Monday, March 3, 2014

AIM: The Last Straw

Our AIM topic this month comes from a reader-submitted question:  "What was your “last straw” moment, or your kick in the butt, or whatever it was that finally made you say “I just have to do this (get healthy)”?  

Good question.  For me, I don't have a dramatic answer...I didn't have one of those moments where I had to ask for a seat-belt extender on an airplane (or had to buy an extra seat, thankfully - although it was a tight fit when I flew, I'll say that), or someone had said something disparaging about my size, or I was even all that sick and tired of being overweight. 

I really wasn't unhappy.  Several years beforehand, I'd come to the conclusion that I would always be overweight, and I accepted it.  After that, I ate whatever I wanted without guilt.  And if you're wondering, yes, that is pretty awesome - after being on a perpetual diet for pretty much all of my adult life, it was quite liberating to not only eat the cake, but enjoy it without any mental berating.

Yes, my clothes were getting tighter - I was busting out of my size 22/24 pants from Lane Bryant and after that, I'd have to order my clothes online because they didn't carry any higher sizes in their stores at the time.

Yes, my sedentary lifestyle became even more sedentary - I looked at taking a walk as something akin to torture.  I sat for my job, I watched a lot of TV, I read a lot of books and I was online a lot.  I had no desire to exercise, and I was OK with that.

Yes, I had constant heartburn and high blood pressure, but hey - that's what pills were for, right?

Yes, I wanted to shop in the same section of the store for clothes as my best friend, but shoes and purses always fit, so there was that.

I know, I'm not making a good case for losing weight.  My old lifestyle sounds pretty doable, right?   My weight didn't stop me from doing things because quite honestly, I didn't want to do more.  I was fine with where I was.  I liked ordering whatever high-calorie drink I wanted from Starbucks.  I was OK with shopping at Lane Bryant for my clothes.  I learned to tune out the ick when I saw myself in a mirror and focus on the good.

But with the advent of our youngest child's high school graduation approaching, and the life I'd known for over twenty years (mother to children living at home) finally changing for good (hello empty nest), something in me decided to give this whole weight-loss thing one last try.

Maybe focusing on myself helped me focus less on the fact that my baby(!) would be moving out to attend a university that was over a three-hour drive away.

Maybe I was in the right mindset to do what needed to be done in order to lose weight without fighting it or feeling sorry for myself.

Maybe I might be able to shop for regular-sized clothes for a change. 

Maybe, just maybe, it would work.

And it did.
One year into the diet, 80 pounds lost.

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AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you'd like us to address - here's the link to our Ask Us (almost) Anything form - click here and ask away!

21 comments:

  1. I never get bored by this story. I think it's the only reason why losing weight works: at one point you really want to and it works. I think at your previous attempts you really didn't want to.

    I have been a smoker since my 16th till the year 2000. I quitted on January 1st 2000 (I know you would say I was going for a failure) and I was ready. I had been thinking about quitting for 3 months and knew I was going to do this and I did. My dad died 5 months later and although I had a package in my hands around those days, I didn't smoke. Does this mean I have never smoked again in my life? No, I sometimes do at parties but I never started again. I can smoke one night and the next morning I just continue. I have to say that this is something I am going to change, because I never want to smoke again.

    Now ... if only this would work for my weight loss (I've gained weightafter my Dad died, not because I quitted smoking, I just ate a lot back then). If my mind would just say this time you're ready and you can do it, just like you did. You are such an inspiration to me.

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    1. Reading back: with I just continue I meant that I didn't continue the smoking from the night before :)

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    2. I got what you meant with the not continuing smoking. :) I guess you are a social smoker now, much like someone could be a social eater? Like, I don't eat certain foods everyday at home, but I'd splurge on something if I'm out with friends...

      Big congratulations for quitting after so many years; that shows a lot of inner strength.

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  2. I clearly recall mine as well. we all come to it differently huh? but the ooh SNAP THIS IS IT moment is all the same.

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  3. I just wanted to say that I admire you and that you look great!

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  4. I admire anyone who can lose weight while raising children. I tried and failed many times. Their schedules, cooking the meals they liked (and I did, too, obviously!), and exhaustion (gee...that didn't have anything to do with my inactivity...) made me think it was "impossible" to lose weight and keep it off because I couldn't walk and chew gum at the same time. And like you said, they make a pill for heartburn and you can always take the elevator up a flight of stairs...

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    1. I agree, it's much harder to diet when there are more snacky kid foods around...oh and the fact that you have to feed those buggers, too. ;)

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  5. I think you DO make a good case for losing weight, because reading about your old, sedentary lifestyle just makes me kind of sad, knowing how active you are now. Though I totally understand that point of just accepting that you'd always be overweight. I definitely did that at one point, but eventually realized I was just way too young to be as unhealthy as I was and to just give up on trying to be healthier. But you do really have to want it.

    You do look really happy in your "before" picture though. Are you happier now? Just as happy? Different types of happy?

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    1. Interesting observation - I think I didn't know what I was missing with the ability to run and jump and play now. Happier? Hmmm. Life evolves and changes. I was happy then and I'm happy now. Maybe I deal with the changes better now, though?

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  6. I still don't recognize the old you Shelley! I am so happy you made the change and put yourself first - kudos!!

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  7. Still chuckling about your statement "it was pretty awesome" re: eating whatever you want without guilt. I did that for a LOOOONNNNG time. The eating part was pretty awesome.

    Oooh, and the growing out of the last size that they had in the store? I forgot to include that in my post. We are so alike!

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    1. Growing out of the last size would make sense for you since we were both the same top weight and practically the same height. That was a bit of a frightening realization, wasn't it?

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  8. It is fascinating for someone who didn't know you "before" to see the contrast in how you used to do things vs. today... but I think it's great that you don't disown your "old" self. We are all complicated people full of conflicting desires and priorities, which makes us more interesting... but more vulnerable too! Thanks for that honest look into what is probably the current reality for a lot of people.

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  9. I was living similarly before (only without the kids) and knew I needed to do something but couldn't figure out what that might be. So I did nothing. Not really a good plan, but it's kind of like that saying about writing: You either find the right words or let the right words find you. I'm not sure what happened in my case, but the right words finally got through somehow. :)

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  10. It's funny, I ate what I wanted, but I always felt bad about it. It wasn't until this time around that I learned how to eat good food without feeling guilt and enjoy it. Funny how I can tend to eat less without the guilt associated with it.

    Anyway, - it is so weird seeing the old pictures of you. Has your mind completely grasped it yet after all these years?

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  11. Congrats on your weight loss! Your pictures are wonderful! You look like a completely different person. I know how difficult it is to lose weight. After the birth of our third daughter, I lacked the motivation to take care of my body and health. I had three girls under the age of 5 who needed my full attention. I really didn't start an exercise regimen until our youngest was in middle school. (she is now a pre-med student in her junior year.) Looking back, I don't know why I waited. It wasn't until my husband was diagnosed with Graves Disease that we changed our eating habits and started to exercise. I'm so happy I did!

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  12. I also was an overweight woman who had no desire to be active, so I never felt like I was missing out "because of my weight". I really appreciate your post. I didn't know your "aha" moment story.

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  13. I think you were happy then because you actually were content with the choices you were making - and you had/have a very loving and supportive family. I do not think you'd be happy with those same choices now for two simple reasons: those types of choices would severely mess with your running AND your pretty wardrobe!

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  14. I just want to let you know that this sat in my browser tabs for weeks. I would come back and re-read it, and finally I said maybe there isn't just one thing. Maybe it's just time. And then I joined Weight Watchers and started my own journey again. So thank you.

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