Last week, we met my friend Robin, who lost 80 pounds through diet and exercise. Today, I want you to meet my friend Julia. (I also used to work with her in California.) Hers is a different weight-loss journey and there have been some tremendous life events that she has had to go through on the way.
Julia, 56, editorial assistant, California
How much did you lose? I’ve lost around 91 pounds. My BMI has gone from around 50 to 34. I want to lose an additional 50 or so.
How long did it take? I’m still working it. I saw my lap-band surgeon in September 2008 and started a pre-op diet that was supposed to be six months but lasted 10 because I had pneumonia in the middle. I lost around 45 pounds before my surgery in July 2009.
How did you do it with food? With the lap-band, you have small part of the top of your stomach restricted so that it only holds about an egg’s worth of food. The food then moves into the larger part of your stomach. The restriction means you feel full faster. However, the restriction also means that some foods will get “stuck” and will either pass through very slowly or come back up. As you lose weight, the band needs to be tightened by injecting saline into a silicone and titanium port that rests just below the skin. It only takes a few minutes and with lidocaine, you hardly feel anything.
I eat a high-protein diet with a lot of cheese, Greek yogurt, lean meat and beans, plus a high-protein shake for breakfast. I shoot for 75g–100g of protein a day. I need to eat nutritionally dense food because smaller quantities need to count. Unfortunately, it’s also easy to eat cookies, ice cream and candy, so it’s possible to fall off the wagon.
My losing efforts took a hit for about a year after my husband suffered a debilitating stroke in April 2010. I took a three-month family leave during his hospitalization and eventual placement in a nursing home. I suddenly had to learn to be a single parent and run a household that’s a 40-mile commute from work.
I recommitted to my weight-loss efforts in September when I started a blog I’m With the Band (thejulianelson.blogspot.com) and started losing again.
How did you do it with exercise: I have not added any exercise to my life. I do work on the second floor of a building without an elevator, and often have to park in distant parking lots. My company has a free gym adjacent to our building, but I can never get up early enough to spare an hour of my day. Since I visit my husband on the way home from work, I often don’t get home until 8:30 or 9, and I’m too pooped for even housework. I know my results would be better with exercise, but at this time, I don’t know how I’ll work it in without serious sleep deprivation.
Biggest motivation: My health. Before starting weight-loss, I was taking the maximum dose of two diabetes medications, plus three for high blood pressure, one for low thyroid and one for cholesterol. I’ve been able to cut the diabetes medications and take a lower dose of thyroid medicine. Being alive for my daughter is a big motivator.
Words of wisdom: Nobody’s going to lose the weight for you — you’ve gotta do it yourself. Use whatever tools are available to you.