I was a chubby kid from the beginning. (My Mom told me that when I was a baby, all I wanted to do was eat.) One day when I was in elementary school, a neighbor came over and told me, “Joan, if you get any fatter, you’ll be rolling down hills.” [Photos: top - Joan before losing weight; bottom - Joan after losing weight]
When I was in high school, I lost weight by counting calories. In college, I was a reasonable weight. But in graduate school, the student cafeteria offered unlimited seconds. I had always had a rampaging appetite, but my parents wouldn’t let me eat all I wanted. Now that I was away from my parents, I did eat all I wanted–though I found I always wanted more. I had heard that there was a point that, if you ate enough, you wouldn’t want any more. I never reached that point: then, or since.
I wasn’t aware that I had gained a lot of weight until my best friend’s wedding, when I didn’t fit into the formal made for me in high school. It had to be let out, and even then, I resembled a sausage stuffed in too small a roll.
In the spring of 1979, I joined a popular weight loss program. When I joined, I thought I would lose all the weight right away. Instead, it took me months. (July 1979 was “hell month.” I was so hungry I was irritable, bouncing off the walls, and almost ready to eat paint off the walls! I toughed it out and stuck to the program and eventually the intense hunger pangs subsided.) I reached my goal when I was vacationing in England and went for a weekly weigh-in.
I completed the weight loss program on October 28, 1979. I thought when I started that I would just lose the weight and then go back to the way I was eating before, thinking (magically) that once I was thin, I could still overeat and remain thin, so the first thing I did after I completed the program was bake a batch of brownies and ate the batch. That was my wake-up call. I stayed on the maintenance program voluntarily for an entire year to make the lifestyle changes that I needed to make in order to keep the weight off permanently. I was determined never to gain it back and vowed never to put myself through “hell month” again. I have kept the weight off since 1979 and have never been more than 2 pounds over my goal weight since then (and I have 35 years of weigh-in books to prove it!). I am a member of the National Weight Control Registry (a registry of people who have lost at least 30 pounds–30 pounds over your ideal weight is the medical definition of obesity–and have kept it off for at least a year).
What I have found is this: losing weight is hard work. The harder you work, the more successful you will be. If you weigh and measure everything, write down everything you eat, and stick with the basics of the program, you will lose weight.
Once you have lost the weight, keeping it off is a matter of lifestyle. It’s important to learn to deal with stress, emotions, etc. without turning to food. Realize that you will ALWAYS want more food than it takes to maintain your current (lower) weight. Maintenance isn’t necessarily easy, but with practice, it can become automatic.
Losing my weight in 1979 was one of the smartest things I’ve done in my life. Because I’ve been at a healthy weight all these years, I’ve avoided a lot of nasty health problems. And that has motivated me to keep the weight off, permanently.
Disclaimer: The contents of these books or web pages may not be construed as a medical diagnosis, treatment, advice, claim, or substitute for a physician’s care. Consult a physician or other health care provider before starting a weight loss or exercise program. Joan's results are not typical (most people who lose weight gain it back within 5 years), and she cannot guarantee you will have the same results. Your results are up to you!