Friday, January 6, 2017

How to Not Go Back to Where You've Been

I've shared Peggy's story with you here before. She sent me her journal entry recently and it really resonated with me and I think it might with you too. You know the feeling-- that one you get during the New Year. You have hope, optimism, and a blank page. But with that also comes doubt and fear that this year will end like so many others-- with disappointment, goals not met, and the feeling of failure. If you can relate, then read this.

Peggy, Keeping her promises
"It’s January. A whole year untouched in front of me, stretched like clean canvas on its frame. Now that’s something to ponder.

This week, I expected to be excited about that clean canvas. But instead, I’m feeling a vague sense of dread, and angst. I am so aware of how fast the time can slip by. And how easy it is to become less attentive to things that matter most, like my health -- specifically, my commitment to a lean, healthy diet and daily exercise. So honestly, I’m anxious. I’m excruciatingly aware right now of the number of times I’ve “lost it”, that “it” of attentiveness; and how a few blown-off days of exercise and a few grabbed meals (if you can call bombing into 7-11 after putting gas in the car a “meal”) on the run can and do turn into pounds regained. And before I know it, that head-smacking, soul-deflating sense of failure and defeat return.

At times, I still feel so vulnerable to the return of those old habits of inattention and emotional eating it’s like my own personal big black vulture, sitting on a boulder right behind me just out of sight, all ratty feathers and hungry for death, impatiently bobbing back and forth from one foot to the other, waiting for me to get distracted so he can get his clutches into me again. I’ve spent years at a time, in a dreadful relationship with that vulture, gaining weight I’ve lost before, and more, just by losing my focus and letting those old habits take hold again.

In fact, giving in and letting go of my discipline seems easiest. As easy as letting gravity have its way. But the result is not easy at all. It’s miserable. I know this. I’ve lived it. And I don’t want to live it again.

So what am I going to do in this year, this 2017 stretched out in front of me? It’s not a small question, and it’s a question I need to hold on to as though my life depends on it – because it does. I can’t afford any two week long New Year’s Resolutions. I have to find a way to keep living differently. And I’m a little scared. I can feel the bulky presence of all those past failures right now, in a giant mound of unpleasant life experience with weight loss and gain. But I think the key for me is just attention. Focus. Commitment to catch myself fast when my focus gets vague and I get sloppy with my daily decisions about what I eat, and when; whether or not I exercise, and for how long, and how hard I choose to push myself. For me, it still seems like the journey is about a thousand small decisions, every day. And every day, committing to make just as many good decisions as I possibly can, forgiving myself the occasional bad decision and getting right back to work making as many good decisions as I possibly can – in the next ten minutes, the next day.  

Peggy at the end of a workout. Making her fat cry.
I may have to live with my personal vulture of inattention hanging out with me for a long time yet, but we are going to have a different relationship. I’m going to watch him like a hawk. I’m going to be the more vigilant and more powerful bird. We’re going to get acquainted, and he will learn that I’m not going to be a victim to my old bad habits any more. I won’t let him get the best of me. Who knows, perhaps one day he’ll just get bored and fly off, and I’ll discover that my new way of living has actually become what is more familiar, more normal, and I won’t feel so vulnerable to losing it. But that’s not how it is just yet. For now, I have to really pay attention, every day. And that’s ok.


Carpe diem, indeed."

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

My WHY: Tammy

Tammy is one of those people who inspires you and motivates you to be a better version of yourself, just by the way she lives. That's why I asked her if she would share her story. I'm so proud of her and the way that she has fully embraced what it means to truly TRANSFORM.

 
Before, in December 2015


1.    How did you feel before SoS? 

Before starting the program, I was feeling lost.  At 51 years old, I have a successful career as an IT Professional.  I have focused so much on school and work over the years, that my personal life, and health, took a backseat.  I was an extremely lonely woman.  I went out on occasion with my fiends but spent the majority of my time at home, watching television.  I still had fun and smiled, but I really was not feeling alive.  Being single with no children, I focused my time on my work.  I had a feeling of hopelessness about my personal future.  I’m Type 2 Diabetic (uncontrolled) so I had that to worry about too.  My negative self-talk was a bit out of control to say the least.  I was truly my own worst enemy. 



2.    Remember when you started this journey? How does your weight loss journey now compare to what you thought going into it?

I luckily woke up one day in Dec 2015.  I knew I had to do something about my weight and about my life once I got home from the holidays.  My mom passed away at 73 in May 2015 which threw me into a tailspin.  I cared about very little last year except work and getting things done around the house.  In 1994, at my highest weight, I was 316 pounds.  The number still shocks me.  But it happened.  At the start of 2016, I was 270 pounds.  I started what I normally do by making better choices and lost 25 pounds before hitting the ever annoying plateau.  I’ve been overweight, morbidly obese, most of my life.  A term I hate.  I wanted no more of that!!!  I scheduled a consultation visit with Dr. Holly.  I will remember the day I met Dr. Holly in February 2016 for the rest of my life.   I was excited to start my journey and March seem a long way away.  We only talked for a few minutes when I knew I would be signing up for the whole year starting in March.  I immediately went downstairs to sign up.  I had hope now.  I’ve lost weight before, a lot of weight, but will it stay off this time?  I finally was hopeful.  I am the “Definition of Insanity” when it comes to weight loss.  I decided I had to try something different and hopefully get different results. The first week was incredible!  I was nervous I couldn’t keep up with the others but I was going to give it everything I had in me.  Amazingly enough, I did much better than I thought.  My body was responding to all these new activities!  One of the best weeks of my life!  At least at that point…..

Living in the Arena!


How does my weight loss journey now compare to what I thought going into it, you ask?  Night and day!!  The weight loss has been a side benefit.  Not the main result.  Not what I expected at all.  I had no idea that meeting 29 other people with the same weight issues would have such an impact on me.  The program has been transforming me day after day to the person I truly want to be - the Tammy who has been in my head for decades, not the one looking back in the mirror.  Dr. Holly has shown me ways to get the weight off, get more active and work on my mindset.  I’ve got this!!  I have a about 4 months until my 1 year graduation.  I am positive I will hit my goal weight.  I have ups and downs like everyone else. There are days that I struggle to keep on plan but I know I can call a super friend and talk through it.  This isn’t a one-year process, it’s the rest of my life.  I know I will be able to keep the weight off this time.  I am learning what emotions will de-rail me and what to do about it.  Tools in my toolbox as they say.  I continue to have more and more of “the best days and weeks of my life!”



3. What has been your biggest "Aha" or breakthrough moment?   
My weight wasn’t my issue with dating as much as it was with my “being”.  I wasn’t happy and it showed.  Even when I smiled and looked happy, I believe others picked up that it was not a true happy.  I don’t know what exact day it was but about 3-4 months in, I found out what “loving myself” was really about.  The negative self-talk had just about disappeared, the smile on my face was real. I love who I am becoming on the inside as well as the outside.  And it shows!  I’ve been told by some of my friends that I have a glow about me.  Maybe it’s all the water or maybe, just maybe, I’m starting to live a fun filled energetic life where tv is not my main entertainment.  I have confidence in myself at work, but now I have more confidence socially.  I hold my head up high and talk to everyone.  I have found that being shy wasn’t working for me.  I love this new question I constantly ask myself now – “Is it working for me?  If no, then FIX IT!!”.  I’m taking some baby steps and fixing one thing at a time.  There are moments I still feel lonely, but it’s more because I have filled that time with something productive.


Living large before a concert

4. What are you most proud of/grateful for so far? 
I’m so proud of myself for not giving up.  I have up and down days, but you start at the next meal and get back on it.  I’m so grateful for Dr. Holly and the amazing program that is now part of my new life.  I have new friends I know will be lifelong friends.  I also have new friends from other SOS groups that I can go hiking, exercise, 5Ks and other fun things with.  This program has worked so well for me in such a short amount of time, that my Dr. actually put a smiley face on my report due to the great weight loss and normal blood work results.  I have just one diabetes medication that I’m on now.  I feel great all the time with great energy.  The most grateful part of this journey besides my new friends and life is that I know I can use this plan to stay fit and at a healthy weight the rest of my life.  I’ve made it easy for me in my new lifestyle and with my extensive travel to make healthy decisions.

At a 5K in September



5. If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering this journey, what would it be?  Don’t wait another minute!!!  Life is too short to not be the person you want to be.  Start now, it doesn’t matter how old you are, what your circumstances are, you can do it.  Health and happiness is in your immediate future.  You will be given the tools and super friends that will guide you and be there for you every step of the way.  I wish I had this opportunity decades ago but am grateful every day that I signed up one cold Colorado Winter day.  You will not regret this choice to start a journey of transformation, that includes weight loss.  Your healthy, happy YOU is waiting for you to begin!  

At Huntington Beach in August

6. How do you feel now?  
Absolutely AMAZING!!  I’m full of energy and most days jump out of bed in the morning.   I am loving the ability to wear cute clothes and get ready to go out.  I have better posture, I fit into air plane seats and have a new outlook on life.  I’ve gone from a size 24 to a size 10. I can’t wait to see how I feel when I hit goal.  I’m smiling all the time because I’m truly happy and feel great.  I park further away to get more steps in.  I travel a lot so I stay in hotels.  I try to use the stairs down….and UP… as much as I can.  I am not out of breath when I get to my floor.  I don’t worry about climbing stairs to see a Bronco game with my friends.  I can’t say enough about the changes in not just my body but my mind and how that plays out in my every day life now!  I’m excited to start planning trips that involve bicycling, hiking, small aircraft, etc.  I don’t feel that I have any restraints on myself.  I have a lot of living to do and it has already started.  I have areas to work on like strength and endurance training.  That will only make me feel better than I already do.

Ziplining!

7. What has been the most valuable part of SoS?    
My Super Friends have been the most valuable!  There are 29 other super friends that I have now that support me and I support them.  I know I have a new group of lifelong friends that I can call when I need support or just say “Hi”.  This Summer, a bunch of us got together for an extended weekend to support our friend doing her first 5K.  One of the best 5 days of my life!!  A group of us went to Disneyland, we went Paddle Boarding (a new favorite of mine now), did the Tiki Beach 5K (my first time jogging with my super friend Lori encouraging me), beach yoga and hanging out.  I look forward to many, many more of these get togethers.  I was even dared to talk to a cute guy on the beach…..I did!  So much fun and have a picture to prove it.  I don’t feel like I’m going through this journey alone.  We all use Facebook, text or even phone each other.  I can’t say enough about how valuable my new friends have been for me to stay on track, be accountable, get great feedback but also to support others and share what is working for me and help them as well.

At a 5K in May



8. How has this journey changed your life? How?   
My life has changed in every way.  I have done 5 x 5Ks, a 7k and a 10k this Summer.  I’ve always have said that I would only run if I was being chased!  Who is this person that woke up at 4:30am to do a 10K?  Seriously, I never thought I’d be that girl!  I’m walking/jogging now and am working towards being able to jog a mile non-stop.  I have exercise induced asthma.  I would love to make that an excuse but I can no longer allow myself to let that hold me back.  I get stronger and stronger every race.



I was asked to find a before picture.  I had trouble finding many pictures of me that was a full body picture.  I was always standing in the back of a group or had my picture be just my upper body.  Now, I have to ask for a full body picture.  I am having a blast getting pictures of me and my friends out hiking, doing 5Ks, dressing up for Halloween, etc.  I love looking back at the pictures of my journey. 



Doing new and exciting things out of my comfort zone is a new way of life.  The 5Ks are just a small piece of it.  For my 6 month goal, I went zip lining for the very first time in my life.  Scared?  Heck ya!  I’m not great with heights but I was “GONNA DO IT!”  I was always too heavy to do zip lining.  I had a blast!  Six zip lines in Conifer, CO.  One was the longest and another the fastest line in Colorado.  I’m so grateful to live in such a beautiful state!  I don’t need to look up the weight limits any more.  How cool is that?!  I just bought some coupons to do Indoor Sky Diving.  I can’t wait! Horseback riding?  Have to find some time. 



Another interesting change has been with clothing.  I am having a blast getting new jackets for Winter, smaller clothes and shopping in “normal” stores.  I’m a large now and get so excited when something fits and looks great.  I travel about 50% of the time.  I had to buy a smaller suitcase due to my smaller clothes taking a lot less space.  That was a fun day!



I finally went to my first speed dating event.  I had a great time.  I talked to all the guys and ended my matching with 3 of them.  After a lifetime of barely any dates, never married and no children, I am now excited about dating and going out and being myself.  I have more confidence where I would be very uncomfortable before.  I have a new outlook about having fun and not worrying so much on the outcome.  I love that new feeling.




9. What have your discovered about your WHY?   
My original WHY was to fit into air plane seats and not be embarrassed, go horseback riding, not pay for 2 seats on helicopters and fit into roller coaster seats.  I am also Type 2 Diabetic so getting that under control and getting off the diabetes pills was part of my WHY.  It was a great set of WHYs.  Not to mention making my mom happy that I finally got serious about losing weight, even though she’s not here to be a part of my journey.  These were good WHYs going in and has kept me going through the transformation.  Those WHYs made sense, but that wasn’t what I was looking for.  Those were the “symptoms”, not the “cause”.  I didn’t know that back in March.  My original WHY was also not to feel so lonely all the time.


During a hike in Allenspark


10. Has your WHY changed since you started?   
My WHY has definitely changed.  It’s not about being healthy and thin any more.  It’s about being the best I can be.  Participating in activities and pushing my physical and mental self.  Being social and going out, speed dating and always saying YES – count me in!  No more hoping that something would change, but BEING MY OWN CHANGE!  I’m starting to find ways to Pay it Forward.  A great new change to my WHY. No Excuses!  No Regrets!!

My WHY: Tammy

Tammy is one of those people who inspires you and motivates you to be a better version of yourself, just by the way she lives. That's why I asked her if she would share her story. I'm so proud of her and the way that she has fully embraced what it means to truly TRANSFORM.

 
Before, in December 2015


1.    How did you feel before SoS? 

Before starting the program, I was feeling lost.  At 51 years old, I have a successful career as an IT Professional.  I have focused so much on school and work over the years, that my personal life, and health, took a backseat.  I was an extremely lonely woman.  I went out on occasion with my fiends but spent the majority of my time at home, watching television.  I still had fun and smiled, but I really was not feeling alive.  Being single with no children, I focused my time on my work.  I had a feeling of hopelessness about my personal future.  I’m Type 2 Diabetic (uncontrolled) so I had that to worry about too.  My negative self-talk was a bit out of control to say the least.  I was truly my own worst enemy. 



2.    Remember when you started this journey? How does your weight loss journey now compare to what you thought going into it?

I luckily woke up one day in Dec 2015.  I knew I had to do something about my weight and about my life once I got home from the holidays.  My mom passed away at 73 in May 2015 which threw me into a tailspin.  I cared about very little last year except work and getting things done around the house.  In 1994, at my highest weight, I was 316 pounds.  The number still shocks me.  But it happened.  At the start of 2016, I was 270 pounds.  I started what I normally do by making better choices and lost 25 pounds before hitting the ever annoying plateau.  I’ve been overweight, morbidly obese, most of my life.  A term I hate.  I wanted no more of that!!!  I scheduled a consultation visit with Dr. Holly.  I will remember the day I met Dr. Holly in February 2016 for the rest of my life.   I was excited to start my journey and March seem a long way away.  We only talked for a few minutes when I knew I would be signing up for the whole year starting in March.  I immediately went downstairs to sign up.  I had hope now.  I’ve lost weight before, a lot of weight, but will it stay off this time?  I finally was hopeful.  I am the “Definition of Insanity” when it comes to weight loss.  I decided I had to try something different and hopefully get different results. The first week was incredible!  I was nervous I couldn’t keep up with the others but I was going to give it everything I had in me.  Amazingly enough, I did much better than I thought.  My body was responding to all these new activities!  One of the best weeks of my life!  At least at that point…..

Living in the Arena!



How does my weight loss journey now compare to what I thought going into it, you ask?  Night and day!!  The weight loss has been a side benefit.  Not the main result.  Not what I expected at all.  I had no idea that meeting 29 other people with the same weight issues would have such an impact on me.  The program has been transforming me day after day to the person I truly want to be - the Tammy who has been in my head for decades, not the one looking back in the mirror.  Dr. Holly has shown me ways to get the weight off, get more active and work on my mindset.  I’ve got this!!  I have a about 4 months until my 1 year graduation.  I am positive I will hit my goal weight.  I have ups and downs like everyone else. There are days that I struggle to keep on plan but I know I can call a super friend and talk through it.  This isn’t a one-year process, it’s the rest of my life.  I know I will be able to keep the weight off this time.  I am learning what emotions will de-rail me and what to do about it.  Tools in my toolbox as they say.  I continue to have more and more of “the best days and weeks of my life!”



3. What has been your biggest "Aha" or breakthrough moment?   
My weight wasn’t my issue with dating as much as it was with my “being”.  I wasn’t happy and it showed.  Even when I smiled and looked happy, I believe others picked up that it was not a true happy.  I don’t know what exact day it was but about 3-4 months in, I found out what “loving myself” was really about.  The negative self-talk had just about disappeared, the smile on my face was real. I love who I am becoming on the inside as well as the outside.  And it shows!  I’ve been told by some of my friends that I have a glow about me.  Maybe it’s all the water or maybe, just maybe, I’m starting to live a fun filled energetic life where tv is not my main entertainment.  I have confidence in myself at work, but now I have more confidence socially.  I hold my head up high and talk to everyone.  I have found that being shy wasn’t working for me.  I love this new question I constantly ask myself now – “Is it working for me?  If no, then FIX IT!!”.  I’m taking some baby steps and fixing one thing at a time.  There are moments I still feel lonely, but it’s more because I have filled that time with something productive.


Living large before a concert



4. What are you most proud of/grateful for so far? 
I’m so proud of myself for not giving up.  I have up and down days, but you start at the next meal and get back on it.  I’m so grateful for Dr. Holly and the amazing program that is now part of my new life.  I have new friends I know will be lifelong friends.  I also have new friends from other SOS groups that I can go hiking, exercise, 5Ks and other fun things with.  This program has worked so well for me in such a short amount of time, that my Dr. actually put a smiley face on my report due to the great weight loss and normal blood work results.  I have just one diabetes medication that I’m on now.  I feel great all the time with great energy.  The most grateful part of this journey besides my new friends and life is that I know I can use this plan to stay fit and at a healthy weight the rest of my life.  I’ve made it easy for me in my new lifestyle and with my extensive travel to make healthy decisions.

At a 5K in September



5. If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering this journey, what would it be?  Don’t wait another minute!!!  Life is too short to not be the person you want to be.  Start now, it doesn’t matter how old you are, what your circumstances are, you can do it.  Health and happiness is in your immediate future.  You will be given the tools and super friends that will guide you and be there for you every step of the way.  I wish I had this opportunity decades ago but am grateful every day that I signed up one cold Colorado Winter day.  You will not regret this choice to start a journey of transformation, that includes weight loss.  Your healthy, happy YOU is waiting for you to begin!  

At Huntington Beach in August


6. How do you feel now?  
Absolutely AMAZING!!  I’m full of energy and most days jump out of bed in the morning.   I am loving the ability to wear cute clothes and get ready to go out.  I have better posture, I fit into air plane seats and have a new outlook on life.  I’ve gone from a size 24 to a size 10. I can’t wait to see how I feel when I hit goal.  I’m smiling all the time because I’m truly happy and feel great.  I park further away to get more steps in.  I travel a lot so I stay in hotels.  I try to use the stairs down….and UP… as much as I can.  I am not out of breath when I get to my floor.  I don’t worry about climbing stairs to see a Bronco game with my friends.  I can’t say enough about the changes in not just my body but my mind and how that plays out in my every day life now!  I’m excited to start planning trips that involve bicycling, hiking, small aircraft, etc.  I don’t feel that I have any restraints on myself.  I have a lot of living to do and it has already started.  I have areas to work on like strength and endurance training.  That will only make me feel better than I already do.

Ziplining!



7. What has been the most valuable part of SoS?    
My Super Friends have been the most valuable!  There are 29 other super friends that I have now that support me and I support them.  I know I have a new group of lifelong friends that I can call when I need support or just say “Hi”.  This Summer, a bunch of us got together for an extended weekend to support our friend doing her first 5K.  One of the best 5 days of my life!!  A group of us went to Disneyland, we went Paddle Boarding (a new favorite of mine now), did the Tiki Beach 5K (my first time jogging with my super friend Lori encouraging me), beach yoga and hanging out.  I look forward to many, many more of these get togethers.  I was even dared to talk to a cute guy on the beach…..I did!  So much fun and have a picture to prove it.  I don’t feel like I’m going through this journey alone.  We all use Facebook, text or even phone each other.  I can’t say enough about how valuable my new friends have been for me to stay on track, be accountable, get great feedback but also to support others and share what is working for me and help them as well.

At a 5K in May



8. How has this journey changed your life? How?   
My life has changed in every way.  I have done 5 x 5Ks, a 7k and a 10k this Summer.  I’ve always have said that I would only run if I was being chased!  Who is this person that woke up at 4:30am to do a 10K?  Seriously, I never thought I’d be that girl!  I’m walking/jogging now and am working towards being able to jog a mile non-stop.  I have exercise induced asthma.  I would love to make that an excuse but I can no longer allow myself to let that hold me back.  I get stronger and stronger every race.



I was asked to find a before picture.  I had trouble finding many pictures of me that was a full body picture.  I was always standing in the back of a group or had my picture be just my upper body.  Now, I have to ask for a full body picture.  I am having a blast getting pictures of me and my friends out hiking, doing 5Ks, dressing up for Halloween, etc.  I love looking back at the pictures of my journey. 



Doing new and exciting things out of my comfort zone is a new way of life.  The 5Ks are just a small piece of it.  For my 6 month goal, I went zip lining for the very first time in my life.  Scared?  Heck ya!  I’m not great with heights but I was “GONNA DO IT!”  I was always too heavy to do zip lining.  I had a blast!  Six zip lines in Conifer, CO.  One was the longest and another the fastest line in Colorado.  I’m so grateful to live in such a beautiful state!  I don’t need to look up the weight limits any more.  How cool is that?!  I just bought some coupons to do Indoor Sky Diving.  I can’t wait! Horseback riding?  Have to find some time. 



Another interesting change has been with clothing.  I am having a blast getting new jackets for Winter, smaller clothes and shopping in “normal” stores.  I’m a large now and get so excited when something fits and looks great.  I travel about 50% of the time.  I had to buy a smaller suitcase due to my smaller clothes taking a lot less space.  That was a fun day!



I finally went to my first speed dating event.  I had a great time.  I talked to all the guys and ended my matching with 3 of them.  After a lifetime of barely any dates, never married and no children, I am now excited about dating and going out and being myself.  I have more confidence where I would be very uncomfortable before.  I have a new outlook about having fun and not worrying so much on the outcome.  I love that new feeling.





9. What have your discovered about your WHY?   
My original WHY was to fit into air plane seats and not be embarrassed, go horseback riding, not pay for 2 seats on helicopters and fit into roller coaster seats.  I am also Type 2 Diabetic so getting that under control and getting off the diabetes pills was part of my WHY.  It was a great set of WHYs.  Not to mention making my mom happy that I finally got serious about losing weight, even though she’s not here to be a part of my journey.  These were good WHYs going in and has kept me going through the transformation.  Those WHYs made sense, but that wasn’t what I was looking for.  Those were the “symptoms”, not the “cause”.  I didn’t know that back in March.  My original WHY was also not to feel so lonely all the time.


During a hike in Allenspark



10. Has your WHY changed since you started?   
My WHY has definitely changed.  It’s not about being healthy and thin any more.  It’s about being the best I can be.  Participating in activities and pushing my physical and mental self.  Being social and going out, speed dating and always saying YES – count me in!  No more hoping that something would change, but BEING MY OWN CHANGE!  I’m starting to find ways to Pay it Forward.  A great new change to my WHY. No Excuses!  No Regrets!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

My WHY: Peggy


As I kick off my theme for Fall: WHY, The Color of Change, I wanted to highlight certain people on their weight loss journey. I asked Peggy if she would be willing to share her story and how she's discovering her WHY for a few reasons, but the biggest one is that the journey is still new for her. Her why will evolve. You'll see below that her why started just with not wanting to live in pain any longer. Eventually, she'll hit that goal and her why will change.

Take a look at her story. It's real, raw, and hilarious! And see what you can take from her WHY and use those same tools in finding your own... whether you've been on your transformation journey for a few weeks or a few years.

I asked her to share a picture that reminds her of her WHY. This is it. Read on to learn how to use the things you love to motivate and move you deeper into your why.

Right around April Fool’s Day, my body decided to get my attention using two-by-four therapy, since previous, more subtle attempts had failed to raise my consciousness. Within just a few days’ time, all of my major joints were in pain. Except my ankles. Ankles were JUST FINE.  Since my ankles were still fine, I continued ignoring the symptoms until late June, by which time I wasn’t sleeping, I couldn’t get in and out of my car without pain, and my neck was freezing up, resulting in such limited mobility I started thinking of myself as Frankenstein’s god-daughter. I limped into my doc’s office and got only a vague diagnosis of inflammation and a little osteoarthritis. That was when I decided I’d better do what I could to drop, oh, 100 pounds or so and see if that eased the pain in at least my hips and knees.
The State of Slim book was on my bookshelf, so I dusted it off and started reading it again, putting myself on Phase One. Knowing that the last sixteen times I’d tried to lose weight I’d dropped ten pounds, stalled and regained, I knew I needed help to figure out how to make lasting change. As much as I dreaded joining a group to do this (how embarrassing) I met with Dr. Holly and decided to sign up for the State of Slim group she recommended. I couldn’t bear the thought of living in chronic pain for the rest of my life, and I knew I needed help to succeed.
I’m half way through the program now, and what has surprised me most is how much fun our class has ended up being. It’s a great group of people, and the shared struggle and commitment to persist has made everything that is indeed hard to do a little easier to tackle. I also didn’t expect the dietary changes to have made as much of an impact as they have. I have lost 22 pounds so far, my energy level is better and more even, I don’t have agonizing sugar and caffeine cravings nearly as often, and most of the inflammation in my joints is gone. The diet just isn’t as hard as I thought it would be, either. Smaller portions are satisfying now, and I’m rarely really hungry. My “go-to” meals and snacks are part of my routine food preparation and habits at work, and the increased exercise has given me a lot more stamina for the outdoor activities I love.
It’s true, I’ve had to make some major adjustments to my lifestyle and habits, and some of those have made me grumpy. I miss eating out at fabulous restaurants on a whim with friends or family as often as I used to, and eating anything that looked appealing. Only one planned “indulgence” meal a week required a big change. I sulk in the presence of almond croissants. The heavenly smell of freshly baking bread can put the same hapless, slack-jawed look on my face that a fifteen year old boy gets at his sister’s sorority party. But I’m getting better at acceptance, and taking comfort in the positive results of choices that are consistent with my goals instead of feeling wildly resentful and cranky about what I’m not sinking my teeth into. And it’s been disconcerting to come to grips with how frequently that impulse strikes to use food as emotional comfort or a quick hit of energy when my stress level has risen or I’m tired, or spiritually worn out; and not ‘on top of it’ with better self-care.  
But I’ve learned the skills and mindset strategies I need to take on the challenges. I am not successful 100% of the time, every day, but I am really proud of finding a new ‘normal’ of a healthier diet that seems to have eased my joint inflammation, and of getting to the place where exercise isn’t as painful or difficult. And I’m proud that despite several serious attitudinal ‘slumps’ where I just couldn’t whip up commitment and discipline to save my soul, I haven’t quit, and I haven’t let more than a day or two slip by without getting back on track.
My next goal is five more pounds, five times. And to do that, I know I have to ramp up my exercise level and intensity on more days out of the week. I need to get to where exercise is just as much of a habit as pairing lean proteins and veggies for snacks all day.
What inspires me most is the sheer fact of the success I’ve had so far, and my growing confidence that this program will actually work if I work it faithfully, just as it is doing for others in my SOS class. It has been close to 15 years since I’ve enjoyed the physical ease of being at the lower weight that I’m aiming for as my next weight loss target, and I just keep thinking about how good it will feel to be there again.  I keep returning to my “why’s” – those abilities and freedoms I so want to maintain as I age; and the infirmity I fear and know I alone can really take action to avoid.
If you’re thinking about starting a State of Slim program, do some soul searching. Taking full advantage of the resource will mean you will end up digging deeper into your mental and physical state of affairs than you probably have before on other weight loss programs. You’ll be challenged and pushed to be very honest with yourself and come to grips with what lies beneath your self-defeating impulses and to address them. But you’ll also have the chance to learn a rich set of coping skills and be part of a group of people who are wrestling with the same challenges, and the same hopes. If you’re at that point where you’re truly done with the way things have been and know you need to make some changes, sign up – and don’t look back.  
  Peggy Hill