Fourteen years ago Diane Carbonell lost 150 pounds and she's kept it off ever since.
That's a sentence that intrigues my pants off, as someone bamboozled by the keeping it off part! Diane's story at Fit To The Finish fascinates me being such a large weight loss sustained over a very long time… and she seems to be so serene about it, all with seven children, no less!
When I learned she had a book coming out I asked if she'd minding sending a review copy, and she kindly agreed. 150 Pounds Gone Forever is more an instructional book than memoir. Normally I'm more interested in the Why rather than the How, loving when an author spills their guts all over the page in juicy detail. But since this topic (mega maintenance!) is personally interesting, and I'm now down with my Whys and have moved on to the new Hows, I appreciated her straightforward and practical approach.
I was teary at times reading Diane's story, as her success made me see all over again where and why I faltered. She really did have that essential "this is not a diet, it's a plan for life" mindshift. She figured out a common sense and mindful way of living that suited her. She was not distracted by trends or what others were doing or thinking, she just quietly, consistently followed her plan. And she kept it simple and sustainable. For example, on Day One of her plan she decided walking was the exercise she could do for the rest of her life, and decided she would move every single day. So she did, and she still does.
I felt a real calmness after reading the book. Diane reminded me that you don't have to get crazy or complicated, you just need to be consistent.
I asked Diane a few questions about her book…
1. You write that you'd attempted Weight Watchers 82 times before finally coming up with your own plan. What prompted you to decide to lose weight this final time? How was your mindset different?
I was scared for my health. I feared that I'd leave my three small children either without a mother because I would die prematurely from a disease brought about by my obesity or leave them without a mother who could actively participate in their lives because I was physically unable to move easily. And frankly, I wanted to lose weight to look better and get rid of my fat clothes.
My mindset was different because I no longer wanted to "temporarily diet," but rather lose weight following a plan that I could live with forever.
2. Your Fit to the Finish plan is a three-pronged approach of watching fat intake, portion control, and exercise. Can you explain briefly how you settled on this particular approach? What made you realise the need to create your own tailored plan?
I used these three areas to make it simple. I knew I was eating way too many unhealthy fats in the form of cheeseburgers and fries, so I decided to limit my overall fat intake to 30 percent. I didn't want to count calories, so I decided to control portion sizes as a way to naturally control calories, and I knew that sitting on the couch most of the day was bad for my health and my weight loss efforts, so I committed to exercise.
I realized I needed to create my own plan because I had never had success on any other plan. "Why not try something that makes sense to me?" was actually what went through my head.
3. You write your friend "Jane" who proved to be not at all supportive of your weight loss efforts and success. It reminded me a quote from Brene Brown: "Share your story with someone who’s earned the right to hear it.” Support is so important for getting healthy, but I like that you stress choosing the right people for the job. What qualities make a good support person?
I love that quote. Losing that particular friendship was really hard for me because of the longevity of the relationship. A good support person is someone who cares more for what is good for you than what is good for them. That's what was lacking in my friendship with "Jane."
4. I enjoyed your chapter "What are you hungry for?". You have a real practical approach to dealing with emotional eating. Can you tell us about your three step method?
Emotional eating is real and that's what that chapter deals with. Until we can figure out where the emotional component fits into our struggles with food, it will be almost impossible to be healed. Even while you are figuring it out (which can take time) using a strategy to help you stop impulsive eating is important. I recommend stopping in your tracks if you find yourself about to put an unnecessary food item in your mouth. After you've stopped, wait 15 minutes or so before you eat anything. During your waiting time, evaluate whether you are hungry for food or trying to fill an emotional need. I still use this technique because even though I can acknowledge the emotions surrounding food, I still find myself trying to be an emotional eater at times.
5. You have maintained your 150lb weight loss for almost 14 years. What advice do you have for those wanting to follow in your footsteps?
My advice is to lose weight using a realistic, sustainable plan. Lose weight with the mentality that your new way of life is your "new normal" and develop a personal mantra when it comes to weight maintenance. My simple mantra is: "Never go back."
6. And finally the question I ask all Amazing Adventures interviewees… Could you sum up your Healthy Living “Formula” in ten words or less?
My healthy living formula is simple: Treat your body and soul well while keeping food in perspective. (I know that's 11 words!)