Four months ago...
You can’t imagine how many articles I’ve written about weight loss. Thing is, I never publish them. Because by the time I am ready to, the piece is no longer relevant. I get inspired, determined to transform, be at the gym daily, only eat healthy, etc. and then I end up not sticking with any of it and rationalizing that I am fine living as I am. I go back to telling myself that it doesn’t matter that I am overweight as I am doing important and good things with my time and life. And hey, let’s be honest, I’ve been married 20 years and my husband loves me no matter what, so that often feels like enough.
But this time I think it may just be different. And as I type these words I realize how ridiculous and premature it is even to think them. You see, my new change has been going on for about 48 hours. Considering I have done diets for months at a time successfully (only to then gain back all the weight and more), two days is no gauge of anything. And yet…
Yet I am going to write this anyway. Even if it never sees the light of day. So that at least if I flip flop once again, I will have it to read and remember. And because, for the first time in a very long time, I feel truly inspired.
Losing weight for me is a real challenge. I know that I have an unhealthy addiction to food. I love to eat. It makes me feel comforted, cared for and loved. It is my go-to when I am stressed and upset. It is my go-to when I am happy and fulfilled. It is always there for me and I enjoy every single part of it. I am the kind of person that if I am going to a restaurant, I will check out the menu before I get there so I can excitedly look through and decide what I want to eat.
I know that I have an unhealthy addiction to food.
And for years, this was no issue. Because for years I was that despised skinny person who could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and wouldn’t gain a pound. If you saw me now you would never believe that I spent years trying to convince people that I really did eat because it certainly didn’t look that way. Even though I was a size 0-2, I could still win eating contests with guys during my freshman year in college.
So here I am at 45. To be brutally honest, I just weighed in a few days ago heavier than I weighed the day I gave birth to each of my four children. This is not leftover baby weight. I am simply 40 lbs. overweight. This is lack of caring. Lack of trying. Lack of exercise. And eating. And eating. And eating. I did this to myself. I can blame all the insane diets I have tried for messing with my metabolism, but it doesn’t really matter if I put the blame elsewhere as the weight is on me.
I looked up by BMI yesterday. I am officially in the “obese” category. The crazy thing is that a number of years back when I was overwhelmed and told that my cholesterol was too high and I needed to lose weight, I was 15 lbs. lighter than I am now. For the life of me I can’t figure out why I would self-sabotage like this, but that is a different story.
So with that preface, here I am now. And my earth shattering, life-changing move is that I joined Weight Watchers. I know, not so exciting sounding. And yet, I am not sure why I have avoided this obvious, go-to diet plan for so long. Or actually I do know why. I hate counting things. I hate keeping track. I guess I hate accountability.
But I discovered that it is really easy and not the kind of tracking or counting that I thought. Yet there is more. What has blown my mind is how this system really is a representation for our lives. It is all about choice. It is all about our choices.
I did this to myself.
Basic idea is you get 30 points a day. You want a donut for breakfast? Go for it. 10 points. Have 3 a day if you want. But that is all you get. Fruits and vegetables are “free.” Have a fruit salad for breakfast and you are both full and left with 30 points. This plan requires you to focus. To pay attention. To be mindful of what you are eating and how much of it. And the tracking is simple (even dare I say…fun) so my fear of it has been unwarranted.
And for the first time in a long time, I get excited to see what I want to eat. To figure out how I can get the most bang for my buck (I am a total sucker for sales) so when I figure out I can have a huge white egg omelet packed with veggies for NO POINTS, yeah baby, I am all over that! (And please oh please don’t tell me that I am still consuming calories, I get that. But with this plan, it is allowed.) It makes me want to snack on an apple (0 points) rather than a cookie (3 points). But here is the kicker, you really can have your cake and eat it too.
Isn’t that what life is really about? We have a certain amount of time, and it is up to us to choose how we want to use it. Twenty-four hours of the day are ours. How many do we want to sleep through? How many do we want to spend watching TV, scrolling through Facebook, or…spending time and connecting with those we love? We all have the same 24 hours. But one person’s day can be active, fulfilled and impactful and another can waste it away. It is up to us. And when we don’t just count our days but make our days count, that is when we win.
Now, can I tell you that it has worked wonders and I have dropped the 40lbs I want to drop? Uh no. Can’t actually say much of anything after 48 hours (though I did drop 4lbs but I guess when you go from eating 2 candy bars a day and downing diet coke to 8 cups of water and a healthy eating plan, your body kind of freaks out and drops. And yes, I am well aware it won’t continue like that.)
I guess the most exciting part is that I keep hearing that to really lose weight and keep it off you have to make a lifestyle change. And I have never really wanted to change my lifestyle. I have always felt that diets took away my choice, limited me and really left me resentful and hungry. I was always wanting more. And I hated not having that power.
But now I run the show. I call the shots. I choose what I want. When I want it. And yet my choices will determine what happens. This is exciting to me because it is empowering. Because it is something I can do. My way. And honestly, what do I have to lose? Well except weight of course. But even if I don’t lose as much or as quickly as I would like …if I am making healthy choices, if I am accountable and aware and focused, how can that not be positive? How can that not benefit me in every aspect of my life? And if it really works, which only time will tell, it may just be the best thing since sliced bread (2 points).
UPDATE: As of today it has been about 4 months since I wrote this piece. I still feel as inspired, motivated and excited (if not more so) about my new lifestyle as the day I wrote this. The difference is that I am now 30 lbs. lighter! I am still going strong and have joined a gym where I have been attending classes at least 3 times a week. I have crossed over into the “normal” range for my BMI and have 10 more pounds to lose to reach my ultimate goal weight. There has not been a single day that I have felt deprived or gone hungry. I just have to remember, with what I eat and what I do, to make the right choices!
Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, motivational speaker and mother of four, is the Co-Director of Interinclusion, a social mosaic which perpetuates the arts, sciences, literature, and music through Jewish tradition. She has worked as a local producer for shows on the Oprah Winfrey Network, HARPO Productions and Refinery29 and lives with her family in Danby, Vermont where they run Jewish experiential retreats.