I’ve always been overweight—heavy, large, “big boned”—whatever you want to call it. But I was also muscular and moved a lot, so I wasn’t all soft and fleshy. It might have been more of a curse than a blessing, because as a child, it let me get away with not doing anything about my weight. Sure it was hard to find clothes (especially jeans), but I didn’t jiggle much, so I noticed my weight more than other people did.
Weight Gain Crept Up Over the Years
If you’ve struggled with weight you know that left alone, the pattern of overeating catches up with you. By the time I was in middle school, all the huge bowls of pasta, chips and candy, caught up with me. I was seriously overweight. This continued into college and adulthood, and by my 30s, I reached a top weight of 240 pounds. I didn’t stay at that weight all the time. I’d start a new diet, lose 20 pounds, then give it up at some point (usually within a month) and see the weight creep up again.
In my teens I discovered health and fitness magazines, and I read whatever I could get my hands on: Self, Shape, Women’s Health, Fitness, Oxygen, Fitness Rx for Women. These magazines schooled me on the latest diets—the good ones and the fad ones—but I also learned a lot about health, nutrition, exercise and wellness. Sometimes I applied what I learned and lost some weight, but I was the typical yo-yo dieter, losing and gaining the same 20 pounds. I did this for decades.
Years of Yo-Yo Dieting
Right before finally losing the weight for good, and starting a healthier lifestyle, I was in a pattern of losing and gaining the same 20 pounds. I’d lose weight from February-May, enjoy a few summer months at my lower weight, and then go on vacation in August (which was the perfect excuse to go off my diet). I gained the weight back from September-January when I returned to work and the holidays approached.
I went on like this for decades, going from 240 to 200 and then back up. It’s scary to think how much I put my body through. On the plus side, I liked to move, so I exercised most weeks. I also ate some healthy foods every day (I just supplemented them with high-caloric, processed foods in huge portions).
I was managing this way, but I wasn’t happy with how my body looked. More importantly, I wasn’t happy with how I felt. My thighs chaffed, my arms were large, heavy and soft, with little muscle definition, and I felt weighed down by my weight. Simple tasks, like walking a flight of subway stairs on my way to work, were difficult. Huffing and puffing up the stairs annoyed the hell out of me! I didn’t feel vital, and I didn’t feel like me.
Menopause: My Weight Loss Trigger
Somewhere around the age of 50, my body changed on me. I blame my hormones. I developed heart palpitations at night. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! I stayed up for hours, worrying that the forceful beats meant I was going to develop heart disease. You know heart disease is the number one killer of women, don’t you? I read that somewhere in a magazine, and it stuck in my head! I went to a cardiologist. They did tests. I wasn’t dying, and my heart was healthy, but I was overweight—I needed to eat better and exercise more. The doctor’s summation was vague to say the least: “you’re probably experiencing heart palpitations due to shifts in your hormone levels.”
The only thing I knew about perimenopause was the dreaded hot flash, but when I Googled heart palpitations and perimenopause, I discovered a long list of symptoms associated with changing hormonal levels. First thought: I’m f***ked. Second thought: I’m scared. I needed the heart palpitations to go away, so I did something that I had not been able to do my whole life.
Healthy Eating and Exercise Begins at 50
At 50, I began to eat healthy food, exercise, and lose weight consistently. The first week I ate only whole foods (foods grown in the ground and/or unprocessed), my heart palpitations disappeared. Gone—almost immediately! A simple correlation existed between eating whole, unprocessed food and my heart palpitations. That shift in my diet, and the resulting change in my health, made lots of other things shift inside me. It was an immediate turning point in my life, and I began to change my behavior to support a healthier lifestyle. That one change (plus some others that I made in increments over the next year and a half), helped me overcome decades of obesity and lose more than 60 pounds.
My 50s—not my 20s, 30s or 40s—have been the most transformative period for my health and mental wellbeing. I’m here to tell you about it, and motivate you to take action. I want to spread the word about how I lost the weight, so you don’t have to wait until you’re 50 to live your best life. Want to get started? Start by reading these articles: Base Cardio and Calorie Deficit.
I did it, so you can do it. Let’s go! It’s time to act!
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