At the end of my first survey with the NWCR it asked for a personal statement and this is what I wrote, though they did say I could emphasize anything the survey may have missed, so in a way this is the complement to the NWCR survey:
I never used to worry about my weight, just thought I was “fat but fit” until 2001 when I had some binge eating behavior and began working the 12 steps online with the Recovery Group. I did not lose a significant amount of weight, just looked for a healthier relationship with food. I eventually worked all the way through the steps for codependency and depression, though abstaining from chocolate over the last 10 years was part of that which I feel has stabilized my mental health, and I feel helped me not to become morbidly obese.
I lost 26 pounds in 2002 doing Body for Life but could not sustain the very difficult regimen, and when I had trouble getting pregnant I regained about 15 pounds. I had orthorexia during a pregnancy in 2003, which made me fearful of dieting until 2010.
I have been a member of the Sparkpeople website since 2008, at first just signed up to help a friend. I tried it a couple of times, mostly tracking fitness, until 2010. In 2010, when I reached 212 after a foot injury, I tried a 4×400 calorie plan I read in a magazine, plus all the vegetables and fruits I wanted (a modification of weight watchers point system I had read about in a different magazine) and I started working out. I lost 6 pounds in 3 months (to 206) and became pregnant right after my 40th birthday. I took a break for a couple of years. I usually maintain weight for most of pregnancy, winding up with a net loss after delivery, then regain weight while nursing which I do for 1-2 years.
My triggering event was a life insurance examination late in 2011, when my build and disqualified me for the best rate. Many of my lipid profiles in my lab report were borderline high. My weight was approaching my 206 lb. pre-pregnancy weight, which meant to me that I wasn’t taking good care of my health. This was my key motivation throughout my 50+ weight loss in 2012.
I had been using the website healthmonth to make “kaizen” changes to my health like eating one raw fruit or vegetable per day or drinking so many glasses of water, and so a rule I set for myself was to track my food, and I decided to do this at Sparkpeople. The Sparkpeople tracker guided me toward a DASH diet way of eating which is how I now describe my food intake. I was still nursing a baby so it was important to me that I lose weight moderately (1 lb. per week) and replace junk food with healthier choices.
On Sparkpeople I connected with their maintenance community and learned about the NWCR about 9 months into my weight loss. I became familiar with the idea that maintaining weight loss takes concerted effort, though I have always argued that it is different, not harder than weight loss. I think my cognitive regulation skills obtained through depression and codependency recovery have been key to avoiding emotional eating. While I reached my high weight despite being in recovery and abstaining from chocolate, my highest BMI was 32, and I think it would have gone much higher otherwise.
I reached a normal BMI in December 2012 and set out to learn everything I could about maintenance, and by April of 2013, came to feel that I understood enough that I wouldn’t fail at maintenance accidentally. The key piece of that puzzle was understanding what is meant by “dietary consistency” (in the 2005 NWCR paper on Long Term Weight Loss Maintenance). For me, this means having the same nutrition goals day in day out, week in week out. I strive for 2,000 calories a day intake, mostly from plants, and make adjustments to my amount of fitness to stay in a range of 150-160 lbs.
In addition to online support and emotional regulation skills, I have had several breakthroughs in belief, or paradigm shifts, where the success of another person has helped me see that I am not genetically destined to remain fat (my mother), I could have a normal BMI (my sister) and long term maintenance is possible (friends on sparkpeople). I guess there was a box for that on this survey, that I would have marked if I’d thought about it, but it was not a singular inspiration. I’ve also seen many people I respect lose a lot of weight and regain, which has given me a kind of reverse inspiration. Ultimately, this “lifestyle change” has lead me to seek a career in healthcare as a nurse or PA.