One of the coolest things about working as a journalist is the great variety of people I get to meet—many of them totally different from me. That was the case this week when I spoke to Linda Mizell about how she was able to drop 70 pounds and keep it off.
Linda is offering a nutrition-based class on weight loss at an Edgewood church, and described the genesis of the class to me last week.
She was described as “morbidly obese” by her doctor, who refused to do a surgery she needed unless she lost weight—or agreed to have a second surgery at the same time to staple her stomach. When she went to her cardiologist, that doctor also thought it might be a good idea, telling her that in 10 years she hadn’t lost weight. She felt like losing weight was an impossible task, “had given up,” and thought perhaps God wanted her to be fat.
She had a plethora of health problems, including poor digestion, IBS, a hernia that meant the majority of her stomach was above her diaphragm, diabetes and high blood pressure. She went to another doctor, and this one told her about a nutrition-based program run by his office.
The crux of it is a calorie-controlled eating program, prescribed by a doctor, and it meant that for three months, she was on an 800-calorie-per-day diet, where she ate five times a day, with everything she ate carefully controlled, and essentially a liquid diet. I asked her where she found the discipline to eat that way. “It’s a constant,” she said, likening it to playing piano, and the amount of practice needed to do that well.
But she also uses her Christian faith as a way to stay on track. “I got this clear message from God that what was previously impossible for me was now possible,” Linda said. “You’ve got to be ready.” Knowing that “this was going to be my life for the next year,” she simply stuck to the eating plan, carrying her shakes and bars with her if she went to a family gathering or other event with food. “To me [the schedule for eating] was easy. I didn’t have to figure it out our count calories.”
Part of the nutrition program she took part in included a weekly class on unraveling subliminal cues that lead to things like emotional eating, and coming up with alternatives: “retraining your brain,” as she put it.
The program focused on nutrition, with exercise recommended but left up to the participants. Linda does line dancing, yoga, square dancing and walking, and said she would like to do more strength training.
The doctor Linda had been seeing left the state, and soon the nutrition program associated with his office had dispersed, too. So now Linda is looking for some of that support—by offering a 12-week class that incorporates what she learned.
Having now kept 70 pounds off for more than a year, Linda said she feels more energetic, “just better overall,” and enjoys walking and getting exercise. She is now in her early 70s. She showed me a photo of her pre-weight-loss self, and I didn’t recognize her. “Body image is a weird thing. You may say it doesn’t bother you, but it does.” In the photo, Linda looks unhappy, her gaze straight at the camera—and clearly she didn’t want to have her photo taken. She said it makes her happy that her clothing size is closer to what she wore as a young person.
I asked Linda what has changed in her eating habits, and she said before the program, she didn’t have a good handle on how many calories she consumed, or what the nutritional makeup of her food really was. Now she talks knowledgeably about protein content, carbohydrates, and other nutritional values. “It was very restrictive, and hard to figure out what I can eat—that’s what I want to help people do.”
Building new habits and getting rid of “stinkin’ thinkin’ about the way we eat,” is the focus of the class Linda will offer. Based on a “Christian version of Weight Watchers,” it is called “3D: Your Whole Life.” Classes start next week, Jan. 15 and 16, and will be offered at WoodsEnd Church in Edgewood and at Mountainside Methodist Church in Cedar Crest. One is a morning class and the other meets in the evening. Classes are free (except for the cost of the book) and require a 12-week commitment.
To find out more, contact Linda at 505-286-9984, firstname.lastname@example.org, or find her on Facebook.
For myself, counting calories has always been a challenge. It’s one of the reasons I loved hearing Linda’s story. “God’s been with me every step of the way, because it’s been a lot easier than I expected it to be,” she said.
I’m all for anything that makes getting healthier easy.