Being fat is miserable.
Trust me, I know. For as long as I can remember I’ve been the chubby kid, the heavy sister, the fat friend. I blame genetics. Kind of.
When I was a kid (I’m thirty-four), parents didn’t know as much as we do now about the effects of sugar, fatty foods, etc. And if they did, my parents didn’t pay attention. Dad was a steak and potatoes kind of guy (still is), and we never ate a lot of veggies. Pepsi was the drink of choice, and I can remember way too many trips to Mickey D’s.
My poor childhood eating habits set the stage for my lifelong struggle with food.
I never felt comfortable in my own skin, mostly because there was too much of it. One of my worst memories is from my freshman year of high school during a JV basketball game. I was probably twenty pounds heavier than the rest of the team, and they didn’t have shorts to fit me. The pair coach gave me were so tight they rode up my legs until they resembled two sausages trying to escape from their waxy membrane. I spent the game huffing up and down the court and constantly tugging down my shorts. The opposing team had a field day, of course. The experience was beyond mortifying.
Still, I couldn’t lose the weight. I had no discipline, no willpower. Chocolate and pizza were my best friends and worst enemies. Finally, the summer between my junior and senior year, I literally worked my butt off and dropped about thirty pounds, getting down to a size seven, the smallest I’ve ever been.
That lasted until my freshman year of college when I began packing on the dreaded freshman fifteen. By the time I graduated, I was a size eighteen. I spent the next decade struggling with various diets and failed exercise plans, never getting lower than a sixteen.
I felt unworthy of my husband’s affection and could no longer stand to look in the mirror. When my eighteen’s starting getting tight, I’d finally had enough.
On December 31st, 2010, I weighed 218 pounds (I’m about 5’ 4”), and my body fat was 44%. My mother suffers from Type 2 Diabetes, and I was well on my way to joining her.
The next day I began a program through my doctor called Ideal Protein. Originally created for diabetics and modified for the general public, it’s a strict protein and veggie diet. Your carbs and calories are severely restricted. A list of food choices is provided, and if you go off that list, the food must be ZERO carbs, calories, and fat. The diet essentially retrains your pancreas to properly process insulin, slowly filtering out the gunk and never-ending cravings that come with a carb-filled diet.
Ideal Protein is strict: green veggie only, none of the good kind like carrots and green beans. The “yucky” kind like asparagus, zucchini, kale, cauliflower, spinach … you get the picture. Only certain cuts of beef, pork, and chicken, and only five ounces at night. I didn’t think I could do it. I’ve never been a veggie eater, and when I did, they were coated in butter and sugar.
Your main source of protein is purchased from the selection provided by Ideal Protein, and I won’t lie, it’s expensive. But the protein packets are key to burning the fat and making you feel full.
Ideal Protein’s offerings are surprisingly good; most are in the form of shakes, but there are crepes, omelets, puddings, chili, etc. There’s a lot more variety than I expected.
Best thing? No exercise needed. I know it sounds whacky, but just listen. Working up a sweat actually causes your body to produce more insulin and lactic acid, which then turns into sugar. So you can’t work out. Light toning is fine, but that’s it.
So there I was in January bulging out of my size eighteens and feeling genuinely miserable. I didn’t know if I could do it or not. But all I could see when I looked in the mirror was my mother, so I was determined to give it all I could.
As of today, May 24th, 2011, I weigh 154 pounds and am a size ten. I haven’t been this small since I was seventeen, and I’m actually only nine pounds heavier than I was exactly half a lifetime ago. Not bad after being so heavy and giving birth.
I don’t want to sound like an infomercial, but Ideal Protein isn’t a diet. It’s a change of life. For the first time, I’m eating healthy. And what’s more, I LIKE IT. There are so many foods out there I’d never tried, so many ways to cook I was clueless about. I eat the right sized portions, and I’m full. There’s no digging through the cabinets forty-five minutes after a meal.
It wasn’t easy. There were days I wanted to scream and cry at the idea of taking another bite of celery or broccoli, or watching my family eat pasta when I couldn’t. I would literally salivate over chocolate and didn’t think I could go another second. And then I would step on the scale or try on something I hadn’t been able to wear in years and it would not only fit but be too big! Weekly success gave me the willpower to push forward.
The diet officially ends this Thursday after two weeks of slowly introducing healthy carbs back into my system. After that, I’ll be on what’s called the ‘maintenance phase,’ which is simply eating smart while enjoying one cheat day a week. I’ve been able to start exercising, and the difference in my physical ability is amazing with sixty-four pounds gone.
Everything about my life has been affected by losing weight. I’m happier, more content. I feel more attractive. I have more energy. My writing has increased, and my overall attitude about life is better. I’m no longer the fat wife or chubby friend. I’m Stacy, the person I’ve always wanted to be.
And for the first time, I feel in control of my life and health. I finally have the tools to keep the weight off.
Staying thin will always be a work in progress. But the accomplishment of such a big goal is one I am very proud of, and the knowledge that I could see the diet through until the end is extremely empowering.
If I can do that, I can do anything.