At age sixty-five I was, for the first time, feeling old. I had developed arthritis, and my knees, back, and the arches in my feet hurt so much that I hobbled and groaned. At times I feared my joints might give way. I had trouble leaning over to clip my toenails or tie my shoes. I read articles on arthritis, something many people endure as they grow older, and learned that weight and age were the most influential factors in its development. I didn’t want to devour all the painkillers my orthopedic doctor prescribed, because they could cause internal bleeding, and I’d have to take antacids, as well. I dreaded going into a medication spiral where every drug required me to take another drug. “I’m just getting old,” I told myself at first. After months of pain, though, I grew depressed. Who wouldn’t?
In the past when my pets grew old and their quality of life decreased, my veterinarian euthanized them. I pondered the word euthanize, a handy euphemism for ending a life. I didn’t want to end my life, but some days I didn’t want to live, if it meant more pain.
“I don’t want to be euthanized,” I finally said one day. “I want to be youth-anized.” I couldn’t change my age, but I could relieve some of the stress on my joints if I lost weight. As a sedentary writer and book editor, I topped out at a whopping 245 pounds after a cruise to Central and South America that I thought would have to be my last, because of my difficulty walking.
To youth-anize myself I needed to weigh 150 pounds or less, which meant I needed to lose ninety-five pounds. Ninety-five pounds? That’s a whole other person!
Food is my downfall. I love sweets and salty snacks. I eat when I’m hungry; I eat when I’m not hungry. I eat when I’m happy; I eat when I’m sad. I eat when I’m bored; I eat when I’m excited. I’ve overeaten for my entire life and have always weighed more than I should.
Nothing else would do, though. If I wanted to get youth-anized, I had to eat less food and get more exercise. I also needed to stay motivated for a long time, to meet such a hefty (pun acknowledged but not intended) goal. How can a single person living alone find the incentive to keep moving toward a long-term goal?
In previous years I’d joined groups, read books, and tried every diet. In truth they all worked, but I always quit following them after a while. I already knew how to lose weight, but how could I stick to a diet long enough to lose almost one hundred pounds? Every time I thought of dieting, a streak of fear ran through me.
Wait! A flash of brilliance came to me. I know what to do! I am, after all, a writer!
Deciding that “diet” was a four-letter word that struck fear in my heart, I began a blog called “Don’t You Dare Call It a Diet.” I spelled out my intentions for anyone to read. I revealed the horrid truth of my weight in hopes that “putting it out there” shamed me into doing something about it. I revealed how I planned to lose weight through healthy eating and exercise, and I promised to weigh in every Monday and report my progress. I sensed that if I made my intentions public, I could not back down and give up.
Years ago a nutritionist gave me information on a healthy food plan created for diabetics, and I decided to follow it. I’m not diabetic, but if I kept eating the way I did, I soon would eat myself into type 2 diabetes, one of the many dangers of being obese. The diabetic food plan calls for lots of vegetables and fruits, controlled portions of protein, and limited starches and sugars. All real food. No fees. No meetings. No shots. No pills. I could do that.
Although I already belonged to a nearby gym, I had gone there only a few times. I set up a schedule to swim and do water aerobics at least once a week. If I could get there twice a week, it would be even better, but I’m still working full-time as a book editor.
Once I drastically reduced my starches, carefully guarded my portions, and worked out regularly, the weight began to melt away. On my blog I reported healthy-eating tips as well as my weekly weight loss, usually one or two pounds a week, and people wrote to say I had motivated them, and they were losing weight. I was helping others? An unexpected bonus!
By the time I lost twenty pounds, the pains in my knees, back, and feet became minimal. Now that I’ve lost forty-five pounds, I’m practically pain free. I can walk as long as I like and even sprint up stairs. I thought my joints had lost their flexibility, but it turns out that my joints weren’t the problem. My fat was. It got in the way more than I admitted. I now cut and paint my toenails with ease and tie my shoes without any stress. Even sex has gotten better, without my huge belly in the way.
Once again I feel confident planning cruises and other trips, because I feel years younger than I did six months ago. I get more youthful with every pound I lose. I didn’t lose weight to look better, but I do look better. A lot better.
Within a year, and probably sooner, I’ll be at my healthiest weight ever. I still deny that I’m on a diet, though, because diets are restrictive. On my food plan I don’t have to do anything outside my comfort zone. I don’t have to eat strange or tasteless food, go to meetings, or deprive myself. I eat absolutely anything I want, but moderation and portion control is the key. As I research healthy eating more, I disseminate that information to my blog readers, so we can all make better and wiser choices.
My plan involves conscious eating. Every meal gives me a chance to make wise choices, eat less than my body needs, and lose weight. Every blog entry allows me to give and receive support from readers. Every pound lost brings me closer to my big dream of losing ninety-five pounds.
My journey continues, and more than 1,700 people have read my blog to date, with more people added all the time. Read it at https://dontyoudarecallitadiet.blogspot.com/.
Writing is a magical thing. While I work hard to achieve my big dream of getting smaller, I’m helping others get fit as well. My influence has extended far beyond my dreams. Best of all, when I hit my goal weight, I will have written enough blog entries to comprise a book. All I’ll have to do is search for a publisher or self-publish.
No longer do I harbor dark thoughts of euthanasia or fears that I’m going to live in pain. I have youth-anized myself, and I’m pain free. I can’t even imagine how great I’ll feel when I meet my goal weight.
How easily I could have given up and let myself get old and fat, but thanks to writing, my own big dream has turned into something that helps others achieve their dreams, too, and everybody is winning—by losing!
Bobbie Christmas, author of Write In Style and other books, is a book editor and owner of Zebra Communications in metro Atlanta. She can be reached at Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Sign up for The Writers Network News, her free newsletter for writers, at www.zebraeditor.com.
You can listen to the audio from when Bobbie was a guest of Blog Host, Gail Z. Martin’s Shared Dreams podcast here: https://www.audioacrobat.com/play/WDx9N9D7