My life used to be a series of ‘ifs’. Life would be better if I lost weight. My marriage would be happier if I lost weight. I would not be so tired, depressed or unsociable if I lost weight. I could buy nice clothes if I lost weight. I spent years, so many years, with my life on hold as I told myself, I will go here as soon as I have lost x number of pounds. I will visit so and so, go to that party, invite aunt and uncle, travel, buy that dress, those shoes, that coat as soon as I have lost x number of pounds. Things will be better as soon as I have lost the weight. It never happened. I would start a diet, gung ho and sure of myself. My entire existence would revolve around that diet. Everything bowed down to it and gave way to it. The focus was on what I was eating, my daily progress with the scale. I thought of nothing else, did nothing else. Everything in life was waiting on my weight loss. I was always hungry, always thinking of food. What could I eat, how long till I could eat, what I wanted to eat, what I should not have eaten. I was cranky and unhappy and not living life or enjoying my days. The highs were higher and the lows lower. The weight loss was always incredibly slow and disappointing and I soon cheated and regained everything and lost heart and gave up and solaced myself with everything I had missed so badly while on whatever diet it was. I learned nothing. I knew how to lose weight but I did not know how to keep it off or I did know how but it was an unacceptable sacrifice that I would not and could not make. When I went through menopause I swore I would never diet again. I would teach myself to accept myself as I was. I would get rid of my skinny clothes and buy the nicest clothes I could get in my size. I would start living. I limited myself somewhat. I did not binge on goodies. I avoided some things as a matter of course but I ate what I wanted, when I wanted for most of the time and over the following ten years I gained about ten pounds per year but I was living my life and no longer focussed on food and weight and it was liberating. As I had feared all those younger years, my fat drove my husband away but I no longer cared. I was tired of fighting the losing battle. Once living on my own for the first time in my life I found incredible happiness and security. My life was my own for the very first time. I followed all my own desires at every moment of every day and started actually living. I did not care what anyone thought and did not feel bad about what I saw in the mirror. I was 225 pounds and happy with it. I strutted around like the world was my oyster. There was absolutely no penalty in existence for my being overweight. There was no a price I was paying for being fat. I was content until I hit 255 and was closing on 70 years of age. Things started to hurt, life became difficult in small ways. I began worrying about my health, about falling, about how hard it was to roll over in bed, how circumscribed my life had become because I could no longer comfortably walk a kilometer just for the pleasure of looking at the scenery. God forbid I should walk for health. My heart gave out some warnings and one day I picked up the book of my last diet. The only diet that had ever worked. I had found Dr. Atkins book in 2003 and put it into practice with my usual dieting fervor. It was different in the extreme. I was still focussed, my life still revolved around the diet, everything was still on hold till it did its magic but this time I was not hungry. I didn’t spend my days thinking about what I could not have, what I was craving. And, best of all, it worked like magic. I dropped 60 pounds in almost no time at all. I was thrilled. Losing weight was POSSIBLE. Then a major crisis happened in my life and I just stopped the diet that required me to avoid alcohol because I needed to drink. In less than a year, by the time the crisis, which lasted almost that long had passed, I had regained the entire 60 pounds plus a few friendly pounds. The next crisis was the ending of my marriage but as I explained that was no bad thing for me. This time when I picked up the book and decided to try again, I was in no hurry. I was not doing this for my marriage, for my children, for my social life, for my wardrobe. I had all the time in the world (okay at my age, lifespan is a consideration) and would just do it as an aside to my every day. I knew in my heart that Atkins worked more painlessly than other diets, I knew losing weight slower was safer. James Coco and other overweight comedians who lost a huge amount of weight in a short period of time…seemed to die within a year or two of that major weight loss. That seemed to indicate losing weight could be dangerous if done wrong and I was already having a problem with my heart that I could possibly attribute to that first too fast 60 pound loss. One day I just started. The pattern of life my in the seven years I had lived alone was easy. I still limited the sweets in my life. I still limited the junk food but I had what I wanted when I wanted it, if I wanted it. I smoked all summer when I could sit on balcony in comfort and then quit in the fall and then I would start drinking and I would drink all winter. Eight ounces minimum of wine or twelve of beer or four of the hard stuff…way more than the doctor said was allowed for a woman. I was not worried about my liver, it was the direct calories that I thought of as I consumed it each day. The day I started this diet was October 14, 2013 I was 248 pounds. I had just quit smoking at the end of September and had not had a taste of alcohol since June. I picked up the Atkins book and decided number one…I would not start drinking. I would not place my order for my special Christmas cookies, I would fill my freezer with meat. It was just that simple. As it had before, I had no cravings, I was not focussed on food. I was not focussed on weight loss. I was living my life each day doing what I wanted, thinking of the things I wanted to do that day. The weight came off. I joined an online weight loss site that allowed me to track my calories and carbs daily. It had a graph to chart my losses and gains. I only got on my scales once a week and the first time the needle didn’t move, I was not devastated. I did not really care. There was no penalty for no loss. I made it through Christmas without gaining weight. Last winter was the worst in a long time but I actually enjoyed each and every day. SADS did not hit, I did not carb load, I did not spend a lot of money on alcohol or sweets. The weight was coming off slowly but surely. I could see it in the mirror. Then there came the day I tried on the next size down and it fit. I did not exercise except for going to the building pool in the summer a few times just because I finally fit into my bathing suit and wanted to see if I liked it. I did a few other things this past summer that I had not done since the first year I lived in this town. Just for fun and to remind myself of the pleasures of the past. I am a solitary so few people commented so compliments were not in evidence but the most important people were pleased…me, myself and I. When I reached half way, a full 50 pound loss out the 100 goal I had set myself, the weight loss seemed to slow. My sister visited with goodies and I did not make any attempt to restrain myself and gained five pounds easily. I tried harder at the reunion I attended and only gained two pounds. I am still very sensitive to carbs, a very small amount makes an instant difference but this time regaining ground was easier and I didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater just got back on track. I wondered if I was self sabotaging because I was afraid of running out of clothes that fit when I could not afford to buy any clothes in smaller size. Then in the space of two weeks I got compliments on my weight loss and in each case when I said I had lost 50 pounds and only had 50 pounds to go, they all said ‘no way’ you don’t need to lose another 50…that is crazy. When I said that I still weighed 200 pounds and yes I did need to lose that much, they all pooh poohed me and said it would be too much. It felt a bit like a mind fuck because I remember being 150 pounds just before my third wedding and having to go on a major weight loss regimen back then to lose twelve pounds to fit into my wedding dress. I wanted to be 120 and was not truly satisfied with the 140 I was on my wedding day at age 40 but it had to do. I remember vividly being 120 and only wanting to get back to 115. I remember being 130 and desperately dieting to get to 120. I had never been happy at whatever weight I was at. I look back at photos of myself and think ‘WTF’ All those years of thinking I was fat when I was thin and then the years of being fat and thinking it doesn’t look that bad. I knew how anorexics could look in the mirror and not see what was there because I had never truly ever seen what was really there. Even now I wonder what other people see because I know what I am seeing is not reality somehow and so when they say you look great just as you are…you don’t have to lose any more…I wonder about reality. The diet is here to stay, I have my goal, I am not in a hurry, I am living each day, one at a time, filled with doing exactly what I want when I want. There is absolutely no one in my life that I have to impress, no one I have to please, no one who can make any demands on me for anything. I have love for, obligations and duties to children and animals but they are not whips to beat myself with…I am in control of when and how I do things and these days I never put myself last in anything. I have learned, finally, to say no. Saying no to things other people ask makes it easier to say no to that first glass of wine, that ice cream sundae, that slice of chocolate cake. Now if I could learn to say no when the bookstore calls my name and my pocket book seems to open wide in an instant and pours out all my budget. I spend clothes money on books and maybe in the future when I have reached my goal or come close enough that I need skinnier jeans…I will be able to make a trade, six pocket books for a pair of jeans. Life is good and I am truly happy for the first time in my life. There are lumps in my oatmeal like there is in everyone’s and they are generally concerns over my children…their health and happiness, my animals…their longevity and health, my finances…can I hold to my budget, my health…how long do I have and have I prepared enough so that my ending does not cause my son, the executor, too much aggravation. Everything else in my life is gravy. I am one very lucky woman.