Welcome to the first post in our Transformation Tuesday series! In sharing our story with the world, we wanted to show that weight loss was possible by featuring the stories of other people who have transformed themselves. Carolyn had a goal of losing thirty pounds by her fiftieth birthday, which is still two months away, and she’s nearly at goal already! Check out her interview.
Q: When did you realize that you had a weight problem?
A: The defining moment for me came when I had to go to court on a motion, and we had to walk upstairs to the Judge’s chambers. One flight. I was so out of breath that I could barely make my arguments. This was in April, 2014. I am tall, and have a broad frame, and so can get away with gaining a fair amount of weight without looking really overweight, but nothing fit properly and my doctor also remarked that my waist to hip ratio (I put it all on in my tummy, being an “apple”) was not good.
Q: What made you decide to do something about it?
A: For me, it was not so much about “weight loss” (though I wanted to lose weight) but about feeling good about myself. My fiftieth birthday is coming up in November, and I tend to get blue around birthdays. I decided to give myself a goal: “thirty by fifty” and lost 30 lbs by November. This was in late May, after I had thoroughly debauched myself with dessert at my friend’s son’s bar mitzvah. Perfect time to atone!
Q: When did you start?
A: May 24, with food control. But I had been gradually working in exercise from late April. I decided to get into a habit of daily walking first, before I even worried about food.
Q: How much weight have you lost?
A: 25-26 lbs depending on the day/time of my weigh in. I started at a whopping 191 which, even at 5’10” is too much. My goal is to be about 155-160 which is good for my height.
Q: What is/was your goal?
A: 155-160. Any lighter than that and I will start to look gaunt and old, and I do not want that.
Q: What weight loss program or eating modifications do you follow?
A: I track food on Weight Watchers, but also do a modified “paleo” style diet. I am not super orthodox about it though. I have largely given up wheat (there is celiac in my genetic background, and I find it makes me feel bloated and breaks me out when I have it), I have given up sugar and processed food completely. Don’t eat much grain, although I will have brown rice a couple of times a week, in moderation. Mostly lots of lean meats, vegetables, fruit in moderation, a protein shake when I am rushed in the am. I don’t really do “dessert” although I do save up points and will exercise extra for the right dessert – my sister in law makes a frozen chocolate mousse cake that I spent an hour on the elliptical machine so as to “earn” the points to enjoy it. I am not willing to waste my calories on food that is not deeply satisfying. That is a new thing for me. Not eating stuff just because it is around.
Q: Can you explain your basic program?
A: I use the WW points for accountability, however, I do not just randomly eat and log points. I also have largely given up wheat, all sugar, all processed foods (never ate much of these anyway, and I am not a soda drinker). I eat three meals a day, and try not to snack. This is to control blood sugar swings. If I must snack (sometimes it is unavoidable), I try to bring things to the office that are “safe” snacks, like hard boiled eggs, siggis (Icelandic yogurt – 14 gs of protein and 100 calories), or carrot sticks for noshing. In the beginning, not snacking was harder to do and I relied on fruit or carrot sticks more. Have gotten more used to it. Small meals throughout the day do not work for me. Also, I never eat anything after 7 pm. I go right upstairs and do not come down again to the kitchen until morning.
Q: Do you exercise? How often and how much?
A: Approx. 5 times per week, sometimes 6. The amount of exercise on any given day varies, though. I try to alternate hard days with easy days. I seem to need a routine of daily exercise, though.
Q: Where and when do you exercise?
A: I run/walk every other day, generally outside now that the weather is good. I don’t really enjoy treadmill running, but will do it if desperate. I prefer trail running – Grafton and Peebles Island along with the Pittstown state forest are my favorite places. I also do weights a couple times a week, I have a kettlebell and use that along with a routine that I found online. Am trying to do more ab work, but it is hard for me (my least favorite exercise, and most sorely needed).
Q: What exercises work for you?
A: Kettlebells are fantastic, as long as you use them properly. I love running to burn off stress. Hiking in the woods with my husband is very good for our relationship and our waistlines. We try to do this both days of the weekend.
Q: What are your trigger foods?
A: Oy! I am a slut for nuts. Almonds, in particular. Have had to give them up, even though they are good for me, because I can’t control how many I am having. Cannot eat any sugar without losing it – it affects me like a drug. I just stay away.
Q: How do you cope with temptation?
A: Find something else to do, knit, crochet, go outside and walk, get a drink of water. Also, I mentally tell myself that the forbidden food (i.e. the scones at Starbucks) are for “decoration” like ornaments, and not actually edible. This actually works.
Q: Have you ever gotten discouraged? What do you do about it?
A: I had an injury to my foot early on which made me discouraged. I found that I could still exercise using the reclining elliptical at my gym. I tried to be extra kind to myself during that period. Weight loss slowed, but as long as I kept to the exercise routine, I felt ok. I think being kind to oneself is key.
Q: How did you feel about looking at photos of yourself? Has that changed?
A: Yes. The pictures from my friend’s son’s bar mitzvah (the day before I started) are not hideous, but I was busting out of my dress (literally). Now, all of my clothes fit better and I have actually had to donate a number of things because they are too big. I sew for a hobby and I have been enjoying re-fitting myself for pants and skirts. I feel that this will help me maintain, because I do not want to have to refit myself and make new clothes!
Q: What is the best benefit of losing weight for you?
A; I feel better about myself, my mood has improved, and I like the way I look!
Q: Do people ask you for advice? What do you tell them?
A: Starting is the hardest part. Overcoming the inertia of not doing anything. Begin with baby steps. I just decided I would go for walks every day for three weeks before I did anything about my food. Then I added the food control in gradually. I have been very gradual about increasing exercise, because I did not want to “burn out” and quit.
Q: What have you been able to do that you couldn’t have done before?
A: Run for thirty or more minutes straight. Walk up the steep hills in my neighborhood without trouble. Wear jeans that were in the back of my closet for the last seven years!
Thank you, Carolyn, for being a part of our Transformation Tuesdays and continuing to inspire others! Just like us, now you’re another person who’s been there. 🙂