We 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.