Most world philosophies hold that you’ve got to lose in order to gain. They speak of losing ego to attain spiritual and personal growth. But the same holds true for maintaining a healthy mind and body as we age.
I won’t go into the fine points of why I gained weight after I retired. Suffice it to say that leaving my position as a dean and university professor and moving from Pasadena CA (Los Angeles area) to a small town in Texas played a role. Bud and I calculated the shift and moved to a town that had stood my grandparents and then my parents in their retirement well. It’s a place of good people–friends, neighbors and a church who welcomed us. I’ve made lifelong friends. Yet we failed to account for such things as our lifestyle, the local cuisine and a terrain far from that of Southern California.
The Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex called our names and we relocated, keeping our historic home in the rural town. There’s nothing like high school football in West Texas–Friday night lights in the flesh–and the Christmas Eve service at the First Methodist Church.
The weight? After never having weighed more than 120 lbs, in four years I gained. Depression, confusion and bellying up to a loaded table does that. Last April I’d had it!
In the interest of brevity, I’m dividing my journey into two posts. Part I is all about the diet process. Tomorrow I write about the benefits.
Before starting, I visited with my doctor. She and I went over the obvious problems of gaining weight in our later decades and reasons to keep the weight down: Heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure and the like. These I knew and one of the reasons I wanted to lose the extra pounds. Then we turned to:
Barriers to me losing
- Hyperthyroid — yup, one of the major contributors to weight gain in older women. I’ve been on Synthroid for 20 years.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome–a legacy from having had Epstein Bar in my fifties, which prevents strenuous exercise.
- My age (No joke! I’d turned 70)
- Genetics–skinny genes. This has to do with luck-of-the-draw but would work for me.
Factors in my favor
- My weight wasn’t out-of-hand just up
- My grit–I’ve got an overabundant supply
- I’m a natural food girl. Not much fast food, processed food or chemically enhanced food for me.
- I’m highly allergic to all alcohol.
- I’m not a fan of fast, processed or chemically enhanced food.
- Lose too fast and gain it back just as fast
- Lose no more than 3-4 pounds a week. She knows I’m an all-out Type A and would have gone for an immediate fix.
I adjusted my diet. Rather than go through a laundry list of what I didn’t eat, which you probably can guess, I’ll give you an idea of what and how I ate.
I nixed low-cal shakes, meals and desserts in favor of loads of vegetables–cooked, raw, however they come. At least once a day I ate a large salad, with no dressing, and supplemented the veggies with small amounts of baked chicken, non-fatty fish, cheese, humus, avocados, nuts and dried fruit. I ate regular, healthy snacks to stave off hunger and cut way back on carbs at non-salad meals. For dessert I had a little fruit.
We get a lot of calories because we’re conditioned to eat more food than we need. Four to six ix ounces of baked chicken gives a sufficient amount of protein. So I cut all portions, except for the fresh salad. After a few days I began to fill up on what I ate. Plus, I enjoyed the taste of my food more than ever!
I weighed myself twice a day–first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.
Did I ever discouraged or hungry for a big fattening meal? OMG, did I! But I went in knowing it was a long-term commitment. And when I was tempted to over-eat, I thought about the payoffs. Looking good, feeling good and raising my self-esteem and confidence. These were powerful motivators that overrode my desire for food.
What about treats? You bet I had treats. On my husband’s birthday I ate cake–not a big piece. I also had pizza and other high carb foods when we went out. But I took half home for the next day. Once a week I ate a Kind bar (so much for no junk food)
(Photo: Tiffany & Company)
I also rewarded myself for small milestones. This is an important step in attaining any long-range goal. We can’t strive for something over weeks and months without becoming disheartened. Buying myself increasingly expensive pieces of jewelry at the five-pound marks worked wonders. The big at 30 lbs. was a gold necklace from Tiffany & Co. Plus, I now get a whole new wardrobe–in the same size as when I turned 60.
Yet the major end-result wasn’t new clothes or jewelry. I’m proud of my accomplishment because it took all the fortitude I could muster. Tomorrow I’ll talk about how losing 30 lbs. helped me create a new Karen.