Windsor woman’s weight-loss journey started with New Year’s resolution
If you’re thinking of making weight loss a goal in 2020, Windsor resident Grace Gardiner offers a simple message of patience and encouragement.
“It seems a bit cliche to say, ‘If I can do it, you can do it.’ But you really can,” said Gardiner, 55, who estimates she has dropped 165 pounds since she made her own resolution.
The year that Gardiner began making a change for the better was 2013. In her late 40s at the time, her five-foot-six frame tipped the scales at 300 pounds — the heaviest weight of her life.
“I was really not doing well. I had sleep apnea. I was diabetic,” Gardiner recalled. “I suppose I was in a bit of denial that things were getting worse.”
The culprit, Gardiner believes, was a habit of emotional eating when dealing with life stressors. “It was all the things that you can mindlessly eat. You tell yourself, ‘Oh, I’m just going to have a few potato chips.’ And then, all of a sudden, your arm’s at the bottom of the bag.”
Gardiner realized she had to get serious about her health when she couldn’t walk up the stairs to the second floor of her home without pausing for rest.
“At that age, I knew I was far too young to be having those kinds of problems,” she said.
Although Gardiner made the decision with a New Year’s resolution, it took a while for her to commit to a plan. For several months, she tried and failed at haphazardly depriving herself.
“It was more of a wish than a goal, at that point,” Gardiner said. “I knew something had to change, but I didn’t know what to do … Depriving yourself doesn’t work, because then you bounce back the other way.”
Around the middle of the year, Gardiner joined a Weight Watchers program at her workplace.
Now armed with a plan for portion control, nutrition, and activity, Gardiner finally had the structure she needed to lose weight effectively.
By the end of the year, Gardiner was about 35 pounds lighter than when she made her resolution. “That was phenomenal,” she said. “It was wonderful to be able to go to my doctor and see how proud she was of me.”
Gardiner stuck with the program, and continued to gradually shed the pounds. In 2017, after four years of healthy habits, she reached her goal weight — 150 pounds.
“And then I actually was able to go a bit beyond that,” Gardiner said.
But hitting a number was only part of Gardiner’s transformation. She knew the greater challenge would be to keep up her new lifestyle and keep off the weight.
“I have maintained it now for two years,” Gardiner said. “Not only my physical health, but my mental health has kept me focused so I don’t slip back into old patterns.”
Seven years since her weight-loss journey began, Gardiner has much greater confidence in herself — and the ability of others to repeat her success.
“You don’t necessarily have to set that long-term goal of losing 150 pounds. That might seem very unattainable on Jan. 1,” Gardiner explained. “But you can say, ‘I want to get healthy. I want to start with losing 10 pounds.’ And then when you lose that 10 pounds, you can set another small goal, another 10 pounds.”
“Those small goals keep us motivated. And when you start feeling the health benefits, the confidence, the clarity of mind — you’ll keep going.”