True Story: I Lost 100+ Pounds (And I’m Keeping It Off!)

This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting, challenging, amazing things. This is the story of Anne and her 100+ weight loss. 



Tell us a bit about yourself! 
Hi there! My name is Anne. I’m a Midwestern girl who grew up outside of Minneapolis and is now firmly planted in St. Louis (go Cards!). While I still feel very un-adult-like most of the time, I’m 46 and the Director of Client Services for a software solutions consultancy. For fun, I enjoy spending time with friends, making beaded jewelry and hitting new restaurants or whatever art fair is going on (St. Louis is lousy with art fairs a good chunk of the year).
How much did you weigh at your biggest?

 

The heaviest weight the bathroom scale ever shared with me was 256. I may have gotten bigger – but I didn’t want to ask the scale questions that I didn’t want answered. I preferred evaluations via the bathroom mirror (you know – the small one that is part of the medicine cabinet & only reflected to my shoulders). That was about as much reality as I was willing to address.
Was there a specific moment when you decided that you needed to lose weight? 

 

The weight came on slowly over time – and was really tied up in different issues I was struggling with – principally depression. Looking back now, I realize that I was literally isolating myself in my own body. I felt invisible and grew very comfortable there for a long time.
As I began to come out of my depression, I started to understand who I was as a person and how much I liked the person that I found. While that started building the courage to focus on my physical health, it wasn’t until I was caring for my mother after she fractured her shoulder that I got my first wake-up call.
Since I am single and without kids, I realized that if I didn’t start addressing my health soon, I wasn’t going to be in any shape to care for myself as I got older. And I certainly wasn’t doing anything in the relationship department to ensure there would ever be anyone else around to care for me.
I think everyone who wants to lose weight struggles to commit to their goals and not fall into a Netflix/Totinos hole every Friday night. How did you ‘stay on the wagon’? 

 

What works for me (in so many areas of my life) is accountability. During a session with my therapist, I committed to join a gym. Meeting the commitment to join a gym changed my life.
The gym is right across the street from my office – so no excuses there. I was matched with a trainer and we got to work. At the time, my trainer was six months pregnant. So there was no trying to beg off exercises as too hard when the pregnant girl was doing them first.
She constructed a few different strength training routines for me and asked me to commit to doing strength training 3 times per week, cardio 5 times per week and get 7 servings of vegetables & fruits per day. I agreed, put on some really baggy workout clothes, fought back my fear of being a big girl working out in public, and got started.
I don’t diet, so “falling off the wagon” hasn’t been as risky for me. There are certainly weeks that I’ve done better than others. I just try to focus on the fruits & veggies, add in whole grains and lean protein – and not worry too much about a dessert if I’m out for dinner, or periodic pizza or other foods.
There has been the odd pint-of-Ben & Jerry night – but that is more of an exception. I try to counter that with extra treadmill time. I just try to remind myself that I’m human. I’m not going to flunk out of this and never recover. I’m going to have less than stellar food (and exercise habits) from time to time – and that’s OK.
All in all, how much weight did you lose? 

 

So far, I’ve lost 115 lbs over a little under 3 years.
How did the people in your life react to your weight loss?

 

Most are very supportive. I do get the sarcastic “I hate you” every once in a while. And it is funny when asked “how’d you do it?” and you can see the disappointment in some faces when I tell them exercise and a better diet. There are those who are still looking for Jack’s magic beans….
Overall I’m REALLY lucky to have a great support system of friends that know my whole story – and love & support me anyway!
How is life different now that you’re smaller?

 

I feel stronger than I’ve ever felt – both physically and mentally. Clothes shopping is actually fun – and I now know where all of the great resale shops are since I didn’t want to pay retail for sizes I wouldn’t (God-willing) wear long.
The thing that has thrown me a bit is the attention from men. It is weird to go from being invisible to being noticed. While I don’t want to be single forever – this is still a really uncomfortable area.
Has anything surprised you about being 115 pounds smaller?

 

I think I had it in my head that my body would look like it did when it was this weight the last time. Well, I’m 46 – not 26. It’s not the same. It’s not horrible – but it’s not the same. Let’s just say there is a firmness that you have in your 20s that doesn’t last forever…
Apparently, only 5% of dieters keep off the weight they lose. How have you been maintaining your weight loss?

 

I’ve had plateau periods and some minor gain phases, but all in all, I’ve kept it off and have kept going. I’ve just recently hit my goal weight – which is a very strange concept after all of these years. But at this point, this is just a lifestyle for me. So as long as I keep active and continue to respect my body and the fragility of good health, I’m optimistic.
I think a lot of us know someone who is (in our minds) dangerously overweight. Is there any way to approach the topic of their weight and our concerns about their health in a loving, supportive way? 

 

I knew I was overweight and needed to do something – but I wasn’t ready to deal with it. I still remember the shock of my doctor telling me that I was in the “morbidly obese” range.
I think just being a non-judgmental friend (and example, if you’ve been there) is the way to go. A friend of mine had started working out and losing weight about a year before I was ready – and she was a huge inspiration to me. Also, conveying to that person through words/actions that you love and support them unconditionally allows them to be vulnerable during an incredibly hard process that brings up all kinds of shame and fears.
What books/apps/tools/programs did you find helpful for your weightloss journey?

 

I didn’t really use different tools – just the program that my trainer constructed for me. I also only weighed myself every few weeks or so. I didn’t want to get obsessive about the number. But that’s just me. I have a friend who weighs herself every morning – but I’d go nutters if I did that.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in losing a significant amount of weight?

 

1. Go slow 

 

I know you want it all off now, but believe me, slow is worth it. I didn’t set out to lose 2-3 lbs a month – I wanted progress MUCH faster. Going slow allowed my body to adjust to my new weight levels – making that a new normal. At least this is what I tell myself when I’m in another plateau phase.
A slower pace also allowed me to mentally adjust to coming out of isolation. I love that I feel physically strong, but it is hard to describe the strength and pride I feel in myself for making such a huge impact on my overall health.
Your skin will adjust to a degree – and going slow really helps – but be ready for some loose areas. I was not. I thought that I had additional cellulite to work off, but my doctor basically told me that I was skin and muscle – and that the loose skin would not fully tighten up. Ever. And it would get worse with age. Again, I’m not 22 anymore. I am planning a surgery next year to address that – which is scary & exciting. I’ve worked so hard and I want to be proud & confident in this body. Not everyone will want to do this – but it is right for me.
2. Keep going.

 

You are going to get stuck. You are NOT going to feel like working out. And dammit – when will I be able to zip these jeans!?! Keep going. Remember, you are the Tortoise in this race with the Hare (I may have lost a few of you there). Just remember that slow & steady wins the race.
3. & Never forget – sweat is fat crying.

 

Thanks so much for sharing, Anne! What an inspiration! Have any of you guys lost significant amount of weight? Do you have any questions for Anne?

 

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10 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    I do have to respond to this question, "I think a lot of us know someone who is (in our minds) dangerously overweight. Is there any way to approach the topic of their weight and our concerns about their health in a loving, supportive way?" – how about, unless you are that person's chosen care provider and/or they are asking you directly, YOU DON'T GET A SAY.

    Reply
    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Valid point, Anon.

      I don't think anyone (particularly any woman) has ever thought "I'm overweight? Really? This is certainly the first time I've ever considered that or ever thought about my body. I've certainly never seen any images in the media of women's bodies that would make me think about how my own compares to those."

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      I came to respond to this as well, and I'd add to the first anon's great point that, as a chubster, I'd hate to think that when I'm out with a friend, that friend isn't thinking about our sparkling conversation or fun experience, but rather "is she really going to eat that? Does she know that, in my mind, she's dangerously overweight? Is today finally the day I get up the courage to tell her she's gotten humongous?" What a bummer.

      Reply
  2. Angie

    Congrats to you, Anne. Very inspiring!

    Reply
  3. Taylor

    Thank you so much for sharing!

    Reply
  4. Lys

    I'm so very impressed, Anne! Your story reminds me of my mom, who lost about as many pounds during my sophomore and junior years of high school. I watched how hard she worked to get and keep that weight off, and it sure ain't easy! You must be a very dedicated person. It was also a blessing for our whole family, as we each grew to enjoy and choose healthier lifestyles. Except I still hate pretty much all exercise…

    This is the first time I've commented on your blog, Sarah, and I just wanna tack on to this comment that I looooooove your True Story interviews. They're fabulous!

    Reply
  5. Mickey

    What a remarkable transformation, Anne! You have every reason to feel proud and strong in your own body. I admire the willpower and hard work that you put into this process.

    I don't have weight problems yet, other than the monthly blowups (ha!), but I come from a family that does, especially on my mother's side. It hurts when I see them gaining weight from one reunion to another. It's hard to say something, though, even though I really care about this issue (healthy diet).

    Reply
  6. Sky

    Amazing. I've struggled with my weight since I was a young child. It's such a difficult thing to deal with, personally – I know I should lose weight but I'm not motivated to do it. Mostly, as Anne mentioned, due to depression. I go through periods where I switch my lifestyle around but the second the depression sneaks back in, it's back to pizza and chocolate I go. It's probably a bit of a cycle, with the food inducing the depression to an extent

    But, in response to your question, Sarah, I would be so upset if one of my friends told me that I should lose weight. Chances are any overweight person is well aware that they're overweight. They don't need the reminder…definitely offer support if they start to make healthier choices themselves but I woudn't recommend telling them that they "should" lose weight. Love them for them, not their size.

    Reply
  7. Anne Hale

    Thanks for all of the kind comments – I really appreciate it! It has been a challenge – but SO worth it!

    I once had a work partner, who was a kind of mentor/father figure, once tell me something along the lines of "you're so pretty – if you just lost weight, you could have any guy". I know it came from a place of care & concern, but I was humiliated and devastated. I think I dealt with those feelings with a large glass of wine and a dessert. Ugh. That was the only time it happened, but it still makes me feel awful thinking about it. Our relationship was never the same.

    After I started working on my depression and seeing my dear friend Kathy grow stronger & healthier, I began to get the courage to look at my own health. The funny thing was that the exercise that I avoided in my deepest depression is now my go-to tool when I start feeling cranky or that I'm feeling that downward slide. If I'm heading that direction I try to get to a workout as quickly as I can. I still have that "I don't feel like it" / "you'll feel better" argument in my head – but the latter usually wins. And I swear, there are engineers that are alive in my firm because I workout and clear my head at lunch…

    If you are struggling to start, somewhere in process or are reaching for that Ben & Jerry's and need to be talked off the ledge, I'm here & am happy to support you. Sarah has my contact info.

    I hope you all have a wonderful & healthy 2015!
    -Anne

    Reply
  8. K

    Good for you. You have worked hard and deserve all of the credit

    Reply

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