50 by 60 – what it all means

Hi, everyone –

My name is Christine, and this is my new blog about why I’m determined to try to lose 50 pounds by the time I turn 60 next year. “50 by 60” – get it?

Anyway, here’s Part I of my long-winded explanation!

I’m about to turn 59 years old, an age I couldn’t even begin to imagine back in 1975, when I made my first real, serious attempt to lose weight by attending TOPS meetings in Belton, Missouri.

Being an eldest child, the awards appealed to me, and I did lose quite a bit of weight. But when I went away to college the next year, it came roaring back, “with all of its little friends,” as Flora, a Weight Watchers leader I met later in life, would describe this all-too-familiar process.

Fast-forward through the ensuing decades, during which I more or less half-heartedly continued my weight loss efforts, through a myriad of diets (all of which insist on calling themselves “lifestyle changes”) and exercise attempts, resting from time to time in the arms of the newly emerging Body Acceptance movement.

Now, here I am, almost 59 years old, living the dream in sunny Southern California, and tipping the scales at about 240 pounds – about 120 pounds heavier than when I started, all those years ago, in that dusty brick building in Belton.

I can never go back to Belton (er, well, OK, I have been back a few times, but it’s a metaphor, OK? Think “Manderly”!) – and I don’t know if I can ever get back to 120 pounds.

manderly

But you know what? I don’t think it’s impossible. And I’ve got some encouraging recent history to back that up.

First of all, just a little over a year ago, my doctor (well, actually the nurse-practitioner – you know how HMOs are these days!) recommended that I consider getting weight loss surgery. I bristled, still brimming with ideology from the Fat Acceptance movement.

“What? ME? What’s wrong with my weight? Sure, I’m fat. I admit it. I embrace it! But I’m healthy! My blood pressure is perfect (true); my cholesterol is–well, okay, it’s a little high, but it’s GOOD cholesterol (more or less true); and I can walk anywhere I want.”

Okay — NOT true!

But I THOUGHT I could, because you see, during these past few decades, I have done quite a lot of walking, especially since moving to California. I used to work in Downtown Los Angeles, and at least two or three times a week, I’d actually walk from my apartment building to my office, four miles one way.

When the Red Line was built, I moved to the Valley and took the subway to work, but always got off a stop or two before my office building, so I could continue my morning walks.

And I loved it! I got intimately familiar with all the sidewalks, traffic lights, and public restrooms between Union Station and Bunker Hill. (I even got to see the chaos surrounding the O.J. Simpson trial, up close and personal, walking past the Hall of Justice every morning.)

Not only that, but early in my So Cal residency, I even climbed the entirety of a pretty steep switchback trail to the top of a (relatively short) mountain called Echo Mountain, north of Altadena, California. I was fascinated by the fact that there’d once been a railroad (the Mount Lowe Railway)¬†stretching from Downtown all the way up to the top of this mountain, and made myself climb to the top to see the ruins of the old hotel

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So, walking and I – we had a history.

But by the time I saw my nurse-practitioner last year, I’d been “downsized” from my Downtown job, and was living a very sedentary life with my husband in the Valley. With no incentive to go anywhere other than the grocery store, my daily walking dwindled to once a week, if that.

Still, there was no way I was going to have weight loss surgery. I’d known people who’d had it, and had terrible health problems afterwards. Plus, there was just something inside me — maybe the spirits of my pioneer ancestors — that rebelled at the idea of taking the “easy way out.” (Before you start throwing rocks at your screen, I KNOW surgery isn’t “easy”! This was just me being overly paranoid, okay? Hang in there!)

So, no surgery for me. And yet — when I got home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the whole idea of trying, yet again, to lose weight. And I realized that, in spite of all the Fat Acceptance messages I’d absorbed, I really did want to try again, one more time.

A couple of years ago, I had read a book called “The No-S Diet” by an engineer named Reinhard Engels. The basic concept is so simple that (as the author himself pointed out) you really just needed to read the subtitle on the front cover:

“No snacks, seconds, or sweets, except on days that start with S.”

In other words, three meals a day, and that’s it.

I liked the concept because it was simple and easy to remember, and had dabbled with it for a while, but lost interest one hot August weekday when I was craving a giant ice cream sandwich. (spoiler alert: foreshadowing!!)

Now I remembered it, and decided this might be the perfect plan to start a more serious weight-loss effort with. And my husband, bless his heart, agreed to go along with it and try it with me.

Here’s what really made the difference this time: being a good Catholic ( more or less ), I decided to enlisted the Lord in my efforts, making a solemn promise to Him that I would stick with this plan for AT LEAST three months before giving up and/or trying something else. I actually stood in front of the altar (when no one else was there, naturally) and raised my hand, Scarlett O’Hara-like, as I made my pledge:

“As God is my witness, I’ll never snack again, except on Saturdays, Sundays, and ‘special’ days!”

m_neverbehungry

And it worked! The weight loss was slow – maybe a pound a month, if that — but the important thing was that after years of “mindless eating,” I felt in control of what I was eating. I could see exactly what I was consuming, at every meal, and decide whether or not a particular food was worthy of a place on my plate.

Satisfied with how easy it was, I renewed my pledge to God three months later. Everything was fine — until the hot weather struck, early in the spring — and I realized I was at a fork in the road.

(To be continued!)

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