I started a new job in the late summer of 2014. I was 64. I remember that I had been having knee and ankle problems for a few years, I weighed about 240 and had been higher than that but had stopped weighing myself. At the first interview I parked across the street from the building in Beverly, looked up and saw big windows over the street. I was afraid that the people who would be interviewing me, whom I did not know, might see me struggling to get out of my car and limping crossing the street and decide I was too old. Then there were two flights of stairs and a long hall to the office, no elevator. I was glad no one saw me taking the stairs slowly, pulling myself up by the banisters, and getting increasingly out of breath.
When I started that job, I had to carry my laptop, files, lunch, water and anything else I wanted for the day from my car, up the two flights of stairs, and down the long hall. I must have looked pretty pathetic because a much younger-than-I-am woman working on the same hall offered to help me carry my things. Although I ordered a rolling cart for all my stuff which was easier on my back going from car to the building, I still had to haul everything up the stairs.
I started working out at Spectrum in January of 2015 after starting to feel desperate about my physical abilities and weight. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get up from the floor without pulling myself up on a piece of furniture. Fast forward to a couple of years of Spectrum, I lost 50 pounds (from my highest weight) and could walk up the two flights of office stairs without stopping to rest, carrying everything. I didn’t have much knee or ankle trouble any more. I could help with snow removal at home and get up and down off the floor without pulling myself up on a piece of furniture (thank you Dave Knight). When our 90-pound lab was dying, I helped my husband carry her to the car which seems morbid, but I was very aware that I couldn’t have done that two years earlier.
Then in November 2016, I couldn’t sustain my low-carb eating, wasn’t feeling well in general, and starting gaining weight back. About 40 pounds of it. I blamed my very real anxiety and depression on Donald Trump’s election. I returned to drinking a lot of wine–every evening. I started another new job and I was only able to come to Spectrum once a week (because of time and money). My new job was in a fabulous food pantry with lots of free and delicious food, some healthy and some not, all the time, which became a daily challenge. Still, despite the weight gain, I retained much of the strength I had built and didn’t have knee and ankle problems. I could still get up from the floor without a piece of furniture, but it wasn’t pretty.
For the past year or so I kept thinking (after future-authoring for an earlier BBC): in five years, if I don’t make changes and continue to lose weight and gain strength I will end up where I was five years earlier. Except that I will be 10 years older, 74 not 64.
Then I had breast cancer in late 2018, two surgeries, and radiation therapy in early 2019 which did leave me with shoulder mobility issues and pain. There are three things the oncologist told me I can do going forward to reduce the risk of a recurrence (statistical risk anyway). Lose weight, exercise, and don’t have more than 4 alcoholic drinks per week. My gynecologist told me that the specific type of breast cancer I had was totally random and not related to weight, exercise, or hormonal influence. However, she also told me she was 100% sure that losing weight, exercising and reducing alcohol consumption would reduce my risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes both of which were a greater risk for me. And those three things reduce the statistical risk of having another form of breast cancer and probably others.
I started and dropped out of several BBCs. I kept getting diverticulitis every time I went on a low-carb diet, maybe coincidental and maybe not. The Keto diet was recommended by some as an anti-cancer diet and I tried it. Within two weeks I had diverticulitis again, then twice in a month (antibiotics both times). About a year ago, I decided that I am not going on any more diets that eliminate specific food groups, e.g. carbs. I believe that unless I can learn to eat moderately I’m never going to be able to sustain any weight loss. For about two years I’ve been working out with Kacey Nestor who has patiently and compassionately worked with me on fitness and diet. I started losing weight very slowly, maybe a pound or two a month for about a year.
Kacey also helped me resolve the mobility issue with my shoulder and a PT consult with Mike Stare helped resolve increasingly troublesome hip pain by concentrating on strengthening my lower back and core.
Kacey has coached me through my ups and downs with eating. The biggest thing from two BBCs ago was making a personal commitment to a daily food log and submitting it to Kacey. I reached the 365 day mark for daily submissions in May! Kacey has also coached me (must be frustrating for her) to move more, walk more, add just one exercise a day, and more. Sometimes I’ve done it, sometimes I haven’t (probably more not). I have always been honest with my food logs no matter what. And my personal rule of no calories after 8 p.m. has had multiple health benefits.
Then things changed with COVID-19. It was good for me that I wasn’t working in the food pantry environment and was at home where I have almost total control over what food is in the house. My husband does bring my favorite sweets and bottles of prosecco into the house even when I repeatedly ask him not to. After a good start in March, I lost focus in April (despite committing to the BBC) and started drinking wine with dinner and eating a lot of sweets.
My 70th birthday was at the end of April, and I specifically asked my husband not to buy me any chocolates. He did anyway, but I’ve been able to put them in the refrigerator and haven’t had any. I haven’t even opened the packages. And I really like Lindor truffles.
Once Spectrum closed, I continued my weekly workouts with Kacey via Zoom which I absolutely love. Kacey encouraged me to join the other Zoom workouts and after a week or too, I did. The mobility classes have been a revelation. I didn’t know that I couldn’t bend my feet, for example. I’ve been doing the two mobility classes plus two workouts a week, and it’s been life changing. Now adding exercise at home seems totally doable.
Once I started with the home workouts, I regained my motivation to manage calories. Even if it was half way through the BBC! After watching Mike’s #4 BBC video I ordered some new clothes in a size smaller than I was currently wearing. I’ve never deliberately done that before. And when those clothes fit, so will a few others that were too small but I never returned thinking that someday I would lose weight.
I haven’t tried to jog again, but I would really like to be able to jog a mile. The best thing is that I can now get up and down from the floor without pushing myself up with both hands or using a piece of furniture. I still need to push on my knee to stand up, but it’s getting easier and I don’t feel ridiculous.
I haven’t reached the goal I set over a year ago to reach 189 pounds by my 70th birthday (April 29, 2020). I have a new goal of 199 by August 1. And today, June 5, 2020, final weigh-in for this BBC I am down to 213. Not a huge loss but I feel really good about it.
June 5, 2020