43 years of trying EVERYTHING, until Berta…
I wasn’t born fat. I just feel like I must have been. I learned about comfort food from my mother. We would overeat together - it was one of the things we shared. In high school a daily diet of fast food brought me up to about 135 to 140 pounds, which was just enough not to wear the hip hugger jeans and halter tops all the other girls wore. In college I added another 5 pounds, probably from alcohol. Body image and self esteem had been locked together in a bad place and a life pattern of weight gain and eating for comfort was established.
At age 26, I moved across the country to Connecticut, and met my husband to-be. I was 27 years old and weighed 145 pounds. I joined Nutrisystem and lost 5 pounds. I bought a wedding dress at 140. Six months later at my final fitting I was 150 pounds and only managed to wear my wedding dress by eating Dexatrim for a week.
Married, I didn’t exercise, we ate out a lot. My job was a sales ”on the road” job and I hated it. I ate fast food daily. McDonalds was my oasis as I took comfort going through the drive through, parking in the back and filling up my lonely unhappy self with Big Mac’s and French fries. I didn’t binge, not in the sense of eating 4 Big Macs and a gallon of ice cream – I just couldn’t bear to feel the emptiness of hunger... ever. So as the pounds slowly added up, you can guess how successful I was at the Permanent Weight Loss Centers.
Pregnancy wasn’t too bad – I actually lost (net) weight. But as a stay at home mom nibbling constantly on Goldfish, and finishing everyone’s plates of food, I was soon at 180. By the time the boys were 4 and 2, I really tried to pull my self together. I joined a gym, and worked out religiously 3 times a week – which by the time diaper bags and snacks were packed took up 3 entire mornings. I hated it. Everything was too hard. I was fatter than everyone there. Nothing worked. I had a trainer, but I didn’t know how to eat
When I hit 200 pounds I thought I was going to die. I went to my doctor, who said I wasn’t heavy enough for stomach stapling, but prescribed the miracle weight loss drug Redux. I lost 25 pounds in about 6 months before it stopped working, and the reports of heart condition side effects came out. A year later I had gained most of it back.
In 1996 when the boys were 6 and 4, I took my mother into my home to care for her as she battled cancer. I started power eating. The pain and helplessness I felt was eating me up faster that I could eat. I gained 40 pounds in about 5 months topping off at 235. Desperate I spent $2000 for a week at a "lose weight" spa. My husband and I were estranged by now and I see now my weight served a purpose for him too -it allowed him to leave easier.
My heart breaks over the lost moments with my family that these years represent. Among other things, I was unable to ski with my boys, and had to stay at home while they all went out and had fun. I would then see their flushed and shining faces come in the door with the stories of “how I should have been there”. But don’t think everybody didn’t just “love” to have me around. ‘Cause I cooked for the whole crew. On every vacation, every trip, every weekend, every party, every holiday. My husband’s partner used to say he couldn’t drive down our street without me running out with a sandwich. Food for Love.
As my husband’s career took off we began to socialize with wealthy, beautiful (slim) people. Every party, every shopping trip, every vacation was a nightmare. Sex was mortifying. Anger was rampant in our house. Insecurity, self loathing, humiliation were the order of the day. My high fat diet gave me hemorrhoids and acid reflux. My knees and feet ached. I had plantar fascitis so badly I limped through our trip to Europe. My husband was fading away. I writhed in agony.
In 2000 Berta and her 3 boys moved in next door. We were all immediately close. In 2001 my mother died. I don’t remember much but raw pain for months afterward.
If anything saved my life it was Berta. By the late fall of 2002 she set her mind that I was going to lose weight starting January 1, 2003. She started by teaching me about different food choices, and cutting out fat. In the beginning it was too emotionally difficult for me to be hungry, or to make radical food choice changes, so we looked for alternatives. Things that seem so unnecessary to me now, like buying non-fat hot dogs, or baked chips kept me from “falling on my sword”. By the winter of 2003 I was at about 225 pounds. Even at this weight, I felt better, and that something good was ahead for me.
In September, after having lost 30 pounds my husband left me. Suffice to say, Berta’s reaction regarding was “if you can’t have your marriage, if the losses are piling up around you and it seems you can have nothing else, at least you will have this! There was no retreat. Her fortitude was unyielding.
In the beginning of 2004 Berta and I would laugh that I was the best looking 190 pound woman in town! I had begun to experiment with different types of exercise that I (might) actually enjoy.
In the summer to fall of 2004 my losses had slowed down to smaller and smaller numbers. Berta said I had plateaued and I had to make a new shift. One week she said I had to give up eating bread and I thought I was going to cry. But her constant insistence and review of my food logs kept me on track. My attentions turned to clothes! I subscribed and devoured fashion magazines! I had no idea what my “style” was. I used to laugh that in my new body I might be so flamboyant that I would want to mow the lawn in high heels and shorts like Daisy Duke!
I was getting the hang of the exercise, I had the low fat thing down really well, but every week there was always a reason, a really good reason for a night or two of “non weight loss” food intake. Berta had to drill me about consistency, over and over. Her patience and firmness were amazing.
Spring of 2005 I was154. My doctor was amazed, all of my previous ailments had vanished. My cholesterol is down 75 points to 175. I get positive reinforcement every where I go, and it affects my ability to be as tight as I need to be to reach my goal. Frustrations run high. Berta keeps drumming in the same lessons about this is only a small part of your life, you will be able to eat these foods later on during maintenance, you are actually eating now, you can’t add all this extra stuff in a week and expect to have lost weight. You can and will get there! She was my rock.
I reached to within my goal weight range of 130 pounds on the three year anniversary (1/1/06) of our beginning. I know I took a REALLY long time to get there (Berta has clients who did the same in 8 months) but in my mind – it is all water under the bridge. I began dating in earnest and what fun I had there! . I love my new body, and feel a confidence I can’t even describe. Clothed or unclothed (if my ex-husband only knew!!). This is powerful self esteem stuff.
If you can identify with anything in my story, then best thing you will have every done for yourself is about to happen. Because whether you have been struggling for years with the same 15 pounds that keeps you from feeling great, or a much greater number that feels insurmountable, you are standing right at the door of the most loving things you will ever give yourself. Open your mind to the lessons Berta can teach, and your heart to the emotional support and kindness she includes. Open the door to the best rest of your life you can imagine! Very sincerely, and with my warmest wishes for your success,