It wasn’t until I stepped on a scales with a whole country ham in my arms did it hit me what 15 pounds amassed together felt like. Warning: this may be graphic if you are not a meat eater.
I was weighing the ham because I had used some of the ham and was curious how many pounds we had used. (If you don’t know how country ham works, see here.)
So I got on the scales and my weight from a year ago popped up before me on the scales. It hit me: WOW. I’m holding in my hands the “weight” I lost.
The ham was heavy. My arms felt weighted down. I wouldn’t want to carry it walking all the way around a track.
About a year ago in May, I’m not sure what started it—maybe seeing my son-in-law’s daily log sheet of weight loss when I stayed at my daughter’s townhouse a few days while attending a conference that gave me the final nudge I needed to try, try TRY to lose weight again even though I had failed so many times in the last 30 years.
Maybe it was his fierce will power to turn down food when everyone else is eating. (At the moment he does not need to lose weight at all, but goes into training times when he tries to lose fat and gain muscle.) When I spied his open notebook on their desk in the spare bedroom I was intrigued. I asked him about it and he sent me some stuff he had read.
The only other time I successfully lost weight was when I was around 19 and gained a bunch in one year; I counted calories religiously for about four months and was able to lose about 10-15 pounds at that time.
Well, the years went by. Babies came and the pounds just never quite all went away. I had begun walking several times a week about ten years ago, but while I enjoyed my walks and the way they made me feel, I didn’t really lose weight.
Then our company, in a move to encourage fitness, offered to pay so much towards gym memberships. That was the other nudge I needed, and when I found a gym offering free exercise classes along with the membership, I decided to enroll last May and tried to get to the gym two to three times a week to classes or work out until garden work began in earnest. (When I’m busy gardening, I feel it serves as my gym.) I also began counting and limiting calories to 1500-1800 a day (not always successful.). It was toughest on weekends, when my husband enjoys going to our local lawn parties almost every weekend through the summer. (I’ll write about those fundraisers for rescue squads and fire departments sometime.) This is what the food looks like. Every weekend.
I still ate the food, just less of it. Our Friday donut treat from the homemade donut truck that parks near my office on Fridays became just a half donut, that kind of thing. I started a spread sheet and every day faithfully recorded my calorie intake, length and type of exercise, and my weight. I also cut out my daily diet cola. My husband had been telling me for years that diet drinks were mostly counterproductive and I had read the same thing. I started drinking mint tea, either hot or cold, to help fill me up when I got the late afternoon hungries. And overall tried to increase exercise/strenuous activity 3-4 times a week in addition to walking. That was my regimen.
And the pounds started to come off. That was motivation to keep going. I had ups and downs but eventually lost enough I had to buy some new clothes.
I debated writing about it and was not going to because I didn’t want anyone to feel badly about their own efforts, because I truly know how discouraging and difficult and maddening it is to not be able to lose weight. I didn’t want anyone to feel I was judging anyone else. I don’t want to be prideful. It can be wonderfully freeing to accept your weight and your size and be the most beautiful person you are, and not obsess about it. I also know that when physical disabilities or limitations get in the way, exercise is very difficult.
But when I held that 15 pound country ham in my arms, it was like the “scales [no pun intended] fell from his eyes,” as the Bible says in Acts 9:18 of the Apostle Paul when his temporary blindness went away. I had been walking around with THIS much extra body.
This much extra weight had been on my body.
This unneeded stress on my legs and bones which have long had terrible varicose veins (blame the babies) and increasing arthritis.
And I decided to write about it feeling that if I could do it at my age, others can do it too, even if you have tried tried tried and always ended up discouraged and frustrated.
I don’t know yet if I’ll keep it off forever. It’s been a year since I began, and about six months since I reached my lowest weight—that I hadn’t been at since before having children. I’ve gained back a few pounds (my husband really didn’t want me to lose “too much” he said, he liked me just fine the way I was). But I mostly bounce within three pounds of my target weight which is ok with me. I still don’t want to obsess about it.
To hold 15 pounds of “flesh” in your arms is an eye opening thing. The ham thing makes me more determined than ever to not get too weighted down again.
No pun intended.
There are wonderful calorie counters online, including one where you can find almost any restaurant food for chain restaurants. Here’s one I used. Oh, and I’m not counting calories anymore, just keeping track of weight and exercise amounts to keep me motivated.