Here at A Weight Lifted, we aren’t always on top of blog statistics and the like. Our usual pattern is more just writing what we’re thinking about and hoping someone will find it interesting/useful. But we have noticed that for a long while, we’ve gotten readers from a blog called Lynn’s Weigh. Just who is this Lynn, we wondered? So we checked her out. And thought she had a great story to tell that, again, we hope you’ll find interesting/useful, and more than that, inspirational. Sneak preview of that inspiration: “I’ve come to love and appreciate the 300-pound woman I was.”
Thanks, Lynn, for the interview and for sending readers our way! And a big congratulations on finding your weigh, uh, way.
You’ve been a great inspiration to many people in that you have been able to lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off for a long time now. Tell us a little about that. Did you always struggle with your weight? What inspired you to get serious about making changes? And what changes did you make that worked so well for you?
I was a fairly small to average sized kid until around 7th grade. I was 155 when I graduated from high school, which by today’s standards is close to average for someone who’s 5’5” tall, but in the late 70s/early 80s, I was considered “big.”
The roller coaster began just after the birth of my daughter when I was 19. I was 200 pounds when she was born and I swore I’d never go back there. But I did – many times – throughout the years. I even lost 100 pounds once in 1988! But I had no clue how to maintain. I always thought I could go back to eating how I used to eat once I got to goal.
I didn’t have one single “Aha!” moment that got me serious about losing weight. I had more of an “Aha!” year. For most of 2004 I thought about, evaluated, and journaled how I felt about my body and by the new year, I had to make the choice to either fish or cut bait. Either I accept 300 pounds or lose weight.
While I’d like to say it was more for health benefits (I have high blood pressure, my triglycerides and cholesterol were through the roof, and my dad had had a heart attack in his 50s), my motivation to lose weight had more to do with vanity. I didn’t like how I looked and I wanted to be comfortable in my body again; to move about without losing my breath.
The change that worked so well wasn’t so much my diet (I was a master dieter), but understanding that this was the LAST time I was losing weight, and that everything – from diet to attitude – had to change. I had to look inside myself to find what was keeping me ignorant about maintenance. Looking back, I obviously had no idea the journey that would take me on.
At Green Mountain, we talk a lot about changing our focus from weight to health. When we do that, we’re better able to sustain healthy behaviors that take us to healthy weights instead of getting caught up in quick-fix approaches to lose weight. Would you say your focus was on your weight as you lost it, or was health an issue for you, too? Where’s your focus in maintaining your lost weight?
As I said, my initial motivation for losing weight was (as vain as it is) my appearance. But for the record, through five years of journaling and soul searching, I’ve come to love and appreciate the 300-pound woman I was. Actually, I’ve come to love the woman I was at all my weights. That was a bigger transformation for me than my physical appearance.
For me, weight and health are almost synonymous, at least when I look at weight strictly from a health and not vanity standpoint. I have severe degenerative arthritis in many of my joints and staying at a healthy weight really helps keep the pain and inflammation down. My blood pressure is lower at a lower weight, too. Where I get in trouble is when I gauge my self-worth by the numbers on the scale – and I still do that sometimes when the scale creeps up! That’s why my journey is ongoing. There’s always something new to learn about how I view and ultimately deal with my body issues.
What does a typical day look like for you — your meals, your physical activity, your fun?
I’m a born organizer. I make meal plans for the week and head to the grocery stores and farmer’s market when in season. Since I’ve gone vegetarian, I’ve become a recipe junkie! There are so many great food bloggers out there that I lose myself reading away the morning sometimes. My goal is to try at least one new recipe or spice every week.
I work out in the morning so I eat something light when I wake up – something protein-based. Lunch is usually a big salad or soup (I’m a soup fanatic). I tend to eat every couple of hours after I work out and then stop around 3:30 so I’m hungry for dinner around 6:30. I’m not really interested in nighttime snacking, thank goodness. Maybe I’ll share a bag of popcorn with my husband and dogs if we watch a movie. I do, however, eat either one piece of Werther’s hard candy or a chocolate after dinner. It’s like a ritual. Watch Jeopardy, eat some sugar…LOL
I work out five days a week. I strive for 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of strength training, which includes my physical therapy exercises, weights and core/abs. When the weather cooperates I go biking and hiking, often in addition to a regular workout or on my days off. I never thought I’d be an outdoor enthusiast, but that all changed when my husband bought me my first bike since high school when I got to goal. This year, we discovered some awesome hiking trails throughout our region (hello North Country Trail!) and I’m hooked. My husband bought me hiking poles to help me and my arthritic knees and feet up and down the hiking trails. We just took our first winter hike a few weeks ago. It was beautiful!
My ultimate fun, though, is playing with my grandkids. Claire is 2 and Luca is 9 months. They play a huge role in my dedication to maintenance.
Do you have any motivational tips for someone who is just getting started, or started again, in taking charge of their health?
Write, write, WRITE! That’s what I tell everyone who is thinking of losing weight or who is in the process and struggling. No one has to see what you write, but keep a journal of how you feel about yourself in terms of your body and food choices. Then ask, Where is this feeling coming from?
I just shared this in a recent blog and think it’s applicable here. Mindfulness is key to losing weight. Whenever I’m faced with a food that is not part of my daily plan, I ask, “How will I feel five minutes after eating this?” Just contemplating the question gives me space in which to think about my choice rather than mindlessly shoving something in my mouth. Lately I’ve expanded that question to include compassion and love, and I ask it in broader circumstances.
This might seem corny or uncomfortable at first, but ask yourself every morning, “How will I treat myself with compassion and love today?” When you are confronted with a choice of food or something else that’s not part of your plan for the day, ask yourself, “Would eating/doing this be an act of personal love and compassion?” Sometimes the answer will be yes and sometimes the answer will be no, but it’s the act of asking and contemplating that will bring your original intentions – whether that’s to lose weight or any other goal you’ve set for yourself – back to the forefront. Your ultimate choice might not always be compassionate, but I really believe that the more we confront them, the less power our habits and compulsions will have.
Do you find it difficult to maintain a healthy weight? Is there anything you find regularly challenges you in doing that, and if so, how do you deal with it?
I find the longer I maintain (I’ll mark my third year at goal in March) the more natural and unconscious my choices become. While I experiment with new recipes, I typically eat the same types of food most of the time. What’s made this journey easier is that I never assume there will be “Lynn approved” food wherever I go and so I pack my own. Finally getting over how other people might feel if I don’t eat their food was a huge breakthrough, and it’s largely responsible for why I’ve successfully maintained. I’m the one who owns this body and says what goes in it. While I’m kind in how I decline, I no longer base my food choices on someone else’s needs.
If there’s one difficulty, it’s my own self-sabotaging thoughts. I still struggle with fears that I’ll gain it all back and “What will people think?” and sometimes that dictates my choices. But as I said, this journey is ongoing, and being mindful that those thoughts are present, I’m better able to get to my “happy place” and work them out.
Does Lynn’s story resonate with you?