My excessive cookie diagnosis and a mathematic cure

Something happened to me this week that has not happened in a very long time.

I was getting ready for work, and when I pulled on my pants, they didn’t fit.

I should clarify. Many times during the past few years, I have tried to put on pants that didn’t fit. Hard as I tried, I just couldn’t squeeze my hips and waist into my favorite jeans.

But this was the first timeI I couldn’t wear my jeggings because they were TOO BIG!

**

During the last nine weeks, I’ve watched the number on the scale inch downward, painstaking ounce by ounce, finally reaching a number that was 13 pounds below my starting point. It’s not something that I believed was actually possible just a few months ago at the beginning of January.

I had convinced myself that it was hopeless for me to lose weight. “Once you hit your 50s, your metabolism slows down,” I read as I searched for answers on how to stop my steady weight gain the past few years. “You probably have a thyroid issue,” a doctor told me. “You might as well just get comfortable and buy new clothes,” I told myself.

In fact, I visited a few different doctors during 2022 to try to find answers to some ongoing problems that left me with very little energy and aches and pains that drastically slowed down my activity level.

I went to see a functional medicine doctor who specializes in metabolic function. He said I could sign up for his monthly program at a cost of $75 a month. He would run every test imaginable, and we would figure out what was going on.

***

Once I agreed to begin his program, a nurse handed me two test kits I would need to take home to get started in the metabolic testing program. In one of them, I was supposed to place a fecal sample. While this is the grossest thing imaginable, I had done this once before, so it wasn’t new territory. But I could barely keep a straight face when she told me I needed to put it in the box and take it to the Post Office to mail it to the testing lab.

“Is there anything hazardous, poisonous, flammable or incredibly stinky in the box?” I imagined the postal worker asking me while squeezing her nose.

“No, no…. of course not,” I would lie.

I couldn’t ever get past the horror of mailing my unrefrigerated poop, so I didn’t begin the program. But every few weeks, I would remember something else the doctor hypothesized about my condition.

“You know, during Covid, some people ate a lot of cookies,” he suggested.

 

***

Could it be the cookies?

(Please, no…. NOT the cookies!?!)

In general, I eat a relatively healthy diet. But there had been a lot of cookies.

And cakes.

And candy.

Lattes also were my drug of choice. Not to mention big bowls of caramel-covered popcorn during a hard year that included many lonely, self-indulgent days.

In my defense, I did eventually find a doctor who was able to quickly and efficiently diagnose a medical issue that was having a significant impact on my energy level. Once she provided the intervention I needed at the end of 2022, I started feeling like my normal self again. I began the year with a newfound hope and excitement for my physical well-being!

I decided to take things slowly.

***

I started the year, with an overly simplistic goal that I knew I could most likely achieve. Drink two cups of water a day.

That was it. I filled my two 24-ounce cups with water at the beginning of each day and if I could complete them both by bedtime, I could color in a little square on my habit tracker.

As I drank water and colored squares, I started to feel better about myself. I added another habit to my list. Walk one mile a day.

I did that for several weeks and realized I was walking enough that I could probably increase my goal to 10,000 steps.

***

By the middle of January, I was gaining courage and confidence. I was still convinced it would take me a decade to lose even five pounds, but maybe I could at least try.

I simply couldn’t bear the thought of one of the restrictive eating plans that I’ve either done in the past or heard my friends talk about: Keto, Paleo, Whole 30. I wasn’t going to take a pill, drink a skinny tea or join an accountability program.

Instead, I decided I would try the most basic weight loss strategy that has been discussed since the beginning of time: eat fewer calories than I burn.

Was this even still a thing? Didn’t this go out alongside the food pyramid, dial-up modems and the VCR? Could this possibly still work?

**

On Jan. 15, I downloaded a calorie counting app and began tracking everything I consumed. Just the knowledge that I would have to track every bite was enough to make me think twice before grabbing a handful of chips or snagging dark chocolate to make it through the afternoon. I cut out trips to Starbucks and carefully measured my coffee creamer so I wasn’t drinking hundreds of calories before lunchtime.

I soon got into a rhythm and realized that I didn’t have to cut out food groups or my favorite foods to land within my calorie goal. I could pretty much eat the same things I would normally, minus all of the added sugar, salty snacks, candy, and yes…. cookies!

I’ve always loved math because it’s one thing in life that is totally reliable. It doesn’t lie. It isn’t subjective. The answer isn’t correct only some of the time. Now, I found that I could use math to lose weight!

Sure, I can still lie.  I can strategically “forget” to enter a snack into my calorie counting app, hoping my body won’t find out. But I’m not fooling math.

***

In just two weeks, I shed five pounds, which boosted my confidence and bravery. Now, as I look to the end of March, just two pounds away from my goal of losing 15 pounds, I’ve changed a few more habits as well. I’m drinking 72 ounces of water a day, walking 10,000 steps most days and I’ve been doing a 20-minute weight-lifting program five days a week.

I feel amazing!

 

I’m incredibly grateful to my doctor who actually did solve a health puzzle that had plagued me all of last year.

And I’m reluctantly appreciative of the other doctor who wanted me to mail my poop, but ultimately helped me accept my excessive cookie diagnosis.

In a circuitous way, he led me to my winning weight loss strategy: math!

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One Comment

  1. You look great as always. Your now the second midlife person who has praised the benefits of weight lifting. And finally, I did t realize how much I missed your writing. Perfect ending to a great day.

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