A Leap of Faith… A Diet Story Part 1


I started to write the experience of my battle with obesity as part of a healing exercise encouraged by a behavioral therapist who has been part and has played a huge role in my weight loss journey. I have decided to share this intimate journal… Maybe  there are others out there that are going through similar struggles, that may have lost faith in their body or their own will power and who may relate to my personal trials and tribulations. This is a sensitive subject: the words written simply recant my inner thoughts, state of mind at different stages of the battle and evolution… It is not a diet program nor does it offer diet tips and techniques. I am not a professional: just a girl who needed to take control. I think there are enough programs out there to meet your dietary needs: you just have to choose the right one for you. Myself, I require a rigorous program because I need that accountability and I need to see regular and consistent progress.  Expensive programs make me think twice about «falling off the wagon» since I hate to throw my money out the window. And I know for a fact (tried and done) that I do not do well with programs that are extremely lax or offer too many choices. I am «get’er done kind of a gal»! And so for me, in this particular time in my life, a program that would let me reach a fairly normal weight in the shortest yet safest time frame was the right option. What I was really looking for was the education for the  “forever after” part, the weight management! How to keep a sustainable diet in my life became more important than the temporary weight-loss phase.

The thoughts expressed here are extremely personal and I feel slightly vulnerable sharing them with the outside world. However, if only one person out there gels with my words and finally finds the mojo they need to finally embark on a weight loss journey of their own, then exposing this vulnerability will have been all worth it… It is impossible to post the entire content of my diary at once. It is also in constant evolution. I will therefore publish my story in sections. Although it is a serious subject, I have tried to incorporate some humour and a fair bit of silliness. And of course, I secretly hope that many of you will enjoy it… Here goes nothing: a leap of faith!

Part 1

And this is how it all started. Project DIET: attempt number what again? I forget since it seems my life has been a constant argument between my brain, my taste buds and my fat cells (they are all wrong by the way). I proudly joined Weight Watchers for the very first time at the ripe old age of 13, after a year of going on and off the tuna-cottage cheese-grapefruit diet proposed by my mother. It was the start of a lifelong quest to find my slimmer me… So many, many years later, after countless programs, some successful and some not so much, I think I hit rock bottom in 2012. Since 2008, and after a few good years of maintaining a fairly healthy weight, the scale was on a steady climb again. Throw in pre-menopause, a business that did not allow for any free time, ill in-laws and challenging teens: I was creating a perfect storm! Yes, I was getting heavier and heavier by the minute and my overall wellbeing was poor. I was suffering from extreme fatigue, joint pains, severe oedema (legs and feet), poor intestinal health, everyday heartburn, recurring rashes, puffy face, low energy, low libido, neck and back pain, difficult monthly cycle and plain poor overall physical health. Since I ate fairly well: you know, I cooked most of all my meals, ate whole grains, dairy, lean meats, legumes and plenty of produce, I never thought my symptoms were directly related to my weight and my eating habits. After several years of investigation (including a self-funded complete blood analysis with local wellness center and compound pharmacy), trying biomedical hormones and a bunch of different things, the diagnosis became very clear in the fall of 2012, it sure looked like obesity although I was trying to deny this… My doc was trying to figure out if I was suffering from fibromyalgia: I had nearly all the symptoms except for one. She sent me to the sleep clinic to assess my REM sleep as it seems most sufferers of fibromyalgia experience lack of REM sleep. To my surprise, my REM sleep was fine but I was diagnosed with moderate sleep apnea. Actually, the diagnosis was «obesity induced sleep apnea». Hmmm, obesity induced! I knew I was overweight but to actually have a health condition directly related to my weight was a bit of a shock, to say the least. That would not be the last shock: the doctor at the sleep clinic not only told me that my sleep apnea was 100% related to my weight, he told me that it is quite the norm with those who are morbidly obese…. Brraaaaaaake!!!! What did he say? Morbidly obese you say? Really? How dare you, sleep specialist doctor? Ok, I was overweight but did he account for the water retention? And I have big bones right? Plus, I am sure I was just before my monthly cycle when you weighed me. That tends to add a good 60lbs just like that, no? Like come on, morbidly obese??? I never, ever in a million years, thought that my weight could «induce» anything other than a low self-esteem. At that moment, I was finding out that I was at risk for a stroke because I suffered from obesity related sleep apnea? How could that be? My blood pressure had always been normal, if not on the low end, my blood sugars were pristine, my cholesterol was just slightly above the norm, but not even a concern to my doc. So what was this all about? I was devastated, to say the least. A few weeks, later, I came home with my brand new CPAP machine and was utterly depressed realizing this would be my new nighttime accoutrement. It was soooooo sexy! NOT! I joked about it and kept imitating Darth Vader, trying to diffuse the utter disgust I was feeling for myself at that very moment. Well, at least joking about it would maybe alleviate the situation. I mean, how many are we out there that create our own health problems because of lifestyle and denial? And I think at that moment, I knew something had to give. I didn’t really know how and where and with whom, but I had to lose weight! I could not continue like this and expect a stellar quality of life while ageing gracefully. But how would I do this? Everyone who knows me also knows all the efforts I had been putting into trying to lose weight. I mean I had done it all: Weight Watchers (7 tries in 4 years including the online tools), private expensive medically supervised weight loss clinics, private consultations with a dietitian, juicing, gym memberships, Zumba, pedometers… The results would be good for about 10 lbs and then nothing. No changes, no improvement… At 225lbs, after 5 months following a well esteemed local medical program, following their eating plan to a T, adhering to an extremely regular exercise routine (including weekly visits with their in-house nutritionist) and only experiencing a 5lbs weight loss, the associate doctor told me that maybe I would just have to accept my weight and «live with it»! Basically, that my goals were unrealistic and that I was meant to be a heavy girl. BAM! How’s that for bubble bursting? You know, after that visit, I never went back! But I was right back at square one. So I joined a gym and Weight Watchers, again… And again, the results were nothing! Sigh…

In the spring of 2013, after diligently wearing the CPAP every night for nearly 5 months and thinking I would probably never be accepted as a patient at the Weight Management Clinic at the Civic Hospital:  my referral had gone in 6 months prior and I had not heard a thing yet. I was still in denial about that morbidity thingy, thinking I was probably not overweight enough to make the cut (even if my BMI was way off the charts). So instead of waiting around, I decided it was time to take drastic measures. I analyzed every program I had ever been on and zoomed in on the only one that had ever delivered results for me; not only in successful weight loss but in longer term maintenance (I kept the weight off for nearly 4 years). This particular program was extremely expensive and somewhat controversial, even if it was medically supervised. That was a difficult decision mainly because of the reaction that would ensue from my joining this private weight loss clinic, but also because of the cost of the program and knowing how restrictive it would be. But to be extremely honest, I really didn’t care what others would think at that point in my life. No, let me rephrase that: I did «care» but it did not bother me that others would have an opinion. For one thing, those who would voice their opinion on the subject (positive or negative) would be people that truly loved and cared about me. The job of any respectable friend and family member is to try and protect those that they care for the most. Therefore, I had to reframe my mind set on this, get rid of my defensive attitude and really count my blessing for being surrounded by so many people that genuinely cared about my overall well-being. And secondly, in the end, it didn’t really matter what the world thought because I was starting this quest for better health for me and me only… It was time to be selfish, assertive, confident and at peace with my decision. Like the “Nike” ad says so well, it was time to «Just Do It»…

To pretend that I was not scared right out of my mind would be a load of bull… I had done this program before and it is brutal!!! Well, brutal in the sense that I would have to let go of all the fave fare I loved so much. You know the stuff that got me here in the first place; the stuff that was keeping me here all along… Ok, it may seem like I woke up one day last spring and heard a mysterious voice call out to me: “Go and join Dr. B my friend, you have been called by the force and must follow the path…” Ha, ha, ha! Nothing like that: no epiphany, no mysterious angelic voice, no shining light descending above my forehead! In real, hard cold facts, the decision had been brewing in my mind for a very long time… The CPAP machine was the last straw but the need to lose weight had been weighing on me (Oh my, what a perfect pun LOL!!!) for YEARS, with every new program, with every new Monday morning, with every Lean Cuisine™ purchased, with every new season of The Biggest Loser™. This time though, I knew it would be different. Over the course of the past few years, I had also taken the time to educate myself about the big, big world of food because I was really baffled by my inability to lose weight. This education included: very stimulating discussions with friends on controversial GMO foods, scientific news articles and documentaries on such subjects as the prevalent place highly processed foods occupy on our daily table, the silenced (by our very government) truths on some of the synthetic foods that are sold as healthy alternative, the moral issues surrounding mass farming and other controversial topics related to feeding an ever growing world population. Just to clarify things here: I am not nor will I ever be an extremist on nutrition (or on anything else for that matter). I do not follow a specific regiment: I am not vegan, vegetarian, paleo or anything of the sort because I am lucky enough not to suffer from intolerances and/or food allergies. I do not have an autoimmune condition that would prompt me to eliminate certain food irritants from my diet. I was simply and plainly fat… Because of my own baffling failures with weight loss and management, I was also becoming alarmed with the obesity epidemic in our country. I mean, obviously, I was part of that epidemic, but it was becoming increasingly apparent that I had thrown my very own children on that same band wagon. I was seriously questioning my job as a parent on that subject matter as well as my REAL knowledge of nutrition. Wasn’t my science background in nursing qualifying me to make educated choices for me and my family when it came to nutrition and meals? I thought I had it in the bag! This weight issue was becoming more than just a plain aesthetic problem. As teens, my kids had already been flagged by the medical community as obese, with increased «bad» cholesterol and higher than normal blood pressure for their age. Add a history of Type II diabetes on their paternal side, it was reason enough to be alarmed. Ok, now I was actually scared, freaked out even! If I kept on this path, I was going to die from a condition directly derived from my obesity. And I was teaching my children the exact same thing! I know I am going to die one day but quite frankly, I am kind of hoping to die from old age, if you know what I mean… Ok, I digress here…

But you know what? All these were contributing factors in my decision to tackle my obesity. Ooooops, I forgot: not my obesity but rather, my morbid obesity! I was hoping these facts would trigger the difference between just losing (temporary) and actually changing (lasting wellness). Although I have not yet proven that I have changed, I can say that I have never, ever stayed this long on any life changing program and I have never, ever kept as much focus since 2013. That is the difference… And to me, I feel that it is what will make my efforts pay off. MORBIDLY obese: these 2 words (still to this day) just kept going around, and around in my head… And this is where I started, in the spring of 2013, when my dreadful scale topped 236lbs and my size 20 pants were starting to feel snug! Oh my, I just let the cat out of the bag… Now you know what my start weight was at and it is the first time that I actually expose that fact to the world. And thankfully, that was the highest it ever went. The bus STOPPED there! And when I weighed myself that dreadful day first thing in the morning after the daily emptying of everything, I was naked and I was not «in my cycle». Whoaaaaaa…. I am only 5’2”. How did that happen? What was wrong with me???? Maybe the size 2X I was wearing was not really because they are making everything so tight these days? You know, since most clothing is manufactured in Asia, it is bound to be made smaller right? Was I so negligent I could let my weight climb that high? Was I so lazy and incapable of restraint that I could be as wide as I was tall? This dialogue was frequent with my alter ego… Maybe it sounds harsh but I need to remember how I felt then so I stay on track now! I need to remember the shame and the pain: the fact that I never accepted invitations that included a dip in a hot tub for instance, or dreading riding public transportation at rush hour, or not really wanting to be in any picture…

So here it was, May 2013: D-day! Why not? I was in the middle of changing my life anyways by downsizing from a single family house and moving downtown in a small two bedroom apartment. I had just started a brand new job. So why not just change everything? I was hoping that while I would be so busy packing, purging the accumulated stuff in our old house, cleaning, renovating the new apartment and learning about everything food related, I would certainly have very little time left to cry a river over the cheesy pasta dish I just was not allowed to happily sink my teeth in! Even my loving husband questioned the timing of my decision and my answer to his well-intended concerns was: «Honey, it couldn’t be a worst time nor could it be a better time»! Because let’s face it, is there ever a good time to eliminate 90% of the comfort foods in our daily diet? What season is better to ditch the buffet in life? Every single season boasts its fair share of celebrations and seasonal treats. And quite frankly, wine and chocolate have absolutely no season!!! Maybe a preferred colour of wine for a certain season, but it is ALWAYS in season in my books! Ok, now was becoming nauseous just thinking of making that call. For 1 month, I visited the website regularly, all the while hoping to hear from the Weight Management Clinic. And because I was going to restrict myself for some time to come, I was shamelessly enjoying every forbidden food know to any dieter! And that was served daily with a healthy dose of Zantac (which I bought in bulk at Costco) to alleviate the intense heartburn I was suffering from. Hello???? Nathalie???? Are you sort of an idiot here???? Like, isn’t the heartburn alone telling you anything at all???? Well it was telling me plenty but I was not listening!  Blocked ears and lalalalalalalala all the way! And since you, my alter ego, were trying to be a show off, I would bake a chocolate cake for dessert for absolutely no occasion whatsoever! There! So when I weighed myself that dreadful day and the scale showed 236lbs, and when I huffed and puffed trying to get my pants & socks off and climbing the one set of stairs from my kitchen to my bedroom, that is the day I made the call…

Pictures are worth a thousand words…





To be continued…


2 thoughts on “A Leap of Faith… A Diet Story Part 1

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