I lost 120 pounds when I was 30 years old and kept it off for about a year before my divorce sent me into a frenzy of emotional eating that culminated in my putting every pound back on in a startlingly short amount of time.
I lost about 50 pounds when I was in my mid-30s then I lost my motivation for eating properly and exercising so it all came back with a few extra for good measure.
Just before I met TCB, in my late-30s, I lost between 35 and 40 pounds (I've lost track) but allowed my happiness over a much slimmer body to distract me from the importance of staying focused on healthy habits like regular testing of my blood sugar (sort of an important life skill for a diabetic) and not tying my self esteem to a number on a scale (or on the tag of a designer dress). I put it all back on in less than six months.
Given my demonstrated inability to maintain significant weight loss and the healthy lifestyle changes that go with that outward change, I might be forgiven for being panicked about my recent regain of 17 pounds. That wouldn't be an unreasonable reaction but it's not where my head is at all.
Why am I not freaking out and shouting "The sky is falling," to no one in particular? Because this time, for the first time, I'm not focused solely on my weight or my dress size - although they're both important to me; my first priority is eating reasonable amounts of foods that are lower in simple carbohydrates and getting lots of moderate exercise in order to get and keep my blood sugar in a healthy range for me.
At 30, 35, and even at nearly 40, I could cheerfully ignore my chronic, mostly silent disease and so my motivation then went no deeper than a desire to look and feel better.
At 47, I no longer have the luxury of pretending I'm not diabetic: if I don't maintain the diet and exercise changes I've made over the last couple of years, it won't take long for me to be right back where I was at the start of 2011. Back then, I was on eight separate medications for diabetes and diabetes related problems, and yet still my blood sugar was uncontrolled. Not even nightly injections of insulin were able to get my sugars into acceptable ranges. After oral surgery to remove 15 teeth because of advanced periodontal disease related to diabetes, I have very tangible proof that ignoring diabetes won't protect me from some very nasty complications.
But my greatest fear - the ravaging effects of uncontrolled blood sugar on my blood vessels, organs, nerves, and brain - is also an incredible source of strength as I sit here, three days into South Beach Phase 1. Yes, diabetes is a deadly disease that has killed people I love, but it's also the reason I know that I will take off these 17 pounds plus a few more if I'm lucky: I want to live!
I want to live to turn 50 and a good number of years past that, too. And the truly wonderful blessing of it all is that even as I stay focused on successful diabetes self management as my primary objective, I also get some lovely side effects from all of those positive habit changes, like fitting into smaller clothes, being able to run 13.1 miles without dying, and inspiring others around me to make healthy changes to their lives, too.
It will take time to get this weight back off because it doesn't fall off quickly when you have less than 20 pounds to lose, and that's fine. Six months will pass regardless of whether or not I'm making positive changes in my life, so why not give it my best shot? I'm not in a hurry and I'm enjoying the journey this time around.