“I lost over 35 pounds this year.”
That’s a conversation starter – and it’s the holy grail of conversations if you’re a woman over the age of 40. (And I’m 55!)
It’s also true in my case. Over 35 lbs. Almost 40 lbs now. I didn’t expect it and it kind of surprised me.
The Secret Weight Loss Diet You Don’t Want
I got sick: that’s how over half of those pounds came off. But that was the second half.
Here’s how I got sick: A few weekends last year, I thought I had a “bad stomach” … but that turned out to be diverticulitis politely knocking before it smashed down the front door of my health in September of 2020 and shouted, “Pay attention now, dummy! You can’t eat that much meat and fat and expect to live forever!”
Did you just gulp hard? Have you been eating too much meat and drinking too much alcohol? I hear you. That was my pandemic until my new best friend diverticulitis came and sat on my lap like the ugliest dancer you ever saw. (Diverticulitis is basically an inflammation of your colon and it affects everyone differently. Some folks get it once and never again. Some folks live with it popping off regularly. Some folks get surgery.)
But what really happens with diverticulitis? You do a lot of unplanned fasting as your angry gut tries to heal.
- Days of chicken bone broth and jello.
- Gallons of water.
- Maybe a cracker here and there.
This kind of fasting will literally melt the pounds off you, no matter what your age or whether menopause has camped at your doorstep. (Fucking menopause, the surprise date nobody tells you about for YOUR WHOLE LIFE … but that’s a conversation for another day.)
But the other 15 lbs I lost? That came before diverticulitis.
How I Lost the First 15 Pounds
Back in the spring of 2020, when we were all still scrubbing our hands before we knew COVID was in the air, I was still living in California, doing my usual lifting and eating. And I made three important changes:
- Increased my number of weekly workouts (from 2 to 5)
- Increased my daily walks, in length and frequency
- Increased my sleep
But I had done all of that stuff before (and messed with my eating a bunch) and nothing had changed. Why did it work now? Because I took two more steps.
The Two Key Factors That Changed Everything
While I was busy doing some form of athletic activity every day (and some days, two or three things), two other factors jumped into the daily picture:
- I stopped using an alarm clock.
- I stopped giving a fuck.
I can’t overestimate the importance of both of these steps in regaining control of my life and my health. I believe strongly in them and I’m kind of amazed no one has written “The Stop Giving a Fuck Weight Loss Program.”
And what do I mean by that? I mean for the first time in my life, when my work said “Jump!” I paused … and said, “No, I don’t think so.”
My Twisted Addition to Work And How Toni Morrison Saved Me
I’ve been a workaholic most of my life. My self-worth was long tied to my ability to achieve from my earliest days in a very competitive, Northeastern family. I produce like a mofo and I love to work … but something in the pandemic broke me. Something tore that need for validation right out of me. I looked around and for the first time in my life I really understood that I wanted to be with my family first and everything else – even work – came after them. Suddenly and through no willful force of my own, I was no longer in love with work.
Toni Morrison once said this about work:
- Whatever the work, do it well, not for the boss but for yourself.
- You make the job; it doesn’t make you.
- Your real life is with us, your family.
- You are not the work you do; you are the person you are.
I wrote about this quote in the beginning of the pandemic and this philosophy hit home like never before. I still worked but my work suddenly had boundaries. Strict boundaries. And I was no longer crying in the Trader Joe’s parking lot.
What Happened When I Stopped Giving a Fuck
That’s when the weight started coming off. Seriously. It was like those fucks and pounds were joined together. As I ceased giving a fuck, I stopped weighing so much. 5 lbs off … 10lbs off … 15 lbs off.
And then I moved … in the middle of a pandemic. (I’m not always the brightest bulb.) Santa Cruz was a wonderful town for nine years but it was time for a new town and a new life where I could grow in new ways.
And wouldn’t you know it? The day after we emptied our moving pod, my angry gut announced itself in a very clear and direct way like Morgan Freeman in a voiceover: “STOP EATING SHIT.”
One emergency room visit at 5am on a Sunday morning and I adopted a new way of eating. Gone was the red meat, the alcohol, anything fried, and all junk food.
I never looked back.
Next up came more medical issues (head, neck, shoulder) as my body surfaced old pain and injuries like a cat and a hairball. Months later, I’m on the mend. And I’m almost 40 lbs lighter.
Why Am I Telling You This?
Because there’s always hope and often it sits in a weird seat. We get bogged down in our lives and everything is so confusing and we get frustrated and we want to give up. I get that.
But you always get to choose your attitude. Always. No matter what. (And if you haven’t read Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, you need to.)
You can give up and decide everything is garbage, but I’m here to tell you that until you really figure out how to destress fully, life is rougher than it has to be … and you might be heavier than you want to be.
The One Secret You Need to Remember
Truly and fully give a fuck about yourself.
I mean it. Don’t just make plans and abandon them again because you’re frustrated. Dig to the root of your stress and learn how to handle it. (I meditate daily and I recommend everyone do it. You don’t need anything special. Get an app and park yourself on the couch and learn how to breathe.) And ditch the alarm clock if you can.
And if you’re down in the dumps and you feel like you’re wearing a fat suit and it’s not ever coming off? I get it. I was you and I’m here to tell you: hang on. Keep working. Things might change just when you least expect them to.
And maybe you might want to ask yourself:
- Am I moving my body every day? (And recovering properly.)
- Am I waking up without an alarm clock?
- Am I working too much?
You’ve got the power to change your life. You always did. Here’s hoping you find your way to the body and the health and the life that you want. I’m rooting for you.