Losing Weight for Better Health
Having a heart attack was the health scare that inspired Mizkay to lose her weight. Her story is very motivating, not only did she lose weight but her husband jumped on board as well. Together they are an inspiration to us all as they demonstrate how dramatically we can improve our health, fitness and enjoyment of life with the right approach and the right attitude. Mizkay has lost 125lbs and has been maintaining her weight for four months.
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?
My "Aha!" moment would be lying flat on my back in a hospital bed after having a heart attack at the age of 55. So for me, it was literally "do or die". My dad had a heart attack at 55, and my mom at 65. Neither one of them made it to the their next birthday.
2. What other "diets" (programs, products, plans, or services) had you tried in the past?
I had lost weight a couple of times in my 20 and 30's by dieting, but the weight always returned when I went back to my old eating habits. My "before" exercise program consisted of jogging my memory, running off at the mouth and jumping to conclusions. It was not very effective in losing weight.
My husband had tried to lose weight a couple of time, but never by dieting, only by increasing his activity level. But then he would have an injury or life interfered and that would be the end of that. So we each had part of the equation.
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 husband and I both started exercising and being very careful about what we ate. We went on this program together and that made it so much easier. I read a lot of labels at the grocery store. We kept trying different types of food and different recipes until we found healthy foods we could enjoy. We also researched restaurants before we went out. When we ordered at the restaurants we started to be very particular about our food - dressing on the side, hold the mayo and substituting vegetables for fries.
We both started wearing pedometers and recording our steps every day. The first week (about 3 months into my weight loss program), my average steps per day was about 4000, now my average is about 14,000.
My husband lost 70 pounds in about 8 months and I lost 125 pounds in a year and a half.
4. Please describe how Calorie Count was instrumental to your weight loss.
I started doing calorie count a few weeks after coming home from the hospital after the heart attack. It helped me keep track of my nutrients. One of the surprisingthings I learned was that I was not even close to having enough calcium in my diet, so I started taking a calcium supplement. One of the things we really liked about calorie count is that you pick your custom values for your food. Since I had already had a heart attack, I had to be very careful about saturated fat. My husband has hypertension, so he has to be careful about salt.
The forums are also very helpful because you realize you are not the only one going thru this. And you can get some good advice from people who have been there.
5. What difficulties did you experience losing weight?
Plateaus are frustrating and the whole weight loss experience can be very emotional. I was lucky because I didn't really encounter much plateauing until I was more than halfway to my goal. I don't think I could have done this on my own, without my husband being on the same plan and being so supportive.
6. How long did it take you to see results? When did you realize that you were a success?
Before I saw results, I felt results. I could walk more than two blocks without getting tired, I could go up stairs without being out of breath, my knees didn't hurt all the time, my blood sugar dropped out of the prediabetic range into the normal range.
For me, the single most exciting moment was getting under 200 pounds. I think it had been at least 2 decades since I had been to one-derland and I had a silly grin on my face for at least two weeks.
It was very rewarding to get new (smaller) clothes every couple of months. After I had lost more than 100 pounds, I also lost a shoe size. So the only clothes I can still wear from before are my socks. I still find that pretty amazing.
7. How do you prevent relapse?
I never thought of this as a diet and exercise program that I would be graduating from, it is a new lifestyle. There is no food that tastes as good as shopping in the regular size section feels. There is no treat as delicious as being able to walk without pain.
8. How has your life changed now that you've lost weight?
A lot of people don't recognize me, at least not until I start talking. I feel so much more energetic, I can keep up with my grandkids.
I don't shop in the plus size departments anymore. I also have a lot more clothes.
9. How long have you maintained your current weight?
I have for about four months, my husband is coming up on a year of maintaining his weight.
10. What five tips do you have for other dieters?
- Think of this as a new lifestyle, not a diet or exercise program.
- Try some new foods, so you are replacing some of your former foods, not just giving them up.
- Set goals that you are in control of, such as "I will eat a healthy breakfast every day" or "I will average 10,000 steps a day for a week" instead of I will lose two pounds every week. Sometimes the scale is not your friend.
- Celebrate the small victories along the way. Don't wait to get new size clothes, even if you pick them up at a thrift store.
- Be patient and don't let minor setbacks discourage you. After all, you are probably losing weight much faster than you gained it.
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.