Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Six Years Ago - October 1, 2006

Appalachian Trail near Newfound Gap - October 4, 2012
Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comments in response to my last post.  That one was hard to write simply because it reflected some thought processes still in their infancy and naming some emotions that although not new, are still unfamiliar.  Many of you identified with me and presented some helpful feedback.  Although today's post doesn't continue that, there is more to be said and it will come.

Six years ago, I reached my all time high weight for the SECOND time.  I vowed to lose the 65 pounds necessary to get to a goal weight I'd seen before and one I knew my body liked.  With a determination I didn't know I possessed, on October 1, 2006, I began a weight loss journey using an eating plan I self-designed. Exactly one year later (give or take a few weeks), I'd lost that 65 pounds.  Starting around the same time (10/1/06), I participated in a walking study at the University of Tennessee which got me into the habit of wearing a pedometer daily and walking no less than 10,000 steps each day.  To this day, the pedometer comes off at night after I'm already in bed and goes back on before I get out of bed the following morning.  It is as much a part of me as my left hand!

Through 2007 and 2008, I maintained that weight +/- 5 pounds.  I weighed every morning and recorded that weight on a simple Excel spreadsheet that also averaged the week's daily weights into an average weight for the week.   The walking study had only been for 12 weeks in late 2006, but I was given the pedometer as a "thank-you" for my participation, so I continued walking 10,000+ steps each day and recording those steps into another Excel spreadsheet which also averaged the daily steps total into a weekly average.  These are two habits which I continue to maintain through thick and thin!  Just now as I've looked back over those spreadsheets to verify info for this post, I am reminded how thankful I am (not to mention how helpful it is) to have these records.  

I remember nothing significant about 2009 that would've caused the weight to start creeping back up.  It was a very good year for us and my level of physical activity had picked up considerably.  My RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) was still in remission and in addition to hiking, we were doing lots of biking.   I simply let go of those good habits I'd cultivated and began eating amounts not portion controlled along with out of control snacking.   On October 1, 2009, I was 20 pounds above goal.

2010 was NOT a good year.  Bill's dad had already been diagnosed with cancer in addition to the dementia which was getting worse.  I was beginning to suspect that my RA was slowly coming out of remission - something I'd known would happen eventually and terrified me to think about.  There had been a period of two years in the late 80's when I was first diagnosed that I was unable to dress myself or complete many everyday functions without help and believe me, I did NOT want to go back there.  But in spite of all that, I began this blog is May of 2010 and vowed that I'd be back at goal weight by year end.  I was 30 pounds above goal.

Thanks in part to all of you, I was well on my way to doing just that having already lost 16 of those pounds when on August 19, our world changed with the death of Bill's dad.  This was our first experience with losing a parent (my parents and Bill's mom are currently very healthy) and even knowing his quality of life here on earth was over, it was tough!  And silly me!  All my life, I've taken food to people when death occurred in their families, but when the tables were turned and it was ME receiving the love.....well, as you know, love is expressed through food when someone dies.  I fought it as long as I could, but eventually gave in to the pressure of being constantly watched along with the total absence of healthy heating choices.  Once all that was over and life returned to normal, it seemed I simply no longer cared.   On October 1, 2010, I was 32 pounds above goal. 

Throughout the remainder of 2010 and most of 2011, I stayed within a narrow range of 28-35 pounds above goal.  My RA continued to worsen and the tedious process of changing meds began in earnest.  Somewhere along the way, I was also diagnosed with hypothyroidsim and completed the dreaded "change of life" process.   Thankfully, the thyroid issue was quickly brought under control and hasn't waivered since.   I am fortunate that the "change" didn't bring on the horror stories one hears about from others.  But both were constant reminders to me that losing weight would become harder and harder as I got older.  As 2011 wore on, I became determined to lose the 30 pounds once and for all.  Bill and I have BIG plans for retirement and I actually experienced periods of fear that I wouldn't be physically able to participate in those plans if I didn't do all I could to take care of myself.  I just couldn't quite get a handle on how I was going to do that.   On October 1, 2011 I was 36 pounds above goal.

But what a difference a year can make.  The guidance I was seeking found me.  Most of you will know my story over the past year and most of you know that on October 1, 2012, I am at goal weight.  But what is most important to me is sharing what I've learned over the past year that may be of help to you in your own journey.   That post is coming up in a day or two.  So let's just say to be continued........................ 

If it has been awhile since you posted your weight loss story, consider doing it again.  So many people are struggling and we are heading into the holiday season where much, much damage can be done.  If you chose to write about your own story, let me know and I'll link to your post.  For some reason, I just have this sense that personal stories may offer more encouragement than any "advice" we could possibly share.


  1. Applause! Applause! So encouraging for us (lurkers:-)
    Appreciate your willingness to share your story and looking forward to your forthcoming tips.


  2. You're right. It is interesting to see someone's weight history written out clearly. Maybe I will do that...

    I'm worried about your stress and your RA...

  3. I'm smiling:) And so happy for what the last year has brought you.

    You are an inspiration in so many ways.

  4. Nice snapshot of your journey! :) Yay for getting back there, I'm working on that myself!

  5. I am so happy for you for reaching your goal weight. I am going to start your regimen with the pedometer (put on first thing in the morning and take off last thing at night) because that is a huge failing of mine. I forget to put it on for the first couple of hours of the day and probably miss out on at least 500 steps. Then, I'll take it off to get my shower and forget to put it back on. And so it goes. Let's see how this works. :)

  6. Hi Sharon, I read your last post about being claustrophobic.. I have never had that problem --but all of us struggle from other types of problems and conditions. Mine was being sexually abused by my brother --and having my Mom not believe me. That took me YEARS to come to terms with... I did write my story, and have had over 6500 page views... Amazing, isn't it? Hope I can help someone else---like you are helping others by telling your story.

    I too have struggled with my weight all of my adult life... I've gained and lost and gained and lost a million times it seems. This time, God willing, I am NOT going to gain my weight back. I am keeping a food journal --and that helps me to be accountable to what I put in my mouth. According to a metabolism test, I should be able to eat at least 1500 calories per day without gaining. SO---that is what I'm trying to do..... Tain't easy though....

    Hang in there.... You're doing GREAT.

    Cold here this week... We've had a fire in the fireplace all week... LOVE it.

  7. Congratulations on getting to your goal weight!! I've been thinking a lot about recapping my journey on my blog. I agree real stories are much better that advise.

  8. I like this "reader's digest" version of your journey over the last 6 years. You have come so far, and I look forward to watching you thrive in maintenance. Great job Sharon!!!

  9. Wow, what a journey! Congrats for your persistence despite everything that has happened. Keep up the good work!

  10. You are an inspiration, Sharon. Proof that when there is a will, there is always a way. I hope your RA stays in remission.

  11. Sharon, I really am in awe of you being able to lose that weight, despite setbacks, and the fact that you keep on hiking even with your RA worsening. I know you encourage lots of folks by telling your story. People need to know that they're not alone in their struggles. I do hope your doctor has been able to help you find medication that works for your RA.

  12. Congratulations on being at goal weight Sharon. That is so awesome and I'm very happy for you. :)

    I look forward to reading more of your story.

  13. That is one fine achievement being at goal weight! Congratulations, Sharon!

    Reading through your own weight loss story and the ups and downs of it all are a great reminder of the process it really is to become healthy and fit. Life has a way of throwing us all curve balls. What I see now is one strong lady who is able to keep up the good health habits despite what is thrown her way. Excellent accomplishment.