I was the chubby kid in grade school, ate my way through middle school, and by the time I hit high school I weighed 175 pounds. The summer of my sophomore year I went on a crash diet, lost 40 pounds and had my first boyfriend. It turns out that neither the weight loss nor the boyfriend was a ‘keeper’ and I proceeded to yo-yo diet for the next 20-plus years.
I knew the calorie count of everything but had no interest in nutrition or health. I ate all processed food and virtually no fruit or vegetables. I never exercised, felt tired all the time and got sick once or twice a year like clockwork.
On a trip to Hawaii my husband took a photo of me on Waikiki beach. I couldn’t believe what I looked like ... I saw an overweight, dumpy woman whom I didn’t even recognize! We hiked up Mt. Haleaka, and old women with canes were passing me going up the steep climb. I suddenly realized how out of shape I was, how badly I had let my health deteriorate, and it frightened me ... if this was what 39 looked and felt like, what would another 20 years on this neglected, tired body mean?
I joined Weight Watchers at work. It was my first time in the program and I found that the weekly weigh-in and accountability to my co-workers was instrumental in helping me make healthy eating choices.
At the same time, I joined a women’s running club. I had never run in my life, participated in any organized sports, or stuck to any exercise plan for more than a week or two. I thought I would try it for a few weeks and more than likely drop out, given my abysmal history. It was difficult at first but, much to my surprise, I liked it! It was challenging physically, a fun way to socialize and exercise simultaneously and was a sport that allowed me to set progress goals for myself, which was a great fit for my personality. Running also caused me to start thinking about food differently ... as fuel versus just what would taste good ... and that really changed the way I ate. I started eating more whole foods, cooking at home and paying attention to food’s nutritional value versus just calorie content.
With the combination of Weight Watchers and a consistent running program, I lost 25 pounds in three months and have successfully kept the weight off for 16 months. I now regularly run 15-20 miles a week and ran my first half marathon in 2009.
I now look back at the old me with a mixture of empathy and sadness ... the answer was there all the time, so simple but beyond my grasp ... healthy eating + regular exercise = a fit, strong body. I think this campaign is great and hope it helps others find their own personal path to wellness!
Written by: Bonnie R.H.