In preparation for this Happiness Project, one of suggested steps is to sit down and consider some questions:
- What makes you feel good?
- What makes you feel bad?
- What challenges you?
- What doesn’t feel “right” about your life?
When I answered those questions, I found recurring themes that helped me choose my monthly goal areas. For the month of July, I will be focusing on my health and well-being. More specifically, I’ll be focusing on my weight.
I have been overweight or obese my entire life. I first remember really knowing I was fat when I was eight years old. I was playing baseball that summer (not because I wanted to, but because my father wished I was a boy). I was one of two girls on the team, and I was awful. Not for lack of trying. I really wanted to do well. I wanted my father to be proud of me.
But when it came to baseball, I was never going to be good enough.
I don’t remember someone directly telling me I was fat that summer, but for years afterward, I would think of my team photo, and associate it with being grossly overweight.
For the next thirty years, my weight would continue to climb inexorably. I started taking weight loss drugs in the eighth grade. I did Weight Watchers. I did several medically supervised diets. My mother promised me several thousand dollars if I could get to “normal.”
Not for long.
At one point, after my mother’s death, I managed to lose 100 pounds, but I couldn’t keep it off.
Regaining that weight is the most helpless I’ve ever felt in my life. I felt completely out of control watching the scale creep back up. I cried. I prayed. My weight kept climbing.
I didn’t know that regaining that weight was normal. That regaining that weight happened to 95% or more of people who lost significant amounts of weight (depending on what study you read). I felt worthless.
In July of 2007 I decided to undergo weight loss surgery. This was a big deal. If you’re not fat, you might not realize that there are right and wrong ways to lose weight. A moral way and an immoral one.
A good fattie loses weight by sheer force of will. Someone who has surgery is a cheater. A lazy, horrible person taking the easy way out.
I had reached the point where I didn’t care. At 298 pounds, I was at the high-end of what sizes were available in stores (a size 28/30 W). I had to drive out-of-state to get clothes for work. I couldn’t fit into an airplane seat or a chair in the conference room. I hurt all the time. And I couldn’t do it any more.
In preparation for surgery I learned a lot. Like the fact that 97% of people who take the “sheer force of will” route regain all the weight within five years. I learned about the way genetics and hormones play into your weight. I read the book Rethinking Thin by science writer Gina Kolata and it changed my life.
I went under the knife in March 2008. There was nothing easy about it. With the help of surgery, working with a dietician and a personal trainer, I was able to lose 130 pounds. I have kept most of that weight off. (I tend to fluctuate 5-10 pounds)
My weight is an answer to all four questions above. When I look at how far I’ve come, I feel happy. When I look at the weight I’ve regained, I feel bad. Keeping the weight off challenges me. The fact that I never made it to goal weight doesn’t feel right.
I figure anything that hits all four of those buttons is a strong choice for my first challenge area in my Happiness Project. So for the month of July, working on healthy eating and exercise habits is my challenge. To help me get there, I’ve made some SMART goals:
- Exercise 30 minutes/day
- Strength train 3x/week
- Eat three servings of freggies (fruits & veggies) a day
- Stay below 1400 calories daily
- Eat less than 45 grams of sugar a day
- Eat a minimum of 70 grams of protein a day
- Keep a food journal
- Sleep 7 hours a night
- Drink a minimum of 80 oz. of water a day
I’ve made a spreadsheet to keep track of these goals for each day this month. My goal over the next 12 months is to lose 41 pounds – enough to be considered “healthy” on the BMI chart.