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Friday, November 5, 2010

A Weighty Issue - Part 1

My mother’s late onset diabetes haunts my life continually. Not to mention my parent’s high blood pressure and my father’s heart problems. My mother freely admitted that all their conditions could have been controlled and even cured if they had stayed a healthy weight and exercised frequently. She struggled daily with her weight but often lost enthusiasm for healthy food and walking the dog. When I visited she would conceal her eating – a nibble here, a morsel there, just a tiny piece of cake or a smidge of cheese – but it all added up and her daily calorie count would soar. By late afternoon she would be too tired to walk the dog and could barely summon the energy to put dinner on the table and clean up afterwards.

My mother was not always overweight. She was a skinny child, a slim teenager and young woman. Although she never spoke of it I guess she put weight on with pregnancy, just like millions of other women across the world. My mother’s aunt also acquired late onset diabetes, I believe also due to her weight increasing in middle age.

On the other hand my father has never seemed to care about his gradually growing girth. His excess weight settled mostly around his waist and belly and he often makes a grand show of pulling in his stomach and showing everyone how slim he still is. I wish it was so.

With all this family history of overweight and disease, it is any wonder I am constantly conscious of my own weight? I too was always a skinny child and teenager and, until my first pregnancy, it was never difficult to keep my figure. However, as a stay at home mother of one, two and then three boys, I found myself constantly snacking with the boys or neighbours or friends and my slim figure disappeared.

When I separated from my husband I lost 14 kilos (about 28 pounds) seemingly overnight. They fell off me. I stopped eating the leftover food from my boys’ plates, I started walking and I eventually got a gym membership. I felt fantastic. Until about five years later, the fat started creeping back on. And its not easy to keep those extra pounds at bay once you hit middle age.

Apparently I’m not the only one. I have read in the news that Australia is now the most obese country in the world. Our schools are making oversize chairs for our children to sit on. Hospitals are having to supply oversize beds for the sick and injured. Funeral parlours are building oversize coffins. Where is it going to end?

About three weeks ago, after my daily climb onto the bathroom scales, I discovered I had gained 5 kilos (about 10 pounds). I was horrified. The last thing I want to acquire is diabetes or any other unnecessary illness. I decided then and there to lose the weight and keep it off.

I know what has caused my weight gain. I’ve put more calories into my body than it is capable of burning off in my sedentary, computer based work. As we get older our body simply doesn’t need excess energy if we aren’t going to do any exercise to get rid of it.

Willpower is the key; willpower and a belief in eating healthy, moderate meals and exercising regularly. We have lost the ability to say “no” to that extra piece of cake, or the sugar laden soft drink. We have lost the ability to put together a delicious meal from healthy ingredients because it’s far too easy to buy ready made food full of fat, salt and sugar. I was determined to find that willpower again.

Since I climbed on the scales about three weeks ago I’ve lost 3 kilos (about 6 pounds). I would ideally like to lose another 4 kilos. I’ll let you know how I did it in my next post and I’ll let you know if I manage to reach my goal.


  1. It's scary to wonder about the health of loved ones. It's interesting how our fears for them tend to become fears for ourselves.

    I'm sorry your parents have such serious problems. It can be so hard to encourage healthy behaviour and express concern without nagging or lecturing. I'm wondering how your folks and other people you know would feel about you posting these details about them.

    I don't know about your behaviours or your general health, but your "horror" seems unwarranted given the minor increases in your weight. I think you are being hard on yourself.

    You are clearly so dedicated and your follow through is great. I'm looking forward to reading about your progress, so long as it is healthy.

  2. loveable homebody - thank you for your comments! I forgot to mention my mother passed away a few years ago. My father is nearly 91 and doesn't have a computer. My friends already know about my parent's illnesses and I doubt that anyone reading this blog would also know my father, so I'm comfortable sharing their details. I guess I am scared that minor increases will lead to major ones - and that would be horrific to me!

  3. It is funny (really it's not, but I can't find the words...) that you heave heard Australia is now the mose obese country - I have always heard that about the US.

    When I went to the doctor 2 weeks ago I was surprised to see how much weight I have gained. I knew I gained, but had no clue it was so much. :(

    Good luck on your weight loss. :)

  4. Good for you. I've been fighting with the same twenty pounds for twenty years. In recent times though, I've tried to keep the weight off, what with age also creeping up on me.

  5. I hear you is always a struggle to keep the weight down. I am determined to lose some weight myself. I now have a pic of my great grandmother beside my computer to remind me of my genetic history. oh no, I don't want to look like that!

  6. dear ca88andra,

    way to go! the first few pounds are the hardest. then
    they incentivize us to continue. before long you are
    going to feel so much better.

    i'm off for a walk myself!


  7. Good for you! You are right to be concerned - keeping to a sensible weight as we get older is essential to maintaining good physical health. It is not just diabetes to worry about but so many things. On vacation I met an orthopedic surgeon who said he deals with two age groups, the 40/50 year olds and the 80/90 year olds. The latter because their joints wear out with old age, the former because they are overweight and their joints cannot deal with the weight load.

    I highly recommend Jillian Michaels workout DVD's, the 30-Day shred is a great 20 minute routine you can do at home and it works.

  8. Thanks! This post was just the reminder I needed to get out there and take a walk!

  9. I know you'll reach your goal, because you can do anything you set your mind to! You have the right attitude. I, on the other hand, have turned into one of those people I said I never wanted to be....obese, and it's time for me to do something about it! I have grandchildren I want to enjoy and do things with. Thanks for inspiring me. I need to be pushed!

  10. Don't give up on weight loss in middle age. I have lost 22 lbs in 3 months by eating less and moving more. No eating between meals. No sweets. Good luck meeting your goal!

  11. Martha - I always thought it was the US, but apparently if you take into consideration the smaller population we have here, its Australia!

    Joy - it is a battle isn't it? I hope you win!

    Susan - having a pic you can look at is a great idea!

    lea - thank you! actually I'm finding its those last few pounds that are the most difficult to shake...

    Mommy - thank you! My problem is I have to fight the boys for the TV, so I doubt I would ever get the chance to watch workout dvds.

    Betty - Hope you had a lovely walk.

    Carol - I'm glad you have faith in me! I bet you can do anything you want too and if you want to lose pounds, you will! Just keep those grandchildren in mind - you want to be around to enjoy them for many years yet!

    Kazzy - It sounds as if I'm doing exactly what you have been doing! I'm happy to hear it works.

  12. You are so right it is so very hard to loose weight as we get older. I use to be at a very healthy weight but sitting around at night eating junk food has cause me to gain. I am trying very hard to eat healthy but it isn't easy. Great post!

  13. gayle - if you read part 2 - one of the ways I'm fighting weight gain is exercising in front of the TV instead of eating in front of it. It works! Good luck, you will make it I'm sure.


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