Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Weight loss is contagious!

I've been talking with my sister a lot on the phone recently. Our family is getting together for Thanksgiving, so there are some culinary logistics to work out. I thought ahead and bought lots of local New Jersey sweet corn this fall, cooked and cut it off the cob and froze it to take to New York with me. I made applesauce, too, using my grandmother's recipe. (You leave the skins of the apples on when you cook them, so the applesauce has a nice rosy pink color. I use half Macs and half Cortlands.) My parents are making our family's favorite, a broccoli and bleu cheese casserole... it wouldn't be a holiday without it!

Add all that to the usual menu -- turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, glazed carrots, etc. -- and this is going to be one groaning table. But, you know what?! I am DETERMINED that I will NOT be groaning! I can't even say that bounty like this tempts me to overeat. This is partly because I just don't have the capacity anymore, after losing 30 pounds and three sizes. But, strangely, I find myself overwhelmed by an overabundance of food now, and it makes me eat less. It's like grocery shopping... one whole AISLE of cereal??? My eyes glaze over.

But what I'm really looking forward to is seeing my sister. It's been about four months and in that time, she's been working at losing weight. I was dumbfounded when she told me she's already lost 36 pounds! She was talking about how it doesn't make sense to run out and buy all new clothes when you're still heading downward. A light went on in my head! I ran to my closet and began pulling out all sorts of shirts and pants, chinos and jeans mostly, in the sizes I'd gone down through. I washed and ironed everything -- eight pairs of pants in all. I can't wait to give them to her! Oh, and a beautiful black dress with a scalloped hem trimmed in a red floral pattern. Sigh. I loved that dress.

I know you're supposed to empty your closet and get rid of the large sizes, so you're not tempted to go back there. But I just couldn't stand the waste! I'm way too frugal. I'm so glad these clothes will have another life. And I'm SURE it won't be long before my sister's handing them off to someone else. I am so proud of her!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Roni Noone: A new mom's plan

Most women plan for a healthy pregnancy. Roni Noone had a plan for after her pregnancy.

Two weeks after giving birth to her son, Roni walked into her local Weight Watchers meeting, baby in tow. She weighed in at 206 pounds, but she wasn’t discouraged. "I knew what to do. Everything was in my corner. I was confident, even looking forward to it," she says.

From her teen years on, Roni remembers being heavy. One childhood moment haunts her. "I was 12 and I weighed about 150 pounds," she recounts. "A very tall male family member said to me, ‘We weigh the same.’ I was devastated."

Roni began skipping meals, lying to her mother about having eaten, hiding food to eat later by herself. At 14, she took a job at a McDonald's, where she made her own concoctions, grilling huge burgers in sausage grease, making sundaes with strawberry and chocolate toppings.

Alternating with bouts of sporadic dieting, Roni's weight yo-yoed. She graduated from high school a size 12. But leaving college, she weighed in the 180s, and in graduate school, 210. She wore a size 16 suit to her graduation, a size 18 while job interviewing.

Roni decided in January 2000 to try again. She tried zero-calorie diets, a weight loss clinic, diet pills. She had the most success with a low-carb diet, getting down to 155 pounds, but she was miserable. “I was obsessed. I agonized over every decision,” she says. “I just couldn't eat that way long term.”

In 2004, Roni and her husband began to talk about starting a family. Roni knew she had to find a healthy way to lose weight. Weight Watchers fit the bill. "For someone like me, it's perfect," she says. "I love keeping statistics, plotting my progress, going to meetings and weighing in."

In fact, Roni loved the supportive atmosphere of the meetings. "I was glad to have people to ask questions of, somewhere I could go for reputable answers," she says. "Before, it was always me just popping pills by myself, just me trying to make it work."

Roni lost 11 pounds over the next four weeks on the Flex Plan. But then, she discovered she was pregnant, and the deal was off. "I did eat healthy foods throughout my pregnancy, but I ate excessively," Roni admits. "I ate entire cantaloupes, banana smoothies, fried foods, burgers. I ate for eating's sake. I felt it was my last hurrah."

Not surprisingly, Roni gained 70 pounds in her pregnancy. Coming home from the hospital in June 2004, she weighed 225 pounds. But this time she knew what to do. Adopting the Weight Watchers plan for nursing mothers, Roni began to steadily lose weight, most often just two pounds a week. By January 2005, she had reached her goal weight of 149.

In Weight Watchers, portions of food are awarded points by their nutritional value, and Roni welcomed the challenge. "The plan appealed to my creative side. I was excited about figuring out how to eat the biggest portions possible for the lowest amount of points and still eat foods I enjoyed," she says. "I make the best burger ever, on an English muffin, with spinach and pickles, and it has only four points."

Roni began walking with Ryan on her back, dancing around the house with him. She shut off the television and took the stairs instead of the elevator. In 2007, she joined a Y and began using a treadmill and reclining bike. She graduated to cardio, cycling and step classes and, eventually, 5K races.

Today, at 5-feet, nine inches, Roni weighs 144 pounds and wears a size 6. Although she doesn’t consciously count points, her eating habits are ingrained. She makes meatballs with ground turkey, weighs the cheese for a baked ziti, divides meals and snacks into rough point estimates. Roni blogs about her weight loss success, which she says keeps her on track. Ultimately, though, Roni gives her son all the credit for her success.

"I didn't want to be an afraid-to-have-fun mom, a mom who sits out, who won't put on a bathing suit because she's ashamed of her body," she says. "My son gave me all the motivation I needed. He has given me a renewed sense of life and purpose."