August 19, 2018

My Weight Loss Journey: Nine Years Later


Nine years ago, I weighed 253 pounds.

Every year on August 19th, I remember a little less about what my life was like as a morbidly obese person; the memories get more distant and fuzzy as the time goes on. I've started looking at that as a good thing--each year that goes by means it's one year more that I've kept (most) of the weight off.

Nine years ago, I hated the way I looked, I hated the way I felt, and I hated that I couldn't seem to get control over it. I hated always worrying about my weight and how it was affecting my life. Here is a whole post about the things I hated about being obese.


I had no idea that August 19, 2009 was going to be the last day that I would weigh 253 pounds. I thought that I was just attempting for the umpteenth time to lose weight. Sometimes I theorize over what made this time different and why I was successful at losing the weight, but I don't think I'll ever really know for sure.


Whenever people ask me for my best weight loss advice, I always say the same thing: Don't make any changes you're not willing to live with forever. I think that is probably one of the biggest keys in successfully losing the weight and keeping it off. I kept it super simple--eating less food--and at that time, that's all I was willing to do. I didn't want to do a particular "diet" plan, knowing that I had tried them so many times before and failed.

Sometimes, I would lose 30, 40, or even 50 pounds before gaining it all back--because the changes I'd made weren't ones that I was willing to live with forever. This time around, I knew I could handle eating less food as long as I was able to continue to eat only the foods I enjoyed. I wanted to eat my pizza, cookies, pasta, and other foods that were staples for me at that time; I also wanted to lose weight. So, I compromised and found something that I could live with. I would continue to eat what I wanted, but I would eat less of it.

And--surprise, surprise--it worked!

I love this "goal weight photo" my dear friend Stephanie took of me

I think that doing things my OWN way was what kept me going. If I came across a roadblock, then I found a way around it that worked for ME. Yes, I've counted Weight Watchers Points (the "old" system) and I've counted calories--but I didn't do specific programs right to the letter. I found that I was starving when I ate recommended amounts of Points or calories, so I added what I felt was reasonable. Is that "cheating"? Nope! It's just a way of making the plan a long-term plan that I could stick with.

Eventually, my tastebuds did change a bit, and I began to eat some healthier foods--but only because I enjoyed them. I still eat pizza, cookies, and pasta regularly, and as long as I'm not emotionally overeating or binge eating, I can maintain my weight that way. I also love cabbage and Asian pears and cauliflower and (especially) grapes.

Emotional eating has certainly made weight maintenance a challenge--over and over again. Having bipolar disorder means my moods take really dramatic shifts. When I'm hypomanic, I have no problem eating less food and getting in lots of activity. But when I'm depressed, I have no energy and I eat way too much of the foods I find comforting in order to feel better. Hypomanic = weight loss; depression = weight gain. (Unfortunately, hypomania is NOT fun because it comes with a ton of anxiety. Ideally, I would have a very even mood, nothing too far "up" or "down".)

(Right now, I am at a higher weight--154, today. I was mildly depressed for a long while, contributing to the gain. I no longer feel depressed, but I am still working on leveling out my mood (and my diet). This photo below, a recent one, stands out to me because I can tell by the way I'm standing and the look on my face that I feel very self-conscious of the extra weight.)


Jerry's and my 15-year anniversary was a few days ago, on the 16th. It's kind of funny--we had been planning on "starting our diet" (for the millionth time) on August 16th of 2009, because we thought our anniversary sounded like a good time to make a fresh start.

So, on August 15th, we went out for our "last meal"--basically just eating waaaay too much at Red Lobster. I still remember what I consumed: a huge margarita (probably two, actually); three cheese biscuits; a Caesar salad; the "create your own shrimp trio"--coconut shrimp, shrimp scampi, and shrimp alfredo; a baked potato with butter and sour cream; and cheesecake for dessert.

The next morning, we started the day with good intentions. And by dinnertime, we'd already given up on the diet plan we'd chosen (I think it was the "6 Week Body Makeover"--anyone remember that?). I spent the next couple of days feeling like a failure because, yet again, I couldn't make myself do it. My sister coincidentally called me on the evening of the 18th (she rarely called me, so I was curious), and asked me if I would do Weight Watchers with her.

To be honest, I didn't want to. I was feeling sorry for myself and I just felt defeated. However, my sister is kind of intimidating. She's very extroverted, talkative, outgoing--basically, everything that I am not. I was too nervous to say no! (Looking back, I realize it was ridiculous to feel intimidated; but I only started to stand up for what *I* really want last year--regardless of how it would make others feel about me.)

So, I told her I would. And then on the 19th, I saw that I weighed 253 pounds. I really wanted to make it through the day on track because my sister had said she would call each evening to see how it was going. I hated every second of that first day, starting with breakfast. If you've been reading my blog for a while, then you know that there is one food that I really can't stand, and it's yogurt. I also don't love salad (sometimes I get in the mood for them, but in general, salad is not a food I choose often).

Jerry was surprised when I ordered salad for dinner!

What did I eat on my first day? Yogurt for breakfast. And salad! It's no wonder why I hated it. After sticking to it for the whole day, and vowing not to disappoint my sister on Day 2, I decided that I was going to have to do things MY way. No yogurt. No salad. Only eat foods that I enjoy. Once I let myself really give way to that "rule", I wasn't so spiteful about putting in the work to losing weight. I still didn't believe I would actually continue beyond a week or two, but at least I wasn't eating yogurt for breakfast ;)


(Side note: I've gotten a lot of criticism over the years for eating junk food. I've had people tell me that it's the junk food that makes me gain weight. But I've eaten my favorite foods--desserts!--throughout my entire weight loss, from 253 pounds to 121 pounds and everything in between. My weight gains and losses aren't due to WHAT I'm eating, but rather HOW MUCH I'm eating.)

It actually took me a long time to feel like the way I was eating was "worth it". I felt like the scale should have been dropping like crazy, considering I wasn't eating even half of what I used to. After I'd lost 10 pounds, I was really excited for Jerry to take a comparison photo of me (we had taken "before" photos on August 15, 2009). I felt so much lighter and thinner, and I couldn't wait to see the progress in photos.

You literally couldn't see an ounce of difference in the photos! I was very upset and I told Jerry that I wanted to quit. He'd asked me if I felt that my change in diet was worth the 10-pound weight loss (he was trying to be encouraging). I said that measuring out my portions wasn't worth it because you couldn't see any difference, so what was the point?

I don't remember what he said to me that day, but it must have been good, because I didn't quit. I felt like the change in my body was very drastic, but nobody even commented that I looked like I'd lost weight until I was down 40 pounds. It was discouraging! But by that point, I had the determination it took to see it through, even though I wasn't motivated all the time.

After that, the physical changes started happening much more frequently. I was so excited each time my jeans went down a size! I started cutting into squares each pair of jeans that became too big on me (save for one pair that I still have) and sewing them together in a quilt.


As I continued my weight loss, I adjusted things here and there to make the lifestyle work FOR me and not against me. I learned that I feel best when I eat mostly carbs and fat. I learned that caffeine feeds my anxiety. I learned that I much prefer small portions of full-fat products instead of larger quantities of the low calorie or low fat versions. And I learned that Weight Watchers ice cream tasted like cardboard.

Maintenance is something that I still haven't figured out. From what I've learned about my body, my weight tends to swing by a huge amount--up to 30 pounds--depending on my moods. I used to think that was totally unacceptable because everything I'd read said you should keep your weight within a five pound range. After nine years (well, eight years since I reached my goal), I've realized that a five-pound range probably isn't a realistic goal for me. While I'm never thrilled to have gained weight, I've kept off about 100 pounds for 8 years! That's a pretty big deal.


A few days ago, on Jerry's and my anniversary, he asked me what my favorite thing about our 15 years of marriage was. I took some time to think about it, because how does one process 15 years of memories?! Finally, I said it was getting healthy together. When we lost the weight (Jerry lost 85 pounds!), we both FELT so much better. Our lives didn't revolve around food. We were more active. We set a much better example for our kids.

Like I said, my memories of being morbidly obese have been getting fuzzier as time goes on, but when I think about what that felt like, it just gives me a bad feeling. I was always out of breath and I never wanted to go anywhere (for fear of seeing someone I knew). I hated buying clothes. Here is a post I wrote about the things I hated while I was obese.

I think the biggest drawback to having lost 125 pounds and keeping most of it off for so long is the fact that I will always be fearful of gaining it back. Each time my weight goes up significantly, I wonder if it will be "the time" that I gain it all back. I wish that I didn't think about my weight. However, if I ignore it, it gets out of control. Someday, it'd be nice to find a nice medium--a weight that I am comfortable with AND where I don't worry about gaining all of the weight back.

When Jerry asked me in 2009, "Is it worth it?" I said no. Nine years later, after being given SO many opportunities and life-changing events due to my weight loss; setting a good example for my kids; living an active life; feeling good about myself (the majority of the time); and, knowing I can really do anything that I am determined to do, I can say yes--it was worth it.


18 comments:

  1. Another great blog, thanks for the walk (or run) down memory lane with you!

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  2. Such a great post!! You should be so proud of all your accomplishments! And that last picture in the sand is cracking me up lol :)

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  3. You are Amazing! Love and hugs to you and Jerry, get them from Adam the next time you see him LOL

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  4. Thank you so much for this! I needed this post SO much today. I spent the last year struggling with depression and as a result am up 25lbs from the goal weight that I successfully kept off for 2 years. I am finally coming out of the depression and feeling good again. I got on the scale this morning and just thought “Enough”. Then I read this and you reminded me how much more there is to life than food, and how amazing it felt at goal weight to be more active and comfortable in my own skin. Thank you for continuing to inspire me, and for being so honest and relatable! Much love!

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  5. Happy Anniversary! I have gained it all back (again). Sigh. Thought for sure I had it beat the last time but over time I let myself slip up and stopped running and going to the gym. It's so frustrating.

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  6. What a wonderful blogger you are Katie! I have loved reading your story all these years, because it's so honest, so sincere, so heartfelt and I identify with you so much even though I'm 30+ years older than you. I have gotten to do so much in these years since weight loss, my journey started 9 years ago this Dec., and I hit goal in April 2011. But lately I've regained a lot of weight and am struggling to get my focus back. It will come--because I am determined never to go back to that obese woman who was so limited in life. Thank you for your inspiration, today yesterday and all through these nine years of striving to be healthier!

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  7. Hey, my boy left this morning ~for 3 days~ to run,bond and run some more with his Cross Country HS team. It's also daughter #2's 19th birthday. We celebrated yesterday so I told myself I would eat good today and not let the party eating continue for the next 3 days.

    Well, for breakfast I had the last piece of peanut butter cup pie from Perkins....ugh! I felt like napping but I dragged my butt to the Y and worked out. Feeling much better I had 2 bowls of ice cream for lunch. ;-(

    Yup, feeling very disappointed in my lack of will power over sweets when they are in the house I of course turned to NETFLIX.....where I found FROM FAT TO FINISH LINE!!! (I had never watched it before)

    LOVED IT! It made me tear up, it built me up, it was amazing!! Everyone should go watch that flick right now.....thanks for making that film and for being so fucking real. (I truly don't swear much but after some choice words were heard in the documentary I felt sometimes those are the words that really motivate someone to move forward or get their point across!!!) ha!

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  8. I know that each person has their own goal weight where they just feel better, but I think your recent picture looks great! As someone else who struggles with weight, we are too hard on ourselves. It's exhausting to think so much about it, and I'm trying to accept that I'll probably always struggle and will probably always fluctuate, and to give myself a break. Thanks for sharing your struggle because it makes all of us readers feel like we're in this together.

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  9. I’ve been following you for 6 years—when I first found your blog, it felt like you had “made” it, but losing the weight isn’t nearly as impressive as keeping it off for so long! You’re inspiring and you’re a good voice of reason in this culture of constantly driving for perfection. I love what you said about making the changes you can live with forever.

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  10. I just found your blog today and I love it. You are so real and honest. I eat what I want too! Just in moderation. Your blog is very inspiring. I especially loved this post! Thank you so much for sharing.

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  11. Thank you for sharing! Love your blog.

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  12. I can completely relate to this post, I have been there and gone through similar experiences. Like yourself, I haven't completely figured out maintenance and have a 10 pound range I've stayed in. I've recommitted and am trying to lose a little bit more. Every step of this journey is a chance to learn though. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    - Lisa @ Six Little Ducks (www.sixlittleducks.com)

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  13. Just found your blog today. Loved it.

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  14. What a wonderful recap! It took me about a week to finally read this, because I have gained most of my weight back (and I’ve been following you for YEARS, since before I reached my goal in 2013 I think) and I was sad to think how I started in 2009 and I don’t have the same story. It’s embarrassing and now hard dealing with the fear I won’t get it back off.

    But your recap has been most inspiring. Instead of leaving your blog feeling ashamed and a bit envious you’ve kept the weight off for so long, I am encouraged.

    Keep up the good work! You are always inspiring to me. 💛

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  15. Wow, nine years?! Hard to believe I've "known" you that long. And you better believe 100+ pounds is a big deal, most of us can't get rid of 10 or 15, you rock the weight loss world! Also, belated Happy Anniversary to you and Jerry (I enjoyed the post about your favorite memories from 16 years of marriage). Here's to the end of summer, one more margarita and the new school year!
    ~Janet xo

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