Sometimes a person gets stuck in a rut. The longer you procrastinate, the deeper it gets. Pretty soon it takes a heavy duty tow truck to pull you from your self-imposed prison. That’s what happened to me! My prison was my weight. And if that’s your New Year’s resolution this year, let me encourage you not to give up. You can defeat the enemy of calories. My journey started in 1988 when my youngest child left the nest and mom was no longer needed. So I made a drastic change. I gave up my house and moved onto a college campus. Little did I know, this would last for 18 years. I began my duties of a college (NDSCS in Wahpeton) residential director in 1991-2001. After retiring there, I moved into another apartment on campus for 8 more years. Finally one day my daughter said, “Mom, it is time to leave.” And I readily agreed. During those 18 years I had ballooned to 279 pounds. I went through a series of medical problems: double knee replacement, breast cancer, gall bladder surgery, Achilles tendon surgery and a bout with depression. This rut had grown into a deep crevasse and the flood waters poured through. In September 2009, I moved to Fergus Falls into an apartment for older adults, I tell people I moved from skateboards to walkers and from pizza delivery men to meals on wheels. What an adjustment! I was 67 years old. Then something clicked. Maybe God finally got my attention. Or maybe I was just tired of being tired. I hated those ugly pounds on my 5’9” frame. I was tired of all those medical problems. I began to take charge of ME! I began working out at the local senior center, an hour, 5 days a week. I supplemented that with 2 hours of swimming on Monday and Friday at a area motel pool. I joined a weight loss group called TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly). I began writing again. And it worked. I joined TOPS in May of 2010. Today I have lost 65 pounds. Has it been easy? When you have friends to socialize with while working out, it is fun. Then there are days when you don’t want to step on that treadmill. To keep positive, I try and focus on how far I have come and soak up the kind words of encouragement from everyone at TOPS and the center. It keeps me going. Three of my workout friends have passed away within a month of each other. I miss them very much. But they always gave me incentive to keep trudging to my 80 pound goal. So with my cheerleaders in heaven looking down on me, I know I will make it. Before Poem… Pounds Going Up… By Jean Lemmon The pounds were going up, the self esteem going down. I had to do something to turn it around. Then I remembered TOPS helped me before So I marched quickly to their door. The ladies were smiling and chatting away As I took a bold step, that first week in May. I filled out the forms and paid my dues And walked to the scale without any shoes. The weigh-in lady was very kind I was hoping she was also blind For I didn’t want anyone to know my disgrace So I avoided eye contact with her face. I bet I’m the heaviest one she has weighed Please Lord, don’t let me cry, I prayed They recorded the number on a yellow sheet And I left the room feeling quite incomplete. As I returned to the table, they were still chatting away I hoped to be happy like them some day. Then the gavel was lowered to start the meeting And we said a pledge to help us stop eating. Then the biggest loser of the day was named She told us how she had achieved her fame. I want to be the one in that seat one day And share how I did it “my way!” A week later I opened the TOPS door I wasn’t the new kid on the block anymore I thought I had a pretty good loss But the scale is always the final boss. The weigh-in lady was waiting for me What was the final number to be? When she said six pounds had disappeared I felt my eyes fill with tears I got to be the biggest loser that day For I had made six pounds melt away It’s going to be alright, I said with a grin You’ve come to the right place to start over again. After poem… I can do it and so can you! It seemed like only yesterday, I stepped on the TOPS scale to weigh. Time goes quickly when you’re having fun, And now my journey is almost done. A goal of 80 pounds, what a task, How could I ever reach it, I would often ask. But here I am today, living proof of what you see. Here I am – months later, a brand new me! The journey had its ups and downs Sometimes I cursed those stubborn pounds, But I made lots of money and that was fun And I told my story to everyone. Buying new clothes is quite a treat As I quickly learned “what not to eat.” The first day fears soon disappeared, And a smile replaced all those tears. The weigh-in ladies are still there Making us feel they really care. The TOPS pledge is still the same And I can’t forget our baseball game. What is your secret, your formula, your trick? I think plain old stubbornness made it stick. Persistence, daily workouts and lots of prayer And tons of encouragement from you out there. If I can do it, so can you Just remember this simple rule. Be the person God created, His wonderful delight, Love yourself again and you will be alright.