By Dianne Kemp
“I’ve always had issues with my weight”. People say that often – whether it’s losing weight, gaining weight or maintaining their weight. And it has certainly been an issue for me.
My problems started – as so many things do – during my childhood. My mom was very controlling and had amazing willpower. I think she had O.C.D. – but that was not something that was diagnosed back then. She was especially obsessed with her weight. Every morning, she weighed herself. If she was a few pounds below 130 pounds, she would eat “normally” that day. But if the scale showed a number near 130, she would barely eat. This habit kept her at a healthy weight all her life – not a bad habit.
I do not remember when I learned how important my diet was to my mother. But I do remember the “rules” ….one dessert a day (such as one cookie), ice cream once a week, no snacking. And she held herself to those rules, as well as me.
We always had sweets and snacks in the house – my mother had awesome willpower. An example, every Christmas she would receive a box of chocolates from a friend. That box of chocolate lasted into the summer. Once every week or two, she would bring the box out of hiding and let us choose one piece. One.
I followed these rules throughout my childhood and then during my teen years, I had a short spell of anorexia.
After my marriage at age 19, I slowly gained weight – feeling the freedom of living away from my mother’s watchful eye.
I had three children and gained and lost weight over the years but was always overweight. In 1982, I had my third child, a son with multiple congenital anomalies. My life was totally out of control – trying to care for a household, a seven and four-year-old and a newborn who spend most of his first nine months at Children’s Hospital in Detroit. By the time my son was two years old, my weight was at its highest. Life had calmed down a bit but still felt out of control. Searching for something I could do for myself to soothe my anxiety, I decided to lose weight. For the next year, I completely changed my diet and started daily exercise (I had a routine I did daily on a mini trampoline). I lost 85 pounds and felt great. I was very proud of myself and felt I finally was taking some time for myself.
Fast forward thirty four years – two divorces, a bankruptcy, bilateral knee replacement surgeries, children moving out of state, mother, father and disabled son passing away, loss of my dream job due to downsizing and six surgeries on eyes and loss of vision in one eye due to retinal detachment resulting in early retirement from the career I loved and my life was again out of control and my weight was 265 (I am 5’9” tall). I felt awful – emotionally and physically.
In July 2016, I started going for walks and changed my diet. I purchased a Fitbit and documented everything I ate, what I weighed, how much water I drank and how many steps I took.
Clothes started to feel too big as the scale recorded my slow, steady weight loss. My daughter visited in March 2017 and we went shopping for new clothes for me. The change in size was a shock to me – a good shock!
In March 2018, I reached my goal – 164 pounds. A loss of 101 pounds. I feel proud and amazed. And thankful that I inherited my mother’s willpower.
I am often asked how I lost the weight – people assume that I had weight loss surgery. My answer is simple – diet and exercise.
Is my life in control now – it’s better but really, are our lives ever totally in our control?
But life is better. I feel healthy, I have started volunteering at a local hospital, my attitude is more positive.
For me, the key to weight loss and maintenance is self-awareness. I need to constantly be aware that I need to take care of myself, so I can give to others – giving makes me feel wonderful emotionally and that is important to me.
Happiness in so many areas of life is finding that key for ourselves.
Dianne Kemp was born in Detroit and moved to Lexington at age 9. She received her Associate Degree in Nursing Science in 1972 from SC4. And a Bachelors in Healthcare Psychology from Graceland College (Iowa) on 1996.
Dianne’s career developed from her love of babies. She was a Maternal Child nurse for 45 years – developing and teaching childbirth and parenting education classes, working as an RN in Mother Baby Care and was the first lactation consultant in the county. She is now volunteering as a chaplain at River District Hospital since losing her vision in her left eye due to a retinal detachment in 2010.
Dianne is the proud mother of three children (one who was disabled and passed away in 2007) and two grandchildren.
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