The blog hop theme at Generation Fabulous this month is Reinvention. Since I started this blog after I started my weight loss journey, I thought it was time that I talked a bit more about the story of how I reinvented my way from obese to normal weight.
In August of 2009, I braved getting on the scale only to discover that I gained over 40 pounds in a year. The two years previous to that, I’d gradually lost 40 pounds without really trying, mostly by switching to more natural foods after reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. Oddly enough, I kept all the good habits of shopping at Farmers Markets and eating lots of vegetables, but my bad habits returned with a vengeance: afternoon binges with a day’s worth of calories consumed in an hour in my car.
All the weight I’d lost was back again. I was back to the set point weight of about 17 years, most of my adult life. A few things were clear:
- I could lose weight by eating all natural foods but I couldn’t lose weight if I continued with the large-scale, decidedly unnatural treats.
- I risked an early death like my parents who both died in their sixties of obesity-related diseases.
- I was in pain more days than not.
Many things were not clear:
- How did I stop the cravings and binges?
- Was a diet the way to go? Because, you know, they say that diets don’t work.
- What kind of support or structure would I need to sustain a diet for more than 5 weeks (the longest I ever managed in the past)?
A book helped me deal with cravings and binges: The End of Overeating by David A. Kessler. He described how the modern eating environment makes a healthy diet a difficult road while an unhealthy one has come to seem almost normal and, certainly, easy. Taking his advice, I curtailed the binges, and went off junk food cold-turkey, by making a couple of rules: Never eat in the car and Never eat anything purchased from a drug store or gas station. Foods that are engineered and marketed to appear irresistible were no longer in my life and they gradually lost their allure.
Stopping the junk food and binges was enough effort to stop the weight gain, but didn’t make me lose weight — a situation that seemed quite unfair at the time.
Another book came to the rescue with the answer about how, or if, to make diets work: The Complete Beck Diet for Life by Judith Beck. Obviously, Beck doesn’t shy away from the word ‘diet.’ What she described, though, was meant to be a permanent change — applying Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques to weight loss. Beck suggested choosing two healthy diets — one to start with and a second as a back-up plan. In the end, I tried at least four different diets while losing 70 pounds. I discovered that one way to keep losing weight when I got bored with a diet was to change the diet.
A third book Finally Thin! by Kim Bensen led me to the support forum 3 Fat Chicks where I was excited to discover a section devoted to the books by Judith Beck: Beck Diet Solution. Posting there, almost daily, has been the bedrock for constructing my reinvented way of eating and living.
The final piece, the structure that sustained me, was my own invention. Books help me. So, I decided to read a book for every pound I lost, 70 pounds and 70 books. I read book number 70 in January: Book Review: Thin for Life by Anne Fletcher.
I learned that it takes a lot to get myself to do what I claim I want to do. In the case of weight loss, it took 70 books of tips and advice, a support group at 3 Fat Chicks, CBT, abstinence of trigger foods, a healthy diet of natural foods, and a little over two years. Keeping the weight off requires more of the same. Fortunately, once I’m in the swing of things, none of this is particularly difficult or unpleasant.
I got off my blood pressure medication to the delight of my doctor and reduced my risk factors for a number of diseases including the two that killed my parents. And, I’m pleased and surprised to report, I rarely feel pain now that I’m strong enough and light enough to prevent the muscle and joint problems that used to plague me. I reinvented my lifestyle and attained a healthy weight.