Half My Size

Half My Size

From Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul

Half My Size

Age is strictly a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

Jack Benny

Nothing gets you thinking like receiving an invitation to your twentieth high school reunion. The thought of renewing relationships with people you haven’t seen in ages can stimulate a negative response when you’re overweight. I received such an invitation, and while I was tempted to attend, I knew I’d have to lose many pounds before I could face anyone. After having three children in five years and being a stay-at-home mom, I had doubled in size.

I’d become an all-day grazer, reaching for goodies nonstop, and I weighed 237 pounds. My own husband weighed less than me. I’d tried diets before and sometimes opted for healthy snacks, only to have my hunger pangs control my fat-tooth and munch down on a dozen brownies and ice cream in one sitting.

Certain family members made negative comments about my weight at every picnic or holiday gathering. My husband humored me, but I could see him shaking his head as I stuffed myself with doughnuts, dip and salty chips. I just couldn’t control myself. Maybe this reunion would be a goal I could commit to since my husband was adamant that we attend.

The next morning I realized I had to make a decision; he’d taken the reservation form to mail. After the kids went to school, I cried some, ate three bagels loaded with cream cheese and then made up my mind. I’d start tomorrow. I cut out a thin model from a magazine advertisement and hung her on the refrigerator as a deterrent, right next to the actual invitation.

I love to read and had books to return to the library, so on my next trip I skipped the fiction section and browsed the diet and fitness books. I ignored the clerk when she loudly said, “Someone’s going on a diet,” in her singsong voice. My face warmed as the other patrons standing in line stared at me.

Next, I drove to the grocery store. I selected fruits, veggies, whole-grain breads, nuts, cereals and lots of chicken. I’ve seen enough diet commercials to know what you should be eating. For the kids I still bought cookies and their favorite ice cream, but not mine, to help keep the temptation down. Armed with my healthy groceries, I was ready to begin day one.

That following morning for breakfast I had a healthy grain cereal with fresh strawberries and skim milk. Afterward, I chewed a mint-flavored gum and went about my vacuuming. The chewing kept me from reaching for sugary treats and kept my mouth moving. I knew that smokers used this trick to stop smoking.

I retrieved a journal I’d recently received as a gift and started to log what I ate and my beginning weight, just as the fitness book said. I also read about the importance of exercise. Motivated, all I could do at first was stroll around the block. The daily fifteen-minute walks soon turned into thirty minutes, and I even incorporated jogging. The first couple of weeks were tough; my old self wanted to admit defeat and slide backward into the comfort foods. I’d just look at that model and the invitation and know that I’d have to face everyone in eleven months. I summoned all my willpower and fought on.

My walks increased to forty-five minutes each session with one whole block of jogging every ten minutes. The walks combined with the jogging helped to ward off my constant worrying and cleared my head. I felt calmer and slept better at night. I purchased a fitness magazine and tore out some fifteen-minute workouts to target specific body areas and used them to spice up my afternoon routine.

The first twenty pounds of former baby weight came off after two months, and I was encouraged to continue, but I had eighty pounds to go. Challenging myself, I bought a ladies’ bike at a local garage sale and added a thirty-minute ride to each afternoon. Each book stressed the need to exercise six or seven days each week to lose weight and only four or five to maintain. I logged in my journal everything I ate, along with the daily walks, bike rides and spot workouts.

I became consumed, goal-oriented and somewhat proud of myself. If I felt depressed, I’d step on the scale and marvel at the readings. I’d tell myself that I didn’t want to cheat and ruin everything after I’d come this far.

After three months, when the second twenty pounds came off, my husband complimented me. Lucky for me the reunion was not for eight more months, because I still had sixty pounds to go. I plugged on and joined an aerobic and kickboxing class that met three nights a week. I’d stick a piece of gum in my mouth, warm up, follow the instructor and enjoy the cooldown.

It helped erase the flab and toned my body. Every day, I scribbled a vow not to cheat. Determined, I continued to munch on veggies and fruits. Along the way, I made several new friends at the class who gave me lots of nutritional advice and weight-loss hints. We established a natural camaraderie and cheered each other on. Now, not only had I lost fifty-five pounds, I had friends, which helped me restore my own personal worth.

Invigorated, I chose new tactics and began lifting weights to sculpt my muscles on my arms and legs. I found I was regaining my waistline, so I did crunches, sit-ups and even tried belly dancing on the advice of my friends. I guess I inspired my husband; he started jogging before work each morning and dropped fifteen pounds.

Ten months passed and I finally weighed in at 137 pounds. I had lost 100 pounds and met my goal! I had revitalized my inner self all because of that fateful reunion invitation. It was a wake-up call in disguise, a very healthy one. I went from a size 18 to a size 10, half my size, and I still had one month to go. That next month I weighed in at 130 pounds. I had donated all my clothes to the spouse abuse center as I decreased in size, replacing them with less expensive ones.

“Watch out stores, here I come to shop for that perfect reunion wardrobe,” I said, proudly.

The reunion was a Hawaiian luau theme, so I shopped for a flowery evening gown, a new bathing suit, and a casual pantsuit and capri set. Tears slid down my cheeks as I tried on a one-piece bathing suit in a wild turquoise and lemon color, not the usual black one with the long attached skirt.

When we flew to the reunion my husband was beaming as much as I. We held hands and I felt like it was a second honeymoon as we stepped proudly into the ballroom.

“Wow, you haven’t changed a bit,” said Jennifer, one of the three girls I use to hang with in high school. I was so flattered and proud inside.

“No, she hasn’t, she keeps getting better all the time,” said my husband, smiling. I winked at him and silently thanked him for keeping my secret.

Suzanne Baginskie

Broiled Zucchini and Feta Boats

MAKES 6 SERVINGS EACH SERVING: 1.5 GRAMS SATURATED FAT

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

3 zucchini, halved lengthwise

salt, to taste

white pepper, to taste

¼ cup low-fat feta cheese

Heat broiler. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick, ovenproof skillet (with ovenproof handle) set over medium-low heat. Add garlic and sauté for 15 seconds, or until lightly golden (be careful not to burn the garlic). Arrange zucchini halves cut side down in skillet; season with salt and white pepper to taste. Increase heat to medium and cook zucchini for 5–6 minutes, or until just carmelized (again, be careful not to let the zucchini or garlic burn).

Turn the zucchini over and season lightly with salt and white pepper; cook an additional 1–2 minutes. Arrange feta cheese on the sides of zucchini and then transfer to the broiler; broil for 2–3 minutes. Serve at once.

Reprinted from Fitter, Firmer, Faster. ©2006 Andrew Larson, M.D., Ivy Ingram Larson. Health Communications, Inc.

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