On Mother’s Day in 2010 I ruptured the ligament in my thumb and developed Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. CRPS is a little known chronic pain condition and the pain has been measured as the worst pain known to man. Basically the brain keeps sending messages that you are in pain even after the injury has healed. I had pain in most of my body. The medication I was taking and being unable to exercise at all caused me to put on 15 kg very quickly. I managed to wean off a lot of my medication but the weight didn’t fall off like I expected it to.
I lost confidence in myself and struggled with a lot of things. I had aching joints on most days. Being in constant pain is very draining and I spent a lot of energy just getting through the day. I’m a single mum of 3 teenage boys, working part time in research and doing a PhD so I was pretty drained.
Some of this was CRPS and some of it was the excess weight but doing housework took a few days. I couldn’t vacuum and mop on the same day and had to get my children to help with grocery shopping because I couldn’t push the trolley without hurting my back or knee. I tried all sorts of fitness activities – Pilates, yoga, swimming etc. but kept hurting myself. I have never had a weight problem before and didn’t know how to lose weight without exercising. When I felt well I would do too much and then would be really tired, dizzy and in pain which made things worse.
As for food - I would wake up and have a coffee in the morning and just would not be hungry - some days I didn’t eat until 3pm. My metabolism had pretty much stopped. I craved fatty foods (BBQ or sweet chilli chips are my favourite) and would have about 5 or 6 cups of tea or coffee (white with 1 sugar) every day. I was eating healthy food mostly but in the wrong proportions.
I knew I needed expert help to teach me how to lose weight. I was watching TV and my ‘fat’ pyjamas were tight and uncomfortable. I saw a Jenny Craig commercial and rang the next morning.
No one has ever suggested this but the thought at the back of my mind was that people might laugh at me for not knowing how to lose weight because I’m a registered nurse and “should know better”. It was confronting to admit that even though I’m doing a PhD and am meant to be smart, I was overweight and had no idea how to change that. I was also worried that I might not be “fat” enough. From the moment I walked in the door I felt accepted and supported. They didn’t care how much weight I had to lose or how much I didn’t know – they were there to help me. The other clients in the waiting room all just smiled at me and told each other how good they were looking. No one judged me for being there.
To start with all I had to do was eat what I was given! How easy is that? It’s not totally prescriptive though. I also had/have control because I choose how I want my salad and vegies and what fruit I eat. So for me, it’s the best of both worlds and a lot easier than I expected. I thought I’d be hungry but it’s been harder trying to fit all the food in.
In the first week I stopped taking sugar in tea and coffee. I’m not sure how it happened – it just did. I didn’t even have cravings. The Grocery Guide and weekly information booklets allowed me to eat one and incorporate it into my menu plan. It is a realistic way to lose weight because you have control over what you do and you learn how to “have your cake and eat it too”. My consultant stressed the necessity of including some fat in your diet to get the fat soluble vitamins and she has taught me so much. The exercises in the books taught me to really think about what I was doing. The website is interesting too.
I still have setbacks where I can’t do much because of pain but those days are now few and far between. I will always have CRPS and will always have pain issues but as I started losing weight I noticed I wasn’t aching as much. I started feeling better and had more energy. I can now vacuum and mop on the same day without needing a sleep afterwards. I still spend most days in front of a computer but now I need to get up and walk around. I have found energy that I haven’t had in years.
As someone who previously played lots of sport, I’ve never been a gym person and never just gone for a run. It took a while but I have found exercise which suits me – I like being outside, in a group and being coached. Now I’m actually doing group fitness training and get up to do the 6am session before work. The trainer adapts everything to suit the different people in the class so I never feel like I’m not keeping up.
It was such a good feeling to be back in the healthy weight range. I have people saying they are proud of me which makes me feel so good and I have regained a lot of confidence. Because I don’t have to put so much energy into coping with pain, I am ‘fun’ again. I feel like me again.
I still love packets of chips (but don’t crave them) and have learnt how to incorporate them into my diet and still be eating well. I eat every couple of hours and my metabolism has sped up. My kids love the Jenny Craig food and I still keep the snacks in my wardrobe because they get into the popcorn and salted caramel nut bars if they can. They also particularly like the butter chicken and lasagne.
I’m at the stage now where I choose how many Jenny meals and many of my own meals I eat each week. I’m learning to be in charge of my own eating so I don’t have to rely on eating Jenny Craig meals forever to stay at my goal weight (although I could if I chose to). I also love that I set my own goals and I’m supported in my decisions. I have revised my goal weight a few times and am almost exactly where I want to be. Although I could have done it all over the phone or internet, I like going in to the centre to be weighed each week and chatting to my consultant. I picked a package that has worked wonders for me.
This is probably the best my figure has ever been in my life. I love the compliments I’ve been getting and now when I get out of the shower I like looking at my shape. I have to buy smaller clothes because even my new small clothes are too big. I love that my exercise pants are starting to be loose and even my wrist is smaller. I have to get links taken out of my watch. I fit into a dress that I wore to my brother’s wedding 16 years ago, and I think it looks better now.
My skin and hair are better which is unexpected and so too is the fact that I am thinking more clearly. I hadn’t realised how bad I felt until I started feeling better. I could write forever about what a great decision I made when I rang Jenny Craig.