How Josie Is Beating Anxiety With the Power of Health

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Josie from Arkansas (HAPPYDOES) has been on her weight-loss journey for nearly 40 years—but it's a journey that hasn't always headed in a healthy direction. It's taken some twists and turns, some ups and downs—and, at times, has come to a screeching halt. Now, at almost 58 years old, with the help of SparkPeople, Josie feels that she's finally found her way.

"I was a fat baby, a fat little girl and a fat teenager."


Josie can’t remember a time when she hasn’t struggled with her weight. When asked to define her "a-ha moment," she recalls one night during high school when all of her sisters, except the youngest, were asked out on dates. Josie wasn't asked, so she stayed home and played with her baby sister while all the others went out. "That night, I felt the full humiliation of being 'the fat one,'" she says.
 
In her twenties, Josie says she simply stopped eating. "I became anorexic with purging tendencies," she shared in a SparkPeople blog. "The eating disorder has been only in partial remission since I was 30 [when I] sought treatment in a hospital."
 
Over the years, Josie has lost hundreds of pounds, but always gained them back. One of her biggest barriers to healthy, sustained weight loss has been her battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which resulted from a sexual assault she experienced decades ago. Josie believes that her bouts of depression, anxiety, anorexia and compulsive behavior stem from her traumatic experience.
 
"Afterward, I reasoned that no guy would even notice me if I was fat, so therefore I would be safe when I went into the public eye," Josie blogged. "And it worked for a number of years, except that I have been miserable as a fat person."
 
Each time Josie would reach a weight-loss milestone, just as people began to notice her progress and offer compliments, the anxiety from the PTSD would begin to creep back, and she would return to her old habits and regain the weight.
 
This time, Josie has lost almost 30 pounds, and she's determined not to let those old doubts and insecurities take over. "In the past, I would begin to regain the weight, but this time I am determined to stand in my success, even if I have to endure a plateau for a few weeks while I find my footing to continue forward," she says.
 

Sparking Her Way to Success


Largely due to the anxiety from her PTSD, it's been a struggle for Josie to maintain friendships. When she found SparkPeople, she says it felt like a safe place where she could connect with others who shared her challenges.
 
"SparkPeople has been such a blessing to me," she says. "I have met true friends here. I have traveled to meet some of them in person—in fact, I am going to meet a new SparkFriend in person next week. I am slowly learning to reach out again and allow people into my life."
 
In addition to helping her interact with others, SparkPeople has also helped Josie repair her relationship with food and fitness. She has used the site's nutrition and exercise trackers and completed many of the weight-loss challenges. Recently, she bought a Fitbit and has started connecting with others on her SparkTeam for step challenges and support.
 
"I really owe much of the success of finding 'my groove' to SparkPeople for the ability to read and learn, track my food and fitness, and make real friends who are in the same boat as I am," she says.

Josie's Nutrition Plan


Josie spent years hopping between diets, fads, gimmicks, weight-loss pills and shakes, none of which ever achieved long-term results. "Sure, they helped me lose weight, but they were not something I could make a lifestyle out of," she says. "They were just another way for me to treat my body in a harsh manner—just another way to fail at weight loss and maintenance."
 
Today, Josie has finally embraced the only healthy, effective approach: eating a balanced, nutritious diet. She plans her meals so they contain a mix of protein, whole grains, veggies, fruits, dairy and fat—all important to maintaining satiety, energy and dietary health.

Josie tries to stick to a calorie range of 1,500 to 1,800 daily. Each of her meals is built from these components:
  • 3-4 ounces of protein
  • 2 servings of whole grains (she usually eats whole wheat bread)
  • 2 servings of veggies (or 1 serving of veggies and 1 serving of fruit)
  • 1 serving of dairy
  • 1 serving of fat (usually nuts, seeds or olive oil) 
For snacks, Josie usually chooses yogurt with fruit and nuts or seeds; peanut butter and banana; or smoothies made with fruit, kale, spinach and water. Her favorite healthy beverage is unsweetened almond milk.
 
Originally, Josie's weight-loss therapist recommended completely eliminating sweets like cakes, cookies and ice cream, but she knew that wouldn’t be realistic for her. Instead, she makes sure she can "afford" the extra calories when she does indulge. "I plan to eat them beforehand rather than just grab them and munch because I am bored," she says. "I don't keep goodies in the house. If I am going to eat something sweet, I go and buy one serving at a store or restaurant."

Josie's Top 10 Weight-Loss Tips


1. Track your meals.
 
Josie calls this "the strongest tool in her weight-loss toolbox."
 
"Tracking food was such a drag at first—I remember feeling embarrassed to write down the things I was eating," she says. "But I finally came to realize that the process was about finding out what is in the food, rather than it being a commentary of how good or bad my behavior is. I found that the more I tracked my food, the better choices I could make in what I choose to eat."
 
2. Eat enough.
 
"Eating far too few calories when trying to lose weight will cause a person to go into a bipolar way of eating because the body requires a certain number of calories to function," Josie shared in a blog. "When it doesn't get the required amount for a few days, the hunger signal will be so strong that it will drive a person to eat just about anything in order to feel satisfied. Over time, this swinging back and forth will cause a person's weight to creep up the scale until they finally learn to accept the fact that their body needs a certain amount of fuel while losing weight, and in the maintenance phase of weight loss."
 
3. Find a fitness routine you enjoy.
 
It doesn't have to be strenuous or complicated—just look for a simple physical activity that you like to do. "The real key here is just to move one's body for about 10 or 15 minutes at a time, like taking a short walk after every meal, or putting on your favorite music and just walking in place or dancing," Josie suggests. She also stresses the importance of mixing in some strength training, as more muscle leads to more fat burning.
 
4. Track your fitness…
 
Once you've found an activity you enjoy, get into the habit of tracking it. Not only does this help you calculate your calorie burn, it also gives you a steady motivation boost. "As you start small and work your way up, your confidence builds, and so does a desire to challenge yourself to do bigger and better things," says Josie.
 
5. …but don't overdo it.
 
In the past, Josie exercised for several hours each day. Yes, she lost weight—but she also injured herself repeatedly, because she would push her body past its limits and compromise her form. The excess exercise also caused terrible muscle cramps.
 
"The bottom line is that I simply could not maintain such extreme amount of exercise for the rest of my life," she says. "I would sometimes work out for more than 600 minutes per day. It was practically a full-time job for me. But I have found that I can lose just as much weight by only doing 300 to 600 minutes per week, so why kill myself with excessive exercise and waste my time?"
 
6. Practice relaxation.
 
Josie has learned to find time for daily relaxation to complement her exercise and nutrition plan. She suggests trying new ways of relaxing, such as guided imagery, meditation, deep breathing or even relaxing music and candlelight. Sleep is also an essential ingredient in rest and relaxation; Josie always tries to get at least seven to eight hours of shuteye each night.
 
7. Drink water through the workday.
 
"If you drink just one cup of water during every work hour, you have gotten in at least your eight cups for the day," Josie points out. "Keep a filled water glass with you at all times. Flavor it if you need to, and if it must be sweet, try a tiny amount of Stevia."
 
8. Don't rush it.
 
"I didn't gain all this weight overnight, nor will I lose it overnight," Josie says. "If I only lose one pound per week, I will be over 50 pounds lighter by this time next year! And if I lose only 1/2 pound every week, I will be 26 pounds lighter. That's at least one whole clothes size, and maybe two."
 
9. Don't fall into the "helpless" trap.
 
"Helplessness is a lie," Josie says. "For years, I made excuses for why I couldn't eat right, and the biggest excuse was that my husband doesn't like the same foods as I do. I thought that I had no right to cook what I need to be healthy, or expect him to eat what I cook for myself. All of these were lies. None of us here are completely helpless. Motivation is about making choices and stepping up to the plate every day to carry out those choices."
 
10. Have a maintenance plan.
 
Like so many of our members, for Josie, the hardest part hasn't been shedding the pounds but preventing them from creeping back on. Over the years, she's noticed a pattern: She loses weight, gets to a point where she feels good about her accomplishment and then slides back into her old behaviors, which ultimately creates a cycle of losing and gaining that left her feeling discouraged and defeated.
 
To keep the weight off, Josie believes it's necessary to have a comprehensive plan that is practiced until it becomes second nature—indeed, a lifestyle. "As I maintain my weight through lowering my fitness minutes or eating some higher-calorie foods, I am also keeping a close eye on the scale and the way my clothes fit to make certain I am not losing ground," she says. "Over time, doing the right thing actually becomes the preferred thing."
 
One of the biggest advantages of having a plan, Josie says, is that if you get off track and begin to regain weight, you'll have a framework to guide you back into your "sweet spot," making it easier to reorient yourself in the right direction.

Learning to Love Her Body


To those who are sitting on the couch right now, feeling hopeless and helpless and overweight, Josie's advice would be think about the faithfulness of their bodies.
 
"I hated my body for so long because I was fat—then one day, I realized just how faithful my body had been to me throughout my life," she says. "I realized that everything I had asked my body to do, it had done instantly and to the best of its ability. That day, I fell in love with my body and wanted to treat it the way it deserved to be treated because of its consistent, loyal service to me from birth until now. Gratitude for my body's abilities and service has probably been the key to fueling my desire to reach my goals of good health, fitness, strength and agility. I am finding more ways to fuel that desire and determination as I go along."

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Comments

CASEYDO 10/19/2018
Great job knowing what works for you! Report
BONNIE1552 8/26/2018
Inspiring! Report
CECELW 5/31/2018
These are some really great tips. I'm so happy for you Report
MUSTANGMOM6 3/26/2018
Great article Report
MUSTANGMOM6 3/26/2018
Great article Report
PAULA3420 3/26/2018
A great BIG thank yo to Josie for sharing her story and journey. It helps so much to see ourselves within the frame of another. This blog has inspired me and I want to read again tomorrow morning. Report
333555RAINBO 3/21/2018
I'd like to get to know Josie. What is her sign on? My story is very similar historically (but worse) and I would like to know more about her. Thank you. Report
THIRDXTHECHARM 3/17/2018
It’s nice when people share their story. How do you get permission or the opportunity to share as an article blog? That’d be cool. Report
DEE107 2/11/2018
thanks for sharing Report
JIBBIE49 1/31/2018
Good article Report
ROBBIEY 1/26/2018
This is a good article with good tips. Report
JIBBIE49 1/23/2018
Hugs Report
CHRISTELLEDUPON 1/15/2018
Thank you for sharing this blog with us. All the points mentioned here are worth keeping in mind while helping someone to come out of anxiety. One can also try consulting a psychic like Voyance Pure at www.martine-voyance.com/qui-suis-je
or trying therapist for help. Report
BILLTHOMSON 1/12/2018
Just a great article Report
BONDMANUS2002 1/8/2018
Absolutely great Report
TRIMNUP 1/7/2018
I appreciate the comment about how faithful our bodies are, to keep up with our poor choices throughout our life, always ready to respond when we are ready to get back on track. Report
SHAWSKITO 1/7/2018

Way to go Josie. I read your Blog last month, but took notes today. I usually eat the same thing every day and it seems to keep my weight at a level of 132. I know I have to get back to exercising. Am sporadic right now, but by February, should be back on track with exercising as I have lost muscle mass. Good luck and keep up the good work!
Report
PWILLOW1 1/7/2018
Thank you. Some I already use but I will definitely incorporate a few more into my plan. Report
ERICALEAHA 1/6/2018
Thank you for sharing your story. it will help me on my journey. Report
JULIACOLLINS62 1/6/2018
Thank you for sharing so openly. I gleaned from all your points, experiences, strengths, but the last paragraph was especially helpful. Report
JESSIMARC 1/6/2018
I love your perspective on respecting your body. Points in your story is so relatable to me and I appreciate you sharing it. Truly inspiring. You are a strong woman. Report
FIT_58 1/6/2018
Thank you for sharing! I loved this! Report
MAWMAW101 1/6/2018
You are a beautiful lady! Report
KRISUA 1/5/2018
O wow! Report
MOONDRAGON29 1/2/2018
Awesome Blog! Report
MNABOY 12/20/2017
Some good ideas Report
PRNCSCUP1-2FULL 12/17/2017
Congrats Josie! I've lost touch with you! I'm so happy you have found a healthier way to shed the pounds and are feeling better! I wish you continued success and thank you for sharing your story! Many of your words have inspired me when I am not feeling very inspired! Thanks!! Melissa (used to be JAXMOMMY) Report
SHELLLEY2 12/12/2017
I know I saw a lot of my own life in this Blog... Very motivating... Thank-you! Report
ARTJAC 12/12/2017
GREAT Report
MIYAMO 12/12/2017
Great article. Report
CROCHET2002 12/12/2017
This story mirrors my own almost perfectly - especially the part about getting off track when the complements start coming in. Great job! Report
GARDENCHRIS 12/12/2017
good for you! Report
JIBBIE49 12/11/2017
thanks Report
CKOUDSI617 12/10/2017
Great advice and PERFECT timing for me...thank you so much! Report
JUNETTA2002 12/10/2017
Article is awesome. Thanks for the information Report
JANIEWWJD 12/10/2017
This article was awesome!!! Report
JANIEWWJD 12/10/2017
This article was awesome!!! Report
BIKE4HEALTH 12/10/2017
good stuff Report
MIYAMO 12/9/2017
Thank you for sharing. Report
BIKE4HEALTH 12/9/2017
Thanks Report
RAZZOOZLE 12/8/2017
great article Report
CHRISINMIAMI 12/8/2017
Thank you, Josie! Report
SUSANYOUNGER 12/8/2017
Congrats, thanks for sharing. Good job. Report
NOLAHORSERIDER 12/8/2017
Great blog. Congratulations. Losing for me is much easier than maintenance. A person does need to have a plan, whether losing or maintaining! Report
BIKE4HEALTH 12/8/2017
thx Report
SHOAPIE 12/8/2017
Great. Report
PLCHAPPELL 12/8/2017
Great story Report
COURTENAYE 12/8/2017
Excellent Report
FRANCES-AGAPE 12/7/2017
YAY ! So INSPIRING!
Keep up the good work
Peace, Love, Blessings, Health and Happiness Report
BARCELONAME 12/7/2017
Congratulations! Report
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