I started getting really good at gaining weight when I was about six years old. I started to pack on the pounds year by year and would try different diets throughout my childhood. When I was 15, I joined Weight Watchers for the first time and was very successful. I lost 45 pounds over 9 months and then the most amazing thing happened - I got a license to drive! So naturally, as any former fat boy would do, I drove through every drive-through in town without hesitation. Little did I know, that weight would just come creeping back on. Within a year, I had gained back everything I had lost and then some. I graduated from high school, went off to conservatory to study Theatre and gained more weight. My nutrition was nonexistent. I lived off of fast food and unhealthy everything. It didn't help that I was battling depression at the time, either.
I will never forget the look on my mother's face when I stepped off the plane to return for Christmas break, which was the facial expression of, "Oh my god, what have you done to yourself?"
I tried to hide behind sweat pants and large hooded sweatshirts - yes, in that glorious South Florida December heat. A couple weeks later, I returned to school, returned to eating whatever, and the process continued. When I returned to Florida after the school year had concluded, I had some major lifestyle choices to reassess.
I tried to go back to WW for a second round, went three times and quit. It wasn't time.
It took me three years at what we would now call "fat AF" to realize that my daily misery, discomfort and total lack of interest in life was completely my doing, my responsibility and within my power to change.
I went back to WW for the THIRD (and final) time and from the moment I stepped on the scale during that initial visit, I knew that it was time. There was no going back, there was no alternative, there was no other choice. This was happening. I didn't care how long it took - I was getting to goal. "Goal" was 120 pounds away - but I knew I couldn't look at it like that. Five pounds at a time was how I measured my success. Five became ten, ten became twenty, twenty became forty, forty became eighty and then I crossed the 100 pound mark.
That feeling, that victorious feeling, is one I swore I would never forget. As I write this, I realize until just this moment, I had forgotten how that felt. It's a testament to what happens after goal, that no one talks about. People think you're magically "fixed" when you get to goal, when you've gone through the six week maintenance period afterward and then been awarded "Lifetime Member" status.
It was almost as if it was just this unwritten assumption that because you were a Lifetime Member, that you just knew what to do. As if, because you'd gone through this 18 month process, and finally did it, that the years of behavior that brought you to that point, were erased. Oh no, not even close.
LT members could attend unlimited meetings for free, (as long as we were within 2 pounds of our established LT goal at our monthly weigh-in) and while that was helpful for many, it wasn't for me. There was nothing in the WW programs about what happens "after goal." The meetings were designed for those needing to lose - not those needing to maintain. I couldn't put my finger on it at the time, but a few years later (after I had become a Meeting Leader for WW myself, and then moved on) I was speaking with a former colleague and she asked what meetings I was attending. "I'm not." She asked why. "There's nothing for me there. There's no new information, no beyond the goal guidance - what's the point?"
To this day, the last time I ever set foot in a WW center (now called studios) was in January of 2012. (Just to be clear - I fully embrace and support what being a WW member did for me. It changed my life. There's zero negativity in my text.)
The reason I am writing this post is to share my background with how I got the weight off and to also share that weight loss is really the beginning component of weight management - which is a journey without a destination. To have a destination would mean that there is an endpoint - there is not. Well, except death, which is inevitable, but there is no living endpoint.
To hear that is often difficult. You mean I'm going to have to deal with this for the rest of my life? YEP! And guess what. You can! Weight loss is only part of the journey, while management is the rest. Your lifestyle got you into the situation that caused the need to lose the weight; your choices thereafter will determine the new lifestyle that will either keep the weight off, or help you find it again.
It's been 15 years since the 18 month process that took my excess off, and I've had my struggles. I was not prepared for life to get in the way. I didn't know that you gain weight when you finally get a boyfriend and you go out to eat together...a lot. I didn't know that I could inhale deeply and five slices of pizza would also be in that breath. Oops. I didn't know that I would find low points (not the good kind per WW) again in my life before I found my higher, elevated lifestyle; which would also become plagued with more weight. I didn't know that we would have to live through a pandemic, which really flipped everyone's routines upside down. What is the hardest thing, though, is that I didn't know that I would still, after all that time, try to convince myself that what I was doing wasn't actually what was happening.
In 2017, I started to find the weight again. It was a sneaky little booger, too. One pound here, two there, but nothing obvious. Then a couple more, and a couple more, and a couple more - now we have ten.
In January of 2023, I decided that this year would be my year to "heal me." It's May 8th, I've lost 31 pounds since January and I have a few more to go. I am on a mission to be "FAFAF" or "Fit as F*** at Forty" and I have 15 months to get there. With my trainer's help, with my discipline and determination and with the support of the people who love me, I am well on my "weigh."
Just like my last appearance at WW - there is no other choice.
You can do it too. Let's make YOU happen - together.
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