Fitness Success Story - Rhonda From PA

Fitness Success Story For Rhonda From PA

Height61.5 inches
Age43
Progress DocumentationProgress Diary 1
Progress Diary 2
Primary GoalFat Loss
Contest CategoryCash prize category
   
BeforeAfter
Date03/26/2014 (MM/DD/YYYY)12/31/2014 (MM/DD/YYYY)
Weight179 lbs144 lbs
Accomplishment:I lost 35 pounds this year, fitting cardio and strength sessions around household and parenting activities, and controlling daytime caloric intake while eating normal dinners with my family.
   
Full Story:Until my mid-thirties, I never considered the possibility that one day I would be overweight let alone obese. Yet, in the course of taking psych meds, my weight rose from a post-pregnancy scale weight of 138 pounds in January 2008 up to a high of 185 pounds in December 2009, just in time to go abroad for my brother's wedding. My passport photo shows me with a double chin. I struggled to walk up stairs or up the slope of our back yard.

As my weight had begun its ascent, I signed up for a Y membership in mid-2008, but instead of losing weight, I gained. I tracked calories. Sometimes the tracking increased my appetite and obsession with food. Sometimes the cardio activities made me ravenous. I had believed this was normal and that I just needed more willpower to succeed.

I gave up psych meds when I discovered I was pregnant again in January 2010. Frightened of exceeding 200 pounds, I researched how to stay healthy while minimizing weight gain during pregnancy. I only gained 9 pounds with that pregnancy, and afterwards, my weight settled into the low 170s. I started going to the Y again, with 3 young children in tow, shuttling them between swim classes and a child watch area, while I'd work out. Seeing 60-somethings outperform me at times was demoralizing, but it gave me a new perspective on aging and fitness.

By 2012, I had tracked calories off and on for years, put in time on the treadmill, tried out various group classes, and attempted both low carb dieting and low fat dieting. My low carb diet efforts would trigger severe and lasting depressive moods, whereas intense cardio activities often triggered immense fatigue; running the treadmill would trigger a ravenous appetite for carbs as would the low fat diet. Without a sense of balance, I was setting myself up for failure each time.

That summer of 2012, my oldest daughter asked to try gymnastics. I could hardly contain my excitement, for unbeknownst to her, that was my childhood sport of choice. I had even qualified for optionals team, though I never had a chance to compete. I just knew if I could get back into gymnastics, my weight would peel right off like magic, it was that fun to me. I made a point to inquire upon enrolling her as to whether I, as a 40+ adult (and obviously obese), could attend open gym sometime as a participant as opposed to parent in charge of young ones.

When the staff said yes, I knew a fire had been lit. Yet, I couldn't hang from a bar without risk of tearing small muscles and tendons. I couldn't press myself into a bridge for months. I practiced cartwheels even though at first my legs didn't get over my head except in my imagination, but my strength and confidence grew and I finally attended open gym on my own.

I mostly observed at first, briefly trying this or that, to avoid drawing attention to myself. I didn't want to be the "old, fat lady" who got severely injured doing something stupid, so this concern necessitated that I took extra precautions. I learned to be patient and to do exercises to improve my skills rather than to simply lose weight. I also began to work on my diet in a similar manner, gradually so as not to be too disruptive to my daily life and mood, and in a way to support my fitness activities.

By summer of 2013, I was ready to take a class and finally lose weight, but that didn't happen the way I expected. I lost no weight during the summer session, but I lost a few pounds in the fall of 2013 bringing my weight to around 165. Even so, my composition was changing and I was becoming more physically capable, attempting handsprings on the tumbling trampoline and regaining old skills on bars.
Unfortunately, due to some life changes, I lost focus at the end of 2013. I was shocked to find my weight had skyrocketed to 179 in mid-January of 2014. Determined not to hit 180, I started doing pushups, squats and bench dips. When I had bought a pull-up bar the year prior, I had previously watched Scooby's pull-up video, but shelved the bar when I realized I couldn't even hang. I revisited that video and watched several more. As my weight dropped a little, I thought this could be my year to lose weight, since I was stronger and could now sustain a much higher activity level.

I joined Sweat4Health community and learned a lot through participating in discussions and researching questions that begged for answers. I learned to control my diet for the first half of the day so I could eat a normal dinner with my family. I cautiously added running to my fitness activities, to avoid getting shin splints or triggering cravings, and the scale rewarded me in kind.
I also learned to set reasonable expectations instead of lengthy lists that I couldn't complete due to time constraints and parental responsibilities. Now I apply a strategy I use for depression--"just do something." Lists can be short, and sets can be scattered throughout the day.

I have lost 35 pounds this year with moderate changes in diet, and fitting in fitness around my moods and responsibilities rather than giving up simply because I often don't have blocks of free time. I run faster and further now than in my youth. I am doing gymnastics at age 43 instead of sitting in the stands. In 2013, people would ask if I took gymnastics as a kid. Now, people ask if I once competed. As I continue to improve, I hope to inspire other adults to let go of age-based limitations and let fitness and fun guide weight loss efforts rather than the other way around. The rest will follow.

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