in Success Stories
I grew up fat.
I could write volumes on that subject alone, but let’s leave it there and start the “Success Story” with the year I discovered Curves for Women. I was 25 years old and weighed 210 pounds. Although I acknowledge that Curves’ specific fitness program is not right for everyone – for example, I don’t work out there anymore myself – learning about their program was a total lightbulb moment for me. It was the first time I realized that I didn’t have to be fat. And that was huge. (Even huger than my pasty white thighs.)
I started working out at Curves three times a week and following their “Permanent Results” program, a low-carb variant (Atkins was pretty hot at the time). In under a year, I’d lost 50 pounds and started working at Curves myself. I was already being held up as a shining inspiration, I figured I may as well get paid for it.
As I got in shape and began to appreciate how physical activity made me feel, I started to really enjoy walking. I often joked that I had finally found my sport of choice – and that it was something most people learn to do at one year of age. The year I turned 29, I had moved to a big city without a car, and walking became a way of life as well as an enjoyable pastime. I wanted to do something with this newfound energy – wanted to make a difference. It was then that I saw a poster for Team Diabetes.
A month later, I had signed up to walk a marathon in Rome, Italy, provided I could raise $5,500 for diabetes research. I had agreed to spend the next six months walking 50-70 kilometres a week and devoting every spare minute to fundraising. What was I thinking?
Well, I was mostly thinking about how my grandmother had died of diabetes complications when I was 11 years old. And I was thinking about how I might have gone down that same road, if I hadn’t managed to get in shape the previous year. And I was thinking that walking a marathon would prove that I wasn’t just walking to work to save busfare, that I really and truly was an athlete, and that I could damn well do anything I set my mind to. Plus, I was about to be thirty, and the big Three-Oh makes people do crazy things.
In March 2005, I completed the Rome Marathon with a time of 7 hours and 12 minutes. I was incredibly proud. I flew home to my boyfriend and after a couple weeks recuperation, I joined Weight Watchers.
Marathon training and carbo-loading had left me a little heavier than I’d been, and to top it all off I’d sustained an overuse injury that left me unable to do most forms of exercise, so it was a long haul to get my body back in shape. But Weight Watchers was there for me all the way. I loved the meetings, the commiserating and the sharing of ideas. I loved the gold star stickers I got every time I lost five pounds and applauding for other members as they moved towards their goals. Most of all I loved that the program was realistic. It didn’t demand that I never eat chocolate again: just that I maybe not eat the whole box at one sitting. That was livable.
In the summer of 2006 I hit my goal weight of 140 pounds. I looked, to put it bluntly, smokin’ hot. I have lots of photographic proof, too, since I got married that fall.
In July, when my daughter was three months old, I started back at Weight Watchers and started training for a half-marathon. Since then, I’ve lost nearly 15 pounds. I have about 35 more to lose before I reach my goal.
And on October 12 of this year, I completed my second large race event: I walked the half marathon (21 km/13 mi) in Victoria, BC. I had hoped to complete the race in under five hours, so I was overjoyed to finish in only 3:49. It was a gorgeous route and one I would definitely do again.
Losing weight now that I’m a mother is definitely more of a challenge, and I don’t just mean because my body has changed. The logistics of going out for a walk with the baby are sometimes quite overwhelming: getting both of us appropriately dressed, getting a diaper bag together with a receiving blanket, a spare disposable diaper, a toy, a baby bottle with pre-measured water ready to be mixed with pre-measured formula, a soother, a sunhat, and a burp cloth; gathering my own supplies, which include sunglasses, sunhat, and mp3 player; getting the stroller unfolded and put together; and slathering myself with sunscreen, all with perfect timing to ensure that the walk happens in between feedings and/or around naptime. And sometimes, I do everything right and she screams the whole time anyway, which doesn’t really help the morale.
The food part is hard too. How can I eat healthfully and track my points when I generally have about 90 seconds to find, prepare, and eat a meal? I solved this one by pre-making a freezer-full of one-portion-sized meals from the Weight Watchers cookbooks. Now I can just microwave something and know exactly how many points it is, instead of snarfing that half-a-box of cookies ‘because it’s there’.
What keeps me motivated is that I want to set a good example for my daughter. I don’t want her to grow up with the same issues I did. I want her to be proud of her body not only for its beauty but for its strength and capabilities. I want exercise and healthful eating to be a big part of our family life, so that she takes on those habits for herself. So I work hard every day to model that for her.
Laura writes online as WordyGirl, you can find her at Blogging for Two.