Success Stories - Flo

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xmas1943.jpg (11700 bytes)  Is this the face of Success?  What is Success anyway?  Maybe I can come up with an answer here.  [pic to left taken Christmas 1943]

I never had a weight problem growing up.  Well, I thought I had a problem once.  As a teenager I can remember standing in church and looking at the other girls standing in the rows in front of me and wishing that I had a butt!  I was so thin, and had no shape.  I was the only girl, with three younger brothers, and grew up in a neighborhood of boys.  I playing baseball, football... all the boy games.  I was a cheerleader for 7 years, and played basketball in both Jr. and Sr. High - I was muscular, but skinny and I so envied all the girls who had "figures".

I have one son and when I went into delivery my weight was 129 pounds.  I left the hospital losing the entire 13 pounds I'd gained during pregnancy.  That was actually the first period in my life where I paid attention to every bite that went into my mouth.  I ate a very healthy, but extremely low calorie diet.  This was during the phase where you were not supposed to gain over 20 lbs.  I didn't.  I was a Success.

In the next two years my weight dropped back to close to 100 lbs.  I was literally skin and bones.  I was not unhealthy - I just had boundless energy and a very active two year old who kept me running all the time.  In the next several years I gained some weight, and in my mid-thirties I decided that I was fat.  I joined Weight Watchers for the first (and only previous) time at a weight of 139.  I refused to go over 140 pounds, so when I got that close I knew it was time to take action.  Strangely enough, my WW goal now is actually two pounds more than my joining weight then.

My WW goal was 105 pounds.  I knew I did not want to go that low, so I went to my doctor and he set a weight goal of 111 pounds for me.  I went through the program and reached goal, went through the maintenance program, and made lifetime all in one three month period.  I actually weighed 106 pounds when I got my Lifetime Membership.  I was a Success

There was just one problem.  I had gone on the Weight Watchers DIET.  I had stuck to it like glue, and every day I was dreaming of that day when I would be done with it and go back to eating what I wanted again.  I didn't learn a thing, except that I hated fish and liver.  Once a week, on that program, I was allowed a Burger King Whopper.  I literally lived for the one day when I could eat "real food" - it was what kept me going as I made recipes from unflavored gelatin, made sure I ate legumes, and the "required" foods every day.  I was a model Weight Watcher - but one on a mission - to finish the DIET and get back to life again.

I was pretty successful in keeping my weight down during the next ten years.  I stayed in the high 120s - life was good.  I could eat pretty much whatever my heart desired and I rarely gained weight.  If I did pick up 5 lbs. I'd go on a one week quick loss diet and take that off - this was a piece of cake.  I went on the cabbage soup diet.  Another one that I went on several times - guaranteed to lose 10 pounds - called the 9 Day Wonder Diet - you had to fast a couple of days in that one - how healthy!!  I'd lose those 10 pounds though and be safe for a while.  I was a Success.

In 1987, I started having some health problems, and after procrastinating for 8 months I finally gave in and had a complete hysterectomy. This is when my problems with weight began for good.  I had been so sick for that 8 month period and I felt so good after the surgery and I promptly began eating like I always had - except this time it was much different.  That food went straight to fat, and in the first year I gained about 40 pounds.  I didn't really worry about it - I felt good, I was happy with life, and I really wasn't "that fat".  Of course, each year brought another 10 or 20 pounds and I finally decided I had to do something about my weight. 

My husband and I flew to Los Angeles for his daughter's wedding and on the plane with us were several people wearing these badges that said "Lose Weight Now, Ask Me How".  Well I am not a shy person, and this really made  me curious, so once we were at the LA Airport waiting for our rental car, I approached one of the ladies and asked.  She told me about Herbalife, and it sounded so wonderful.  I took her business card and told her I'd call her once I got back home.  Once home, I found out that one of my co-worker's mother sold Herbalife, so I decided to buy from her.  I started the program.  I did the program.  I was a Success.

I lost about 60 pounds in 6 months.  I was sold - I could lose weigh quickly without too much pain.  I finally got used to eating only one meal a day, and taking the dozens of pills, three and sometimes four times a day.  Life was good again.  We went to visit my parents, and I packed all my diet stuff, fully intending on sticking to my plan over the Thanksgiving holiday.  What a joke.  I made it through one day and then my Mom's home cooking got the best of me.  I packed the pills and diet shake away and decided I'd get back on plan once we got home.

Well, you can imagine the rest of that story...once home, I figured Christmas was only a month away, so why not wait until after Christmas.  I can't remember what the next excuse was, but I never took the diet stuff out again, and I gained, and gained, and gained.  All of that weight back plus a lot more.  I was really disappointed in myself, and decided I was just meant to be heavy for the rest of my life. 

Something happened to me the very next year that impacted my life like nothing has ever done before.  In February of 1999, my mother had her first stroke.  She had been diabetic for several years and had become insulin dependant.  Her doctor had told her over and over and over again that she had to do something about her diet or it would kill her.  I can still hear her sweet little voice saying "Eating is the only thing I really enjoy anymore and I just can't give it up."  

She came home from the hospital, and tried so hard to do all the right things, but had another stroke in April.  My father could no longer care for her at home, so she had to go in to a nursing home.  This was a very hard period for us all, and in September she passed away.  The day that I got the phone call about my mother's death, I looked in the mirror and I saw her looking back at me.  I was about the same size she was at my age, and I heard myself echoing all those same excuses.  But still I did nothing.

In April, a friend asked me to join WW@Work with her.  And I told her no.  She begged me saying that she really wanted to lose weight but was afraid she'd not stick with it unless she had a buddy for support.  Another friend had been telling me about her father-in-law, who was on Weight Watchers and had lost 100 pounds.  She brought in his before and after pictures and that was my first visual evidence that this program could work.  I finally told my friend that I would join with her, but I did not think it would work because I was not ready to commit to it.  I've never believed in doing anything halfway.  I was actually afraid to join.   

At the first meeting, when I stepped on the scales, I wanted to scream.  I don't think I'd weighed myself in over a year and I was in total shock when I saw that number.  I think it literally scared me into "trying the program." So I left that meeting with my Week One Book, my journal, my points finder...all the works.  I would give it a shot.  I'd signed up for 12 weeks prepaid, so I figured I might as well get my money's worth and attend that many meetings.  And I would listen to every word and do everything the leader said.  For me it's all or nothing.

The rest is history.  I lost 8 lbs. in the first two weeks.  That was the boost that I needed.  The day I came home from the first meeting I told my husband he had two choices.  He would either eat what I ate on the Weight Watchers program or he was on his own.  I refused to fix two different meals.  I'd not cooked for years.  We ate out or picked up take out every day.  Our cupboards were literally bare except for junk food.  But oh did we have the junk food.

My meeting was on a Friday and on Saturday we went shopping - points finder in hand - and came home with a huge stock of "legal food".  I cleaned out everything that I refused to eat.  We started fresh and well stocked.  I bagged and pointed foods.  I made it so that if I needed a snack it was available and the points were all calculated.  I had a plan and I was going to at least make it work for 12 weeks.  After the first week, my husband had totally fallen in love - not with me, but with our new eating style.  We were eating more foods and better tasting foods than we'd had in years. I started exercising, very slowly I will admit, but gradually increased it and actually started to enjoy it.  Who was this person? At the end of that 12 weeks, I'd lost over 25 pounds.

I signed up eagerly for another session!  I journaled every bite.  I drank water like it was going out of style.   I exercised.  I did everything by the book.  I set up challenges for myself.  I would try at least one new food every week.  I cooked on weekends and had meals ready to eat for the next week.  After session ended I was down 43 pounds.  

At this point my husband could not stand it any longer.  We were eating basically the same foods, and I was losing and he wasn't.  He had a nagging 20 pounds that he'd been trying to shed for years, so the first week of October he bought a little notebook and started journaling and counting points.  At this time he was on two different blood pressure medications, cholesterol meds, and several other pills.  About a month after he started counting points, he'd lost 10 pounds.  

One morning he gave me a real scare though.  He was making coffee and all of a sudden I heard a thud.  I went into the kitchen and he was lying on the floor.  He'd almost passed out.  We took his blood pressure and it was dangerously low - he called his doctor and was told to cut the BP medication and to check his BP daily.  I am looking at his "log" right now.  He's lost 21 pounds, and he has not taken the medication since November.  He's sort of doing maintenance right now.  Does not need to lose any more, and he is amazed at the ease of getting back to his "goal weight" at last while eating foods that he loves and enjoys.  Weight Watchers is truly an amazing program designed for anyone.  His cardiologist gave him a "clean bill of health" at his last visit and schedule a follow up in a year - he'd been going every six month for checkups.

One thing that I have not mentioned is really one of the keys to my success with Weight Watchers to this point.  The wonderful World Wide Web.  I went to the Weight Watchers web site and started reading everything I could find.  I discovered their message boards and saw a lady asking for people to join an Egroups list for those who had more than 50 pounds to lose.  I joined this group.  Several months later, I felt the need to start another group and I have a small private list that I co-moderate.  I joined a WW recipe group, a Healthy Exchanges group - my mailbox literally overflows with WW related email.    

I discovered Dotti's site the weekend after I joined WW.  I saw her before and after pictures and read her story and thought "She's just like me and she did this - I can do it, too."  I became a "daily lurker".  I printed out page after page of restaurant information.  I copied recipes, read the message board every day, and I was one of the lucky ones who got to download the points calculator while it was still not contraband!   I have copies of it on every computer I touch.  I never eat anything with a nutritional label on it that does not get run through that calculator. (THANK YOU, AL!)  One day as I sat reading, I saw a message from Mly (Thank you, Marianne!) addressed to the lurkers - and for some reason, it hit me - I was a lurker she was speaking to.  I was sitting here taking all this support and never offering any of my own.  So I posted my first message on the board.  It felt so good to come out of that closet.  I've met so many wonderful people here and I could just kick myself for not jumping in sooner!  I love my meetings, but I get most of my own inspiration from this website!  Thank you Dotti!  You are my hero! :-)

I made goal on my birthday, March 16, 2001.  It was the best birthday gift of my lifetime.  I completed maintenance this month and I am at my own personal goal weight now.  I know how good it feels to make this dream a reality. I want everyone to be able to experience the same thing.  My future success will be measured by my ability to share what I have learned and by seeing others reach their goal.  I know this time that WW Goal is not a destination, but merely a milestone on the journey.  This is a journey that MUST never end.  On the day that I received that gold star my first thought was not "Oh Boy - the diet's over".  I came home that evening, filled in my journal, and stayed within my daily points.  I know this is not a diet - this is my life, and I love it.  I still journal every bite, I still drink my water, and I still count my points.  This is my life now, I must continue to do all those things I did to get here in order to stay here.

But the number on the scale is only a tiny measure of success.  I have gained so much more than I have lost.  I have gained my self-esteem back.  I have gained control of my life back.  I have gained my health back.  I have given my son a brand new mom, my precious grandson a brand new "granny", and my husband the wife he originally married.  I have a permanent smile plastered on my face now.  I literally skip when I walk - I am so high on life and I really owe it all to Weight Watchers.  It is not just a diet program.  It has given me so many tools to live by day to day.  And I feel like I am really able to influence and assist other - not by anything I say - but by just living the program.  Every week at my meeting I have people come up to me and say that they are sticking with the program because of me.  A lady in my group brought me to tears when she said, "Flo, you are my hero."  I don't want to sound vain or proud, but that is what life is about to me.  That will be my measure of success.  When I see some of these others who are struggling from day to day, finally hear that "click" and start living the program, then I will call myself a SUCCESS!

flo-thin.jpg (12044 bytes)     xmas1994.jpg (15210 bytes)     flo-fat.jpg (17484 bytes)     xmas2000.jpg (15272 bytes)     yahoo.jpg (36450 bytes)     Flobigpants.jpeg (12308 bytes)

Photos - L-R: The "thin" me; Christmas 1994; Before Pic; Christmas 2000; Lifetime;
A picture IS worth a 1000 words!

Starting Weight - 217.4
Weight as of 5/31/01 -
Goal Weight -

Lifetime - 5/28/01

Flo is Webbmom on our Message Boards!

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