The breaking point, or how I reached the end of my rope

I have written a little bit about this topic but I have a lot of questions about how and why I decided to lose weight. Some of my close friends have also encouraged me to share more about my journey and decision. They have reminded me of some of the details I have already put out of mind. In another post I will also be writing more about my life long struggle with my weight because this didn’t happen overnight and I have gained and lost weight before. This time is different, however. I know that sounds like a cliche, but I think it is true.

The end of my rope
I’ve said many times that Annual ALA in Washington, D.C. was my breaking point. It was. It was dreadfully hot at the end of June – more so than usual. There was a lot of walking – always the case at ALA. I was in a hotel that was fairly close to the convention center but I still had to walk a few blocks. It was a “no bus” hotel so it was either walk or take a cab. A cab was silly for 2-3 blocks. I walked but it wasn’t easy. My legs were still recovering some from the surgery in March. One of my vivid memories is walking out of the hotel with Margaret Read McDonald. I was whining about the heat and walking and she basically told me to quit whining, it wasn’t that far and the walk would not kill me.

Saturday may have been the hardest day. I was chairing a session in the afternoon but was going to try to get to a baseball game with one of the other panelists. We had to go to the train station after the session, take the train and then walk a short distance. Problem was that the train did not run on Saturday. So, plan B. We decided to go find someplace to watch the soccer game. It was not as easy as we thought it would be because bars and restaurants were pretty crowded with other people watching the soccer game. So we walked for what felt like a fair distance to me but probably was not that far. I was pretty tired.

My friend Karen has reminded me that everyone was having problems with the heat in DC last summer. I know that it true but it was my final straw. There were a lot of things that lead up to this point which I will describe. The previous summer’s ALA in Chicago and Midwinter in Boston were no fun for me either due to similar reasons – lots of walking, large convention centers, etc. I am not trying to pick on ALA Conferences. It’s just that they tend to be huge conferences in large convention centers with lots of walking. That isn’t easy for an overweight person.

I don’t have many photos from this period since I did not let cameras near me if I could help it. I do have a few though.

Accepting the Bibliography Fellow Award at the Modern Language Association, Dec. 2009

What led up to the end of my rope
I’ve written about the accident I had in November 2009. That was part of what led up all of this but there was more. I gained a significant amount of weight when I began my new job in 2007. I think at least 60 pounds. I was working long hours, trying to get used to a new place and did not take time to exercise or really cook right. In early 2009 I began to have some health problems and went for some tests. One test lead to another. I was told to avoid certain foods and I would feel better. My doctors also told me I really needed to lose weight and take better care of myself, especially given my family history. One told me he did not want to refer me for knee surgery while I recall the other one telling me that they would love to see me at the Rec Center. I knew I needed to do something but I didn’t. After the series of tests I did re-join the Rec Center and signed up for a personal trainer. I had worked with personal trainers before moving to Alabama and it had helped me. I had not gone to the Rec Center much on my own and I knew that is what it would take to get me there in the beginning. In June 2009 I met my first trainer. I had three in a year. I am not hard on trainers. They all moved on to other jobs.

There were other things that contributed to this. My blood pressure was up and down and I was on medication. I had lost some weight working with Ed and David but then I just regained it and the medication had to be increased again. Ed and David were both good trainers and I made progress with each of them. David worked with me through a difficult period when I really could not do much due to the injury, pain and surgery. I was not terribly committed to working out on my own though. I would go sometimes but not regularly. More often than not I would drive through McDonald’s or some other fast food place on my way home from the Rec Center. Rather counterproductive, don’t you think?

In late May David told me he had a new job and would be leaving. He said he was turning me over to Sam, who had a similar training philosophy and that he thought it would be a good fit.

I was supposed to go to Duke for a week long seminar at the beginning of June so there was a delay between David leaving and starting with Sam. I didn’t get to go to Duke though. Instead I became very ill right before I was scheduled to leave and had to cancel the trip. It was all due to poor eating and poor choices. I went through a fast food place on the way to work one morning and bought sausage biscuits. I ws sick for three days. I took the time off anyway and I started training with Sam during that week.

I started working with Sam in early June and I knew that it was going to be fine. Sam’s philosophy is similar to David’s. He is also passionate about what he does and that is a definite plus. I’ve given up trying to figure out why Sam can push me and challenge me to do more than I think I can do. It just works. He seems to know when I can do one more burpee – or a dozen more – or run a little farther and a little faster. I think we have both been surprised by some of the progress I have made. There is much more to say about training with Sam but I will save that for other posts.

New ways to eat
The other thing that has changed is the way I eat. Around the time I reached my breaking point one of my friends mentioned a program that he was on that he was very enthusiastic about. I felt like I had tried several things so I might as well try this. I was a bit hesitant about a program where they told me what to eat because of my schedule and some of my commitments. I decided I could try though. If it didn’t work, I could try something else. Obviously it has worked – it is Bariatric Health & Wellness. I have not followed the program 100% because of my schedule but I have put what I know from Weight Watchers as well as what I learned from my mom’s experience with diabetes and her diabetic diets together with the program and I am making better choices. I don’t really miss sugar. I don’t miss eating a lot of things I used to eat. I have not eaten fast food since early June and I really don’t miss that.

Exercise is medicine
I saw a link for a site called “Exercise is Medicine” posted on the Alabama UREC Personal Training Facebook Page I think it is really true – exercise is medicine. I am now working out 6 days a week. I think that has really been the difference this time and that it will continue to be the difference as I continue.

This post is far longer than I anticipated so I will end it with a few numbers.

By the numbers
A few stats to show my progress:
Total weight lost to date: 110+ pounds. I just stopped getting weighed at a certain point so I think it is more than 110.
Body fat lost per BodPod readings: 7% since August, not sure how much total
Total inches lost to date: 76.5
Doctors who are thrilled: Five
Sizes decreased: 12+ sizes decreased
CPAP pressure: Cut in half
Blood pressure: Meds gone, normal readings unless a needle is coming towards me for blood work.

From 2008 at a storytelling retreat at Alice's House.

January 29, 2011

About millie jackson

I am a librarian, a yoga teacher, a storyteller, an athlete.
This entry was posted in diet, exercise, progress, starting, training, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to The breaking point, or how I reached the end of my rope

  1. Rachel Shuttlesworth says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I have spent a lifetime hating my body and trying to make it be something that it is not. I struggled with anorexia for many years and am still facing health-related effects of that problem now. I still have the thoughts and emotions of someone with anorexia, but I have made enough progress not to starve myself. It is excited to see someone who has changed their approach to food, exercise, and their body. I wish you all the best on your journey and I hope we can socialize more in the future.

  2. Pam McGrath says:

    Thank you Millie for sharing your experience. You offer hope and good info. I love seeing on FB how well you are doing and how fit you have become!

  3. Lori Moss says:

    Millie, I just love your blog and congratulations for your victory in so many catagories!!! I am so proud of you, and thankful that you are healthy and look so BEAUTIFUL!!! Your writing has encouraged me to stick with my healthy eating and exercise. I haven’t lost more weight since the first of the year….I am truly an emotional eater….especially at the end of the day and I’m tired. I have managed to maintain my 20+ pounds lost, but if I had stuck with it a bit more, it could have been more by now. But enough of that talk…and back on track! Thank you for this blog…I’ll be reading and sharing in your journey. Love ya…..Lori

  4. Margaret Meyers says:

    What a beautiful blog, Millie. You are looking great and you feel great. Exercise is medicine for so many things – body and spirit. You have changed your way of life and you will be forever better for it. I’m wondering if I need a trianer to get myself to exercise regularly?

  5. Margaret Meyers says:

    Obviously I don’t know how to use the html tags correctly…

  6. cathy says:

    Thank you for telling the story. Think you for sharing your experience. You are and continue to be an inspiration!

  7. Thank you everyone. Your comment encourage me even more.

  8. Karen says:

    You are doing SO great!

    Yes, that was a hard ALA on all of us… but you took it as a warning to turn your life around. Those of us who love you want you around for a long, long, long, long, long time. The fact that you look great is just one angle. The fact that you FEEL great is the most important thing!

  9. Dee says:

    In a world where women are bombarded with “loose weight so you can look good”, I love that you are putting out the message that it is about taking care of your body and the benefits that come from that. What an inspiration for all those girls that are going to be reading your blog and getting a new perspective on how to care for themselves. You have credibility because you have walked the walk. Thanks for sharing your journey so honestly.

  10. Dawn says:

    Millie, I know I am late to the party, but your transformation is truly amazing. You are an inspiration to me.

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