Monday, September 30, 2013

Here it is!

Well well well.  Another week down.  My weight stayed exactly the same.  I’m not exactly pleased with that.  But at least it didn’t go up.   My weekend wasn’t the greatest eating wise, I will freely admit it.  I know where I went wrong and I know how to fix it.
I worked to add exercise back into my routine last week.  I got 2 zumba classes and 2 runs into my schedule.  I also went out for a bike ride with my brother and his family yesterday.  That’s improvement.  I’m moving in the right direction.
The article was in the paper today.   I feel really ‘out there’.  But I’m good with it. 
In case you don’t want to follow the link…here is the story.
SHARPSBURG — MaryFran Stotler can identify with people in the weight-loss trenches.
She understands the struggle of trying to lose a few pounds only to see them return almost overnight.
She knows about the health problems that slowly creep into your life, such as high cholesterol and arthritis.
And then there are the physical challenges.
“Almost everything you do is altered in some way,” the Sharpsburg resident said. “Simple things that the average person takes for granted are not the same for someone who is obese. Things like not being able to ride on a roller coaster because you have to fit in the seat AND be able to buckle the belt. Or trying to walk up a flight of stairs without feeling like your lungs are going to collapse or explode. Even being able to cross your legs like a lady.”
Stotler can relate because she’s been there.
Her highest weight, she said, was 315 pounds. She lost about 135 of those pounds from 2006 to 2008 and weighed 180.
But by 2010, she was beginning to gain again.
Despite positive changes in her eating habits, Stotler said something was missing.
In order to lose weight, she knew she had to hit the gym — or at least do some form of exercise.
The problem?
“I dreaded exercise with an unrivaled passion,” she admitted.
For a few years, Stotler had been hearing about Zumba, a dance fitness program.
“A friend of mine religiously attended a class and kept telling me that I should try it,” Stotler said. “I was having nothing to do with that. I was too embarrassed about my size. I was too scared to walk into a room of strangers. I couldn’t find a class that worked into my schedule. My gym didn’t offer a Zumba class. I can look back now and see that these were excuses. And, eventually, there came a day when my excuses ran out.”
Maybe, she thought, she should give Zumba a try.
When Stotler heard about a Zumba class that was being offered at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Lappans, she adjusted her schedule to attend a 6:45class offered on Tuesday nights.
“I won’t lie. I was scared and made myself do it,” she said.
That decision would mark a turning point in her weight loss journey.
Today, Stotler said she has whittled away the pounds and is “currently sitting at around 213.”
It’s an accomplishment, however, that didn’t happen overnight.
Even after starting Zumba classes, her weight loss continued to be an up and down battle, she noted, shedding pounds only to fall into bad eating habits and gaining everything back. Discouraged, she would skip classes and wasn’t focused on losing weight.
“At the end of last year,” she noted, “I turned the big 4-0 and I took a look at where I was in all aspects of my life. I thought about my weight. I liked the freedom that came with the lower weight that I had found during those ‘thin’ years. I liked how I felt and wanted that again.”
So she started watching her food intake “and I started to really push myself to my personal max in my Zumba classes. I stopped skipping classes and went to every one I could.”
This year, alone, she has dropped 40 pounds, she said.
Overweight for most of her adult life, Stotler said she wasn’t greatly affected emotionally by her obesity.
“I simply saw myself as MaryFran,” she said. “This comes from having a family that has always loved me no matter what I weighed. It’s easy to be secure and emotionally unaffected when you have that support.”
However, the physical toll was another story.
“By the age of 28, I was having problems with my knees and my doctor informed me that I had arthritis,” she said. “Yes, arthritis at 28, all self induced from too much weight on my body I also was diagnosed with high cholesterol in my early 30s.”
Then there were the restrictions caused by being obese, she said, things like not being able to use a normal towel to wrap around your body or becoming out of breath in just five minutes from shoveling snow or gardening.
“Things just don’t happen easily when you have so many excess pounds,” she said.
Stotler said realized a healthy eating plan was conducive to weight loss, but she also needed to be physically active.
Without exercise, she said, the weight stopped coming off.
Stotler can still remember the first night she walked into the Zumba class.
With some apprehension, she opened the door and did what came instinctively.
She headed to a corner in the back of the room, where she hoped no one would notice her.
When the music started, “I found myself following the steps as well as I could,” Stotler said. “OK. Maybe I just moved as best as I could; but that’s OK, too. Suddenly, the music shifted and we started to cool down. Before I knew what end was up, the class was over. Holy cow. Seriously? That was an hour of exercise? I barely had time to blink. There was no question about me returning the next week. I was hooked. I had finally found an exercise that I actually enjoyed.”
Stotler gives credit to her class instructor, Anita Binder, who, she said, inspires and encourages class participants every week.
“She pushes through her own rough days, like when she had a case of the flu, and her own injuries, never missing a step,” Stotler said. “It makes me push just a bit harder because if she can do it, then so can I.”
Since Stotler has been attending the Zumba classes, “I have stopped being worried about what I look like. I no longer try to hide in the back row. I like to stand front and center. I’m having fun and that’s what matters.”
Stotler said Zumba “gives me what I put into it. I can tone up my movements or tweak them down according to my levels, my mood and my exercise threshold. There are days and weeks where I’m not totally in the zone of losing weight. However, there are also days when I am 100 percent focused on my weight loss efforts and I push it as far as my body will allow. The benefits those days are amazing Zumba allows me to be me.”
While Zumba has helped Stotler lose weight, “I really didn’t notice the difference in my body at first,” she said. “I never have been able to see the changes as they happen. However, everyone else was saying that they could see it. I will say that when your pants literally fall off your body and you don’t have to button them up to put them on or take them off, it’s pretty obvious that it’s working.”
Also, she add, “the more I exercise and lose weight, the more energy I have.”
In addition to exercise, Stotler said she monitors her food intake through a web site and app for her phone called myfitnesspal .com
“I practice a diet of calorie restriction,” she said. “I try to steer myself toward healthier foods, but nothing is taboo if it fits into my caloric budget. I find that when my eating is spot on, my exercise follows along and vice versa. It really is a two-handed approach.
“I also know, though, and my experience proves it, that weight is lost in the kitchen and exercise is just the icing on the cake.”
In the last few months, Stotler said “I have discovered that exercise really isn’t that bad and I have added some variety to my exercise routine,” including running and bike riding.”
In addition to losing weight and toning her body, Stotler said there are other rewards to attending the Zumba classes.
“I’ve made some great friends,” she said. “It’s a very open and friendly community that adds to the attraction. It’s the fun and the social aspects that keep me coming to the class even as I’m struggling with my weight loss efforts.”
A few months ago, Stotler said, “I was with my brother and his three young kids and was playing soccer. I could never have done that at 315. I would have been the fat aunt — albeit much loved and lots of fun to be around — sitting on the sidelines cheering them on and just happy to be with my family.”
“The rewards are in everyday life when you realize what you were previously incapable of doing is now normal activity,” she said. “Life opens up when you lose weight.”
Stotler said she would like to get back to 180 pounds.
After 180?
“Well, we shall see how my body responds,” she said “I’m in this to be healthy, whatever weight that ends up being. I will say this: ‘I’ve come a long way from the decidedly unhealthy 315 pounds.’”

6 comments:

Melissa Long said...

Congrats MF! I think it's a great article!

Shelley said...

What a fabulous article - I bet there are lots of women reading it and getting the courage to step outside their comfort zones with exercise. Brava for putting yourself out there - and I love the pictures - you look great!!!

timothy said...

GREAT story! I can so relate and i'm happy you're refocusing!

Scribbles said...

So you're a famous celebrity now MaryFran!

Fran said...

Great article Mary Fran

Debsdailylife said...

Awesome!! And congrats for putting yourself out there!! Inspiration!!!