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Jackie’s Journey: The first step to a better lifestyle
My sister recently visited and surprised me with some photos of my grandchildren’s last visit.
As excited as I was to see the images of my family, I knew I would have to see myself and what I have become: fat!
I was shocked and ashamed. That was my face, but where had that body come from? She had to have dabbled in PhotoShop. Nope. It was me.
Those photos were proof positive — my trick of ignoring the mirror didn’t work. What I refused to look at was still seen by my husband and others, every day.
As soon as she left, I pulled the full-length mirror from the closet, dusted it off and opened my eyes. What I saw, was something I didn’t like. The scales turned against me as well and the years of weighing 109 pounds were long gone.
But where had all those pounds come from? I knew right away. It was years of fast food and spending too much time only exercising my fingers on the laptop!
My real first encounter with a diet was in the late '80s after being diagnosed with an inner-ear infection. I was so lightheaded I could not keep anything down for about three months, resulting in significant weight loss. Once I felt better the result was gaining my 15 pounds back and a few more.
I tried Nutrisystem, lost the weight, and then gained it all back and then some. I tried the cabbage soup diet, only to gain that back and more. Then there was Weight Watchers, Atkins and any other diet I could find; each diet leaving me heavier than the one before.
As I began to age and the empty nest syndrome arrived, I gave up.
So here I am again with the thought of yet another diet — another diet that would aid in losing (now) 30 or 40 pounds knowing, full well, I would pack it back on. The thought was depressing, and I was not looking forward to jumping on that rollercoaster ride, especially if it meant gaining even more weight as a final result.
But I was seeing a pattern here! Up, down, up down — what now? How to break that cycle?
I needed to do something. I could no longer shy away from family photos and decline all invitations to parties or events because of being embarrassed. Somehow, the days in front of the television in sweats, eating popcorn and fudge had to end. I wanted my life back!
Within a few days of all these self-truths, I was assigned to do a story on Dr. Jill Gabrielsen and her husband Ed, who recently joined forces and opened Healthy for Life Wellness Center in Norway.
Jill is a pediatrician and Ed teaches yoga.
During the interview, I realized Jill did weight loss counseling for adults as well.
How did that evolve from a career as a pediatrician?
“Children were coming in to my previous practice with weight issues,” she explained. “Studies show that if the parents are overweight, their children are much more likely to be overweight. One study divided overweight children into two groups. In one group, only the children were treated for being overweight. In the other, only the parents. Children lost more weight in the group in which only the parents were treated.”
“This study underlines the critical importance of changing many aspects in the family environment in order to help children attain a healthy weight,” she added.
So, Jill decided to treat overweight issues in adults as one way of helping children.
I was intrigued by the idea of weight loss counseling. Perhaps that was what I needed. It helped that I truly liked Jill. She was soft-spoken, caring and understanding. Just hearing her success stories and seeing her glow gave me motivation.
Her enthusiasm had me hooked. I called her and asked her for help.
Jill’s advice to me: You need to stop dieting.
“Diets don’t work,” she explained. “No doubt, people lose weight, sometimes very quickly and then regain it. This yo-yoing of weights has been shown to be especially detrimental to one’s health.”
“What is needed is a permanent change in habits,” added Jill.
She is right, and we probably all know this in the back of our minds. But why don’t we ever want to hear that permanent change is the best way to go…Oh ya! We want to lose weight and lose it now! Fad diets promise speedy weight loss even though we know it has taken 10 years to pack it all on.
From someone who has done it enough times, you starve, you eat nothing but broccoli or meat, you lose weight, feel deprived, overeat, gain weight and there goes the full circle.
I trusted Jill, put my weight in her hands and we started from square one … together.
She weighed me and asked questions, such as: do I skip meals … do I go more than four hours without eating … where did I eat (i.e. in front of the TV or in the car) … do I drink soda or other sugary drinks … do I eat fast food or dine out … do I drink water, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and the much dreaded question: do I exercise?
We even enjoyed many laughs with a few responses, such as: What is exercise? And how am I supposed to drive without a Dunkin iced coffee and extra cream?
We brainstormed as to what to do when the husband comes home with chips or candy.
“Have him put the junk food in a top cupboard,” advised Jill.
I could have taken that as a short joke, but it sounded like a plan!
She even sent me out the door with homework. Journaling to prevent underestimating my intake, eating dinner at the table, not skipping breakfast and exercising every day, even if it is for 10 minutes.
She encouraged me to read a book called The End of Overeating, by David Kessler; again a pediatrician, who was the head of the FDA. He talks about his own struggles with overeating. He examines the food industry and shows how this industry has encouraged eating larger and larger portions with more and more calories.
Jill says that with the lifestyle changes she recommends, the weight may not come off as quickly as with some fad diets, but this is a healthier way to lose weight. And by sticking with the lifestyle changes for good, I can achieve a healthy weight permanently.
Sounds like a plan to me. Actually sounds like a great plan. Maybe I have finally matured to realize that the best things in life take time. And thanks to Jill, I see that now.
Grocery store, here I come.