I am a power lifter and this has been one of the most important things in my life. I have succeeded at this one thing – It has put me in the limelight as an athlete – as a winning competitor. I won Nationals for American Drug Free Power Lifting Association in the early 1980s. My weight class was 165 to 198 pounds and I knew I could beat everyone. I could squat 498 pounds, bench press 231 pounds and my best dead lift was 491 pounds. I looked good because I had muscles and as a result I felt good mentally. One reason I liked power lifting was I could eat almost anything and not gain weight. My husband, for 30 years, and I would eat fast foods all day long with our 3 kids and finish the day at 11 PM with 2 dozen eggs and 1 pound of hamburger. Owners of “All you can eat” restaurants would cringe when they saw me enter the door.
But physically I did not feel well; because I ate everything. I had constant headaches and all day long I took NSAID’s (like Advil and Motrin) for aches and pains. I always had diarrhea (it was like urine). At a low point in my health I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. But I still wasn’t worried because I was young. I lived the fast life between ages 31 and 46, until I stopped weight lifting (in 1992), because of pain in my back and after one knee surgery. Even though I stayed at my same weight of 198 pounds, all too soon the muscle turned to fat.
In 1992, I spent 12 days at the McDougall Program at St. Helena Hospital and afterwards I lost 25 pounds. But this didn’t last long. My excuse was my friends – they told me I wasn’t any fun any more because of all the foods I had given up. So I started adding things back and it took me about 2 years to fall to my previous low state of poor health.
From 1994 til 2002 I went on all the diets. I got the heart valve problem from Fen-Phen – I now have a heart murmur and a leaking valve. Meridian (a similar pill) made me gain weight. Weight Watchers I couldn’t deal with because I don’t do well in groups. I didn’t try high protein diets because I knew how dangerous they were. I was beating myself up every time I failed. I just could not succeed – I would wake up in the morning hating life and hating me because I was a fat failure. I believed that everyone else could lose weight and be healthy, but me.
The turning point was the weekend my sister and I, and 2 cousins spent together. All 4 of us were fat and all we did the whole weekend was eat. All our photos showed us eating – and afterwards it didn’t look like fun. In one picture we are all sharing this dessert with a glass of wine – we were all smiles, but when I look back, it was really yucky. My big grin in the photo didn’t show the constant diarrhea, the day-long headaches, heart palpations, nausea like I was pregnant again, or the disgust I had for fat me. The scale then slipped past 200 pounds – fat people weigh 200 pounds. I couldn’t take it any more. Fortunately I had had the McDougall experience – the only program that had ever made any sense to me.
On July 22, 2002 I returned to the “new” McDougall Clinic in Santa Rosa with my sister. Even though the underlying philosophy was the same, the experience was entirely different. For me the real important change was the personal involvement of the McDougalls in the program this time — they were there all the time. Every question in our group was answered in a practical manner because they were there. Living the program through the Quick and Easy cookbook made life so easy. After each delicious meal I would think “I could never make that or have the time.” Then I would go to my room and look up the recipes and see how easy these could be made in my own kitchen. The Quick and Easy cookbook has since become my bible.
Every day, our dietitian, Jill, would show us how to make something tasty out of common stuff found in the kitchen. The variety of exercise I was exposed to at the program – yoga, water aerobics, stretching – made me no longer afraid to do these activities when I returned home. I am now involved with my local athletic club. I fell in love with the new staff; like the new “pscyh guy” (Doug Lisle, PhD) – he is so positive – absolutely the best – I could listen to him all day long. In fact, I may come back just to hear his lectures. I feel like they are friends that really care about me — and I know they do because I contact them by e-mail often.
Over the last 2 months I have been “Steady Eddie” – I have not fallen off once. I don’t want to, because I don’t want to feel like I used to. Coffee and dairy were my 2 biggest problems – solved now. Each morning I wake up looking forward to each day. I now am in control of myself. I have no diarrhea, no headaches, no hot flashes, no palpations, and even my posture is excellent, because I am proud to be healthy. My black circles under my eyes are gone. I look younger. People keep saying “you look great.” I love people telling me I am looking so healthy – especially my husband who is very supportive and is now mostly vegetarian. I can tell my husband has more respect for me – he shares my better life. In 2 months I have lost 36 pounds without a moment of deprivation. I have feelings about myself I haven’t felt since I was a champion power lifter more than 10 years ago. I am an empowered woman – and I will never lose that power and control again.