Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Just what the heck is success, anyway?

Lori commented a couple days ago with a couple of questions. First, she asked, "When you were at your 'normal' weight, how did you keep it off?'

The way I maintained the first time, back in the '70s, was by following the Weight Watchers program – I was working as a WW leader then, and it was the old program. Prescribed amounts of food, none of this 'all foods are legal' crap, you'll eat what you're told and you'll LIKE IT! Including once-a-week liver meals.

I haven't done as well with WW's Points programs, although I've tried.

The second time I was able to achieve and maintain a loss was by not eating sugar and doing a LOT of exercise (at least two hours daily in the gym, plus running to and from my house, plus long runs on the weekends), including weight training. I'm flirting with sugar again – it's so hard to just leave it alone. At one time I was five years sugar-free and really never felt better. But seriously? Sugar and crack cocaine must be made from the same chemical base.

Lori's second question – " … can you remember what or why you stopped and regained your weight?" – is harder to answer.

I truly don't remember what happened the first time, and that experience probably isn't relevant to the body I'm trying to whip back into shape today. But I can tell you exactly what happened 10 years ago.

I was cruising along in Ohio, having lost nearly 50 pounds, wearing size 6s and 8s, going to the gym, not eating sugar, blah-blah-blah. Mr. Shrinking Knitter and I were maintaining a long-distance dating relationship, as he had moved to West Virginia, which is where he's from. We alternated traveling on weekends for two years before we decided I would follow him to the Middle of Nowhere.

In addition to quitting my job and selling my house, I had to leave my gym. The closest gym to me is a 45-minute drive. Everything is a 45-minute drive. I thought running and walking on these mountain roads would compensate for two hours on the treadmill and Stairmaster. We did buy a weight bench, but I'm not as diligent about weight training when I don't have a trainer handy to cheer me on.

[If I could offer one and only one piece of gym advice, it would be to hire a personal trainer for a few sessions. The first three or four or five are to learn to use free weights safely, to establish goals and to develop a plan for achieving them. Then have one more follow-up session a month later to check your form. Not only will you get in the habit of lifting properly and challenging yourself, you'll get to know the staff at the gym and you'll always have someone around to support you.]

Two other things happened that started adding pounds: Mr. Shrinking Knitter convinced me that sugar isn't all that bad [this was back in the day when dietary fat was the enemy]. I'm not blaming him; it was totally my choice to have dessert once in a while, and then more often. But I know now that I would have had an easier time of maintenance if I'd continued to abstain from sugar.

The other thing was that I quit smoking.

I used to light up as I was leaving the gym. I frequently said I worked out so hard so that I could smoke – I was protecting my heart and lungs while at the same time destroying them. I'd been thinking about quitting, but hadn't made that leap. My first granddaughter had just been born and I knew I'd not be welcome for visits if I smelled like an ashtray. So that was a huge incentive.

One day I just tossed the last pack away and never looked back. It's been more than 10 years now.

So. No gym, start eating sugar, stop smoking – the Perfect Storm for gaining weight. And, as you all know, the bigger you are, the easier it is to make excuses for not moving and not eating healthfully.

I've been maintaining a 25-pound loss for several months, and last summer at this time had actually lost a total of 39 pounds. That loss happened by eliminating crack sugar and eating according to one of eDiets' menu plans. I called them "prescription" meals.

Sounds like I might need to revisit that option. I don't want to join eDiets again, but there are several websites out there that will create menu plans for you. It's on my radar … I'm just not willing to try it again.



ws said...

The end of your post only reinforces my belief that the only effective weight loss technique left for me is a pack-a-day of Camel Lights.

All things considered your weight loss maintenance is impressive and your running accomplishments are great. If we all just keep telling ourselves the number on the scale is just a number will we ever believe it?

PastaQueen said...

Sugar and crack cocaine must be made from the same chemical base.

Ha! There were kids in elementary school who snorted pixie sticks that might agree with you.

All things considered, giving up smoking is much better for your health than losing weight, so I'm glad you gave up the cigs.

M@rla said...

The benefit of real crack is it's an appetite suppressant ;-)

I also gained a lot of weight when I quit smoking, but I wouldn't let that discourage anyone. It's MUCH more important to quit, much more important than losing weight. Also, a person doesn't HAVE TO gain weight; I wasn't diet and exercise conscious back then so I sort of "let" it happen.

Thanks for sharing your story.

GAMommy said...

I agree about sugar. I had quit it a few years back to make my skin look better. I have always been prone to acne breakouts and for the first time I had clear skin. Anyway, the sugar addiction got hold of me again. It is so hard to avoid!