my journey

I’ve lost nearly 50 pounds – and it’s taken 18 months.

I still have about 30 to go so I’m far from through with this journey. But at least I’m well underway.

Thinking back, I’m not sure why I reached the decision I needed to lose weight. Of course, any photograph I looked at showed me why. But that wasn’t new. Every time I stepped on the scales (which didn’t occur often), the numbers also told me why the weight loss was needed. That wasn’t new either.

I knew I could do it; I lost about 60 pounds years ago when I did WeightWatchers at Work. But I had gained every pound back plus maybe a few more.

Actually, the real reason probably was because I huffed and puffed when climbing the 15 steps to my mother’s apartment at College Walk. I did that when I arrived and when I bought groceries, lugging the bags up in two or three trips. I was beat at the end of that. And I noticed that I automatically took elevators whenever possible.

I had retired six months earlier. I had no excuse of working too hard, having lousy hours or eating on the run.

On Jan. 13, 2013, I took the plunge. I found a WeightWatchers meeting in Greer and walked in. That first weigh-in was humiliating. When I came back to the house and looked up more information, had to admit that I wasn’t just overweight. I was obese. That’s an ugly word that is thrown around often. We read about obese kids. We hear about and see obese adults. Now I had to say out loud and to myself – that’s me I’m reading about.

My health wasn’t bad. I did have high cholesterol. I wasn’t fit. I ate poorly. But I wasn’t diabetic. I didn’t have heart disease. I didn’t feel bad most of the time.

My support community became a staunch ally in my weight loss journey. As I grew to know people in the meeting, they supported me as I lost one pound, two pounds. Then I lost five pounds. They all clapped for me. But even more supportive was my mother, a woman who has never had weight problems.

She encouraged me and applauded my losses. She made up a game that provided money as I lost certain numbers of pounds. She said, “That’s okay” if I gained a little. I wanted so badly to lose all the time so I could tell her every Monday night. Of course, that didn’t happen.

I realized as I started that this would be a life-long journey. I’m the type of person who can look at potato chips and gain a pound. My first experience nearly a decade ago was losing between half a pound and 1.5 pounds weekly. So I had realistic expectations.

The disappointment came when I looked no different after losing 10 pounds. My clothes seemed no looser. My shirts were just as tight. But at the meetings, I still was applauded for every five pounds lost.

Then one day, one of the lifetime members said, “You’re going to have to get new pants soon.” What a lift!

I wasn’t going to buy new slacks because weighing in with the same clothes – navy blue pull-on pants and a gold and white top that I bought when I retired – had become a ritual (weigh-in time also meant taking off my shoes, my watch and glasses). But it was nice to know that the time had come.

Still, I was in no better physical shape. I didn’t want to exercise although I knew it would make me feel better and spur my weight loss. Finally, I met someone at WW who said she needed a walking partner. So we began walking at the old high school track – nearly a fourth of a mile around.

That first day I made one mile. Every week, we added another lap.

Then I had difficulties with my feet. Old shoes caused blisters. Other shoes only made them worse. I knew I needed new shoes, but my feet hurt too much to try them on and buy any. So to a podiatrist I went, a man I had used years earlier. We cleared up the blisters. I bought new shoes – expensive ones. They didn’t cause blisters.

Then came the day I tried on a pair of size 12 pants I had hanging in my closet. They fit. Some of the sweaters were now looser. That encouraged me to consider going to a gym. Walking wasn’t enough although we up to three miles a day.

Toward the end of May, I went to SSI, a gym that is primarily a therapy center. Allison, a trainer, weighed me, measured me and ensured me I could do an exercise program.   The next time I was there, I tried out the equipment as planned. Some were easy. The arm exercises hurt.

But Allison told me I was limber. Anything that sounded good provided encouragement.

After a couple of weeks, she checked me out again. I hunched my shoulders as I did the arm exercises. That’s not good and made my neck tight. So my goal now is to lower my shoulders, do the exercises and get stronger. Once again, this will be a long-term exercise. It will take months to get stronger. It will take years to get fit.

But I’m on another journey – a fitness journey to join my weight-loss journey. And it’s one I expect to last a lifetime.