May 24, 2010. You know how you can recall where you were and what you were doing when something important happens in your life. May 24, 2010, I was sitting in Court once again even though my divorce was final on February 7, 2007 (another one of those dates you don’t forget) after my marriage of 27 years had ended. Those 3 years were pretty tough with a lot of adjustments I never thought I would have to make. During those 3 years I just didn’t care about myself anymore, too much other stuff to concentrate on; then came May 24, 2010. When I left the courtroom that day, after once again having the Judge ruling in my favor, I decided that it was now time for me to take responsibility for my life. I was disgusted with myself and the way I looked. I was going to do something about it tomorrow – and this tomorrow really was the next day. I started walking the morning of the very next day. Since that day in May, 2010, I have walked over 1,700 miles, which includes three half-marathons. You don’t have to be a runner to lose weight, nor do you have to be a runner to participate in a half-marathon. When I started, I never thought it would take me a year to lose the weight. Luckily I didn’t look that far in the future and took it a day and a week at a time. I would go for two or three months without weighing because if the number didn’t make me happy I was afraid I would give up. Instead I just kept on walking. I tried to walk about 2.5 miles 3 times during the work week and then on the weekends I really pushed myself. Of course, I started out with short distances. If I could only explain how important a good support group is. I work in the legal department and around the 1st of June, 2010, about two months after I had made up my mind to get my body back in shape, the entire legal department decided we would participate in Montgomery’s 2nd half-marathon together. What a great motivator that was; having people that had the same goal. We would compare how far we had walked over the weekend each Monday. Everyone supported everyone else. It was a goal that we wanted to accomplish as a group and it was such a fantastic motivator for me. AND, we did accomplish that goal. Our times varied tremendously, but this was not about competing with each other, this was about each person competing with himself or herself, having their own personal goal and the others supporting that goal. Our goal was to finish the half and we all did. I am now participating in the City’s fitness class held two nights a week. For the first couple of weeks, I was the biggest whiner in the class. However, now I look forward to it. I have found that I have more energy when I get home so I get more done once I do get home. My daughter and son are so proud of me. They couldn’t believe their fat, old mom was able to finish the half. My daughter then decided it was time for her to participate in a half so we did the half in Seaside in March of 2011 together. And I use the word together very loosely. We started the half together and the next time I saw her was when she was waiting for me at the finish line, well rested by this time I might add. But, once again, my goal was to finish and improve my time, which I did. On October 1st of this year, my daughter and I participated in Montgomery’s 3rd half-marathon and my son ran the 5K. Our next goal is for my daughter to do a full marathon in New Orleans in March of 2012 and my son and I will participate in the half. I am beginning to do a little running and am hoping that possibly by March I can run the majority of the New Orleans half. I know the true runners that are reading this are falling over laughing but I have never been a runner and it takes a while for a fat, old woman to get in that good of shape. But I am continuing to work on it – baby steps. And, I guess I have served as an example to my children. Wow. At my age, I am inspiring them to participate in these activities and they are 25 and 21. That says a lot about one’s influence as a parent, no matter what the age of the child. I was diagnosed as being a pre-diabetic and having high blood pressure in the past couple of years as well. I am now off of my blood pressure medication and hope to be off my pre-diabetes medication very soon AND that means I never became a diabetic. Had I continued on the path I was on, there is no question that I would have become a diabetic and would have had to stay on the blood pressure medication as well. The benefits of weight loss are so abundant. Okay, I know you are totally bored with my story by now. You want to know how I did it. Unfortunately you know how the doctor always says "diet and exercise.” Well, that is how I did it. I want to preface this with the fact that you must decide for yourself. You have got to be ready. Something has to click. No matter how much your doctor tells you, or your spouse, or your children, or your friends, or your parents, you have got to make the decision and the commitment. I have walked and walked and walked and am still walking. It has become my time to look at my surroundings, spend time with my puppies, think about my blessings and enjoy my life. I don’t dread walking – I love walking. I only get one really long walk in a week – usually about 10 miles on Saturday. I wish I could do it every day. On Sunday I try to get at least 5 miles in and then three 2.5 miles in during the week. How has my diet changed? Well, I try to see food in a different way (but this doesn’t always work). Instead of looking at a food and longing to take a gigantic bite of it, I think, how about a small bite because in an hour from now, or in the morning, I will have forgotten about it anyway. But no food is off limits. I had a Big Mac (my favorite hamburger) and fries (yes, large) for lunch the other day. It was delicious. However, it was the first one I had had in a year. If I am really craving something, I go ahead and eat it, but I know that the rest of the day I will have to be very careful. I count calories. It is the easiest for me. I have a nice breakfast, a snack mid morning, a salad or small burger, or really whatever I want as long as it is not a lot of calories for lunch and a snack mid-afternoon. Most nights I do not eat any dinner. I have found that I am not really hungry then anyway. I was just eating because I was supposed to eat dinner. Being asked to write this article was much harder than I expected it to be. I have never written about myself before and who would have figured it would be about weight loss. This time a year and a half ago – not me. I really, really wish I could tell you about some magic pill or special M&M diet but there is not one. Believe me, I have looked. Just remember, you have to want to do it for yourself, take baby steps. Walk around the block to begin with. Get a pedometer and keep track of your steps on a daily basis. Set a goal of how many steps you want to take each day and try to do it. I have kept track of every step I have taken since October 1, 2010. Please find a good support system. I can’t tell you how much that has helped me. And be proud of each little milestone you reach. As for me, I am still a work in progress. I have lost 60 pounds but still have about fifteen to go. Is it easy? Heck no, it is a struggle every day. Is it worth it? Absolutely!!! Good Luck!!!!! If I can do it, I know you can.