Welcome to back for our last Transformation Tuesday post of 2014! Today we’re hearing from Carol!
Q: When did you realize that you had a weight problem?
A: I’ve always been overweight, slight or quite, from childhood. It wasn’t always a “problem,” but when I could no longer function optimally at normal, everyday activities—for example, I couldn’t turn over in bed or get out of a car without drama—it became a problem. In addition, petite sizes stop at 12 or 14, and at five-one and a half, I was busting out of size 16s, unable to wear anything nice, and feeling frumpy. I was 55 at the time and too young for that!
Q: What made you decide to do something about it?
A: Midlife! My body was getting away from me: pain, sleeplessness, inability to participate in the active California lifestyle around me (I was a sedentary New Yorker for most of my life). The worse I felt, the more poorly I ate, and I wasn’t getting enough exercise because I had low energy and little interest. I didn’t like the way I looked, but more importantly, I hated the way I felt physically. I figured, I can’t stop getting older, but I can be as healthy as possible at any age.
I guess I was just ready. Also, a friend of mine, Jeni Fujita, began a nutrition and fitness business not long ago, and offered to coach me at a great price. She was already showcasing several success stories and she is her own success story; totally changed her body and health. Taking into account my specific needs and a few stubborn non-negotiables, she devised a personalized plan that made sense to me and that I could stick to.
Q: When did you start?
A: The day after Thanksgiving, 2013.
Q: How much weight have you lost?
A: It varies a bit, but this week (this interview took place in August), it’s 23 lbs. I lost the bulk of that in the first few months, and have been maintaining since the spring rather than trying to reduce more. I will resume a more stringent food plan in the winter, when I usually put on weight.
Q: What is/was your goal?
A: Initially I thought, “I just want to feel well.” I’m sure my doctor would like me to lose 40 more pounds. I think I look okay and I’m feeling good the way I am, but I could drop at least 20 more to feel my best. I guess I’ll know what my goal is when I reach it!
Q: What weight loss program or eating modifications do you follow?
A: It’s a personalized plan. Most of it is common sense. Also I try not to eat late at night; done with all food by 7 or 8 pm. It makes a difference. I can actually eat more during the day and not gain weight if I don’t do any late-night eating.
Q: Can you explain your basic program?
A: I try to stick to high-quality, nutritionally packed, low-acid foods: lean meats and fish, eggs, some nuts and seeds, fruit, lots of green veggies, low sugar, and I watch the carbs. I don’t eat anything fried, no soy, no white potatoes, hardly ever have corn or white rice. No gluten—it gives me achy joints—and low dairy (I’m allergic to bovine dairy so I have goat or sheep milk cheese sometimes and use sugar-free almond milk in my coffee). I don’t eat beef because I am violently allergic to it. My nutrition gal would love to see me give up all red meat, but, um, no. 🙂
Q: Do you exercise?
A: Every day, rain or shine.
Q: How often and how much?
A: 30 minutes of cardio daily, at least. Other exercises and “challenges” vary, but have included combinations of core-strengthening exercises and other forms of medieval torture. 🙂
Q: Where and when do you exercise?
A: At home, pool, at the gym sometimes, and I love to go for long walks. I took weekly Pilates classes for years but I had to go on hiatus, too $$$$. Pilates is super helpful for those of us with weak cores and bad joints. I have all kinds of exercise tchotchkes at home – small hand weights, bands, a rebounder, etc., and I do use them! I even have an elliptical trainer in the living room, which I hate, but I use it if ever I have not had a chance to swim or go for a walk. So I really try to swim and walk.
Q: What exercises work for you?
A: Nothing too strenuous! Swimming is my favorite. I also enjoy aqua aerobics, walking, light hiking and Pilates. Right now I’m working on strengthening my triceps with chest presses, planks and pushups. I have to be careful because I tend towards tendonitis, and my knees are unreliable. My hips have improved exponentially since I began this lifestyle. As a former New Yorker, I have always walked a lot but in recent years it was hard. I got my first drivers license and car recently, but unless I have to carry a lot of stuff, I would rather take a long walk than drive somewhere; now I can do that without issues.
Q: What are your trigger foods?
A: I’m a protein addict. Not that I ever did, but I could devour an entire chicken in one sitting. I could eat a rack of lamb or a pound of bacon every day, easily. I miss ice cream a lot. I was going overboard with it before I began this program, even though cow dairy clogs my sinuses.
Q. How do you cope with temptation?
A: Occasionally I submit to it; I taste things, which keeps me from binging on them. I might substitute something satisfying for what I think I really want; say, half a banana and some unsweetened cocoa powder and stevia in the blender with almond milk, instead of some sugary dessert. That usually works. I managed to attend a wedding this year and not go overboard. Also I try not to let myself get too hungry and I make sure I eat enough protein. If I wait too long to eat, I’ll eat whatever is around. If I know I’m not going to be able to eat a proper meal while out and about, I take good quality snacks with me to stave off hunger, for example a Lara bar, or raw nuts.
Q: Have you ever gotten discouraged? What do you do about it?
A: I don’t find myself too discouraged these days because I don’t make impossible demands on myself anymore. I haven’t set myself up for failure with unreasonable goals. I don’t weigh and measure myself incessantly as I used to over the years; it drove me nuts and led to self-beating. The better my body gets, the less discouraged I feel. If I gain back a pound or two, or I don’t get in a good workout one day (or several), it’s no big deal, I just notice and move on.
Q: How did you feel about looking at photos of yourself? Has that changed?
A: It’s always rather shocking to see what I really looked like. I used to hate photos of me; they don’t lie! I’m much more willing to have my picture taken now, and I like what I see these days, shape-wise. Age is another story! Who is that old lady?!?!!
Q: What is the best benefit of losing weight for you?
A: Health! Reduction of pain, more energy. The compliments don’t hurt either. And it’s nice to be able to shop more easily for clothing.
Q: Do people ask you for advice? What do you tell them?
A: I tell them what I am doing, but I always add that they should work with someone who understands nutrition, because everybody, and every body, is different.
Q: What have you been able to do that you couldn’t have done before?
A: I walked a 10K marathon this summer. I can swim for an hour straight, walk for hours and hours, walk uphill without collapsing. I can sit comfortably in a movie theater without a backache. Bend down to tie my sneakers instead of hoisting my leg up on something. Comfortably zip up a pair of new jeans. Pretty much everything is easier. And the easier things get, the more I want to stick with eating well and working out.
Thank you, Carol, and congratulations on your success! We’re glad you were willing to be be a part of our Transformation Tuesdays, and hope your story inspires others! Just like us, now you’re another person who’s been there. 🙂