Ten years ago, I reached the culmination of a two-year process. After 31 years of being overweight and morbidly obese, I had lost 230 pounds. I leveled out at a steady weight of around 210 pounds – still technically too big for a person of my build, but without skin surgery, it was about the lowest I was going to get.
And to maintain it, I had a strict regimen from which I nearly never deviated. I ate three meals a day with one afternoon snack. I had nothing to eat after my evening meal. I didn’t eat anything that was made with white flour or that was heavily processed. I avoided carbs and focused on high amounts of protein, along with fruits and vegetables. Desserts were a vestige of the past; I only ate them, in small amounts, at holiday meals or birthday parties.
I exercised at least two to three hours every day. I commuted everywhere on my bike and rode a 25-mile loop on the local bike trail almost every evening after work. On weekends, I would take even longer rides, or hike 10 miles in the woods, or compete in a half-marathon. In those two years of losing weight, I completed two half-marathons and rode my bike 100 miles in a single day across northern Ohio. I was at the peak of fitness, even though I still looked like a blob.
And then I got tired. I got tired of lettuce. I got tired of chicken breasts. I got tired of always being tired from strenuous workouts. My regimen slowly began to slip. I’d miss a day or two of exercise. I’d be stressed out about something and justify stopping at the local donut shop. Slowly but surely, I began to lose hope in my ability to keep the pounds off, and eventually, I gave up completely.
Fast forward to 2018…and 150 of those 230 pounds had reappeared. Along with them, Type 2 diabetes reappeared, high blood pressure reappeared, aches and pains reappeared, and my sense of being a failure slammed down on me…hard. It didn’t help that I was working in a very stressful job and was perpetually exhausted.
I nearly lost hope…again…for what seemed like the thousandth time in my 42 years on earth.
Faced with an uncertain future, I hunkered down, stared at my once again larger-than-most image in the mirror, and searched for hope. The magic weight loss pill had not appeared. It was time to face reality and realize that if I didn’t start making changes again, I was likely to encounter some very significant health problems and reduced longevity.
Now, that doesn’t sound very hopeful, does it? One thing I have learned in my years of searching for hope for the heavy is that it’s a common human experience to find it when we are at a dark moment, low point, or facing an uncertain future. I don’t have a good explanation as to why. But I do know that sometimes hope has a way of rising out of the proverbial ashes.
So, today, I am back at it. I’m working on an updated regimen – one that is not as strict and more easily maintained. I’m happy to report that it’s working. Oh, it may not be happening as fast as I would like or as fast as it did 10 years ago…but it’s happening. I’m learning to be patient and forgiving with myself. I’m learning to find life and joy in the people and things around me…not just the food set in front of me. I know you can do the same. There is hope for the heavy – each of us has to find our own unique path to it, along with the grace needed to maintain it. Best wishes on the journey.
I’d love to hear what you do when you find yourself searching for hope. Let me know in the comments below!