Monday, February 18, 2013

An Epiphany of Pain

Okay, I know you've heard me say this before, but I'm going to keep saying it until it sinks in ... not into your heads, but into mine.

Over the past several years I've started and abandoned one diet after another.  When I trained for the Camp Pendleton Mud Run in 2009 (wow! can you believe it has been 4 years?!), I lost about 35 lbs., then quickly gained it and more back when I injured my left leg and stopped working out. Since then I've had a spotty record of fits and starts which resulted in getting on the doctor's scale in December 2012 and finding I had hit my highest weight ever - 278 lbs!   

Yes, I'm putting that number out there, big, bold and brassy. I thought long and hard about it before I did. Did I really want folks to know what I weighed? But it's not about you folks, it's about me and my health.  Over all, I'm pretty healthy, but in December something happened that shook me to my bones, literally. I woke up one morning with such back and legs pains I could barely walk and had to call into the office sick.  I have arthritis in my knees but it has never really bothered me that much, just from time to time.  But the morning I woke and could barely shuffle from the bed to the bathroom set off an alarm in my head like an old-fashioned fire house bell.

What would happen if I got worse?  How would I manage? I live alone and have a pretty busy life. The thought sent me into a panic.

Over Christmas I went on vacation to Santa Fe with one of my BFFs. I struggled to walk, but managed in spite of the altitude and my legs. I was determined not to let the pain ruin our vacation and my 60th birthday celebration, but I was cranky and full of fear.  What happened to the woman who used to walk 3 miles a day pain-free just a couple of years before? Where was she and could I get her back?  In answer, I started watching what I ate and moved around more.

In mid January I participated with my niece and several friends in the Disneyland Neverland 5K. About two weeks before, I went to the doctor with pain in my right leg. He confirmed it wasn't my knee but a strain to the muscles in that leg. He gave me stretching exercises and applauded me for a 4 lbs loss since my last visit.  Yes! In the month since I'd last seen him, I'd lost 4 lbs just by watching what I ate. I did the 5K but had to stop quite often to stretch out my leg. Another friend was nursing bad knees and she and I finished well behind our friends, but we finished!  The next few days I could barely walk.

My body is trying to tell me something and until now I've been ignoring it. It's time to clean the wax out of my ears.

My niece had started Weight Watchers online in January, so I signed up to do it with her. It has been very successful for me in just a couple of weeks.  Coupled with the early few pounds, I've lost 16 lbs since the Holidays. I find WW easy to follow and I'm not only losing weight but eating so healthy I can feel the difference in my body. 

At the Disneyland 5K in January 2013
I still need to get in more exercise.  As a writer always on deadline and a paralegal by day, I spend an extraordinary amount of time sitting on my fat ass in front of a computer. I have to force time to exercise into my schedule with a shoehorn. It also doesn't help that I hate to exercise, but unless I do, my body is not going to heal in spite of the new eating habits.

Last spring I teamed up with Lori Marshall Olsen to start a support group on Facebook called How Bad Do You Want It.  Lori is amazing!  In the past few years, Lori has lost about 150 lbs just by changing her eating habits and exercising.  Her husband and son have also lost a lot of weight. The family was recently featured on The Huffington Post and Dr. Oz. The HBDYWI group consists of people, mostly women, who are tired of yo-yo diets and are ready to make a commitment to be healthy. We don't follow any particular diet or program. Each member is free to do what they wish. Some are on WW, others under doctor's care, some just making changes on their own. In the year since we've started the group many have lost a lot of weight and reclaimed their lives and health.  Although one of the founders, I didn't fare so well the first year, but now I'm on board, armed and ready to be one of the group's success stories.

You folks have followed my writing career, my emotional ups and downs, and my going gray and turning 60. Here's the next step in my journey. I promise not to bore you with details, but will post from time to time on my progress.

This isn't about being fashionable or wanting to be thin, this is about feeling good and being mobile.

P.S.: For those readers who fear my character Odelia Grey will follow in my footsteps, don't worry. Odelia will remain the same plus-size, sassy gal she is today. She is, after all, a fictional character with good knees and legs.


Maryanne Birch said...

sitting all day and not moving is vary bad for your poor joints. you can get a Physio to give you a set of exercises that take less then 5 min and if you do one of them every hour you will leave your office feeling better then when you got to work. Just move. and move a lot. I have often done the exercises without getting out of my chair. Except my back those I have to get up for. Remember move and your body will limber up.

Wiley said...

When I decided to lose weight, after hitting 172 in late 2011, I signed on to a website called
It helped me keep track of everything I ate or drank, as well as the exercises I did. And it's free! I lost down to 138 by starting in January 2012. I've kept it off, even through my two (2!) knee operations. For me, just realizing how many calories I ate each day and how man I worked off was all it took. Maybe it can help you. The trick is moderation. Easy to say, not easy to do. :-)

Mark Baker said...

Um, I hate to go all accountant on you, but it was 4 years ago you did the Camp Pendleton Mud Run. And have I thanked you for introducing me to those recently? I love running now thanks to the training I had to start doing for them. And if I watched what I ate, I could actually lose more weight as well.

Kathy Keating said...

Sue Ann, you inspire me in so many ways. As someone who also struggles with weight loss/gain back I so appreciate your willingness to share your journey. Not only did it hit close to home, but you made me laugh at the same time. (The best way to get my attention!) You have many people in your corner, who love and appreciate you for who you are, even those of us who only know you through your books.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Mark, this is why I am not an accountant! Nor can I balance a checkbook! I'm so glad you've kept up with your mud running. :) I am fixing the math error.

Thanks, everyone, for the support.

mjmoore said...

Good for you, Sue Ann! I look forward to reading your posts. Keep up the good work, even when it feels impossible. We know it does sometimes, but the proof is in your body and in your ever-loosening clothes!

Diane Vallere said...

You continue to be an inspiration. What an amazing lady you are!