son. I found my metabolism had left never to return. It was what I called dormant.
Now that I knew the factors, was I going to do something about it? You might be thinking, when and why did it change? How did I get from “Man you look homely” to “Wow, you look amazing”?
In 2017, everything changed. I decided to leave my life and my job of 11 years in California. I packed up my Jeep Cherokee and headed to the East Coast. I had no job lined up, but there I was blasting Pandora wondering if I had made the right decision to relocate. I had family on the East Coast, so I did not have to worry about where to live. My life, friends, and a stable life was right in California. My weight loss journey did not start at “boy I really need to lose weight”.
As I was settling myself into a new culture and new environment, I began my employment search. In the meantime, I headed right to the gym. I needed something to occupy my time and energy. Slowly I started losing weight, just by exercising. Go figure. I was excited, but I wanted to lose more.
I could see my metabolism slowly waking up from her slumber. I wanted more. I wanted to jump start my dormant metabolism. I hated hearing. “You will always have a difficult time losing weight because woman your age their metabolism is not working like it used to.” Well if that is the case then let’s do something about it.
The first thing I did was go to the local vitamin store GNC. The clerk was very helpful and understanding of my needs. I explained I did not want anything to raise my heart and give me the jitters. He explained what product would be great for me to use and continued to inform me that if I do not like the way the pills made me feel, I have the options to return them with no question asked. I like that deal and customer satisfaction. Sold.
I started taking the pills as recommended. The first few months I did see some weight loss, but not to my satisfaction. I needed to figure out my next steps in my weight loss journey. I did not want to purchase more pills to get the job done.
First, I got it out of my mind that this pill or any pill is NOT a super pill.
Second, I realized I had to change my thinking about food and exercise.
I started a food journal. I logged everything in this journal. (no cheating) The only person who would lose by cheating would be me. So, I included candy, crackers, water, coffee, EVERYTHING I thought might be too small or unimportant was logged in. I left no rock unturned.
I would weigh myself every morning and log this into the journal. At the end of each week, I would look at the journal and analysis which food needs to be removed and what needs to be added. Then, I add what exercise I should add and for how long. If I plateau, I will analysis what I would need to do once again to jump start my metabolism.
In order to focus, I wrote down my goals. This is the way I broke them down:
Start weight: 250
End weight: 150
Monthly weight loss: 10 pounds
Daily Log I would write my weight and upcoming goals.
Once I did this, I started seeing results. My clothes were beginning to fit loosely. I started getting excited. My coworkers and family were noticing. Within 6 months junk foods which included — no soda and no fast food, was removed from my food pyramid. When I went out eating, I felt as if the waiters/waitress’ might not like me because I was always substituting items. That was just in my mind because those I came across were sweet as apple pie. I changed my portion sizes to a baby bowl size for every meal. I drank water and regular tea versus diet soda and sweet tea.
I still ate my favorite foods especially when I might have a craving. Like cheese. I feel like I was a mouse in my past life and was unable to get the cheese I wanted then, so here I am being a glutton for cheese. The other items I just cannot remove from my system are my special creamer for coffee and the Ritz crackers I enjoy dipping in the coffee every morning. Other than that, after a while, I trained my body not to crave destructive items. Now I no longer have those juke food cravings or turn to food as a comfort.
My self-control paid off. One year later, I am now 162 pounds, size 10 in jeans, and my dress size depending on the design is either medium or large. I am not currently at my goal of 150 pounds and I do struggle every day to have self-control via the office, parties, and life but I keep in mind on my goal. I was excited to wear a bathing suit for the very first time in 22 years.
What keeps me going so I want gain the weight back? I look at past pictures of myself and remember the way I do not want to look. I remember the way my health is now compare to the past and tell myself I will never want to suffer the chronic pain I had from the past. Lastly, I love the way I look and the way my clothes fit me.
Remember this is not a diet this is a way of life.