Salute to Success ~ May 2013
This month, I want to introduce you all to Patricia....many of my clubhouse members already know her as Triska in our clubhouse. I want to share her story of how she has found renewed hope since she started Project H.O.P.E. Here is Patricia's story in her own words....
"When I was very young, I was underweight. The family story is that when they took out my tonsils, I suddenly got an appetite--a big appetite. My father once teased me that he was going to have my tonsils put back in, just to keep me from going for extra birthday cake at a family party :)
The truth of it really? My life at home as a preschooler was very restricted and unhappy. But once I started school and made friends, I became fun-loving. And I, like generations before me, celebrated my new joy for life by eating. Seems I was just born knowing how.
First mention that I was getting a little too heavy was in first grade. Back then in our town, the little girls wore plaid cotton dresses to school. They buttoned up the back, and had a sash at the waist which was tied at the back in a big bow. Full, gathered skirts. As mothers did in our town, mine took my sister and me to the little local shop on Main Street for our school dresses. But I couldn't fit into the size 6 there. We had to go to Sears, all the way in Akron, to get "chubby girls 6X" for me.
Sears--the place where my father bought lawn mowers and our washing machine--and now my school dresses. My mother decided to take the situation in hand, and she put me on diets, one after another. She forced me to exercise with the tv-- Paige Palmer. You Clevelanders will remember her. Like I said, I was happier at school.
My father, who also had a weight problem (Mom put him on diets, too), would take mercy on me, and sneak me out of the house. And we would feast on his favorites--pastrami subs from the Chuck Wagon, pizza from Guido's. We live in an Italian town. No shortage of wonderful things to eat, and my father knew all the great places.
At home, he and I ate the tiny morsels which my mother served us. Then, when she left the house, he would make us all chocolate milkshakes with Hershey's syrup. "Don't tell your mom..."
By the end of the school year, the bodices of my cotton dresses were so tight, my mother could hardly button them. And summer--time for shorts. My brother learned a litany that the other kids in the neighborhood picked up---"Fat Pat, the Water Rat. 50 bullets in her hat." And there was another, about "Fatty Patty two by four...." He still says this, thinking it's funny. (PM me if you want his private phone number so you can talk to him about it :) )
In answer to my mother's harsh restrictions on what I could eat, at an early age, I became a volume eater, an emotional eater, a secret eater. I knew how to take just enough potato chips out of a bag so she wouldn't notice any were missing. Sometimes though, I alternated with starving myself when life seemed to be too much. And in our house, life was often too much.
Then it happened. I had a huge crush on a boy in the 6th grade. We used to pass notes in class--notebook paper, folded up in those little triangles. "To Neal , From Pat". "Do you like me? I like you." And the response, "I would like you, but why do you have to be so fat?"
I made the decision to find a diet that summer and do it. 1966 was my first foray into the diets of women's magazines. You all know the drill. And I actually lost weight before going back to school that fall. And I kept the weight off. I liked to wear nice clothes. No more plaid cotton dresses. This was the sixties, and I learned how to sew my own babydoll dresses and mini skirts. It was so fun to dress in the sixties, and I kept my figure right through high school.
I was no cheerleader, not popular. We had cliques, and I was classified as kind of a "square peg". In truth, I was distracted by trouble at home. I condensed my classes so I could rush home to care for my baby brother and help my father keep it all together there, and had no time for high school social life.
But even Cinderella gets out once in awhile, and I started dating a fellow "square peg" named Mike. He remains in my heart to this day. We got married a year after high school, and we had a very happy short time together, before he passed away.
And that is when the eating disorders really got out of control. I starved myself out of grief, down to 90 pounds. Then, later in college, I gained, up to 130. Then lost, then gained--I had jeans in every size from 3 to 12.
And when my second husband left me when I was in my 30s, I gained and gained some more. I remember the exact moment I decided to stop in at Dunkin Donuts, after years of abstaining. Out loud, I said, "Oh, the h*** with it..." From that point on, I ate until I weighed 250 and stopped weighing myself. I started to smoke, and suffered from depression.
Then I met my current husband--and with his help, and a lot of hard work, the depression finally left me. I lost 50 pounds in the early 90s because we wanted to have children. At 200 pounds, I conceived our daughter. I developed gestational diabetes and had an excellent doctor who helped me keep a healthy weight during my pregnancy, and coached me to lose another 10 pounds after my daughter was born.
I stayed between 190 and 200 pounds for years. I decided that this was good enough. I just didn't have the will power to diet. Exercise never even occurred to me.
Then, when I turned 50, my doctor--a normally quiet, gentle little man--put his finger in my face and told me I was going to have a stroke or die in 10 years if I didn't start taking care of myself by getting to a normal weight.
Back to the diet plans. No carb/high protein, high fiber/low fat. Rotation Diet. The Zone. Like always, I couldn't stick with it and I didn't lose anything. My doctor was getting impatient. Every year, I dreaded my checkup. His face would get so red when he weighed me! His words scared me. But I honestly didn't believe I could do what he was asking of me.
I have experienced a lot of things in my life, and I have seen a lot of things. But nothing could prepare me for what happened next. In 2005, my husband of 20 years had a massive stroke which changed his life and robbed us of the man he was. Our daughter had previously been diagnosed with autism, and I thought my hands were full with her until this happened. Now I had two to take care of. And no one to help me.
My days became very challenging, and I knew I wasn't going to be able to keep up unless I changed my ways. What if I had a stroke next? What would happen to all of us? So I tried one of the prepackaged food programs. And I started to lose a little, but the food was loaded with mystery ingredients, and after a few months, I quit.
More years went by and I ended up in the ER for fainting episodes. I just was not healthy. I tried that same program again, and this time, with the first order, they included an aerobics DVD. I had tried Richard's STTO1 years before, but thought it was too much for me, and it got shelved. This time, I started out by doing only 5 minutes of this DVD a day. And the next week, I bumped it up to 10. And soon, I was doing 30 minutes, then an hour.
I was 55 years old, and had never exercised daily. But now I was getting up early so I could get in a full hour while my daughter and husband slept. It was perfect! I didn't have to leave the house. I could still be available when they needed me. But now I was also taking care of myself.
And in August of 2009, I found Richard again--on QVC, with Wendy (Kirksgirl in the CH). I was so impressed by how beautiful Wendy was! And suddenly I saw who Richard was. I had seen him lots of times on tv, but this time, when he looked into the camera, I felt like he was looking at me. He was talking to me. I ordered the Sweatin' to the Oldies set and when I saw there was a Clubhouse, I joined it. And I began to lose weight again--in a healthy, logical way with the FoodMover. What a relief, to eat real food again!
The positive attitude of Richard and the Clubhouse helped me face each day with a smile (and often a laugh). It became my Happy Place, and it still is!! I don't know what I would do without my Clubhouse friends, and without Richard. I just wish it hadn't taken me so many years to get here. But I'm here now!!!!!
Next checkup, my doctor beamed!! My numbers were great, my cholesterol was normal. Keep up the good work, he said. Yes!
Then, one day, I learned that my baby brother back in Ohio had been diagnosed with cancer. So started the treks from New Hampshire to Ohio to be with him, and the prayer vigils, and the waiting for test results. And finally, the funeral.
I was just 10 pounds from goal weight, when he left us. It hit me hard. After a period of starvation, I began to eat. And I gained back almost all that I lost.
So there I was. Back in the yo yo pattern. And about a year ago, back to the ER for emergency surgery after yet another binge.
I have to say here--no one in my real life sees this unstable side. It's quite the opposite. I am the one people come to when they need help. But inside, where no one sees--I cope like an addict. I am a food addict. Admitting that opened my eyes. You can't defeat the giant unless you realize he is a giant.
I have a whole wall next to my computer, of notes from Richard...."Patricia, you keep gaining and losing." "Patricia, you need to focus". I read every one of those notes every day. I thought about how much Richard cares about me. Why don't I listen? (Thank you, Richard, for never giving up on me!!!!)
This past January, I realized my 10 years are almost up, since the good doctor's first warning. And I was still being reckless. Am I going to have that stroke? How long am I going to play this game?
Then comes Project H.O.P.E. My lifeline. My new start.
I decided that enough was enough. I decided that, if Richard was going to put so much blood, sweat, and tears into something for us, then I was going to do it and do it right. I was going to listen. I was not going to sabotage it by making changes. 90 days of sticking to it, start to finish. No excuses. Put Richard in the "driver's seat" and just see where he takes me.
And that is what I am doing. As I write this, I am on Day 56. I have done the workouts every day, following the schedule in the Success Guide. I have used the FoodMover the best I know how, every day. After about 20 days, I lost the urge to binge. I am reading stories of others who have found success, too. I am looking for those little tips that will help me. And I am talking about it in the Clubhouse--because telling people makes me accountable. I love the support I get in return!!! And I know it is encouraging to others, too.
On the BMI chart, I am no longer "obese"!!! I am in the 150s, having lost 22 pounds on H.O.P.E. so far. That's 100 pounds down from my highest point. And I am still going....
I am amazed myself, that I am shrinking :) I can hear Richard's voice, "This time, I am doing it! I am going all the way!" Don't you love that little button on the Electronic Food Mover?? I sure do :)
When Project H.O.P.E . arrived and I opened the box, I knew this was something special. I unpacked each item and examined closely. I listened to all the DVDs and cried and laughed and got goosebumps, hearing the songs. I told Richard that the lyrics are therapy for me, and they are.
My favorite? All of them! But "There's Always Tomorrow" feels like it was written just for me :)
I am not at goal. I have a long way to go. But I have broken decades of bad habits doing Project H.O.P.E., and I know I am going to live a longer, more productive life because now I am taking care of myself. And I love the way this feels!! I am already making my plans for how to do maintenance.
I know I have the power to get to my healthy weight, and I know I have the strength and knowledge to never go back.
Health, Optimism, Passion, Energy.
And my new thing---permission to be silly :)
You know, this gives me the opportunity to say something in front of everyone:
Thank you, Richard Simmons. Thank you for coming into my life, for reminding me that life is a joy--for teaching me how to save my life. You know I love you.
And thank you, Clubhouse Friends. I love you all. With your help, I am going to make it!!"
And thank you Patricia for sharing your story with all my website friends! I'm so proud of you and I just know you'll keep going and reach your goal!