Nicole’s AC power tool: Fast-5
Weight lost: 200 pounds
“I can play with my kids!”
“I can go to any store now and try on clothes!”
“I love exercising now. I love being out in nature moving around.”
“I can move around freely without worrying about whether I’ll fit through narrow spaces.”
“I can sit in chairs with armrests.”
“I can count on being healthy.”
“My husband is ‘all compliments.’”
As a skinny kid, Nicole played outside, road her bike, swam in her family’s backyard pool and enjoyed moving through nature. Summertime brought carefree days and adventurous nights that lingered sometimes with Nicole pitching a tent in the back yard and sleeping outdoors.
Middle school marked a change as self-consciousness and embarrassment pushed Nicole’s carefree spirit aside. As she gradually gained weight, her activity and sense of well-being both declined. It set a vicious cycle in motion, so that by the time of high school graduation, Nicole weighed in at about 200 pounds.
Comfortable conversations flowed easily between Nicole and the cute produce guy at the local grocery store she worked in after high school. Traffic between the bakery, where Nicole worked, and the produce department became brisk over time as they found many reasons to say “hi.” The movie house saw its share of action, too. They watched National Treasure for their first official date. Although the details have blurred over the years, Nicole clearly remembers that cute-produce-guy was too nervous to hold her hand. That didn’t last long, though. Just four months later, the movie was The Ring and the real action was a marriage proposal. Their friendship had given rise to sweet, sweet love.
Nicole embarked on a search for the perfect wedding dress: a fun adventure, somewhat dampened by the encumbrances of her weight. Plus-size possibilities failed to spark her imagination. She felt embarrassed and ashamed when she told the salesperson what size dress to place into the changing room. Mortified, she endured the silent judgments of strangers as they helped her into the dresses. In the end, she found a great dress for a day that turned out perfectly, except for a near disastrous wedding cake versus gravity challenge! The wedding cake survived, but even if it had not, nothing could have diminished Nicole’s happiness when she saw the emotions of her betrothed pour out to her as she walked down the aisle.
Nicole’s twenties unfolded with three wonderful babies and an unwelcome “bonus” of additional weight gain, high blood pressure and the fear of death. During her third pregnancy, she felt tired and awful most of the time. Nicole started analyzing every body twinge, worried that she was having a heart attack.
She welcomed motherhood and longed to play with her kids, but moving around proved too difficult. It sapped her motivation. She often stayed inside and spent most of her time sitting. She would find herself in a deep, dark place, but indoors, she could avoid the judgments, the shame and the blame. Inside, away from social contact, Nicole could predict and control her environment: pathways were sufficiently wide, chairs didn’t have armrests that made sitting in them difficult and her family loved her without judgment.
The Scale Tipped
Nicole’s size robbed her of countless joys in life, but something held her back from committing wholeheartedly to losing her excess weight. That changed on January 3, 2014 when Nicole stepped on the scale at an acute care clinic. The scale displayed the highest number she had ever seen: 385 pounds. Standing face to face with her mortality, everything changed. She resolved to do whatever it took to regain her health—whatever it took to be there for her family.
White-Knuckle Portion Controlling Can Work For a While
Nicole joined an online weight loss support group and for the next couple of months, the pounds started dropping. But by August 2014, she’d regained all the weight she had lost. Around that time, she heard about bite counting on a radio show. She remembered reading a blog post that had mentioned bite counting, and the idea seemed a bit crazy at the time, but maybe it was worth a shot. She “researched the heck out of it” and then decided to give it a go. She lost 90 pounds from August to December. Bite counting taught her portion control, but she was always hungry.
The Fast-5 Schedule Corrects Appetite
The constant battle against hunger ends predictably: willpower fails and hunger compels a person to eat more. Nicole eliminated her battle with hunger with an appetite correction (AC) eating schedule. In December 2015, she discovered the Fast-5 schedule, a tool in Dr. Bert’s pioneering AC regimen. The Fast-5 schedule corrected her appetite, so she could once again trust her hunger as a reliable guide to how much food her body needed.
Recapturing Life’s Enrichment
Two hundred pounds leaner since that fateful day in January 2014, Nicole now goes dress shopping in any section of the store just for the fun of it! It has become one of her favorite activities. She has even braved the swimsuits and surprised herself in enjoying the experience more than she used to as a skinny 12-year-old kid. Her confidence moves her out of the shadows now, no longer driven to blend in and avoid being seen. She seeks variety in life and takes risks. She reconnects with her childhood adventures as she watches her kids play outside. And because she’s now free to imagine possibilities without considering her size, she has made plans to “get the whole family bikes this spring so [they] can ride together.” She loves the idea that her family can enjoy that activity as much as she did growing up.
Nicole has done a lot of learning since she stepped onto her pathway to leanness. As she imagines a conversation with somebody starting out on a similar weight loss journey, Nicole offers a wise perspective: “Make sure you love yourself as you are right now.” That doesn’t happen magically. Nicole had to figure out how to love herself, a process she started in the summer of 2014. She realized, “People get it backwards when they try to lose weight because they think that losing the weight will bring them to a place where they finally love themselves. Really, you have to figure out how to love yourself and then work on the weight.”
Although the process felt awkward, Nicole started doing affirmation exercises every morning. She would stand in front of the mirror and find one thing she loved about herself. In the beginning she said, “I love my eyes.” She added aspirational affirmations, things she hoped for, like, “I love me” and, “I love my lean, healthy body.” Over time, she shed her lifelong sentiment of self-hate and, with practice and persistence, it yielded to self-love.
Wise thinking, Nicole!!
We tend to treat the people we love with kindness, so by loving ourselves at the beginning of our journey and all along the way, we set ourselves up to harness the power of self-kindness. It increases our motivation, happiness, self-esteem and resilience and it decreases psychological distress. Self-kindness magnifies the effectiveness of every tool we use and softens the blow when we fall short of our expectations.