Thursday, August 6, 2009

Guest Post: - Less To Lose

Hey everyone, your friendly neighborhood Spider Man here... oh, wait, wrong script... anyway, I just want to let you know that I have a lot stored up for August including some guest posts (If you'd like to write a guest post on a weight loss/exercise/lifestyle topic that you want to share with my readers, I'm happy to discuss it with you. Hit me up in an email - tisfan at and we'll see what we can do for each other. I have a few open slots remaining!) Also coming up in August, I have a book review and some giveaways.

Right now I'd like everyone to say hello to my friend Leigh and - ok, I won't call her my "inspiration" because that would be rude of me, after going on my multiple rants about "inspirations" and honestly, she wasn't - but she was my go-to girl when I was researching what would be a possible weight-loss program. I've talked about her quite a bit, and I hope you enjoy what she's got to say. I know I have, and I want to take a minute to say thank you to her for all her help, support, suggestions, commiserations and otherwise being as good a friend as I could possibly ask for... and without further ado, I give you Leigh's guest post.
For most of my life, I've been the "skinny girl". Growing up, I could eat pretty much whatever I wanted. Granted I was taking 2-4 dance classes a week, so that helped. But my weight was never really something I thought about. When I went to college things stayed mostly the same. I didn't have the "freshman 15" issue that many college students have. Actually, I briefly thought I was seriously ill because I'd lost 6 pounds, until I realized I was spending several hours a week riding a trotting horse (which for those who don't know is pretty close to spending several hours a week doing squats... while balancing on two straps... attached to a large quadraped).

And then I graduated. I got a fabulous job as a software developer. Instead of riding horses and sprinting between classes, I was riding an office chair and occasionally walking down the hall to the snack machine. And since posteriors are like goldfish, the pounds soon followed.

Two years out of college, I realized I'd gained almost 20 pounds since graduating. Some may be tempted to prefix that number with "only", but after sitting at a steady 121 pounds through most of high school and four years of college it was an alarming trend. One that I wanted to stop sooner rather than later.

I settled on Weight Watchers as a potential solution. A friend of mine had been a Weight Watchers member in the past, so I knew a little about it, and it sounded like a good program. But I was concerned. Would I be the "skinny girl" that looked silly coming into the meetings? My friend assured me there were a variety of shapes and sizes at the meetings, so we joined together (yay buddy system!)

At the first meeting, my starting weight was 132.5 pounds. I got all the materials, and jumped into the whole process of tracking foods and calculating Points for things. I hunted down the mathematical formula for Points online and learned to approximate things while grocery shopping so I didn't have to stand in Farm Fresh with my slide rule in hand - though I did write the calculated-out Points per serving on almost everything as soon as I got it home. I made a game out of finding 0-Point and 1-Point foods. I didn't always follow the plan perfectly, but I did follow it.

And I lost weight. In little bits. Half a pound there, a pound here. I had weeks where I maintained (aka didn't lose any), and I had weeks where I got the ever-so-sympathetic "Oh, you're up by 0.2 pounds. Well that's not bad! Are there any questions I can answer for you?" (Well, no, probably not. Not unless you can tell me why I opted to eat that second slice of cake the other day. But I think my therapist is more qualified there.)

After some period of time, and I honestly can't remember how long at this point, I was down to 121.6 pounds. So very close to the 121 I remembered as being "my weight". And the next week, I came to the meeting and stepped on the scale and... maintained. Disappointed, I talked to my meeting leader, and decided to set my official Goal Weight at 122 pounds instead of 121. Still feels a little bit like I cheated, but there you have it.

Those of you who are Weight Watchers members know what comes next. After maintaining my goal weight for 6 weeks, it was time to become a Lifetime Member. Woo! I went into the meeting that week feeling pretty good. When the time came for Celebrations, I was happy to stand up and talk about what got me there (tracking, finding 1-Point foods, portion control) and so forth. And then the leader asked me to share how much weight I'd lost total.

"17 pounds."


The snort came from a woman behind me who quite clearly had more than 17 pounds to lose and quite clearly thought that having made Lifetime after losing "only" 17 pounds was scoff-worthy. I could practically feel the eyeroll she directed at her friend beside her. I deflated. Collected my little gold key from the meeting leader and slouched back into my seat.

If you've ever tried to lose weight, especially to lose weight in a safe and healthy way, you know it takes work and dedication. That's true for the first pound, the last pound, and each one in between. So why was my 17 pounds lost less important or impressive than the 17 pounds anyone else has lost? Just because I only did it once?

Kudos to anyone who's ever needed to lose 17 pounds and done it in a safe and healthy manner. Heck, kudos if it was 5 pounds. Kudos again if you've done it more than once, and kudos a third time if you've changed your habits and kept the weight off.

I've done all of the above. Lost, maintained. Gained (needed to start exercising), lost again. Maintained for several years, got older, gained a little, readjusted my goal weight (yes, it's allowed), maintained some more. Life happened (huge relationship break up, moved twice within a year, bought a house, got laid off, got new job... ack!), gained more than I'd lost the first time (depression and unemployment will do that). Got life back under control, maintained for a year. And then finally at the beginning of 2009, jumped back on plan and lost the 15 pounds to get me back down to my goal weight (now 125 pounds).

We'll see where life takes me from here. The comforting thing is the knowledge that I can do it. I know how to eat the right foods in the right portions to maintain a healthy weight. And if life happens and throws me off track for a little while, I know how to eat the right foods in the right portions to get back to where I need to be. To be a happy and healthy me.

For most of my life, I've been the "skinny girl". The most common reaction I get when I tell someone that I'm a Weight Watchers member is "Why? You don't need to lose weight." I just offer the person a knowing smile and say "Exactly."


Hanlie said...

Great post, Leigh! I've often heard people say to thin people who decline unhealthy food or work out that they surely don't need to watch what they eat or exercise. As if weight loss is the only reason we do them!

Well done on reaching your goal and staying there!

Cammy@TippyToeDiet said...

Excellent points! I suspect your 17 pounds were every bit as difficult to get off and KEEP off as my 100 were for me. Well done!

The Merry said...

I really liked this post.

It's true, I always compared myself to people who only had 10 or 20 pounds to lose and found it hard to feel sympathy. (Don't think I'd ever be quite as rude as that woman. I do hope not.) But damn it, you have as much right to lose weight as I do!

The Merry said...

P.S. Lynn? Congratulations! Mr. Random Number Generator likes you. He picked your comment to win the Cranky Fitness SYTYCD exercise DVD giveaway.

- Merry

Diane, Fit to the Finish said...

I learned from my own weight loss (150 lbs) and then teaching a weight loss class, that it really doesn't matter how much weight you have to lose - it affects us the same way.

So the first thing I tell my class participants is - It's not about the amount of weight - it's about the attitude!!

Good for you on all your successes! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Weight loss is weight loss is weight loss. When I started my journey, I had 100 pounds to lose. Now I have 47 pounds to lose. Does it make it any easier? Heck to the no! And that shouldn't be looked down upon by anyone else. Congrats Leigh!