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Name: Nancy Pettit
Age: I'm a sizzling 63-years-old!
Before Weight: 275 to 280 pounds
How I Gained It: It’s not like I woke up one morning to suddenly find myself fat, frumpy and frazzled; I’d been like that for a lifetime. As a kid, family meals were large and included home-baked bread, cookies and pie. I was a chubby grade-schooler with an insatiable appetite and seemed drawn to carbohydrates and fat.
Weight was a frequent topic with my mom and grandma. They talked about dieting regularly and yet all family members except my father were overweight or obese. My dieting career began in sixth grade when my mom and I started using candy-like caramels to be eaten with a cup of hot water or tea about half an hour before meals for appetite-suppression. I counted calories and spent summers at fat camp; once school resumed, I spent money earned babysitting on corn nuts or shoestring potatoes from the school vending machine and made frequent stops at the drug store for candy bars or a chocolate sundae from the Dairy Queen on my walk home from school.
I was mortified to be the heaviest girl in the classroom and was frequently nagged by my mom about my weight. She said things like "Fat girls don't dance…Boys don't ask fat girls out on dates…You’re going to have your picture taken so stand up straight and suck it in…Get on the scale and let’s see how much damage you’ve done.”
Dieting and binging became my pattern; I’d be "good” for a while by skipping meals or only having liquid shakes, and then reward myself with candy and ice cream.
I did all kinds of fad diets. In anticipation of my wedding and the ensuing photographs, my mother told me about a clinic in town that offered diet shots with a 500 calorie diet plan. I was accustomed to dieting for special occasions and looked great in my size 12 wedding dress. After the honeymoon, I blew out of my trousseau and went right back to construction worker-sized servings!
Then I heard about a diet doctor who had a program using "rainbow pills" and started his regime. Each week I got four envelopes containing red, yellow, blue and green pills, each to be taken at various times of the day along with a very low calorie diet. I didn't feel well, but behaved around food and lost weight. When I was unable to continue to afford the pills, my weight rapidly returned.
Over the next two decades, my aunt and grandma paid for me to go to several dieting centers, but my pattern was predictable: get on a diet for a special occasion, get off the diet, repeat. We spent thousands of dollars for program fees, medication and diet food. In 1991, I talked my husband into enrolling in a diet program but once I reached my goal weight of 140 pounds, I celebrated by porking-out and couldn’t get back in the diet groove.
For the next few years, I half-heartedly dieted with always the same results: I'd lose weight initially, then feel hungry and moody and become unable to sustain the diet long enough to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
As my life went by, I began to view my weight as a kind of life-long punishment I was doomed to endure. I thought there was something very wrong with me.
Since I had escalating blood sugar, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, my physician warned me that it was a matter of time before I developed full-blown diabetes. Plantar fasciitis in my feet, arthritis in my hips and knees and an auto-immune disorder chipped away at my health. The quality of my life was lousy, and my poor example and meal preparations contributed to the health and weight problems of my husband and daughter; they were obese, too.
I was referred by my family physician for bariatric surgery, but without the support of my husband or family, I resigned myself to living out my days forever fat and frumpy.
Breaking Point: One morning I had a meltdown in my closet while scrounging for something to wear that would fit and cried out, “Lord! Anybody! Make me thinner!”
It dawned on me that no one can make anyone else get healthier; that is a decision each of us must make ourselves. In the recesses of the closet, I had a heart-to-heart with myself and asked, “Who’s running your life, Nancy? You or your food?”
I made a decision to dump diets and get on with making the best of the rest of my life.
How I Lost It: Providentially, at church that weekend I heard about the Take Shape For Life Program from a friend who'd quickly lost 35 pounds. I decided to begin the program with my family’s blessing, determined to follow through to the best of my ability.
Working with a health coach and eating small meals at regular intervals seemed to be the ticket for me; I felt clear-headed, my moodiness waned and my energy-level remained consistent throughout the day. The program utilizes portion-controlled meal replacements and specific vegetable and protein selections that require minimal preparation. I felt "safe" when it came to meal preparation, because I knew which vegetables and lean protein portions would keep me feeling fuller, longer.
The first couple of weeks I was on the program, I went to bed really early because I couldn’t hack the food commercials! To avoid driving by the gauntlet of the fast-food restaurants, I took a different route to work. We pared down the pantry, kept nothing but program-friendly food in the house and avoided restaurants for anything other than occasionally meeting a friend for a pot of tea or a cup of coffee. I planned meals for the week, made a grocery list and kept a journal with the rule "If I bite it, I write it.” Each night before bed, I planned out my food for the next day.
Within a couple weeks, my face, hands and ankles were less puffy and I felt good. When I was six weeks into the program I had an appointment to see my doctor. At that check-up I weighed 267 pounds, my clothes were looser and I felt great, better than I had for months. From that day on, I felt very hopeful and confident that I would be able to continue forward on my health path. I took my measurements and began to record my weight in my journal.
By October 2002 I was in "one-derland" -- I weighed 199! I had not been in the 100-pound range for years. I knew I would be able to sustain the program because I did not want to ever go back to feeling the way I used to feel. It felt good to be me and to be in charge of my life! I sailed through the holidays and on into the healthy New Year. I was hungry for health and it tasted so very good!
The weight-loss phase gave me the opportunity to appreciate and practice a new way to approach food. Rather than holding onto the mindset I was on a short-term diet, I determined in my closet that spring day that food would no longer run my life; this was the last time I would be on a diet or weight-loss program ever again. I was on a quest for health. I wanted to feel better, to move better, to look better and to be better!
Half the woman I used to be, I’d shed 135 pounds and reached a healthy weight. I slowly reintroduced various food groups that I’d temporarily set aside during the weight-loss phase and gradually increased calories and my physical activities during transition and maintenance.
While weight loss may be the entry point for many people, Take Shape for Life offers so much more; it is a lifestyle program with a complete array of support, including one-on-one personal guidance by a health coach experienced with the program and meals. I am deeply thankful for Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen, co-founder of Take Shape for Life. From this caring physician I learned the structure of eating every three hours and developed skills that formed healthy habits and behaviors that resulted in permanent weight management.
Every aspect of my life has changed, from how I look and where I shop, to what I can physically do and how I feel about myself. I went from flabby to fabulous! I can wear my wedding ring, I can fit in the bathtub, I can bend over and tie my own shoes, I can walk through a turnstile without standing sideways, I can fit into an airplane seat with no extenders and fit into the bathroom compartment on a plane. No more pull-on elastic stretchy waist plus-size jeans for me -- I can wear real zip-up jeans and a cool belt!
Now, I like having my picture taken and don’t have to suck it in. I am physically active and actually enjoy it. I can walk to neighborhood shops and use the elliptical machine daily, attend step-aerobics and strength-training classes at the local YMCA and participate in 5K walk/runs.
I learned how to manage a healthy weight by incorporating daily habits of health. Because I’ve managed a lower weight and active lifestyle for over nine years, my doctor said I lowered my risk for disease.
Charles M. Schultz said, “Life is like a 10 speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.”
Now that I am in my sizzlin’ sixties, I feel like I am finally coming into my own; I am riding the path of my own destiny and using new gears I never knew existed.
After Weight: 135 pounds
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