When I was younger, I was that kid who could eat anything and not gain a pound. I was so active and always running around playing that I burned off calories like no tomorrow. As I grew, this continued, and I never thought I would gain a bunch of weight or be unhealthy. Even though I was one of those teenagers who thought I was fat. Yes, that was me. Trying all these crazy diets as a teen and had no idea what I was doing.
Yes, that is me at 17, the girl who thought she was fat. Little did I know that I would not always look like this. After high school, I got married right away and had my first son by the time I was 19. I felt pretty good as I had not gained a bunch of weight during my pregnancy. I lost 19 pounds just having my son, and I figured if I could get the last ten pounds off, I would be back to my pre-pregnancy weight and be just fine. Something funny happened, and I realized I was no longer active and was not moving a lot. I figured this was because I was tired from being a new mom. However, this didn’t pass, and by the time my son was nine months old, I could barely get off the couch and was gaining weight. I went to see my doctor, and he ran some blood work and turned out I had developed a condition called hypothyroidism which in short means I have an underactive thyroid, and my thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone for my body. Hypothyroidism causes all kinds of side effects that can be highly unpleasant like:
- Dry hair and hair loss
- Dry skin
- Elevated cholesterol
- Greater sensitivity to cold
- Hoarse voice
- Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
- Problems with memory
- Muscle aches and stiffness
- Muscle weakness
- Puffy face
- Slow heart rate
- Swelling of the thyroid gland (goiter)
- Unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight
Being diagnosed with this was not fun, and the doctor put me on medication for it. Once I was feeling better, I started moving more, but the weight just kept coming. By the time my son was a year old, I had gained 40 pounds. I went back to my doctor, who told me that my birth control could be part of my weight gain, and we went with a new one. I did stop gaining weight, luckily, but I was not losing it either. The problem was that I didn’t know anything about being healthy. I didn’t have parents who knew about nutrition or fitness and taught me what to do, so I was lost. Now, this was way before smartphones, so I couldn’t just look up fitness and health information like you can today, so I had to read books and magazine articles to find out information.
The sad truth is that this lasted for years. I would start a diet, fall off, lose a little weight, and gain more back. I was frustrated and overweight, and I didn’t feel terrific, so I did what most women did when this happened; I denied it. I convinced myself that my weight was not that bad and that I didn’t look as big as my weight because of my muscle. There was a little truth to this, as my skeletal muscle has always been strong. By the time my son was five, I was up to 230 pounds. I went to my doctor, who recommended I try a 12-week program called Body for Life. He explained this would be a brutal and extreme program, but if I could do it, then I would lose weight. I bought the book and got started. To be honest, I only did it for nine weeks because I lost 21 inches and ten pounds, and I felt like I had learned what I needed and I could do it on my own. I was wrong. I did learn a lot and even still use some of that today, but slowly and surely, I started to go back to old eating habits, non-workouts, and the weight started to gain.
Let’s jump ahead to 2015 to my wedding. After 14 years of being married to my first husband, we divorced. I met an amazing man who also struggled with his weight, and we fell in love instantly. In 2015 we got married, and both had gained quite a bit of weight. I was up to 260 pounds and, at that point, the heaviest I had ever been. I found a beautiful dress, and we got married. Around this time, my doctor told me that I had Type Two Diabetes and needed to be on medication and a diet change. I didn’t feel very well, and over the next two years, I continued to gain weight, and my health started to go downhill fast. By 2017 I had sleep apnea, high cholesterol, and I weighed 280 pounds. To be honest, I am sure I gained more, but that was the last time I got on the scale because I didn’t want to know. I was living in denial.
I felt horrible, and I didn’t look great either, but I didn’t know what to do, so I did nothing. Then I got an awful phone call that my aunt was in the hospital, and it looked like her kidneys and liver were failing. They didn’t know if she would make it. I had been very close to her and could talk to her about my health issues because she also had Type Two Diabetes, high cholesterol, several other problems, and being overweight. She helped me know about different medications and what foods not to eat. She died a couple of days later at the age of 65. I still miss her terribly and wish things had been different.
Losing her was a massive eye-opener for me as I realized this woman whom I loved dearly was only 30 years older than myself, and I was walking down the same path. I looked at my life and my family and took a hard look. I had four sons, and my oldest son had just announced that he was going to be dad, which means, yep, that’s right, makes me a grandma or Mimi as they call me. Hey, I am still young here. I realized how much I wanted to be around to raise my kids and watch my grandchildren grow. More importantly, I wanted to play with them without losing my breath and be able to get up off the floor without help. I wanted to be healthy, and I needed help. I didn’t need some new fad diet or to kill myself at the gym; what I needed was a program to get my health under control once and for all. First, stop an appointment with my doctor.
Stay tuned for more on my journey and how I lost 100 pounds and keep it off…
Author/Weight Loss Coach/Advanced Nutritionist
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