Sometimes our friends impact our lives in way that they would have never imagined, and I seriously doubt that my friend Nova is aware of her actions. On February 2, 2016, I gave birth to my second child. He was perfect, and my husband and I were in love with a tiny little person. I spent the next few days recovering from birth and delighting in his exquisite features. He had the tiniest toes, the smallest nose, the sweetest hair, delicate lips and the sweetest smell. Now that he was in my arms, the focused switched from me to him. I snapped a few photos of my darling babe and uploaded them to Facebook for family and friends to share in our happiness.
Maybe it was the day after his birth, or maybe it was two days later, Nova came to visit. The visit was lovely as always, and we chatted as she held the baby and snapped photos. Maybe it was that same evening, maybe it was the next day, I don’t know for certain. All I do know is that in my inbox there was a picture of slim, petite Nova and me. ME. Oh no, it was me resplendent with 4 chins. One. Two. Three. Four chins. I could have cried. I wanted to cry. Maybe I cried. I doubt that I cried, but I was disgusted by the four chins which hung from my face. Fortunately my Facebook settings require me to approve posts in which I am tagged before they are visible on to my friends. I did not have to think twice. I left the pic there waiting, there was no reason that the world needed to see me with 4 chins.
It did not matter if the world ever saw my 4 chins, I saw them and I knew that they were there. Yes they were there, but they did not belong, and I was determined to banish them forever. My resolve was stronger than my raging desire to eat. Breastfeeding can burn roughly 500 calories a day, and between that and my naturally insatiable appetite I often felt as if I could eat en entire cow. With my oldest child I used the calories burned as an excuse to eat whatever I desired, not considering that two bags of chips and a coke have negated the calories loss from breastfeeding.
So many women are given the advice to keep snacks and water handy to consume while nursing. I choose my snacks with care. A handful of butter and salt free popcorn, half a slice of toast, an apple, a small salad, a few cubes of cheese. I ate just enough to satiate the desire.
Before I continue, I must confess that my 4 chins were not the result of pregnancy. I weighed more when I became pregnant with the 2nd child then I did when I gave birth to my first. My third decade of life was difficult, which was plainly evident in my physique. Somewhere along the line, food became my solace, and if I wereawake, I was eating. With each passing year of my 30’s I added five or ten pounds to my frame. The day that I gave birth to my son, I was the weight of two trim petite women. My sons deserved better than a mom with four chins whose blood pressure and lab work labeled her as pre-diabetic, pre- hypertension, pre-everything bad, and nothing good. I did not need medical science to tell me my situation; I felt it and I looked the part.
That picture changed my life. No, correction, that picture was the catalyst needed for me to change my life. I know health, and I know nutrition and I knew that I had the one thing needed to lose weight; determination. From that moment on, I made a life change. I would not diet, and I would not submit to a strenuous exercise routine. I did not want my weight to increase once I abandoned the diet, or if I could not visit the gym 3 or four days in a row, or if I had to alter my routine. The change had to be something completely within my control.
I did nothing more than change my eating habits. Instead of eating constantly throughout the day, I limited food consumption to meals and maybe one or two snacks. My portion sizes drastically decreased. Instead of eating an entire restaurant meal, an appetizer and dessert, I embraced the children’s menu and ate a spoonful or two of dessert. Was I hungry? I don’t know. I don’t know if I was truly hungry or if my body was reacting to being given just enough food. My stomach was accustomed to more and forced to adjust to the changes.
I did not abandon fast-food, because I LOVE McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets. I did not abandon cheeseburgers and fries, because they are oh so good. I did not abandon chocolate cake, because chocolate is sublime. I did not become a vegan or a vegetarian. I did not go low carb. I did not give up anything. I did not resort to only eating salads or drinking smoothies. I did not only eat organic foods or fully embrace Whole 30. I love Salads, but I did not want my weight loss and maintenance contingent upon my ability to eat salad 3 meals a day 365 days a year. That is unrealistic.
I love Indian food and Indian buffets, but I now don’t eat enough for three people, I eat just enough to satiate my appetite for the moment. I drink water or coffee (without sugar) when I think that I am hungry. If I am not hungry, my appetite subsides. If I am hungry, I eat a meal or a small snack. I watch my overall caloric intake, but I don’t count every single calorie. I don’t have cheat days, because this is how I will have to eat for life. I don’t want to suffer Monday-Friday to make up for Saturday and Sunday.
Almost 18 months have passed, and I have lost and kept off over 90 pounds. I still would like to lose another 5 to 10 pounds. Twenty would be fantastic. No matter how many more pounds I lose, I am healthier than I have been in 10 years. I can chase my boys without losing my breath; I can walk without becoming winded. I can be me. I can look in the mirror and not question the identity of the person in the reflection. I am no longer pre-anything. My body has recovered from the abuse I inflicted upon it. For the first time in years, my jeans are a single digit size.
Our society revolves around the concept of instant gratification. My previous attempts at weight loss failed for those very reasons. Lo Carb, Green Smoothie, Slim Fast, Atkins, I tried them all without lasting success. Sure, I could drop 10, 15 or 20 pounds in a month, but the weight would return as soon as the diet ended. Nothing about my lifestyle had changed. I longed to eat "forbidden" foods.
This process has been slow. 1 pound here, a pound there. I was at a plateau for maybe three or 4 months. Initially I was frustrated with my lack of weight loss, but I realized that I needed to celebrate my weight maintenance. Some days are harder than others, especially when I drive past a fried chicken buffet. Oh....I love fried chicken thighs and yeast rolls. Instead I eat one thigh, one roll and top it off with a bowl of yummy green vegetables or a salad.
My story is not meant to make others feel bad about their size, it is simply my story. I was not happy with my size for many years, but it took seeing me as others see me to bring about change. Life is a journey and we must all choose the paths that we will take. My journey was unnecessarily arduous due to the stress that I placed on my body, and I was uncertain as to how much further I could travel in my state. I made changes, which have become a part of my daily life. I question the need and nutritional value of every bite of food that I take. Do I need this, or do I want this? Am I hungry, or am I bored?
Nova, I am sure has read this far, and, is finally aware of the role that she played in my weight loss. I am grateful for that picture which many months ago I finally allowed to appear on my Facebook feed.