|Photo by my grandson Henry, age 5|
I've been dieting ever since I can remember. I dieted myself from a thin person in my teens (115 lbs.) and 20s (125 lbs.) into an overweight person in my 30s, year after year, losing a little, gaining back a little bit more, until by my 40th birthday, I was very overweight, close to 200 lbs. at just 5 feet, 4 inches. I would go through phases of no carbs, or no fat, or just yogurt, or Slim Fast, or Weight Watchers, or Nutri System. All temporarily successful, but all a waste of money, and all in vain. In 1993 alone, I struggled through the tragic loss of my dad, the devastating loss of my marriage, the loss of the intact family that was my dream, my life. Everything and everyone I cherished was either gone or hurting. I had to find a new direction, a healthier way to be, emotionally and physically, not just for me, but for my kids. But I didn't know how. The next year, 1994, my sister Patsy hosted a surprise 40th birthday party for me. I had gained even more weight by then. I remember buying a new outfit at Bon Ton for a dinner I was going to that weekend, which I ended up wearing at the party. It was a loose, lacy sweater and big baggy pants. I thought it was pretty, but it wasn't. It was huge and an outfit that fit my body but not my psyche. I felt completely alien in it. At the party, there was a poster with photos from my younger years. One, my high school senior portrait, had someone at the party ask "who is this?" He loudly refused to believe that thin, pretty girl was me. That was a very sad moment on what should have been a joyful day. It's what I took away from an evening meant to be a celebration, and as much as I love my sister and family for such a wonderful party, I allowed that 10 seconds of shame to be the lasting memory.
So I needed a new start, a way back to me after such a difficult few years. I started by taking courses at Skidmore College, at first one, then a couple more, and then more until I had an English major under my belt. Ten years later, in 2003, I graduated with honors from Skidmore's English Department, under the guidance of Catherine Golden, a superb professor and a forever friend. I went on for my masters, and took my time, earning my degree, again from Skidmore, in January of 2010. Even with all that accomplishment, the weight was never under control. I'd lose a few, gain a few, back and forth, year after year. I was either dieting or feasting, aware of every single calorie or point, or completely oblivious. I exercised like a fiend for months on end, with obsession, alternating with months of inactivity. I had a masters degree, but felt that I was a failure at the one biggest challenge in my life - my weight. Ever since 1997, I have had encouragement from my boyfriend Russ, an accomplished athlete, a chiropractor, and the epitome of fitness. His efforts to help me were at first welcome, then resented. I wanted him to love me for me, but I didn't… I was self-sabotaging. I would not allow myself the gift of a healthier self. I seemed to be punishing myself in a body that always felt foreign and not my own. I have always felt that I've been hidden inside a cocoon, one that would one day miraculously unzip and release the real me, but not wanting to do the real work required to get there. I just wanted it to happen, to wake up and find my old self. It was a delusion.
Then I was diagnosed with diabetes II, just this past February. I started nutritional counseling and learned of an upcoming study at Skidmore College. (I'd participated in studies before, with great success, and then they were over.) What I need is a way to end a study and maintain the momentum, the good habits, the lifestyle. I believe I have finally found it now, along with my daughter Katie, and we just completed a 10-week program with incredible, yet hard-won, results. For the past 10 weeks, we've lived on Isagenix products and one healthy dinner every day, with one "cleanse" day a week. Going forward, we'll continue with Isagenix products, but fewer, incorporating more whole foods for the next 6 months, and an exercise component. We're more on our own, and with Katie as my partner (and me as hers) I know we'll continue to have tremendous and healthy results. I am more joyful for her success than my own. There's something about seeing your child accomplish something so significant, knowing it will make her life so much healthier and happier, that can't be beat. And she's done so much to be proud of in her life already, but this is special because we are doing it together.
So, the secret is, there is no secret. It's hard work, commitment to yourself, and a willingness to keep going when it seems too hard. You'll have weak moments, and tough choices, but you'll get through it with self-respect and determination. If you don't do it for yourself, it will never happen.
The secret is, you deserve to live the best life you can, in the healthiest body you can give yourself. That's my gift to myself for my 60th birthday, March 15, 2014. It's going to be the healthiest birthday of my adult life, and I am running to 60 with arms wide open. I can't wait!
(I'll post before and after photos when I am more "after" than I am now. - thanks for your patience!)