On July 5, 2017, I went for an annual physical, where I found myself 120 pounds overweight and my blood pressure on the undeniably high side (it had been borderline for a few years, but never in the range it was that day). As a result, my doctor told me she would give me a few months to try to get it under control myself with diet and exercise before putting me on medication.
Of course, it wasn’t like I hadn’t been trying to lose weight before that day—I was the biggest I’d ever been in my life and I felt miserable. My size 18 pants were becoming too tight, I couldn’t walk for any distance without my knees and hips hurting, and forget about taking the stairs—they left me completely out of breath and were to be avoided like the plague. Also, it wasn’t like I didn’t already eat healthful foods: my husband makes homemade dinners every night, complete with fresh vegetables and lean proteins. I felt like I’d tried and failed so many times to lose any weight that I was just doomed to be the size that I was, so I asked my doctor what she thought I should do—assuming she’d recommend gastric bypass or some similar surgery. Instead, she recommended I count calories and that I keep my total calorie consumption to no more than 1200/day, because no matter how healthfully I thought I might be eating, if my calorie consumption was more than my calorie expenditure each day, I was not going to lose any weight. And, of course, she said I needed to exercise, even if that meant taking slow walks around the block every day.
The next morning I woke up early, took my dog, and went for a slow, painful, 30-minute walk around my neighborhood. I kept this routine up for months—logging my calories (no more than 1200/day) and walking for 30 minutes at least three days a week—for almost three months. By the end of September, I had lost 38 pounds! And my slow, painful walks were no longer slow and painful; I had graduated to jogging and was on my way to running for 30 minutes straight!
At this point in my journey, I wanted to up my game as far as exercise went. Running was good, especially for my cardiovascular health, but I wasn’t building muscle in my arms and core just doing that, and as I began seeing something other than fat on my body, I really wanted to work on definition and toning. But despite owning dumbbells and other workout equipment, I didn’t really know what I should do with it and, because of that, I wasn’t motivated to use it. I needed knowledge and I needed accountability.
Working for Novo Nordisk, I had driven by Woodall’s many times but I never gave it much consideration—I assumed that I was far too out of shape and would just be discouraged if I tried to join any classes—but then I found out that they offered personal training, so I thought “why not?” and booked a consultation with one of the owners, Barbie. She and I sat down together one day and I told her my story, including all my fears and concerns (e.g. bad back, bad knee, previous experiences with working out, etc.), and we made a plan: I would meet with a personal trainer for 30 minutes at a time, two or three times a week.
That was mid-September. By mid-December I had lost another 28 pounds and had lost four inches in my waist! By the New Year, I was ready to up my exercise game even more and began working out in small group for an hour instead of 30 minutes—and I found myself also attending hour-long classes, something I thought not too many months before was completely out of my reach! I was also able to do exercises that were outside of my ability when I started, such as Russian twists and the dreaded v-ups!
Having cancer and going through radiation and chemotherapy sent me into a depression that took me YEARS to get out of. It was depression—and seeking comfort from it in food and alcohol—that put all that weight on me in the first place. I cannot tell you why or how I was able to break out of it—I guess that day at the doctor’s office just scared me straight—but I know that many people, and women especially, have to conquer similar mental health issues in order to get back on the path to healthful living.
As of this writing (6 April 2018), I am 92 pounds from where I started last July. My blood pressure is back in the normal range now (I never did have to go on medication), my waist is nearly eight inches smaller, and I’ve gone from wearing that size 18 that was getting too snug to a size 10. I’ve also upped my exercise to at least 45 minutes a day, seven days a week (supplementing my Woodall’s workouts with swimming, jogging, and bicycling on the days I don’t have small group or classes). Most importantly, though, my energy level and self-confidence has been restored. I no longer dread taking the stairs and I can walk (and run!) for miles. I don’t have too many pictures of myself from “before,” because any time anyone came around with a camera, I would hide. I hated being confronted with the reality of how big I’d become. I’ll never be super comfortable in front a camera (just because I’m such an introvert), but not feeling the need to completely hide from how I look is truly an awesome feeling.
I still have 28 pounds I would like to lose to reach my goal weight that my doctor and I set, but I’ll get there, slowly but surely, as I continue to count calories and work out with my Woodall’s family!