Like many Canadians, Ann Douglas spent years in the vicious yo-yo diet cycle. She called it quits with bread, her favourite food, time and time again, only to give in to unrelenting cravings.
By January 2013, Ann knew she was carrying more than 100 extra pounds, but couldn’t bring herself to try another diet.
“I didn’t have it in me to fail again. I had to lose weight in a way that I could stick with it.”
Around the same time, Ann discovered the Heart&Stroke Risk Assessment, a free online tool that helped her see how her weight and other factors were increasing her risk of heart disease and stroke. It also suggested simple ways she could reduce that risk.
It has taken me five decades to figure out that this moderation thing actually works.
It turned out to be the wake-up call she needed. Ann’s mother, a longtime smoker, had died young at age 63. “I just thought she missed out on so many years when she could have been here with the rest of us.”
Ann is determined to be around a long time for her four children. Eating better, moving more and lowering her stress would all help add healthy years to her life. But the first real step in her journey was learning how to be kinder to herself. She let go of the idea that she had to be perfect and looked at ways to make her healthy changes last.
From there she adopted a daily walking routine that doubled as a stress buster. “It feels really good, especially because of the mental health benefits."
Walking has cut down the strong cravings that Ann’s unchecked stress used to trigger, while eating more protein and vegetables throughout the day helps sustain the energy she needs for her busy career as an author and speaker.
“It has taken me five decades to figure out that this moderation thing is not a scam. It actually works,” she says. Four years later, she has lost 135 pounds and feels healthier than ever.
Daily food logging has helped her understand her occasionally fluctuating weight without going into panic mode. Everything Ann eats, she tracks; that includes the good, bad and occasionally ugly stuff.
If her weight does increase by a couple pounds, say when she’s travelling, she can flip through her journal and see exactly why the scale’s numbers are changing — and how long it’ll take before everything goes back to normal.
“It all balances out in the end. And that’s what I was never able to maintain previously. This is the only time in my life that I’ve been successful at losing weight and maintaining that weight loss.”
The Heart&Stroke Risk Assessment helped her find her own path to better health. “It allowed me, in the privacy of my own home, to give myself a little health check. And it wasn’t discouraging, scary feedback, but the kind of feedback that motivates change. It was left to me to gravitate toward the opportunities.”