Patricia’s finally fit at 55
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Lean Eating client Patricia was 54 years old, post-menopausal, and afraid of exercise.
One year later, having lost nearly 70lbs and 25% body fat, she lifts, hikes, and climbs with fit women half her age. And she can rock a little black dress like nobody’s business.
Here’s her story. Prepare to be motivated …
When her kids’ friends first peer in the garage and see hardcore weight training equipment — a Prowler, battling ropes, blast straps — they are understandably confused.
This isn’t quite right, they think. Where are the pink dumbbells? What about the exercise bike? But if they’re looking for ankle weights or resistance tubes in this home gym, they’ll never find them. The “beginner weights” are long-gone. History.
Instead there’s a trap bar for heavy deadlifts. There are kettlebells and 45-pound plates. This 55-year old woman — this mom — has a collegiate-strength squat rack in her basement.
“They should be jealous,” Patricia jokes. And they are.
But the jealously always turns to excitement, and the excitement always turns into a challenge.
“My kids and their friends are great athletes and they always want to work out with my stuff,” she says. “But when we put them on the Prowler they get totally wiped out.”
So while the kids are lying on the pavement catching their breath after a brutal bout of Prowler pushes, mom grabs the handles and shows them how it’s done. And when the lactic acid builds up in her legs, you can almost mistake her grimace for a smile.
Watching this woman push over 100 pounds of pure metal in her driveway you’d never know she was absolutely intimidated by exercise less than a year ago.
Oh, how things change.
“I used to love looking at before and after stories and thinking, what does it take to do that? I could never do that. I bet they feel fantastic. Gosh, wouldn’t that be nice if I could feel that way about myself?”
Married and a mother of five, Patricia (PPJAM on the forums) has been taking care of people for decades. “I’m very focused on my role as a wife and mother,” she tells me. “I absolutely love helping my family.”
But when your attention is on everyone else, it’s tough to focus on your needs.
Like most middle-aged women who desperately want to lose fat, Patricia ran the gamut of weight loss pills and procedures. “I did the liquid diet, I fasted, I had B-12 shots administered, I did Atkins, Jenny Craig, and even went to a “weight-loss retreat” in Vermont for two weeks,” she says.
But did any of it work?
“I lost nearly 80 pounds on Jenny Craig, but then I got pregnant and gained it all back,” she confesses. “I was happy to have another child on the way, but gaining the weight back was a huge disappointment. And it was a quick change — I never exercised or learned any habits, so I’m not sure if I would have been able to maintain my new body even if I didn’t get pregnant.”
So with a new kid on the way and four more and a husband to take care of at home, the next few years turned into a frustrating seesaw routine of losing ten pounds then gaining twenty back.
“I’d feel guilty any time I ate anything,” she says. “I felt like I was being judged. I wasn’t happy with the way I looked or felt. But I had no idea what to do.”
Change, it seemed, never wanted to stick around for long.
“You have to be a little selfish. And that’s a very hard thing for women — especially mothers — to realize and get over.”
Part of Patricia’s struggle to lose fat and keep it off was always feeling selfish for doing something for herself. “I felt like I’d be doing my family a disservice,” she says.
But nothing could have been further from the truth.
Last December, an email from her daughter Laura pinged on to her screen. It was a link to sign up for the waiting list of the January ’10 Lean Eating program.
“The day I signed up I sure wasn’t thinking that I’d be great at it,” she says. “I’d tried so many things before that I was almost positive I wouldn’t be successful.”
But when she received another email a few weeks later letting her know that she had been accepted, she felt a tiny spark. For the first time in a long while, Patricia was excited to give her fat-loss efforts another shot. And her family — grateful for all her love and wanting to see her succeed — rallied to support her.
“I’m a big learner and read everything on the website,” she says. “I loved how the PN process was geared toward teaching. I just hoped it could teach me how to lose the fat and actually keep it off for the rest of my life.”
Like many women, starting strong has never been an issue for Patricia. Before she started Lean Eating, her all-or-nothing attitude always helped her maintain whatever diet she was on — until she took one small misstep.
“I was always on target until that one bad thing happened and it completely derailed me,” she says. “Usually it was something small. I’d be doing great and then I’d have one cookie. That one cookie would completely upset the balance. So I’d have another. Then I’d acquiesce and move right on to all the ice cream I’d missed.”
Once she took that small step off the path, she couldn’t get back on no matter what she tried. The guilt would eat at her and she’d feel like she could never follow through.
But when she signed up for Lean Eating, something changed.
“I learned that I had control,” she says. “I realized I could have a clean slate every time I messed up because this was about my healthy lifestyle, and not just a diet. Lean Eating taught me habits and changed the way I view my body and the food I put in it. It’s a life plan, and it’s something I know I can manage forever.”
Not only that, but the 70 pounds she lost is staying off.
“Now I’m always in control,” she says.
Patricia is on the red carpet of a brand new restaurant, wearing her daughter’s dress, and feeling like a teenager.
She’s showing off her legs. (“I didn’t wear stockings or anything!”) Her bare shoulders look strong and sculpted. She looks, well, hot.
And for the first time in a while, she looks completely comfortable in her own skin. It’s something she’s wanted for a long time.
“My kids were telling me the whole night how amazing I looked,” she says. “I can’t remember the last time I’ve done anything like that.”
The restaurant is packed with go-go dancers and young hipsters, and Patricia—in her short dress and high-heel sandals — fits in perfectly.
“I certainly wasn’t the youngest there, but I wasn’t the oldest either. I felt like I belonged,” she says. “I felt incredible.”
While the opportunity to sashay down a red carpet presents itself every now and then, Patricia has other things on her mind. In fact, she has a list.
“I want to do more hiking, ride horses in Montana, and learn to kayak and whitewater raft,” she says.
Were these always goals of hers?
“Not at all. I’ve never taken the time to enjoy the outdoors, and I haven’t ridden a horse since I was a kid,” she says. “As my weight became more of an issue, I rarely did anything active. I was too nervous of being embarrassed or not being able to keep up. But now, I figure why not.”
Why not, indeed.
Just a few weeks ago, to celebrate her wedding anniversary, Patricia and her husband went on their first hike in years.
“I borrowed a friend’s hiking boots and we set off toward Smuggler’s Notch and Sterling Pond. It was like climbing stairs for a mile and a half,” she says. “Good thing we did all those step-ups and lunges in Lean Eating!”
And it didn’t stop there.
“The next day we hiked up to the chin at Mount Mansfield—the highest mountain in Vermont — and took in an amazing view. There’s a lot more things I’m willing to try now that I would have never entertained in the past,” says Patricia.
“I’m a whole new person.”
“I know they struggle the same way I struggled,” she says “I know lots of women who have miserable self esteem and feel hopeless and can’t make progress.
For all that she’s accomplished, Patricia still feels like she has a ways to go. There’s still more weight to lose, more strength to gain, more mountains to climb.
But while she’s working on herself, she’s trying to help anyone who will listen.
“I’ll be honest with you,” she says. “I look at the people around me — especially middle aged women — and I really want to help them. I want to show them they don’t have to settle,” she says.
“They need to stop looking for a quick fix. I know they’re frustrated with Weight Watchers or whatever diet book they’re doing and I feel so badly because I know there’s a better option,” she says.
“I’ve done it. I’ve lived it. And I’m going to keep living it for myself and to be an example for others.”
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