What I haven’t mentioned is that she’s also one of my weight-loss heroes.
Sometime in her early 20s, Traci got pretty serious about cleaning up her eating habits and really slimmed down into the “Fitness Nazi” I now so fondly refer to in so many of these blog posts. I can’t tell you how many times out on the jogging trail I’ve quizzed her about what and how she eats, hoping to pick up some pointers.
I knew at some point I’d want to interview her for the blog. I just wasn’t sure whether it should be a “How Normal People Eat” interview or a “Masters of Weight Loss” interview. (To be a “master,” under the terms outlined in Anne M. Fletcher’s book “Eating Thin for Life,” requires a loss of at least 20 pounds maintained for at least three years.)
Q. After your griping at me about being afraid to tell people how much weight I lost, it occurs to me that I’ve never heard you say how much you lost. So, what was the magic number?
A. 30 pounds.
Q. Was this mostly weight you’d put on while you were working in Chicago?
A. When I finished college I started working nights. Anyone who works nights knows you eat to stay awake. Well, my eating didn’t stop there. I ate all day and all night. I not only had three meals a day but meals and snacks at night. Then, yes there was Chicago, where I started having the quarter pound meal at McDonald’s almost daily. I also started drinking a lot of pop.
Q. So what was your moment of truth?
A. My moment of truth was when I went to an Old Navy to buy some shorts and the size 14s were tight! I could not believe it. Of course my first reaction in the store was, “It’s just the Old Navy brand, they run small!” Then as I was looking in the mirror I realized it was me — I was fat!
Q. You said you made some changes to your normal routine rather than going on a particular diet. What kind of changes?
A. The first change I made was I went to Subway instead of McDonald’s. Then I gradually started drinking more water and less pop. I also stopped getting my snack of peanut M&Ms at work. I eventually cut out bread (except for subs) and potatoes.
Q. Do you think you were more successful because you weren’t “on a diet?”
A. I believe it was more a mindset. I was really unhappy with letting myself balloon like I did. I felt miserable and ugly and I knew I did not want to be heavy my whole life.
Q. Personally, I never really thought you were heavy — at least not compared to me! But didn’t you come out of this weight loss at your thinnest since …?
A. When I lost weight I actually became the smallest I’d ever been. I remember getting into size 4 pants. I never thought that was possible because I always thought my hips were literally too far apart — I realized after the weight loss it was just fat!
Q. How long did it take you to lose the weight? How long have you kept it off?
A. It took me about four or five months to lose the weight. For the most part I have kept it off for 14 years. I say for the most part because I will at times go up 5 pounds or even close to 10 pounds. But when that happens I feel miserable and take it off. I never let myself get more than 10 pounds up.
Q. After you lost the weight did you relax any of the changes you made, or did you just keep eating that way ever since?
A. I have relaxed about some things, but for the most part the changes stuck. I noticed that if I relax some things (i.e. pop), the weight goes up.
Q. How long did it take you to stop worrying about regaining the weight?
A. I still have the worry in the back of my mind. But when I had kids and could get the weight off pretty easily, that’s when I knew I could always be or stay thinner. I actually set a limit with how much I could gain while pregnant. I stuck to it and did not reach it with two of my pregnancies but with one I did reach it and went over by 2 or 3 pounds, but it came off!
Q. Did your favorite foods change before and after your weight loss? To me it seemed like you still liked — and ate — certain desserts and candy and so forth, but just had more will power about imposing limits.
A. I still love the same foods, and yes, candy and desserts are my weakness. I found that I could control myself better when I started losing weight. I felt so much better and I knew if I gave in I would be miserable again. I always thought of a saying from one of my mom’s past diets — “Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels!” So true! So I do have sweets here and there, but instead of eating the whole package at once, I have one!
Q. What is your favorite food now that you can’t have Reese’s peanut butter eggs (because of a recently developed peanut allergy)?
A. I have not found anything as great as Reese’s peanut butter eggs! I have no favorite food like that anymore. It’s a good thing! At least I will no longer be able to get together with my brother and each of us eat a whole package (six-pack) at once!
Q. What do you like most about running? Do you like it well enough that you see yourself doing it for the rest of your life?
A. There are two things I like most about running: 1) It feels like fat is just falling off. 2) Running with you is our therapy session. We get so much out and talked about! It is a great stress reliever. There have been times when I was very mad or upset about something, and by the end of the run I had forgotten about it. What a great feeling!
My plan is to do it the rest of my life as long as my body holds out. Even then, I will fight through the pain as long as possible. I was never a runner before. I always thought walking was just as good. However, as I got into running, I realized that’s not true. You do not feel the fat “falling off” walking like you do when you run. You definitely do not get the “high” walking like you do running. When you start running and get past the thoughts of “I can’t do this,” then you crave it. You want to run more and run farther.
I would have never dreamed I’d run the length of the Greenway and back, 4.2 miles, let alone 10.3 miles! I actually do this and love it — crave it!