Laura is a 51 year-old married woman with 2 busy teenagers. Weight became a problem in for her in college. It continued to be an issue for the next 30 years. While Laura has lost over 50 pounds naturally through diet and exercise, she emphasizes the importance of weight-loss support groups to achieve your goal, “It didn’t really matter that I had lost the weight what I call the old-fashioned way versus somebody that had surgical weight-loss…it’s still weight loss. The same struggles that they’re going through, I may be going through.” She notes that technology has made it easy to keep journals with apps that help her record her daily caloric intake.
I'm Laura. And I work in a school that is kindergarten through 8th grade. I have a husband, two kids 18 and 16, and crazy, busy with teenagers.
Weight became a problem for me probably when I was 18, when I went away to college. And when they say Freshman 15 I did that. And then I took it off. And then over the next 20, 30 years, on and off and on and off and on and off!
I think I really started gaining weight when I had some foot problems about three, four years ago, that required me to have foot surgery, and I noticed that the foot just wasn't healing, and because it wasn't healing, I wasn't able to exercise, and not being able to exercise it was kind of a snowball effect. I started hurting from top to bottom; didn't know what exactly it was. So the doctor had said to me you would be much kinder on your joints if you would lose weight. That's all I really needed to hear. So I marched into a hospital weight loss center and have never looked back.
Surgery was never part of my process for losing weight. I was going to do it the old-fashioned way or I wasn't going to do it at all.
At that point I was 212, and when you see that kind of number and you think this can't ever go any higher than this I knew that I had to do something, but I also knew that anything that I had ever done in the past really didn't work. I was able to lose weight but I wasn't able to sustain that weight loss.
I tried many diets. I think being in a support group with a registered dietician really is pretty scientific. If you know how many calories your body burns while at rest, and if you know how many calories you're given to eat in a day it's more about what I can do versus what I can't do because so many other diets I had done, it was all about what I couldn't do, you shouldn't eat sugar, you shouldn't have carbs, somebody would cut out a food group that was a recipe for disaster. So this whole process really has never been about what I can't do. It's always been about what I can and pushing myself to even see how far I can go there is so much that I learned that it wasn't a matter of that I couldn't have my favorite foods. I just needed to learn how to make those foods in a different way.
Also, I became accountable for whatever I put in my mouth by logging whatever it was that I was planning on eating for the given day.
I keep a journal. Today having a smart phone makes keeping a journal so easy. I find that before I go to bed at night I will log in what I think I'm going to eat the next day. If I don't eat that, I delete and I substitute in what I am going to eat. But it gives me a framework of knowing within the amount of calories that I have allotted myself for that day; based on the amount of exercise that I have done; this is the amount of calories that I can consume in one day.
I've lost 50 pounds in three years and I've been able to maintain it. I said I was going to lose 50 pounds at age 50 and I did.
Exercise has always been a big portion of my life. I exercised even when I was at my heaviest. However, I learned along the way that you can't just exercise and not eat right, and you can't just eat right and not exercise. It goes hand in hand, and I will say this, I exercise at least six days a week, every single day, unless I am too sick to do that. I'm up before five every morning and I put in a good hour every day.
I either ride an exercise bike. I do aerobics. I've done the zumba. On my bucket list was to do a half marathon. I've done that. And that was really my pride and joy. I walk. Walking is free. It's something all of us do and it's really enjoyable.
And being a mother and a wife everybody else's needs have always been met before my own. And that has been probably the hardest thing for me to realize that it's truly okay to put what I need to do to maintain my health before what I do for somebody else because if I do that I'm going to be around a whole lot longer to be somebody's wife and to be somebody's mother, so that said, my husband, my children, have been so supportive of me all along the way. And I've realized, they have different dietary requirements than I do so my house has what they need. My house has what I need.
Breakfast could be anything from waffles with peanut butter, scrambled eggs with veggies, bacon and cheese. It could be baked oatmeal, oatmeal, oat bran, any number of things. Lunch for me is generally very easy for me. I have a very busy day I make a protein shake with fruit in it and it's very easy. I will generally have a snack around two, three o'clock, which is most likely a balance bar or a cheese stick, maybe some pretzels, maybe some hummus and some vegetables, something like that..
I can adjust a recipe that you might say, it has heavy cream in it I wouldn't use it. I would use soy milk. I keep kosher, so I have dietary restrictions that I work within all the time, so I make substitutions. No one would ever know or believe that I've cut the fat; I've cut the calories in half. You know, instead of sugar I will use Splenda. Instead of butter, I use margarine and a lot less of it. I've discovered little tricks along the way.
My husband was the one who taught me how to cook, and I haven't let him back in the kitchen since. I knew Italian food as pizza or spaghetti. Mexican food was cheese enchiladas. Chinese food was cashew chicken. I really didn't know otherwise but there's a whole world out there full of flavor, and I liked it, and I liked it too much. So liking all those flavors, there had to be a way to not feel deprived. And I really have never felt deprived cause I can take any recipe and do with it what I need to do so that it's tasty and it meets my dietary requirements.
I'm not worried about going in the opposite direction. I'm really not. For the first time in my life this is the way it's going to be and this is the way it's going to stay. I mean, losing weight was the easy part. It's the maintenance part that's hard. You know, when you're losing weight, it's playing a game; it's, well, you know, I can lose two pounds this week, oh, isn't that great, let's see if we can beat and do three pounds next week. But when you're three years out, it's, okay, your weight goes up and down based on the day, what you've had to eat, what you've had to drink, it's normal, and it's realizing what's normal for you and what your boundaries are in terms of a number, and should the number creep up you have to know that's my absolute limit. But that just means really being even more careful because it's portion distortion. You know, that cup of cereal may not be a cup; it's only a cup if you're measuring it. So if you're not bothering to weigh and measure, you don't know. It's been said to me before that I am way too OCD in my food preparation, my planning, my weighing, that food is always on my mind. Yeah, it is and I've learned that that's really no longer a negative for me.
I love the idea of the support group. I really feel like everybody can learn something from somebody else. Little tricks; little things that have worked for somebody else might work for you, too. It didn't really matter that I had lost the weight what I call the old-fashioned way versus somebody that had surgical weight loss it's still weight loss, and the same struggles that they're going through I may be going through. We all have our highs and we all have our lows and being able to hear from somebody else that maybe what you had been feeling it's the same thing that they've been feeling and they've been through it before; what worked for them; what's worked for you. We're all there because we want to be there. We're very fortunate; we have a registered dietician that monitors our group. So hearing things from her perspective, she puts the science to it, and it's valuable information that we take away. It just kind of bolsters our self-esteem and makes up want to work harder at what we've been doing all along.
When it comes to self-esteem I am way more outgoing today, 50 pounds less, than I was three years ago. I'm not hiding behind my weight. It's not slowing me down. I'm not afraid to try new things. I did a half-marathon at 51, and I trained for it; I felt empowered; it was phenomenal; and if that's not a boost to your self-esteem, nothing is. There's no way at 212 pounds that that would ever have happened. You have to believe in yourself that it really is one step at a day, one day at a time, one pound at a time; that it really will come off. If you do what you need to do to lose that weight, it's going to come off; you're going to feel fantastic and I just feel like if I could do it, if I can keep the weight off, anybody can.