I posted the first installment of my story here and the second part here: This is Part III. This is the part of my story that I loved writing because it is about me getting to thin. This was a period of time where I was really happy with the changes I was making and the results from those changes. I did a lot of good things and I can remember the joy that I felt. Unfortunately, my story doesn’t end with this part. But, it is was really nice while it lasted.
Desperate for something that I could stick to and that would make a difference, I joined Weight Watchers. At that time, it was an exchange program. You had so many protein exchanges you had to eat each day and so many bread exchanges and so many fat exchanges and fruits and veggies. I like the current Points Plus program, but the exchange program worked really, really well for me. And, for the first time as an adult I ate something approaching a balanced healthy diet.
When I joined I was at 167 pounds (this was weighing in at the end of my work day wearing office clothes). The first week I lost 5 pounds (yes, water weight, I know). That was already better than that expensive weight loss resort that I had spent a week at. While doing Weight Watchers, I also started doing exercise videos. At first, I found the videos too hard. The friend who had suggested Weight Watchers told me that she was doing Richard Simmons Sweatin’ to the Oldies. So, I bought it. And, I found it was about my speed.
During those first few months at Weight Watchers, I was very carefully following the program. And, I was working out with the videos. In time, I could no longer get my heart rate up with Sweatin’ to the Oldies, so I started doing Kathy Smith videos. I had a stable of several videos and would move between them.
After about 6 months of Weight Watchers, I was down to 143 pounds. I had blasted right through the 155 pound barrier. At that time, though, 143 wasn’t my goal weight. I decided to go for the full fantasy and set a goal of 125 pounds. I’m not sure when I had last been 125 pounds. Well, I guess it was probably in early high school. I had certainly never been 125 as an adult.
Having gotten down to 143 pounds, though, I began to bounce up and down on my weight. I would gain 5 pounds, then lose 5 pounds, then regain it and so on. Part of it was that I had started getting sick a lot. I had always been pretty healthy, except for allergies. But, suddenly, I started getting a lot of sore throats. I would be fine, then suddenly get really sick with a bad sore throat and feeling awful. That would derail my exercise and then I would stall on my weight loss. At that point, I would quit going to meetings, since I hated to go and not have a loss. When I would stop going to meetings and I would gain. When I had gained 5 or 6 pounds I would realize I needed to get back on track and would go back. This repeated over and over again.
About 9 months after I had joined Weight Watchers, I was back up to 152 pounds. I went back and said I would stay with the program and go whether I gained or lost. And, the pounds started coming off again. I had a few weeks that I had small gains, but I stuck with it. A year after joining Weight Watchers, I was down to 137 pounds. I was now close to where I was when I graduated high school.
I don’t know what happened then, but my records show that I didn’t go to meetings for 7 weeks. I then weighted in for 6 pound gain. I then didn’t go for another 5 weeks. I weighed in for a 2 pound gain. I don’t remember what happened. I don’t know if I was sick, or if I was really busy at work, or what. I waited another 5 weeks went back and had lost 3 ½ pounds.
Then, I didn’t go for 2 months. I finally went back – 18 months after originally joining – and was at 154 pounds. In 6 months, I had regained 17 of those hard won lost pounds! Here is the handwritten chart I kept at the time showing my down and up and down and up:
I bounced around for several weeks, then resolved to get serious. I was at 154.5 pounds at the time, and from that point on I resolved to not miss a meeting except in really extreme circumstances. And, I stuck with it. When I went out of town to visit my parents, I found a local meeting that I could attend. If I thought before the meeting that I had gained a pound or two, I went ahead and attended the meeting and didn’t let the regain derail me. I exercised consistently. I really regret that I only have one photo of me during this thin period. I wasn’t at goal weight in this photo, but was somewhere around 130 to 135 pounds.
From the time I rededicated myself at 154 ½ pounds until I got to goal weight was 33 weeks. I lost about 1.1 pounds a week. I tend to lose slowly, so this was a good rate of weight loss, particularly since weight loss tends to slow down as you get much smaller and approach goal weight.
Here is my handwritten chart that I kept showing just the final loss when I really got serious, as well as the first few months after I got to goal:
I had one event along the way that didn’t derail my weight loss, but I think did play a part in what happened after I got to lifetime membership. As I got thinner I made a lot of changes in my life. First, I bought a Corvette! Then, I started playing duplicate bridge and often went to bridge tournaments. I also decided to have orthognatic surgery to move my lower jaw forward about a quarter of an inch. This involved surgery to actually cut my jaw in half and move it forward, screwing it back in place with titanium screws. The surgery wasn’t all that bad, but I was warned that I would not be able to eat solid food for several weeks and then would have to eat soft foods for another several weeks. I was about a pound and half away from goal when I went in to have the surgery. I missed a couple of weeks of meetings while in the major recovery period. I found that there were very few things that I could tolerate to eat in liquid form. There was this one soup with meat in it, that I would grind up in the blender and that I could tolerate. Other than that and a few other soups I would puree, I mostly relied on shakes made of chocolate ice cream. Everything had to be eaten through a straw as my jaws were “wired shut” (they didn’t use wire, they used really strong rubber bands). I wasn’t very hungry and weight loss accelerated. I went back to Weight Watchers after missing two meetings, and was at goal weight at 124 ¾ pounds. My leader hastened to tell members that I had lost almost all my weight before I had the jaw surgery!
Given my jaw surgery, the 6 week maintenance period was easy. I have heard that now, you have to stay within 2 pounds of your goal weight – up or down – during the maintenance period. So, if you lose more than 2 pounds during maintenance, you can’t complete maintenance until you have the 6 weeks within 2 pounds. I think that is a good rule, since learning how to maintain without gaining or losing is very difficult. But, that is now and back then you just couldn’t gain more than 2 pounds. In my case, not being able to eat solid food, I continued to lose and got down to 119 with a goal weight of 125 pounds. Of course, I didn’t expect to stay at 119 pounds since I knew pounds would come back when I started eating solid food. After I got to lifetime membership, I received the Key to the Future:
I was thrilled beyond words. It is hard for me to express the joy that I had at this time. Really, it had started when I was in my 130s and suddenly everyone was telling me how wonderful I looked. I felt great and I looked great.
Throughout the weight loss, I had had to change my entire wardrobe. When I had lost 20 pounds or so, I had spent $300 to have many of my clothes, especially expensive work clothes, altered so I could still wear them. Now, that I was at goal weight, even those clothes didn’t fit me. I had also bought some new clothes on the way down and I took those to a resale shop. I can still remember this one time I went shopping for new work clothes. I went into the store and was looking for new clothes. It had been a few months since I bought anything so at first I tried one size down. I was delighted to have that size be too big for me. For most of my adult life, I had never been below a size 12. Even when I would get down into the 140s, I usually didn’t get below a size 12. I had kept a chart of my measurements during my weight loss. I had started as a size 16 at 167 pounds. It wasn’t until I was in the mid to low 140s that I got back to a size 12. When I got to my 130s, I hit a size 10. So when I went shopping in my low 120s I was thrilled to be wearing clothes that were size 8 and then sometimes sending them back for a size 6. I was ecstatic when there was this one shirt that I had to keep sending back until it finally fit me in size 2! (My upper half was a smaller size than my bottom half).
I would have never believed that I would be in a size 8 and it would swim on me! I can still remember how happy I was during this period of time and how wonderful it felt to be thin. I was exercising regularly, eating well using Weight Watchers exchanges which really did encourage eating a reasonable mix of foods. We were required to eat a certain amount of fruits/veggies, and had limitations on junk food. We had a certain amount of optional calories that could spent each week on anything. It could be spent on extra fruit or vegetables or bread or oil or even on cookies and candy. The key was that this was a very limited amount of calories. You had to get in your exchanges. So, I could have some purely junk food, but the vast majority of what I ate was good quality food. Of course, during the period when I couldn’t eat solid food, exchanges went by the wayside. But, this post, isn’t about what happened after I got to goal. I want to end this on what was really a high note. I was thin, getting regular exercise and once I could eat solid food again, was back to eating my exchanges. All was good.
To be continued…..