All women: single, widowed, married, young and old, experience changes in their life that affect their weight. We know we should watch what we eat, exercise daily and lose the unwanted pounds, but it’s so hard for many of us. In particular, pregnancy, stress, death of a loved one cause us to eat more than we normally would. Here are some examples of what has successfully worked for women I know. Maybe they will be the springboard to opportunities you haven’t heard of before. If you would like to add your experience (anonymously of course) feel free to email me.

I am a tall woman and started at 150 lbs when I got pregnant with my first child. I blew up like a balloon and gained 50 pounds. I entered the realm of size XL and couldn’t understand it. Breast feeding helped, but 6 months later I was pregnant again. I had lost 20 of the 50 lbs I had gained. That put me at 180 lbs. I once again ate whatever I felt like, as most pregnant ladies do, and I ended that pregnancy at 220 lbs. Once again I lost the 20 lbs of the 50 lbs I had gained, before getting pregnant again at 6 months post-partum with my third boy.

This time, I ran into a friend who had just lost lots of weight by changing WHAT (not how much) she ate. She coached me on what would be my new sugar free diet. I also began about a 15 mins pregnancy workout video a day, until I was about 6 months pregnant. I did this while my second one was sleeping and my oldest watched me (he learned the natural consequence of running under my legs or arms). I also tried to eat smaller portions then my husband.

The sugar free diet was an easy fix, but it wasn’t easy do to. I now tell women, the best thing you can do is cheat a tiny bit. For example, I would go to an event and pick out the best looking dessert and have just that one or have it cut in half. Depriving myself of any dessert would have depressed me and thus fed my desire to binge. Sugar substitutes for me have included honey, dark chocolate, real maple syrup and apple sauce. I use honey in my coffee, don’t spend money (or time) on after meal desserts and I don’t buy or drink juice. The odd time I would drink pop/soda out of the house, it would be diet. Maple syrup is always great on pancakes and apple sauce/honey helps when baking. I also enjoy homemade popcorn and fruit.

I continued losing weight until I was 6 months pregnant with my third son and then managed to stay at the same weight … about 180 lbs. I still had to wear size 16 pants after his birth, but I was quickly having to get out smaller sizes. By 9 months post partum, I was 150 lbs and size 11, which was what I was before my first child.

I continue to try to be as sugar free as possible, with the few exceptions. I am also in perpetual motion running around with three boys. With Spring coming, I look forward to getting to the park with the boys more often. I run up the stairs. I park further away when I don’t have the kids in the van. I eat smaller quantities of good food. I try to use my boys’ weight as weights … my arms have a nice muscular line. I try to eat healthier snacks with the boys and my most enjoyable exercise is putting on some great music and dancing with my boys.

At 5 foot 4 inches, I have had a weight problem most of my adult life and with each pregnancy, it has been harder to lose weight. I had gestational diabetes with one of my pregnancies and weighed in at 225 lbs. This gave me the impetus to get on top of my weight. I found the Atkins diet had a common sense attitude to food and gave lists of ‘good ‘things to eat, you know those fruits and greens. I walked every day for 30 minutes- briskly with my husband who made sure I got out. At the end of my pregnancy, I was 175 lbs. and at the beginning of my next pregnancy, a year later, I was 155 lbs. Now at 52 yrs.of age, I am dealing with diabetes type II and I am on the road again as I was 195 lbs. I say was because I am beginning again and at 170 lbs. I am trying to do “portion size and exercise”. I’m walking 30 minutes a day and don’t eat all the left-overs! Perhaps I won’t get on top of my weight problem, but I can keep up the struggle. I can get up and begin again. Clothes are a great incentive to lose weight and I still have smaller sizes in my wardrobe from my first weight loss. I look forward to wearing them again. What other incentives are there? Well, I don’t buy any baked goods, cookies, candies, packaged snack food and white bread. If my family wants dessert, they make one; but we usually go for yogurt and fruit through the week and have a fancy dessert on Sunday. I ordered my husband not to serve me dessert! It works because it is usually gone if I break down and want some. We now cook less and therefore eat less – which is good for everyone.

Some people also start a diary about what they eat and it helps with the discipline of losing weight. Being optimistic is also part of the struggle of losing weight. Talking about it helps and getting the family on board for support. Anything worthwhile takes effort and, when we fail, the same effort is needed to get up and start again and not become discouraged. Try and find someone else in the same “weighed down’ mode and help each other shed those pounds. We don’t have to do it by ourselves. If need be consult your doctor and ask for advice, as losing weight should not be drastic. It’s about choosing a healthier lifestyle in our eating habits and some regular exercise. It sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well some days it’s easy to stay on track and some days not. For me the ray of sunshine in all of this is that I can try again and again, as long as I am trying, and with four girls at home there’s nothing that beats turning up the music and dancing for some exercise! Everyone benefits.

Sometimes in life, we have to hit rock bottom before we can begin to look at ourselves in a reflective and honest way. Rock bottom was definitely the place I found myself when I finally looked back at the wake of broken relationships and tragic losses of my life. Up to this point, I dealt with the pain and anger by retreating to my room with food and watched movies of others living their lives (even if most were fictional) while I watched from a safe distance. If I wanted to laugh, I rented a comedy. If I wanted some excitement, I rented an action film. So as I became an observer of life and a constant consumer of chips, chocolate and pop, I gained more and more weight, and my anger at myself and others around me intensified.

I began to realize that I didn’t react to situations the same way others did. I had SO much anger and it often came out at inappropriate times and in inappropriate ways. At this point, I was able to understand that some of my anger was related to my food addiction, but I didn’t fully realize how much of it was caused by my overeating. Addiction in any form is harmful (and even deadly), and I knew that I needed help. I knew the time had come to stop blaming others for events in my life and to begin to really take a look at myself. The thought of it made me shudder. Although this was one of the most difficult challenges that I had undertaken, it resulted in incredible life-altering changes that would lead me out of a pit of anger, despair, self-pity and shame to being an active, positive participant in my own life.

It was a trusted friend that told me about Overeaters Anonymous (OA). I was intrigued and so I eagerly Googled it and found several meetings here in my home town. I learned that it was a world-wide organization that was based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, and that it only cost whatever I wished to give each week in the collection basket. I could definitely handle that. I began going to meetings, quickly found a sponsor and began working through the 12 steps. I email my sponsor everyday and have a phone meeting with her once a week. I have made a food plan and have remained on it for almost 10 months. I have never had success like this. I have learned so much through my sponsor’s guidance. The most incredible thing I learned is that fear was the cause of so many of my character defects – especially my anger. I was afraid of so many things that it had left me crippled. I am now learning to overcome my fears and I have noticed my anger subsiding. The chains of the food addiction are falling away and I am much more active. Instead of being an observer of life, I am living it more fully with friends and family. One of the sayings in OA is that the size of our bodies is often equal to the size of our rage. Well, I am happy to say that I have lost 27 pounds and am a much more peaceful person. OA has provided me with the fellowship of those who can fully understand what I am going through, and the tools to help me live my life to the fullest. My abstinence is so critical to my peace of mind and sanity, that if I found out that I was going to die in two weeks, I would still want to sustain an abstinent way of eating as I do now…one day at a time.

For more information, go to oa.org. If you think you may have a food addiction, I cannot encourage you enough to take the first step of recovery and find an OA meeting near you. What have you got to lose?

I love cake. I love food. I’ve tried diets and they don’t work for me. I have two small children and have put on too much weight. I came to the point where I realized I needed to figure out how to get in shape, lose weight to be in my range of healthy weight, and change my lifestyle. As a nurse, I decided to educate myself in this area. The most critical element about starting, and maintaining  a fitness orientation in your life as a modern mother, wife, and professional woman is that one needs to come to grips with the fact that ‘fitness is not something you buy, or a club you go to in January of the new year”. Fitness is more a personal journey of deep self-knowledge, and it takes some good planning for the modern mother to make it part of her life, moreover to make it an elemental force for  good in her life!

First and foremost, a fitness program has to be built into the everyday life of your family, and the closer to home the better!!  When you plan for an active lifestyle it has to be built around what you love to do, in your nearby community, in the places/organizations where you find the most supports. Then your motherhood and fitness quests will be guaranteed to have a good chance for success! I also found that the support of other moms made a world of difference to me. Through the friendship and encouragement of moms I met in moms groups and in my neighborhood, I started regularly walking with them to get in shape. I also got a personal trainer and did some aquafit programs. They helped get me started and taught me a lot about what I needed to accomplish and how.

If you can fit 15 minutes of cardio workout (getting your heartbeat up to a higher rate) each day, that would be wonderful. I was 248 lbs after my second child and found it nearly impossible to go for a jog/walk. I would work up a sweat within seconds, but I was determined to bring my weight down to a more healthy level so that I could be a better mom and wife. It took me months to shed 10 lbs. I started walking for a block and then running just a couple of minutes. Slowly I built it up to walking a block and running for a block. Now I am able to do many blocks running in one go. It is hard to build into family life for sure. I am only able to manage this twice a week right now. The key is for me to make sure the other days involve some kind of workout. It would be nice to be able to go to a gym, but this is not always practical with small children. I have come to realize that I just need to get that 15 minute cardio somehow at home doing something I enjoy – whether it’s Latino dancing, marching, skipping, doing stairs, an aerobics video, … whatever. It all boils down to me wanting to do it and making it happen. Picking something that I find enjoyable helps me have a plan when the weather is miserable, my kids are sick or I just can’t get out of the house. Then, by sticking to my daily time of exercise, I get fit, stay fit and shed the pounds I desire. Any exercise has to be interspersed with good rest periods. Thus all sports activities must have an element of moderation too. Fitness is not about a program I pay for. It is about a lifestyle decision I make and prioritize into my life, with creativity and perseverance. Finally, there is no “magic bullet” of fitness.  Be patient. Have a consistent intelligent, adaptable program to rely on and keep it all in moderation. It took me at least 1 to 1 1/2 years, maybe 2 years, to get back into a pretty decent shape and I feel great for it!

My weight problems began to slowly worsen with each pregnancy.  It seems that with each baby, I had 5 lbs I couldn’t lose.  I became resigned to the fact that I would not return to the size I was before having children.  After baby #4, a friend, who was also struggling with her weight introduced me to the Light Weigh. As soon as she described the group, I felt it would be a perfect fit.  After the introductory meeting, I was sure.

The appeal it had to me was that it combined my faith (Roman Catholic) with weight issues.  It helped me identify that I was overeating out of stress/boredom or loneliness at times, when I needed to turn to God.  There was a concrete means of losing weight:  Our group would meet once a week for 12 weeks.  We would do a Bible study for 15 minutes, and then watch a DVD to teach us about healthy eating, portion control, how saints before us have overcome temptations and how God wants to work in our lives.  Then, on our own, each day we would write in a notebook or journal.  We used that book as an examination of conscience, using a St. Ignatius of Loyola exam.  It was a means to see how we were doing in our struggle to see food for what it was;   a good tasting source of fuel, but nothing more.

I used that program to lose all my baby weight, even getting my weight down to what it was before I was married.  We have since had two more babies, and now as our baby #6 approaches his first birthday, I am using the Light Weigh again to get my weight back to a healthy measure.  I feel great and have energy to run around with the kids.  I am now leading a Light weigh group, because I want to share this information with other people.  I know there are other people like me who have busy lives and cannot join a weigh loss program that requires special foods or things prepared a special way.  It fits right into family life.The Light Weigh is intended to be done in a group setting, so all that is needed is a minimum of 3 people.

I encourage all who practice a Christian/Catholic faith to check out this avenue for self mastery because it has made a world of difference in my life and helped me shed the pounds I needed to.  For information  go to: Lightweigh.com.

I read the pieces there and wanted to add a few words from the perspective of someone who has never been fat. A few years ago, Mireille Guiliano made herself rich and famous through her book, French Women Don’t Get Fat. In it, she described the traditional attitude to food that she grew up with in France, and how this militates against excess weight gain. In fact, it is difficult to get fat on any traditional diet, from any tradition I can think of. The traditional Canadian diet will keep your weight within healthy limits; the only problem is that it has been a couple of generations since Canadians have eaten that diet and one would need to pull out Grandma’s cookbook to find how it is done. We have almost forgotten what it was. But as a first step, I recommend the following: 1) no pop, 2) no chips, 3) eat only at scheduled meal times. These three rules alone would solve most weight gain problems in our society. No one, in my family of four children and 2 adults, is overweight. I do not serve diet food or keep a particularly lean kitchen. The children typically have cookies in their lunch bags, and a snack of toast and milk before going to bed. There are plenty of carbs on the table, as there was on Grandmother’s. I don’t eat as many sweets as they do; one has to know one’s body; but I have some. With the exception of my husband, we are not athletic. What do I serve? Supper consists of basic foods. I do most of my cooking “from scratch” with as few commercial helpers as I can manage. I do a lot of simple roasts with vegetables, and a lot of meals of homemade bread and soup — the soup coming from the leftover roasts. I have also learned from my children. Children, in my experience, like candy, but they don’t like rich and fatty desserts. Most of my children will refuse a pudding but accept a piece of fruit for dessert. Two of my children prefer apples to Oreo cookies. At first, I was surprised; now, I take advantage. A treat in our house is a package of strawberries; not a package of cookies. And usually the cookies cost more. I should add that my children do not watch television and have seen very few adds for junk food. My children used to come home from school ravenously hungry and demanding all kinds of treats. I switched from skim to homo and that changed. They have whole milk for breakfast and take a thermos of milk to school. They are less hungry when they come home, skip the snack and eat a good supper. And this leads me to my fourth and final rule: 4) eat real food. The grocery store is full of foods like skim milk that have been artificially deprived of their fat, and others, like potato chips, that have artificially more fat per bite than we would normally consume; certainly not in large quantities. We should trust our food and eat as our grandparents did.

Do you have some strategies for losing weight that we could benefit from? I encourage you to send it in.

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