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My Story of Realistic Weight Loss

Jean teaches astrology, tarot & metaphysics. She is an author, ordained nondenominational minister, & member of the NJ Metaphysical Ctr.

Water Aerobics is Not Just for Old People!


Be Sensible Regarding Weight Loss

I lost sixty pounds twelve years ago, and managed to keep at least forty five of it off! I cannot say it was easy, but it was not so difficult either. It took will power, determination, and a firm desire to take control of my life. I had to get over some fears too. We all have our demons and excuses. Each little step gave me more confidence. Now I eat healthy foods and drinks, have better health, more energy, and enjoy my life more. At some point everyone needs to lose a few pounds, so I would like to share my experiences with you.

I believe it worked because I made lifestyle changes and didn't go on a fad diet.

Causes of Weight Gain

I led a completely sedentary life. I was overeating. I was also taking several medications. One was hormone replacement therapy, and the other for hypertension.

The best place to start your weight loss plan is to find out whether any medications that you take might cause weight gain. Ask your doctor or health care provider about any and all medications you take. I did tell my doctor that I began the HRT in May, and by December of that year I had gained twenty five pounds, without changing my eating habits. He just brushed that off! Never settle for this kind of behavior from anyone when it comes to your health! You know more about your own body than a health care provider that sees you several times a year, if that often.

I researched and got new doctor's opinions and it seems that both of these medications were causing me to retain water. I was able to gradually go off the hormone replacement treatment with no bad effects (that was the main water retention culprit) and I found a hypertension medication that worked better for me. So I already made a positive start!

I decided to cut as much fat from my diet as possible, since high cholesterol runs in my family. Mine was slightly elevated at that time. So I made one diet change first. I had been eating a large bowl of ice cream as a snack every evening. I changed to eating a non- or low-fat ice cream, such as Skinny Cow or Weight Watchers. You can try whatever is available in stores near your home, but try to keep it to no fat or only two grams at best. This change may not seem very significant, but after one month I lost five pounds. This was just from one little snack change!

I felt more in control and decided to make one more change. Oatmeal is very good for you, and many people eat it because it both lowers cholesterol and is also a heart healthy food. A whole bowl is only a little over one hundred calories and really fills you up. I used the instant kind and they come in all flavors. But you probably have cinnamon, raisins, some maple syrup or brown sugar in the house. Use them to give your bowl of oatmeal better flavor and to make it seem more appetizing.

Avoid the "creamy" flavors. They have fat in them. Cutting down on your portion sizes is helpful as well. You do not have to stop eating everything you love. Just eat less of it. I love bagels. But Thomas', the maker of English muffins, makes mini-bagels that only have about 110 calories and you can go easy on the butter or cream cheese. Coffee and tea have no calories, so as long as you don't go overboard with the sugar, you can have as much as you want. I hope you are using milk that is at least 2 percent reduced milk fat. Also, sometimes when you think you are hungry, you are just thirsty. You need those eight glasses of water a day, just like your mom told you.

Tips for Realistic Weight Loss

1. Drink 8 glasses of water daily, preferably not bottled. If you need to squeeze a little lemon, lime, or orange in to give it some taste, then you benefit from more citrus too.

2. Plain or flavored seltzer has no calories. I drink it in the evenings.

3. Buy fat free half & half to enhance the flavor of your morning coffee. Plus coffee, tea, and iced tea have no calories until you add sugar. Brew your own iced tea, it's cheaper, and you'll have that good, real tea flavor without all the added sugar.

4. I completely stopped drinking alcohol. It's only empty calories anyway. If you want to indulge though, just alternate drinks with a club soda or seltzer each time.

5. Use unsweetened applesauce or plain or vanilla yogurt in place of the same amount of butter in recipes. Butter and oil are your enemies, use spray oil like PAM on your cookware. Olive oil is good for you, but don't overdo it.

6. Make dips with yogurt instead of sour cream.

7. Many ice cream companies are making low or no fat ice creams. Check out Ben & Jerry's new line of "Fro-yo." It comes in Cherry Garcia, Chocolate Fudge Brownie and several other flavors, with only 2 grams of fat, great tasting. Skinny Cow and Weight Watchers also carry healthier ice creams. I guess you can see what my weakness is!

8. Don't buy fattening foods. If they aren't in the house, you can't eat them. If you have a sweet tooth like me, dried fruits are good. No Pudge makes a great no fat brownie mix. You can eat one or two dark chocolate squares, it's good for you. Several M&M's a few times a day to quell cravings won't hurt you either.

9. If you really feel hungry, eat. Your body needs it.

10. Friends and family may not be as supportive as you would expect. The fact that you are trying to change may make them feel threatened or frightened. Or you may have an overweight friend who is unwilling to try to lose weight with you. I once read in a psychology journal that some people "need" to carry extra weight to protect them from certain fears Think how safe you feel when you are tucked in under your covers at night. You are "tucked in" those layers of fat too.

11. Don't get discouraged if you hit a plateau, and can't lose weight even though you are exercising and watching what you eat. It happens. Try a new exercise routine, or change around your diet habits a little bit. It will pass. You always have two attack modes, eat less, exercise more!

12. Take lots of pictures of yourself looking thin and wonderful! Mail them out in your holiday cards, or whenever you get a chance to remind yourself of your monumental accomplishment!

Realistic Weight Loss Made Easy

Realistic Weight Loss Includes Regular Exercise

Once I made a few diet changes, I knew a few physical ones had to come next. I could no longer avoid exercise and had to find ways to move around more and not hurt myself. I have a spine curvature called Scoliosis, and it causes me trouble at all kinds of unlikely times. I can walk a few miles one day and feel fine. Then I can trip over something the next day and mess myself up for weeks.

The easiest exercise in the world is walking, and many doctors say one half hour daily is the ideal. So I began to walk that Spring, although I was tired and got sore at first. I was motivated, and began to walk fifteen minutes at least three times weekly. I was so out of shape I even felt that, and was still fearful of hurting myself. I stayed with the walking, and by April I had lost fifteen pounds! As long as you are doing more than you formerly did, you will lose weight! It was finally getting noticeable, as my slacks fit better and some of my shirts were getting too big. What a rush!

I live in New Jersey, and the winters are cold. Walking outside can be difficult if the weather is icy and snowy. Some shopping malls in our area have Mall Walking Groups. At the time there was one only fifteen minutes from my house. I began to go there, or walk outside if possible, but worked my way up to walking six days a week for a half hour. You do not need to have a group, you can go to any mall to do this. Please do not tell me or anyone else that you do not have the time! I know most women have a lot of responsibility, and it's hard to make time for ourselves. But the martyr attitude has to go! You wouldn't believe the amount of female acquaintances I had who told me I looked great, but wished they had the time to themselves to do what I was doing. It was jealous, condescending, and just plain dumb. We should always have time to make having healthy bodies a priority. We make sure the rest of our family does.

We see many advertisements on TV for boxed food diets, such as from Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem. But for how long do you think you can feel satisfied from eating boxed foods? Who needs the extra expense in their budgets? It's impractical to be eating different meals than the rest of your family. It does seem to work for some people, but is unrealistic to me. And many of the people who use these systems gain all the weight back when they begin eating "real" food again. It's necessary to make permanent changes in your eating and exercise habits if your want to lose weight and keep it off. That's the bottom line.

I went on a cruise, and everyone told me I would gain ten pounds. No way. I worked too hard losing that thirty pounds I just kissed goodbye. When your metabolism is speeded up, you can afford to eat off the dessert table and splurge on calories once in a while. So I did. But I also walked around the Promenade Deck for one hour every night with my husband, exercising while enjoying the starry skies over the ocean, and still keeping off the pounds.

You may go out to dinner and order your favorite dishes. Just don't eat out as often, maybe cut it down to two times a month. And make sure you do not weigh yourself as soon as you get home. It will look like you gained four or five pounds, which is only temporary, you'll be down to your lower weight in the next day or two. It would be good to try to cut calories for a few days afterwards though. I weighed myself every other day, and that way if you see you gained a pound back, or hit a plateau and nothing else is coming off, you can change your strategy.

Get Walking or Hiking!


Vitamins are Part of a Realistic Weight Loss Plan

I used to catch colds and get sick a lot too, so had to add more healthy items to my diet. I began drinking one bottle of Vitamin Water around mid-morning every day. It's almost one hundred fifty calories for twenty ounces, but I found I did not get sick as much. It is sensible to take a daily multivitamin as well, although many people have trouble digesting iron, so make sure the one you choose has only the percentage of iron right for you at your age. Airborne is a great way to get a vitamin boost as well, especially if you will be around lots of children with colds, in the office with sick co-workers, or in an enclosed place like an airplane or bus. You just put an Airborne tablet in a glass of water, and it fizzes up, giving you lots of vitamins and minerals in a jiffy, and for ten calories! You can find it at a drug store or even at a regular supermarket. Now it's available in a powdered form in a straw, and you just sort of eat it, It's like colored sugar, but if you don't have drinking water handy, it's good to keep a few in your purse or car.

Water Aerobics or Mall Walking Keep Off the Pounds!

I heard many positive things about water aerobics and decided to try it. The buoyancy of the water and the natural resistance that it causes are challenging to the body, but make it easier for you to work out. I embarked on a ten week course, one class a week. I was not able to keep up with all the moves and the pace at first, but did whatever I could.

My new philosophy was "As long as I'm moving and not eating, It's good for me." I still had to start slow and work my way up, and consider my own special limitations, and I hope you are careful too. I still get hurt sometimes, and I get sore the day after a class, but realized that happens to everyone. I Iearned I could do so much more than I thought I could! My energy just soared, and I felt so good about myself!

When I began that second ten week water aerobics course, I had lost forty pounds, and was still walking on the days I did not have a class. My classmates all remarked on the difference they saw in my body, and in what I was now able to do in class! But it was not weight now. I was losing inches! I was down to wearing medium sizes in clothes, when I had been wearing One Size Fits All or 2X, or sizes I was ashamed to admit I was wearing when I was so heavy.

Mall Walking

This sounds boring, but if it's raining out or very hot, you have the advantages of heat and air conditioning! Just don't spend too much shopping or eat ice cream afterward!

This sounds boring, but if it's raining out or very hot, you have the advantages of heat and air conditioning! Just don't spend too much shopping or eat ice cream afterward!

Continue with the Diet and Exercise Changes You Made

Now I was feeling confident and taking water aerobics two times weekly, walking on the other days. I still stayed away from fat, always looking for lower fat foods and healthier alternatives. I went to Jamaica for the first time the following summer, about eighteen months after I began dieting and exercising, and had lost sixty pounds. I was stronger, healthier, and feeling better than ever. I was fifty years old that summer, but I felt like a Queen! I was a size small and could fit into my old high school bell bottom jeans. I kept most of the weight off, except for a ten pound gain after a minor surgery which caused me to stop my water aerobics for a few months. But now I knew I had two ways to attack those pounds, eat less, exercise more! And I keep that in mind until this day.

While recovering from the surgery, I found a walking at home system by Leslie Sansone that you can buy in DVD form. They begin with four basic steps, but after that have all kinds of workouts, some with one or two pound weights, or with a stretchy band. You can do one mile or five miles, and some come with Pilates workouts. I have used these DVD's with success, because you can pop one in your video system whenever you feel like it, if it's raining, or if you just have some spare time.

There are so many methods of exercise available to all of us. If you gain a few pounds, it is easy to lose them once you know how! If I could make these changes in my life at fifty, you can do it too! Go for it! Your energy level will soar, and you will be able to be so much more active than you ever were. And when everyone around you starts telling you how good you look, it is very gratifying! So many people need to lose weight, and are capable of doing it, they just need the motivation to start. Just begin anywhere you feel the most comfortable! Keep thinking about how much healthier you are, and how you are prolonging your life for yourself and your family. I know you can do it! Please feel free to share your success stories, or make some comments if you need a little encouragement. We all do at times.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Jean Bakula


Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on October 11, 2019:


Thanks for your kind words. If you are going to try this method, the weight stays off! It's all about eating healthy and getting exercise. But you can eat out at a restaurant once a week, just exercise or cut back on what you eat the next day. Good luck!

Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on July 23, 2019:

You are quite welcome. It really works.

Randy Miller from 3150 17 Mile Dr, Pebble Beach, CA 93953, USA on July 23, 2019:

Excellent advice, Thank for that!

Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on January 27, 2012:

Thank you for reading and commenting, alocsin. I've been good. I threw out a rib a week before Christmas, but there's line 2 of the attack, eat less. I'm still doing well. and believe it's the only way to keep the weight off. Who wants to eat pre-made boxes of food? I recall when younger I could crash off 5 lbs to look good in a dress for an occasion, but can't do that anymore either, I guess our metabolism changes.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on January 27, 2012:

Excellent advice, showing that long term goals and changes are better than any quick fixes. Voting this Up and Useful.

Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on January 06, 2012:

Thank you, A.C. Linn,

and for sharing your story of your Mother. The times were very hard for polio, so she must have been a strong woman. My spine curvature was dealt with as much as was possible, and now I depend on a chiropractor and the occasional pain pill. But it takes all my emotional energy at times. I am fortunate that I have a strong will, I have had a good life with lots to be thankful for. I'm to klutzy to dance, but I walk often. Keep up your well disciplined diet and exercise, and thanks for writing.

ACLinn on November 14, 2011:

Dear Jean, My beloved mother (who was born perfectly normal) was stricken with polio (in the 1924 Durban, S.A. epidemic). Orphaned at the age of nine and paralyzed from the waist down for the remainder of her extraordinary life. And from a point of view of being 'different' from others, if anything added to my darling Mum's essential difficulties (which she mainly kept to herself), was the embarrassing way that people 'stared' when we went out for 'a walk,' or shopping, etc. And while I'm not really surprised at that - she was outstandingly lovely to look at - what I would have liked to have said to these (ill-bred) people is - "Stop staring! My mother has every right to be here, just as she is, without interference from anyone, so just go about your business and allow us to do the same!"

PS: fortunately I have never put on weight, and can eat virtually anything. Though, admittedly, my tastes have always run to salads and fruit, wholewheat bread and homemade 'soups' - the absolutely best (most digestible) form of nourishment, etc. I cycled virtually everywhere as a 'discipline' when I was younger. And, aside from dance, which I love - my body became firm and strong 'like steel.' And as such, from a point of view of overall fitness, these are two exercises I heartily recommend. I salute your indomitability, Jean. Best wishes, A C. Linn.

Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on June 14, 2011:

Thanks so much! Jamaica is so beautiful, I wrote a hub about it. You can get great travel deals if you do it really early in the year--Like next January or Feb. Best of luck to you! Jean

whoisbid on June 14, 2011:

You are so lucky because you went to Jamaica! I want to go also! Thanks for dropping by and supporting a newbie hubber. I am a serious website person and normally spend all my time building websites but I like it here sometimes, especially when someone related to something. More power to you!

Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on June 10, 2011:

Thanks kohuether! We can support each other. Once you get motivated half the battle is won. I found I should weigh myself every other day. I would lose one pound or two, but then put it back on, and have to lose it twice to keep it off! Sometimes I hurt myself exercising, and have to take it easy for a few days (back issues) so that's the most frustrating for me. It's doable, as long as I don't eat while frustrated. Best of luck on your journey, I know you can do it. Let me know how it goes, and just try to keep your good eating and exercise habits. I cheat a few times here and there, but only at parties and other events. Take care! Jean

Katherine Olga Tsoukalas from New Hampshire on June 10, 2011:

I truly enjoyed reading about your personal journey for weight loss! I am starting my own weight loss journey and the words of encouragement meant a lot to me.

Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on May 30, 2011:

Hi, thanks for stopping by! It's true, the little things we do make a big difference. A change in your daily routine is helpful too, even if you get up an hour earlier and do some housework with some OOMPH!! Or change your exercise type and the time you do it.

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on May 29, 2011:

Great hub-lots of useful tips. It is easy to forget about the 'simple' things, but this is a gentle reminder about what works! Thanks.

Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on March 18, 2011:

Thank you Fay. I know you can do it. It's getting warm outside and I want to get out there to start walking outdoors. It's the easiet thing you can do and really works.

Fay Paxton on March 18, 2011:

This a terrific hub with some really excellent tips. I've got these 10 pounds left to shed that just refuse to go away. People always scoff and say , "10 pounds?!" But, I can feel the difference. You've inspired me.

Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on March 02, 2011:

You are indeed Sweet, Marie83! I am so humbled that people are inspired by this piece, and happy I shared it. I was born with Scoliosis, my parents and school didn't let me take gym, the thinking at the time was to separate anyone a bit different. I had two surgeries at ages 6 & 10, wore a body brace until I refused to when I began HS. I was very overprotected, but in my late teens to my 30's lived a pretty active life. Once I had my son and became a stay at home Mom for a few years, the pounds came on and the Scoli progressively got worse. Finally I figured that if I was going to be in pain anyway, I might as well do what I want! So I was 50 years old, and finally realized I could actually complete an hour water aerobics class, and walk 30 mins a day! I was so happy, that my positive frame of mind carried over into my life in many ways. My husband & I became involved in politics and environmental activism, we went to Jamaica for the 1st of 4 times, and now are taking Metaphysics courses together. I felt wonderful. I'm still dieting, and exercising, but 10 lbs out of the 60 come & go, but I know now I can get that off once the weather warms up. And I don't feel old either, since I began doing so much that I never did when I was younger and afraid. My outlook on life is so different. Thanks so much, and please share your stories too. We women need to nurture each other, and I am truly so surprised at the reaction for this hub!

Marie Landry from Ontario, Canada on March 02, 2011:

This is such a terrific hub! I love reading other people's success stories, it's so inspiring. I've been planning to write a hub about my own weight loss journey, which I'm still on and will be for awhile - I know there are a lot of people who get frustrated and discouraged and can benefit from other people's tips, tricks and advice. Congrats on all your hard work and all the wonderful changes you made in your life, it's really an amazing accomplishment and you should be very proud!

Jean Bakula on February 26, 2011:


Thank you so much, your kindness is very meaningful to me. I posted my story because I hoped others would think, "Hey, if she could do it, I can do it too." Take care.

Enlydia Listener from trailer in the country on February 26, 2011:

I am proud of you for going for it and not giving up. This article was an encouragement for me.

NikiiLeeReyes on February 16, 2011:

Thanx ^^ I hope your Vdaywas filled with lots of love and appreciation...

Always a pleasure to stop by ^^.

Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on February 14, 2011:

Happy Valentine's Day to you too! You are a strong willed woman yourself, nice to see you!

NikiiLeeReyes on February 14, 2011:

You're a strong-willed woman!!!

^_' Did I ever thank you for helping me figure out my Second Moon????

Well if I did or didn't I want to thank you again;;


haha, you're brave for sharing this experience with us.

I admire your strength, and determined ability to do what you felt had to be done.

Very inspiring!!!

Happy Valentines Dayy :))

Jean Bakula (author) from New Jersey on February 02, 2011:

That's the attitude! Every pound counts. I bought new clothes several times during that year too, so that really cheered me up! You can do it!

Susan Mills from Indiana on February 02, 2011:

This is a wonderful hub! I'm going to share it on facebook with my friends.

This tells me that you lost about 1 pound a week. It doesn't seem like much, but it sure adds up!

I'm on my 5th week. I started Tae Kwon Do and watching my snacking. I've only lost 3 pounds, but your hub has led me to think that perhaps its just the first 3 of the 50 I need!

Excellent hub!