Weighty Issues

WeightyIssues350We Anderson girls are of hearty, healthy Scandinavian stock. Our body type is good for playing sports, moving furniture, doing yard work and bearing children, but less good for anything graceful like ballet, high heels or string bikinis. Couple that body type with a love of food and wine and you get a lifelong struggle with weight.

When I was in college I became a runner. I ran many miles a day and watched my food (and beer!) intake and it worked. I was trimmer and slimmer than I had ever been. After college I religiously ran or exercised every morning before work and had a healthy diet. Then in August 2008 two things happened. I left the routine of my full-time job to return to school for my Masters degree and a week later I rolled my ankle off a curb during a run, an injury that would require surgery and a year of recovery.

After years of being in control, I was completely out of control. Going back to school I lost the security of my 9 to 5 routine, and with this new injury I was unable to run. I did my best. Looking back I could have put on stacks of weight, but I really tried to keep things under control. But you know how it goes . . . you put on a 1/4 or an 1/8th of a pound every week for a year and half.  It adds up. You hardly notice. Until (in my case) you’re fifteen pounds overweight. Then you really notice.

Like everyone else, I started 2010 with a New Year’s Resolution. I resolved to get back to a healthy weight and regular exercise. But just like in the movies, the pages flew off the calendar. The days, and then months got away from me. Now it was summer and the numbers on the scale were not budging. I created a lot of excuses. How could I start a new program next week? It was my birthday. Friends from the UK were visiting. We were going on vacation. I set a lot of deadlines for when I would “start,” half-started, then failed. It was disheartening, frustrating, and just plain demoralizing.

A week ago today I resolved that this was it. I was doing this. No excuses.  And this time I did three things differently.

Most importantly, I was brutally honest with myself. Although I had been trying to convince myself otherwise, I accepted that I was not happy with my body as it was.  And I came to the realization that if I had slowly slipped this far in a year in a half, where would I be in five years?  I also accepted that it was my own choices that had brought me to this point.  I came to terms with the fact that I would have to make some uncomfortable changes for a while (like cutting back on alcohol, a simple pleasure I so enjoy in the evening, particularly in the summer) but this was a necessary, if painful, part of the process.

This time, I told my husband, my parents, my sister and my close friends what I was doing. I needed some accountability. Before,  I would half-heartedly start a new program, but wouldn’t tell anyone. Of course I need to be in control of myself and the food I’m eating, but it helps when people aren’t offering you the types of things you’re trying to avoid. It’s also helpful to be able to talk about it, to get their support and advice. (My Mom’s an expert, she wrote the book on weight loss.  Literally.)  So this time I explained the types of food that I would and wouldn’t be eating and that I wouldn’t be drinking alcohol for a while, just to kick-start the program. We talked it through and I got their support. I can’t tell you how much stronger I feel for that.

The third thing I did differently is that I prepared. Before I started this new program, I made two large batches of salad dressing to last me through the week, a simple balsamic vinaigrette, and Sharon and Tony’s Lemon-Parsley Vinaigrette.  I also made a big batch of hummus. I bought a lot of veggies; I planned out meals; I shopped, making it easier to make the right choices. All the other times I had nothing in the fridge, didn’t have a plan, leaving me wide open to failure.

That’s my plan, and I hope it works long-term. But who knows?  These kinds of things are one day at a time. But so far, it’s working better than anything I’ve done since August 2008. I feel strong, I feel in control and without even stepping on the scales, I know I’ve been successful this first week.  And there’s no better motivation for week two than success in week one.

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  1. kate C. says

    And now you’re accountable to the whole internets! :)

    Good luck! You can definitely do it! Hope your running goes well too, not just the no drinks/healthy food thing – I am also a runner and it’s definitely important for my mental health and feeling good about myself!

    Congrats on a good week 1!

  2. says

    Hi Maggy,

    As someone who has struggled with her weight through the years, I really identified with your post. It is possible to make little painless changes and the weight can come off slowly and steadily, just like it went on! Another key for me has been to find ways to feel good about my body as it is and to indulge in self care. Our bodies really respond to loving kindness. Best of luck with your program!

  3. RJ says

    What a timely e-mail. After being the slimmest I have ever been (even after two kids)…for various reasons I have gained 6 pounds..with the fear that it will just keep piling on. My husband and I started “weight loss month.” How did we start it? With none other than your mom’s book: The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great. Love the book!! I know that with this book, we will have a successful week one, as well! Thank your mom for me and keep up the great work!!

  4. says

    Thanks for the support, ladies. It’s actually been two weeks now and I’m still going strong! Martha, yes. You are so right. Self care is really important right now. I have done a lot for *me* these past couple weeks – making an effort to feel beautiful and look good at each stage. Weight aside, I’ve not felt this good mentally in a long time either and I think that has a lot to do with my new attitude. Plus, you don’t have to tell me twice to get a mani/pedi or a new pair of jeans 😉

  5. says

    Good luck to you! Unfortunately, I know just how hard this is.(Why couldn’t I have gotten the skinny gene? :D) I think you are so right with the preparation… I know that so frequently when I “fall off the wagon”, it is because I don’t have anything healthy in the house to eat or I’ve gone too long without eating. Please keep us posted.

  6. susan says

    Loved your post today, Maggy. Good for you for putting it out there so we can all cheer you on. Being an Anderson girl, I’m with you and feel your pain — but together we’re stronger!

  7. says

    I understand completely! My two friends have just started a new blog about the same thing called “What’s the Point?”. I hope you will come pay us visit. It is gripes, recipes, success, etc….

  8. Michael says

    Hey, Maggy, great post! I like your program because beyond just a resolution, you’ve put a foundation under it, a foundation of plans and accountability. Go for it girl!

  9. says

    So good to hear other people struggle but set out with a plan. I’ve got more than twice as much to lose and it’s slow going. I’m at about 1/2 lb. per week so far, but I’m trying to look at how that calculates out over a whole year.

    Keep on truckin’!

  10. says

    Maggy, I am totally with you…I have the same struggle with my body type and love for food, and am coming to terms with the fact that because of this I will struggle with weight for the rest of my life. I keep trying to form new, healthier habits, but it’s not easy and and to be honest a lot of them haven’t stuck…but, I try my best to balance things out.

    Anyway, I just wanted you to know that you’re not alone! :-)

  11. says

    Yes, same struggle here. Love to bake – sweets, bread, etc. Fortunately I give most of it away, but…. little bite here, there…it all adds up. Good for you. Start dates are hard. Mine was yesterday. Thanks for the motivation.

  12. says

    I fell your pain. Could it have been all those brownies at your grandma’s? This week I am back to it. I lost 50+ pounds over a year ago and am not about to let it all come back on now!

  13. says

    You Go, Girl! we’ll do a shoot after you reach your goal, to show off your new svelte figure! I’ve got 6-10 lbs to loose myself, and you are a great inspiration to me!

  14. says

    Good Luck to you! I’ve made this my summer to lose weight too. It always seems that it gets so much easier after the first few days, so I hope you are well on your way. I had high blood pressure onset after my baby was born. I’ve lost about 15 pounds, and I think I am done with the medicine! So that was great motivation. Plus, I knit, and I want to knit cute little cardigans. :) Anyway, good luck to you and thanks for a great idea to make a healthy homeade dressing to last the week! Thanks!

  15. Cassie sue says

    Good luck! Now that I sit at a desk all the time I feel the same way with the pounds creeping on.

    I feel better when I work out so I know what you mean about running. I tell myself that no matter what excuse I can think of, I still can go to the gym for 20 minutes. And usually once I am there the excuse no longer matters, though I have had a day or two where after 20 minutes I packed up and headed home.

    I also pack all the food I am going to eat in my lunch bag and make sure I only have healthy choices. It makes it much easier when I am in a “snack” mood to grab the fruit I cut up in my lunch bag than to hit the vending machines.

    I just bought your mom’s book a week or two ago and I’m going to try to start incorporating it into my meal planning. The food is not “diet” food so my family will still eat it which makes EVERYONE happy.

  16. Terri A. says

    You can do it! Most of us have been there, but you have the right attitude. Good for you for sticking with it for 2 weeks! One day at a time is how it works.

  17. Greg says

    I e-mailed your mom awhile ago – when you started this new site I thought it would be fun to have a section for weight loss – goals, support and most importantly – maintenance.May-be based around her weight loss book.
    Your mom was going to take it to the 3 of you and see if there was a place on the site for it – on-going – wonder if that will be addressed now?
    Good Luck!

  18. says

    Maggy, I’m totally behind you! It looks like you have a good plan in place and your support system (your family) is awesome. Accountability, in my opinion, is the most important thing. I started a blog just so random strangers would hold me accountable for getting in shape to wear a bikini (I’ve never worn one before)

    Without the blog, I would have NEVER done it.

  19. Sally says

    Your mom wrote one of the smartest things I’ve ever read about dieting/weight loss: “Diets are like trying to sell everyone the same style and size shoe. If this way of eating is forced and not really you, you’ll revert to your old patterns every time. Better to find a way to eat for life.”

    The reason most dieters fail is because the diet they’re using wasn’t created for them. If you create (or find) something you know you’ll be able to do for the rest of your life, you’ll be successful.

    I do think that not eliminating food groups (unless it’s for another reason) and eating real food is important. No fake food.

  20. Caroline says

    Thanks for your post, Maggy. Two authors I’ve found most helpful around this topic of food and healthy bodies: 1) Your mom in her book The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Feeling Great, particularly her emphasis on the value of ritual around food, and on the need to check in with our bodies and reassure them they will get what they need (and want), and 2) Geneen Roth in her new book, filled with provocative insights and personally challenging questions — Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path.

  21. Svetlana says

    I can relate to your struggles with weight loss. I am also from Eastern European stock, body made for working the fields… When I was in college I was also very active playing soccer and managed to stay “skinny”. Now I have a full time job and I am part time PhD student… and between my job and school there isn’t enough time to spend at the gym or run the 5 miles. When it comes to food its very had as well (especially when my amazing grandmother cooks her delicious backed goodies)… I have been struggling to loose 5 lbs for almost 2 years now. Anyhow… I like your approach, letting everyone important around you know about your plan and goals, preparing for the week ahead, planing meals out…That is something that I will have to try and apply to my strategy. This was very inspirational—Thank you so much!

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