In January 2009, about the second week, I was disgusted with myself. I'd gained 10 pounds over the holidays and had reached the weight of 210. This was not new to me, though I'd hovered around 200 for about fourteen years. Something about that extra ten pounds really made me feel bad. Physically, I mean.
My ankles hurt. My knees and hips hurt. I had daily acid reflux, which scared me. I was tired and felt old. I felt stuffed and uncomfortable.
But I didn't feel unattractive - not really. I've had a weight problem since I was a child, and like I said, I'd weighed around 200 for a long while. That's heavy for a just about any woman, especially my 5'3" frame. But I was used to it. And as a folk musician, I didn't have the same pressure to look fashionable other entertainers do; besides, I've always followed my own star. I get a lot of attention from my husband, from audience, from friends ... no cosmetic complaints beyond simple vanity. And my crooked teeth would keep me out of any fashion magazine. Plus, I was active, sort of ... the huffing and puffing didn't appear unless I was really pushing, like climbing a long steep trail in the Texas Big Bend or some such place. I considered myself robust and healthy.
But at forty- seven I didn't want to feel so old and tired. My physical prospects, if I stayed heavy, began to depress me emotionally. Pain depressed me.
My balance of will over comfort tipped because I just wasn't as comfortable any more.
Coincidentally some other things happened in my life. After about ten years of playing swing jazz guitar as a side practice from my regular music, I formed a swing combo. Suddenly style and fashion were more important onstage, and my imagination ran wild with the possibilities of diva-dom. There were so many clothes I wanted to wear. A private swing story was starting to pre-occupy me.
The Year of the Ox also embraced me poetically. My husband turning sixty and me turning 48 in 2009 made us oxen - we'd joked about being yoked since we married. I regard all divination as personal poetry, and try to get as much out of it as I can. This was a special year - a year to do things and make changes. To call upon the great forces of will in the universe to support me and carry me forward into a new season.
I believe that will is the most powerful force in God's universe, though people call it different things. I think of it as the "want to."
When my doctor told me I had high cholesterol, I decided to take it seriously. When she prescribed me medication for acid reflux, I filled it and considered it a blessing with which I might buy time. When she told me I was post-menopausal, I rejoiced because I took it as a sign from my body that we were all, that is my organs and systems and my conscious mind, were all in agreement that it was time for a change. I "all" had the want to.
So I found a copy of Dr's Oz and Roizen's book, You! On a Diet! at Half Price Books and Records. I'd seen it when it first came out new, but I'm cheap.
I love this book because it's not a diet. It's what it says it is: an "owners manual for waist management." Taking my focus away from the scale and onto what real health looks like is only the start of how this book transformed my view of healthy weight loss. The book contains very important information I'd never heard before in all my years of dieting and personal nutritional education. It doesn't spare the geeky facts but it presents them in a very readable slightly goofy format. Somehow it manages to not insult me with it's forward, unsentimental directives and corny humor. It courts me with a visually easy page and well-organized, recognizably intelligent ideas.
I learned more about the layers of cause for over-eating, how food addictions are chained to emotionality in such a way that if you address the addiction, it's just as good as addressing the emotional trigger. I mean, everybody eats emotionally - eating's as personal as your birthday cake. The addictions are the problem.
The book contained some easy to incorporate strategies: Eat the same meal everyday for one meal (breakfast for us: oatmeal with yogurt, nuts, raisins, flax oil, flax seeds, fresh fruit, etc.) Walk every day. Stop eating three hours before bed. Be as regular as possible with meals. Cut down the overall quantity of what you eat. Know what's not healthy, and what's healthy but fattening. Do simple strength exercises regularly through the week (a nifty and very do-able home routine is offered in the book, and I followed it faithfully for at least three weeks last year.) Trust yourself and the best of your food heritage. Funny, but that last idea has been echoed in several books I've read.
That's how I lost the holiday weight, 10 pounds, in about three weeks. But then, it was "fluffy" fat; last ones on first ones to go. It wouldn't be until July that I lost real poundage, and I'll tell you how. But there's a lot more.