My name is Marilyn, and on July 26, 2019, two months shy of my 70th birthday, I climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan.
This amazing feat only happened because I was able to lose the extra 130 pounds, I had been carrying for way too long. I never had a weight problem growing up, and I only began to gain weight after I left the Air Force, at the age of 31, to go to college on the G.I.Bill. Like so many freshmen, I started gaining weight because I was always sitting down attending lectures, doing homework, or at a desk at my part time job. I also had a husband and two children to care for. Mealtimes became rushed with fast food, pizza, sandwiches, and junk. After graduation, and getting a full-time job, the weight slowly continued to grow. Finally realizing something had to be done, I had to learn how to lose weight.
To be truthful, I tried many ways, and many times. I lost all my weight on Weight Watchers (twice), lost some of my weight on Jenny Craig, and I even lost some on the cabbage soup diet and other poor advised fad diets. None of these were sustainable for me, as soon as I stopped dieting, the weight would come right back, and I’d even gain additional weight because I wasn’t changing my habits. I wasn’t learning anything. It wasn’t working.
Eventually I decided that I was happy where I was, and people could take it or leave it. I didn’t care. At least that’s what I said. On January 22, 2018, my brother died after a recurrence of his colon cancer. Losing him, I worried because I was only 15 months younger than him. After I returned home from his funeral, I knew I needed a break from the norm, and my husband and I decided to go on a cruise. The night before we were leaving, I needed to weigh the suitcases. Unfortunately, my bag wouldn’t fit on the scale, so I was going to have to step on it, see how much I weighed, and then grab my suitcase to see how much over my weight the suitcase was. But when I got on and looked down, I knew that wasn’t going to work. My old scale stopped at 300, and it showed 265. I had to get my husband to weigh himself and then the suitcase to discover its weight. I was the heaviest I had ever been.
The cruise was everything I wanted it to be, and being so active, walking the ship, taking all the tours, having portioned sized meals, I weighed myself when the 27 days cruise was over, and I had lost 15 pounds.
The very next day was my youngest grandchild’s birthday, and when I arrived, I was surprised. Both my daughter and son-in-law looked amazing. They had started doing keto three months prior, but I hadn’t seen them because of being out of state with my brother and then the cruise. During the free time at the birthday party, I asked them how much they had lost, and they told me together they had lost over 60 pounds. I knew then I wanted to learn all about keto.
My daughter recommended I download two apps onto my iPhone: Reddit and MyFitnessPal. She told me Reddit was a social news platform where I could read up about what keto is, read what other members were saying and doing, and specifically I should join r/xxketo, r/xxketoover50, and r/ketorecipes. MyFitnessPal would be the app I could use to track everything I ate. She said if I was still interested in following keto she would be there for help and support after I did all the research on my own.
I downloaded both apps the same day, and signed on, and the information was amazing. The pictures were awesome, and it made me decide that this was something I thought I could do. It took me the rest of the month of May to make my decision, and of course, in that time I had already gained back 7 of the 15 pounds I had lost on the cruise. I had a wicked hard time the entire first month. There are a lot of rules, and there is an awful lot of food you have to eat (or so I thought), even with all my checking I hadn’t learned that only the protein macro is a “must”, both the carb and fat macros are suggestions--less is fine, never more though. With that lesson learned, I was well on my way to starting the best habits anyone can have for losing weight, and it isn’t a diet, it is a way of eating (WOE).
It was a very interesting journey, and I tried to keep myself encouraged by setting goals. First and most important was buying a food scale, a new electronic weight scale for me, and setting those goals. My first goal was to get under 200, but my daughter reminded me that small is better, so my first goal was to purchase an apple watch. I needed something that would allow me to keep track of my steps and remind me of getting up and moving, and make reasonable goals. So I started aiming for 10-pound increments. When I eventually did get below 200 pounds, it had taken a little over 5 months. To celebrate, I made my first post on Reddit. Before then, I had only gotten on to read other people’s posts and to comment on their success.
At that time, my original final goal weight was 170, but when I reached 170, I knew it wasn’t where I wanted to stop. I finally reached my goal of 140 in May 2019, one full year of eating keto, and went on maintenance, and it has been a learning process of adjusting my macros higher and I have seemed to settle pretty much at 135.
In June 2019, I again was spending the summer in Japan with my son and his family, and he asked us if we wanted to climb Mt. Fuji. During my last visit in 2012, I had wanted to at least visit Mt. Fuji and see what the trails looked like, but after walking up the steps (can’t remember how many steps there were but it seemed like well over 40), from the parking lot to the Fifth Station, and that time I was already so winded I knew I’d never make it further. This was back when I was very heavy and not active at all. But, when he asked us this time, I was on maintenance, and had lost all my weight, and more importantly, I was no longer a couch potato (I average 17,000 steps per day), and I boldly yelled out “yes”.
I wish I could tell you it was easy, it wasn’t. I wish I could tell you that I just kept climbing and never complained, but I can’t. I will even go so far as to say I tried every trick in the book to get out of even attempting to do the climb because I was worried, I would fail. But thanks to a very persistent son, I not only attempted to Climb Mt. Fuji, I made it all the way to the summit, and have never felt prouder of myself, or of him, for letting me accomplish this task. He believed in me more than I believed in myself.
I have been a very lucky individual. Both of my children have been extremely supportive in my journey to lose my weight for good, and they have both showered me with compliments through it all. This is especially important because my husband, while being very supportive about me doing what I want, expects me to feel the same about him. He still snacks on potato chips and popcorn and candy and anything else he wants to eat. He hasn’t given up any carbs, and he doesn’t have to. He still smokes, but that didn’t stop me from quitting smoking 10 years ago, why should his eating habits change because mine have.
This is a personal choice for me and having traveled this journey now for almost two years, I have to say I’m loving it. I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been and I’m happier than I ever expected. And I can say I’ve climbed a mountain!
This story is part of our featured series, Wellness Journeys, where we share stories from people who have struggled with their weight and how they overcame the barriers along their journey.
Now It's Your Turn
Now that you've heard Marilyn's story, what part of her journey inspired you the most? Are there ways you struggled in the same ways? What next steps will you take to reach your goals? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
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