Beginning My New Life
Over the years Shelleyann has had several major medical problems. Even with all these obstacles, she has managed to lose 140lbs by being more nutrition conscious, watching food portions, exercising, and keeping herself motivated. Her story is an inspiration to all of us and demonstrates how dramatically we can all improve our health and enjoyment of life with the right approach and the right attitude.
She contacted us through our Share Your Story feature and provided the following answers to our questionnaire.
1. What prompted you to begin this weight loss journey? Did you have an "Aha!" moment?
Through the years I have had numerous health problems from back surgery, breast cancer survivor, heart disease, fibromyalgia, arthritis, degenerative bone disease, and severe joint pain to name a few, but my main motivator to start exercising was the burning pain in my right thigh called Meralgia Paresthetica (pinched nerve). It left my thigh numb from my hip down to my knee. I was jolted out of bed one night from a deep sleep falling on my face from pain that literally felt like I had been stabbed. I couldn’t lie down, I couldn’t sit down, and I couldn’t walk. I had to stand propped up against the wall with crutches for about five hours. I couldn’t take anymore. I knew I had to do something about my weight to take the pressure off this nerve. I began my weight loss journey November 3, 2008 weighing 318 lbs. My goal weight is 150 lbs or wearing a size 10 pant.
2. What other "diets" (programs, products, plans, or services) had you tried in the past?
I had back surgery in 1982 and my weight jumped to 150 lbs and by 1990 I weighed 208 lbs. I tried the Medifast modified diet plan under a doctor's supervision and walked four miles a day six days a week dropping 65 lbs in six months. I kept it off for about two years. My weight began to ascend from the stress of my job leaving the city, having to work through temporary agencies, increased pain and inflammation of the joints from sitting, eating junk food at my desk and holding my bodily functions all day until I went home, and medications. So, illness, stress, poor diet and inactivity got me to 320 lbs. I then tried the Sugar Busters diet and lost 30 lbs in three months without exercise then chemo took me back to 315 lbs. by 2003.
3. Please describe how you reached your weight loss goal. What changes did you make to your usual diet, activity, lifestyle, and attitude? Did you implement any other strategies besides Calorie Count? What was the most important change?
My doctor released me for water exercise only. Since I was doing only water aerobics like a maniac in the beginning two to three hours a day six days a week and was losing weight, I didn’t start counting calories right away. Instead, I gradually began eliminating the bad foods from my diet one by one:
• I stopped drinking sodas—I drank eight to ten sodas a day and didn't drink clear water for five years—and began drinking water. Also, I seem to be able to drink more water when it’s hot.
• I stopped eating fast food.
• I stopped buying foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG), high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil which is Tran’s fat. You’ll be amazed at how many foods these three things will eliminate. I have limited buying foods packaged, boxed, or canned. This eliminates added salts, sugars, preservatives and chemicals.
• I began eating more fruits and green leafy vegetables. On my fixed income, I try to buy fresh vegetables = 100% of nutrients, frozen vegetables = 80% of nutrients, and buy fewer canned vegetables = 50% of nutrients. The cost of food has increased to the point that organic foods are not a consideration. People were losing weight before organic became the buzz. I know I have to wash my vegetables and that's ok.
• I began eating less meat (i.e.12 oz of meat became 8 oz per meal until it became 8 oz per day). I eat more fish, shellfish and poultry and seldom eat red meat or pork.
• I began taking supplements: Calcium with Vitamin D3, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E are usually recommended for women plus a multivitamin. I take an arsenal of supplements. Please consult your physician if you are taking medications before taking any supplements because there could be a drug interaction.
• I stopped microwaving food a year ago. Microwaving changes the molecules in food, and I don’t think my body knew how to properly use microwavable food. I had diarrhea from 2000 to 2010. I noticed a significant change in six months, and by the tenth month I had a normal stool. It didn't prevent the urgency or frequency though.
I learned how to swim at the age of 55 and then learned how to lap. I lap six days a week one and a half to two hours a day followed by resistance or interval training. I've learned that my routine should consist of cardio, resistance, and interval training to have a greater impact. My routine is diverse which includes warming up and stretching then alternating lapping, kick boarding, or water aerobics for an hour or more, elliptical an hour and a half, followed by weights for 45 minutes, interval training for 30 minutes, or spot training for 30 minutes then stretching afterwards.
The most important change was my attitude about exercise and weight loss. I LOVE what I do! I like exercising! Every time I say that I can't believe I'm saying it. I have lost 15 lbs in the past ten months, and if you noticed, I didn’t say ‘only’ 15 lbs. Weight loss no matter how small the number is weight loss. I’m not racing against anyone. When I want to over indulge in foods that I like, I do and I don’t feel guilty about it. I know what I’ve got to do the next day—pick up with my workout routine where I left off.
4. Please describe how Calorie Count was instrumental to your weight loss.
Calorie Count gives me convenient access to the food browser, and I can't wait to receive my email to read a members' success story. The stories make me feel good. They inspire me to continue even though I haven’t participated on the site. I am a member of your captive audience just in case you didn't know you had one.
5. What difficulties did you experience losing weight?
Weight loss had been easy until October of 2010. I had lost 120 lbs. I found it hard getting someone to take progress photos of me. I remember stressing over it. Weighing and measuring and counting calories are my least favorite things to do, but I do realize the importance, particularly now. I'm yo-yoing with the weight number and don't want to give up the calories. And, the other reason is due to muscle gain which is a good thing. I dropped a pant size even though I'm not losing a lot of weight because muscle weighs more than fat. Right now I'm exercising to tone and maintain until I put my hungry game face back on. I'm not discouraged.
6. How long did it take you to see results? When did you realize that you were a success?
When I lost my first 33 lbs and was down two pant sizes. My success was when I could finally see my collar bone. I think a woman's collar bone being visible is sexy. When you see that green-eyed monster staring at you from those who once were praising you for your weight loss, you know you’re doing something right.
7. How do you prevent relapse?
First I made exercise a part of my new lifestyle. Changed my attitude about exercise where it ranks with air, water and food for survival. Exercise also has other hidden benefits that apply to my health issues. It relieves stress, alleviates pain, lowers blood pressure, increases self-esteem, reduces the risk of diseases, and adds years to my life. Why would I want to give that up? Secondly I keep my caloric intake at 1600 calories or below.
8. How has your life changed now that you've lost weight?
I can curl my arms up and touch my shoulders. I couldn't do something so simple. I can put shoes on my feet without pain. I can bend over and reach my toes without excruciating pain. I can polish my toe nails. I can get into the bath tub without being wedged in. I can wear panties instead of bloomers. Belching and flatulence has decreased by 75%. I once couldn’t go anywhere without being embarrassed. I’m feeling better about myself. I'm feeling I'm worthwhile. I’m beginning to believe in something. I believe that this is the beginning of the rest of my life.
9. How long have you maintained your current weight?
I’m still a work in progress. My initial time table was to lose 168 lbs in two and a half years, but it will be three years this November and appears it could possibly be longer. I'm in no rush.
10. What five tips do you have for other dieters?
- In order to be completely committed you must make certain your fitness quest is about you and not to please someone else or it will not last.
- Experiment with different exercises. You have to like what you're doing to keep you coming back for more rather than your workout being a bore or a chore.
- Don't purchase foods that you know you have no control over. Mine is bread.
- When you hit a plateau or get side tracked, don't become discouraged. Don't beat yourself up about it. A plateau is a part of losing weight. It is just an indicator that you need to reduce your caloric intake or increase your workout level or change your routine. Sometimes you have to ‘surprise’ your muscles with something new.
- Say a daily affirmation that you are somebody who deserves this. Use words of your choice.
If you would like us to feature your success story, you can submit it here. The most insightful stories will be featured on this blog and in the weekly "Success Stories" newsletter.