My journey to achieve and maintain a healthy weight isn’t unique, I’m afraid! I was never a skinny person. I fought the battle as long as I can remember. For a long time, it was more like a skirmish than a battle. I was probably about fifteen pounds overweight most of my life. I was envious of my skinny friends, but I knew I still looked okay.

The next step in my journey was going off to college. The problem got a little more serious in college, even though I majored in physical education and spent most of my time being active. It became a nightly ritual to eat at Wendy’s with my friends (“Single, fries, and a frosty, please”) and then to hit the Dunkin Donuts that shared a parking lot before going back to the dorm. Freshman 15…here I come!

Welcome to my Weight Loss Journey

Gail, Sheila, & Marian on the island of Inishmore

After graduation, my journey took me from Daytona Beach to Virginia Beach to teach, and again my normal weight stabilized at about fifteen pounds too much. I looked fine though and wasn’t embarrassed to spend much of my time in a bathing suit. It really wasn’t until I married my husband that I lost the battle of the bulge. He seemed to think I was beautiful regardless of my size and we ate most of our meals in restaurants. Within a couple of years, I gained eighty pounds!!!

Like many overweight people, I’ve tried every diet out there. I lost weight on most of them but eventually put the weight back on. I went on sensible diets (Weight Watchers) and on ridiculous diets (The Hot Dog Diet). Fortunately, I seemed to have what my mother referred to as a “cast-iron stomach” and never suffered any outward ill effects.

I have to say that my favorite diet, and I know this is heresy, was Fen-Phen. I lost 65 pounds before they yanked the good (a.k.a. BAD) Fen off the shelves. What I liked so much about this drug was that it enabled me to eat like a normal person for the first time. I had always been a volume eater. The beauty of Fen-Phen was that I didn’t want much of anything. A few bites satisfied me. I didn’t have to worry about counting calories, fat grams, etc. I just had to make sure that I was eating food with nutritional benefits since I didn’t want much to eat. It was almost like gastric bypass surgery in pill form.

Welcome to my Journey

Amy, Katie, and Gail enjoying beautiful Sedona

As was my pattern, the weight came back on and eventually I joined Weight Watchers for the second time. This was a significant milestone in my journey! I was at my heaviest weight and feeling desperate. I was also well into my forties and beginning to feel concerned about the long-term effects on my health.

I had started exercising fairly regularly in my late thirties, thanks to my friend, Marian, but while I was strong and toned, I was still fat. I jumped into Weight Watchers with both feet, going to weekly meetings and diligently keeping my food journal and following the program. Within fourteen months, I lost 85 pounds! That was an amazing and powerful experience! When you feel that good about yourself, you can’t imagine ever going backwards again.

Sometime late in that second year, I gained ten pounds while on vacation in Puerto Rico. For the first time since starting Weight Watchers, I didn’t come home from vacation and jump right back into following the program. I played with those ten pounds for the next year, losing four and gaining three, losing five and gaining four. I wasn’t really worried, as I still looked good and healthy. I felt certain that I’d eventually get serious and get to my goal. A gain of another ten pounds came in the fourth year, and an additional ten each year after that, until I found myself with half of the 85 pounds back!

I continued attending and paying for weekly Weight Watchers meetings for six years, until 2008. Eileen, my favorite leader, who was full of enthusiasm and knowledge and hope and support, left the company. My buddy, Elaine, and my other Weight Watchers friends eventually quit or attended “At-Work” programs. I have nothing bad to say about the program. I think it works great if you follow it, and with the exception of too many processed foods, I think it’s one of the healthiest ways to lose weight.

Welcome to My Journey!

Gail and Marian braving the wild Irish coast

When I made a trip to Jamaica in November 2006, with my good friends, Lisa and Steve, I was in what I called a “crisis mode.” I had put enough weight back on so that I felt “fat” again. Lisa and I talked incessantly about our weight issues, as we tend to do when we get together, and she had recently undergone gastric bypass surgery to help her lose weight. At our resort, we were naturally surrounded by all the food and alcohol one could want. The more I watched her eat (post-surgery), this idea of 5-4-3-2-1 formed. I needed something “new” to get me excited again about eating right, and I needed something that was going to enable me to be healthy. Click the button below to learn more about the 5-4-3-2-1 diet plan.

Welcome to my Journey

Most of all, I needed something that I could use when I went out to eat; something that allowed me to taste everything but not overindulge. The 5-4-3-2-1 plan works quickly and it’s a keeper, in my opinion. You can read about my personal experience with this diet here.

Update: January 2010 This month, my journey takes me to Dr. Siegal’s Cookie Diet! I saw some incredibly impressive results while watching The Today Show recently. Whenever I start dieting, it’s helpful and motivating for me if it’s something new. I will be keeping a diet log to document this new leg of my journey.

Update: May 2011 This month, my journey takes me to The Pilot’s Diet! This diet is a “throw back” to the diets of the 1970s and 80s. It’s not fun but the results sure are impressive!

Update: May 2012 My new favorite diet this year is The Dukan Diet! This high-protein, low-carb, low-sugar diet is easy to stick to and it works!

As always, my journey continues…wish me luck!


“Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling, enduring, and accomplishing.” (G. Sheehan)