Today marks day 100 of my weight loss journey. I was pleasantly surprised by hitting one of my goals today: 15 lbs gone, hopefully forever.
I started my journey on my 45th birthday. I had an ultimate weight goal in mind, which would take me back to my weight around the time of my first marriage. That meant I had at least 100 lbs to lose. This was not going to be easy.
In 1992, I was a fairly healthy young woman. That’s when my body turned against me. I developed a medical condition called Meniere’s Disease, which causes vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing loss. It took 14 years to finally get a definitive diagnosis. During those 14 years, I struggled with mobility, because it’s difficult to be active when your world is spinning more often than not. That lack of activity also brought about weight gain. By 1995, I’d gained about 20 lbs. Not a huge amount, but because of my body’s small frame, it made me look chubby.
In 1996, I became pregnant. Naturally, I gained weight. I ballooned another 30 lbs. I wasn’t terribly worried about it, because I knew that once I had the baby, I’d lose weight. Or so I thought. I struggled for over a year, just to lose 5 lbs. I was mortified. I’d been experiencing severe migraines at the rate of about 1 per week. In addition to the vertigo, I was laid up for 1-2 days at a time because of the migraines. The only thing I could do to control my weight was diet, because exercise was something I was rarely capable of doing.
Fast forward to 2004. I’d learned how to somewhat manage the vertigo, and was learning how to do life with migraines that were getting worse by the year. I got a part-time job at Walmart, as a cashier. I was on my feet 2-3 nights a week, walking around a lot. 3rd shift cashiers don’t just stand at the register all night. We were responsible for so much more, which meant walking for several hours, and countless miles. I never did buy a pedometer back then, but I estimate I walked at least 5 miles every night I worked. I ended up losing about 30 lbs in six months. I was ecstatic. I could do this! I could get myself healthy again. Maybe it would even help with the migraines.
Then I injured myself. I slammed a shopping cart into the back of my heel. I thought I’d just bruised it, and it would heal in a few days, and I’d be back to normal (or what passed as normal for my body) in a week. But that didn’t happen. The pain became worse every day. Each step I took was excruciating. I was missing more days than I was working. I went to the ER, where x-rays were taken of my foot. That’s when the bone spurs were discovered. The shopping cart had broken off a piece of a large bone spur, and the broken piece was “floating” around inside. The spur was under my Achilles tendon, and every time I stretched it with normal movement, the floating piece was cutting through the tendon, and rubbing against the bone. The pain was unimaginable. I was sent to a podiatrist, who said there was a surgery that could be done, but he wasn’t willing to do it at that time. I went on a Leave of Absence from work. I never returned.
By 2008, having been unemployable for at least 2 years, I had gained back all of the weight I lost, plus more. I went to another podiatrist when I started experiencing the same type of pain in my other foot. X-rays revealed another bone spur, nearly identical to the other one (minus the broken piece). He agreed that surgery was absolutely necessary. I had surgery on one foot. I was immobile for 2 months, then had to re-learn how to walk on that foot again. It took 4 years and another 25 lbs to get to the point where I could go through the same surgery on my other foot. I was ashamed by how much weight I’d gained. The 2nd surgery had to be done in the hospital instead of the outpatient unit, because I’d gained so much weight, it wasn’t safe for me to be put under anesthesia outside of the hospital.
A year after the 2nd surgery, I had to have another minor surgery on the same foot, to repair a problem. It’s been 3 years since that surgery, 8 years since the first surgery, and I’m still struggling to walk like a normal human being. There’s a good chance I will never walk normally again. I have accepted that. I have accepted that the Meniere’s Disease is permanent, and that the migraines probably are, too.
What I have never accepted was the amount of weight I’d gained over the years. All told, I gained 106 lbs between 1992 and 2015. I am determined to lose it, no matter what it takes! I can’t walk every day. I can’t ride a normal bike outside. I tried joining the YMCA in 2014 to swim, but it didn’t work out, for various reasons. I knew that diet alone wasn’t going to get the weight off. We don’t have the money for a gym membership or diet plan like Weight Watchers. I started researching ways to lose weight, with so many things stacked against me.
I found an app for my phone. MyFitnessPal. I downloaded it, learned how to use it, and committed to doing what I could. I logged everything I ate. I downloaded a second app for my phone to record my exercise. MapMyWalk. I bought a new digital scale to replace the ancient, malfunctioning analog scale we had (and discovered I was 5 lbs fatter than I thought I was!). I bought a digital food scale, and I now weigh everything I possibly can, so my calorie intake can be as accurate as possible. We found an exercise bike through a local FreeCycle group. And lastly, I bought a used FitBit Flex from a local yard sale group.
I ride my exercise bike for at least 30 minutes a day. I distract myself by playing a game on my phone, or by watching tv (usually Biggest Loser). By the time I’m done on the bike, I’m in an excruciating amount of pain. Both of my feet hurt, my back hurts, my knees and hips hurt, my butt hurts, my crotch feels like it’s on fire. But I haven’t gone one day in the past 100 days without riding that bike. And it’s paying off. I’m losing, on average, about a pound a week.
The best part is that I’m doing this on my own. I don’t have a trainer*. I don’t have a dietitian. I don’t have a gym. I don’t have much physical ability. I have many physical disabilities. But I’m doing it. BY MYSELF. And it’s hard. I won’t lie, this has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. It’s also slow. I know it will be close to 2 years before I reach my goal weight. I still have a lot to learn. I know I will have to change many things in my diet. But I’m determined to be healthy and beautiful again.
* If Jillian Michaels wants to come train me, I’m more than willing to have my ass kicked by her! 😉