A Food and Wine Lover’s American Dream Weight Loss Story

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Wine Lover's American Dream Weight Loss Story: Herb and vegetable garden

This week, my wonderful dream followers, I reached another amazing goal.  I easily slipped into the size 4, super skinny, Gap, capri-style pants that I bought back at the end of November.

My delirium over this happy fact has some people wanting to know exactly how I did this, and I am more than  pleased to share, in detail, the story of how I went from a size 14 to a 4 in one year’s time.

After my gut wrenchingly frightening emergency room visit, with what I was certain were heart attack symptoms that I shared back in September, here on 8 Women Dream, I developed a plan and reclaimed my small size and lassoed my American dream life.

First, I took an honest inventory of the “diets” I had tried and, as is the case for many weight loss dreamers,  this list was as long and wide as my chubby arm.

Nutritionally speaking, this fun little journey back over three decades, highlighted things like fasting, smoking, vegetarianism, liquid only consumption, zero fat diets, abusing laxatives and other over-the-counter medications that induce vomiting, eating only once a day, eating several small meals a day,  and on and on and STOP.

Next, I evaluated my past physical fitness successes and failures.

Purchasing first in VHS, then later in DVD form, seemingly every type of workout video known to man or woman, using a couple of them a couple of times, and then purchasing a stair master, which I later re-named stare master, because that’s what I did with it after about five days, was a complete bust and waste of five hundred dollars.

To my memory, I joined a grand total of four gyms in four towns in two states over five years.

Later, during my first pregnancy, I convinced my husband that if we bought a treadmill and kept it right in the middle of the living room, all of the weight I gained in order to give him a child would come off more easily.  Result?

I gained…drum roll please…one hundred and twenty three pounds, had an 8 lb., 6 ounce baby. When my little bundle wasn’t in the baby carrier I ended up stacking it with all of her little blankies and hats atop the unplugged treadmill because it was easier for me to stay downstairs with her, instead of climbing the stairs up to her room and crib.

Truthfully, it was exhausting just to stand up off of the sofa at this weight, on my 5’ 2” frame, so taking my gigantic self up the first flight, breathing at the landing, then up the next flight was not a pleasure.

I was dangerously over weight and as a first-time mommy, overwhelmed with and by everything.

My baby girl is now eleven years old and in the span of four years between her birth and the news of my pregnancy with my beautiful son, I had lost 73 pounds.  With the nine months of my baby boy-on-board, I gained back 48 lbs., excluding the 7 pounds 3 ounces he weighed.

Then came the “jog stroller days,” where I power walked, pushing my two little loves all over creation and all the way to a 60 pound weight loss over the summer of 2006.

Moving our young family out here to this enormous property in the same year,  my professional winemaking husband who was/is the project manager to develop this once two-hundred-six- acre grass farm into a new vineyard, brought not only a heavy load to my soul, but my body as well, to the tune of PLUS size 16, XXL and the sixty pounds and four more by the beginning of the new year.

From winter of 2007 to winter of 2011, I settled in to this physical enormity and discomfort and out of my mind.

The emergency room visit for my erratic heart beat that I detail in Living the American Dream With Your Whole Heart, Only Lighter was the beginning of putting an end to the madness, and here’s what I did.

In my permanent lifestyle shift, I share exactly how I have forever and positively changed myself:

Food and the enjoyment of it, from a real “Foodie.”

First, I admitted that it was not the food’s fault that I was fat, but the hand that delivered it to my face.

Weight Loss Story: Poached egg on roasted vegetables with turkey sausageI eat high protein and low carbohydrate anything I wish, because I am an omnivore all the way.

I enjoy loads and loads of leafy greens with a good smattering of other veg and fruits, specifically berries.

The KEY FOR ME:  I know what a portion or “serving size” is, because I can read, and I do.  If I want to know what the carb or calorie count in anything is…“there’s an app. for that.“  When I don’t have a fancy-dancy phone, I turn to my PC and the Internet and within seconds I have all the information I need.

When I want super-quick fat loss, and sometimes I just do, I keep the total net carbs under 40 grams per day.  “Net” carbohydrates go like this — A serving of (whatever I want) minus the fiber equals “net” carbs.  Example:  ¼ Cup of unsalted almonds, which I adore, is 6g Total Carb, but 3g of fiber, so, net is . . . 3g per serving.

Nitrates and nitrites are a hugely pervasive in deli meats, so unless I can read with my own peepers that these meats I like, which also include some sausages, pancetta, bacons, etc., are free of these naughty preservatives, I stay away and so does the water weight.

This may surprise you to know, but I love great wine.  In fact, I help my winemaking husband produce some of it.  If I consume a dry, delicious glass of my favorite Pinot Noir, I know that while it, in fact, has no carbs, my body will burn the alcohol before the fat, so I’m careful here too.  I don’t drink beer or cocktails, so I don’t have to concern myself with the carb count in these beverages.

I drink lots and lots of water all day, however, I drink it in various forms of tea, coffee, sparkling and with lemon/lime slices.

When I have hit a plateau, say, less than a 1 to 2 lb. loss per week for 4 weeks in a row, well, I switch it up to. . .

The Calorie Game

I eat, again, whatever I want, but depending on my day’s physical activity plan, I will keep my total caloric consumption, both food & beverage, under 1200 calories for action-packed days of late spring through harvest, or just under 800 calories for cozy, indoor, sedentary or light house work kinda times.

Enjoying small treats, keeps me a small treat,” is a little ditty I smile and sing when I refuse to deprive myself of this life’s delectables. So — one spoonful of gelato, one piece of dark chocolate, one glass of champagne are some delicious, occasional indulgences for me.

Wine Lover's American Dream Weight Loss Story: Protein wraps three ways

Most of my meals are enjoyed in the beginning of the day, meaning breakfast and lunch are when I enjoy the bulk of my calories and then a very light, (before 7:00 p.m.) salad of some sort with some cheese and nuts.  I just know that my activity slows down and I don’t want to fuel up to go to sleep, you know?

Also, even if it’s just a dish for me –I dine.

I use my favorite cups or glasses, flatware, linens and china.  I even light unscented votives because the experience in itself is worth it, and it makes me feel pretty.

Cooking is a passion of mine and when I prepare something, I really love to replace much of the salt with lots of herbs, which I grow year around in my garden, for scrumptious flavor and brightness.

I cannot explain exactly why, but my body feels very lean when I do the high protein, leafy greens, low carb deal.  On the calorie counting side, I get to enjoy my favorite pastas, breads and pizza’s.  Just sharing.

Physical activities that are favorites of mine:

Building my garden, working in the hen house, hiking all over the vineyard and/or at the Oregon and California coast, shotgun target practice, dancing in my living room, playing (not just watching) on the playground equipment with my children, landscaping, including going boulder hunting on this property, lifting the rocks into the ATV and bringing them back to make them part of our outdoor home (I have over 100 good sized rocks now).

Very regular hanky panky with my husband is excellent for toning, etc., forgive me if this was too much information. Lots of outside time happily bending, stretching, reaching and twisting when I am helping prune the vineyard and train the canes of the vines, as well as the wisteria and fruit trees are some of my new favorite isometrics.

The KEY FOR ME:  Physically and mentally staying on track means that I utilize some tools that have always been available to me and keep me accountable to myself, like my new best friend, the scale.

I have two scales and they are both digital.  The one in my bathroom greets me and my new body every morning, first thing.  The other scale is packed into my bag with all of my other beauty products for the regular traveling we do and either way they are my daily companions, but my flabby extra baggage is NOT!

Another fun tool I started using after I lost the first 50 lbs., comes from the great American beauty, who also struggled with her weight, Elizabeth Taylor, “I stand in front of a full length mirror naked.”  Enough said.

Finally, my non-food “treat” is to purchase a perfect for my body type , one size smaller, pair of jeans.  When I easily and giddily slide them on, first I prance around in front of my family, then I load the previous, larger size in with the donations stuff and immediately transport them o-u-t of my home.

Once, I ordered a pair of size 8’s from Victoria’s Secret and went to Lake Tahoe for ten days. When I came home to the package and tried the new jeans on, they were too big.  YAY, hey, hey!

The Heart of the Matter

I asked myself some tough questions and faced my big, fat, ugly truths back on the hospital bed in the ER in 2011.

Why can’t I conquer this?  I have survived and triumphed over some terrible situations in my life.  Why can’t I win my own, total body?

Everything else in my life is so beautiful. What am I unconsciously stuffing down, that I refuse to deal with, so I can move forward with my dreams?!?

How well is it working for me to continually play the same old sad song of “reasons” why I can’t get this weight off and keep it off, over and over in my head?

Will I play the “All-you-can-eat” weekend, then start on Monday diet game for the umpteenth time, just one last time?

If I continue to blame my thyroid, my very thin husband, the “fat gene” and motherhood for my obesity, will I wake up tomorrow and read the news of another magic pill that will transform my fat to lean muscle in a week? Will I order a six month’s supply?

The KEY FOR ME:  When I finished my list of  reasons I was over weight, I did two things —

1. I answered my questions to me and then, and

2. THIS IS CRUCIAL: I changed the word “reasons” to “excuses.”

This is something I learned from Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, and I am beyond grateful. This was the single most important factor for me in moving forward in fully realizing my dreams.  Strength to finally push through this huge personal issue for me came from truth, and it doesn’t get much truer, for me, than this:

I can only be completely happy with every blessed area of my life if I change the way I think about the challenges it may present.

Changing my thinking, changed my conversations with myself and changed my life.

I have spent the last eighteen months substituting the word reason with the word excuse.  This word once made me bristle every time I heard it.  Now, though, I apply it to every area of my life whenever I might consider procrastinating about anything.  It has given a renewed preciousness to every day, in that, while I thought I was fully present in my life, I really wasn’t.

Not only has this simple practice been working like magic for me, it is obviously transformative, just click here to have a look at my before and after photos from Part I of this story.

There is so much I have learned in this time, and as I continue to grow into the very best version of myself, I am having a blast and enjoying a sort of romantic period of time as I enter into my 40‘s.  Even as I climb in years, I know that if I continue to always live my life with my whole heart and without excuses, the possibilities in dream living are ever within my grasp and each day to be savored.

Thank you for sharing in this delicious part of my journey.

Until next Sunday,


Wine Lover's American Dream Diet: Sweet orange bell peppers with basil-lemon goat cheese