I was totally gobsmacked when my pants fell off!
Several years ago I weighed well over 250 pounds. How much over? I don’t really know — my scale maxed out at 250 pounds, so I stopped weighing myself when the needle wouldn’t move anymore.
At one point my doctor said 280 pounds. I plugged my ears so I didn’t have to listen to the lecture.
Then one day, I had the amazing opportunity of going to Mexico to house-sit for three months. I packed a medium sized suitcase with clothes I thought would be okay for 70 degree weather.
Loose, elastic pants, some gauze skirts, and loose tops — — a few T-shirts. I didn’t think I’d be going out much, so I kept it minimal.
On the day I left Vancouver I dressed formally for my trip to Guadalajara. A suit jacket and fitted pants. I wanted to make a good first impression on my house-sitting hosts.
The area I was going to was Lake Chapala about an hour out of Guadalajara.
My hosts house was about 10 minutes dive from Ajijic (pronounced A hee hick) — a large expatriate community made up of Americans, Canadians and a good smattering of Europeans … and of course, Mexicans.
The original plan was that my hosts would stick around for about a week to
Introduce me to their house and to the expatriate neighbors. I would meet the gardener and housekeeper (both Mexican). We’d do a quick tour of the communities up and down the Lake Chapala Highway and explore some transportation alternatives.
The original plan never happened.
We became instant friends and were having so much fun my hosts decided to stick around. They didn’t leave until two months later.
We quickly established a routine. I would get up at about 7 a.m. and go down from my rooftop casita to the patio, where I would have coffee, write in my journal, read a bit, and learn some Spanish.
Between 9 and 10 a.m., Jack would join me on the patio and then we would make breakfast.
EGGS * EGGS * EGGS
Jack’s cooking repertoire encompassed fried eggs and bacon. That was it. I quickly added to the menu with poached eggs, scrambled eggs, frittatas, omelettes and more.
Marguerite, who is a night owl, would normally emerge between 11 and noon.
In the first week I was introduced to the neighbors, the gardening crew and the housekeeper. The very day I arrived, I was taken to a huge house party and met too many new “friends” to remember. Within hours I had six invitations — lunch, dinner, sewing club, Spanish meetup.
My hosts lived about 10 minutes by highway from Ajijic. Transportation options included a local bus, a taxi (only from the town to the house, not visa versa), and walking.
I quickly discovered that the walk from the house to the center of town was an hour to an hour and a half, depending on my route. I guesstimate that it was about five miles.
During the day we engaged in all sorts of different kinds of activities from visiting friends, the sewing circle, Spanish and exploring the towns surrounding Lake Chapala. Marguerite was very adventurous and spoke pretty good Spanish, so we joined in and participated in a LOT of Mexican activities.
I was there from November through to the end of January. These are big-time months for celebrations of all kinds. Each town (dozens of them) had their Saint Days, there was Christmas and New Years and some kind of conquistador thing going on, that we never really figured out — it was fun, whatever it was!
Evenings were magical.
Ajijic has dozens and dozens of restaurants catering to expatriates. This is almost a guarantee that food is properly sanitized and it’s a safe place to eat. Six of the restaurants had live entertainment and a small dance floor. The entertainment was good. REALLY GOOD. Musicians visited. from all over the world.
Amazing! Every culture was covered including Chinese and Indian. Fresh off-the-boat fish was trucked in daily. And talk about cheap! A heaping plate of fabulous fresh food perfectly prepared for about $5 (this included the entertainment.
On other nights we’d be invited to gatherings at various friends homes. Jack and Marguerite had been there for several years so they had lots of friends. Some of the Gatherings were potluck.(I did the cooking). At least 50% of the gatherings were fully hosted. Food and labor was cheap.
I walked every day
I wanted to know the communities inside and out. I wanted to be up front and center, not driving past. There were several distinct areas in Ajijic.
The commercial areas included, food stores including one BIG Supermercado, specialty stores, medical offices, clothing and shoe stores, jewelry stores, restaurants, a hotel and some very fancy B&Bs … and of course, tourist trap stores. This was the central core.
There were also some residential areas … in the middle of town, mixed housing both expat and Mexican and both hovels and large compounds.
The Expatriate communities formed the 2nd circle, filled with medium to high price homes. You’d see a mix of ordinary one level bungalows to walled mansions.
And the final circle was the Mexican homes. Some of them would almost make me cry because of the poverty. The side-by-side contrast of rich and poor was something I never got used to — I still think a lot about it.
In the commercial areas the sidewalks were often two feet above the street. There would be one or two BIG steps up to get up to the sidewalk. I’m short and this was often difficult for me.
I later found out that the high sidewalks was because of the daily flooding during the rainy season. Apparently the clouds would rapidly scuttle overhead, open up and dump for five minutes and then rapidly disappear. People described it as turning on a tap full force and then turning it off. As a result the streets would fill up with water — you had better plan on being UP on the sidewalk and not down on the street. An hour later every thing would be dry again.
The hour and a half walk from my host’s house to Ajijic was mostly dirt roads — until I got to the town itself. The cobblestones in the outlying, poor Mexican areas were BIG. By the time you got to the central part of town, they were much smaller and much easier to walk or drive on.
Two months later when Jack and Marguerite left to do their business in the US, they took their car. I actually didn’t mind. The Mexican bus was a huge adventure and I loved walking.
Once the car was gone, my walking routines accelerated. I went into town every day and would often go further afield to explore the other towns around the Lake.
I was beyond sad to have to return home at the end of three months. My stay in Ajijic was one of the most memorable and enjoyable experiences of my life. The Mexican people were a joy. Being near an expatriate, English-speaking community made everything easier.
On the morning of my departure I packed my suitcase and then got dressed to go. I put on a T-shirt and then put on the fitted pants I arrived in.
There was a big problem.
The pants fell off me.
Yes, FELL off. They didn’t even begin to fit. I was gobsmacked. I couldn’t believe it and I actually tried a couple more times before I was convinced. I tried on the jacket — same thing, it just bagged off me.
Thank goodness I had some reasonable looking alternatives!
I got on the plane and journaled about it all the way home.
How could I have lost so much weight, without realizing it?
I thought about my time there. Even with all the elastic bands and lose clothing, I should have noticed something! But then I realized, that about a month and a half after I arrived I started feeling embarrassed about wearing the same clothes over and over and over again. Yeah, people knew that I was living out of my suitcase, but still …
I went to fat ladies store. Okay for the sensitive and politically correct folks out there — a plus size store. I purchased several new pairs of pants, a new skirt and a couple of T-shirts. I also got a nice dress appropriate to our evening gatherings.
I never even looked at the sizes on the clothing that I purchased. I just had the shop attendant bring me all sorts of things to try on and purchased things that fit.
When you are really fat, you try to avoid looking at size tags.
I determined that there were five factors contributing to my weight loss:
1. I walked a lot. I walked everywhere. I walked up and down streets where you have to hike up a sidewalk and jump down again. I walked on cobblestone streets — the big ones and the small ones.. Not an easy thing for someone who wasn’t used to it. I left my old sneakers in the garbage before I left … they were totally worn out!
2. My eating habits were considerably different than at home. Eggs for breakfast. A fruit salad or veggie salad for lunch. When eating in restaurants I would normally order fresh fish or shrimp. When eating at potlucks, I indulged. NO way was I missing out on all that great food. BUT I am pretty sure I did not eat as much as I might have.
3. I went to the tianguis market twice a week. I mostly went by myself, almost always bought too much and had to carry big bags of fruit and vegetables home — this took me two hours, because I needed lots of rest stops.
I didn’t take the bus because it was always crowded and the one time I tried, I had enormous difficulty juggling all my bags AND remembering the Spanish word for STOP!
4. It was three months of no stress. I left all my troubles worries back in Vancouver. Yes, I explored possibilities in my journal but decided not to make any decisions until I got back.
In my world, stress means eating.
Eating is a solution to anything that troubles me. I figured I ate a lot less because there was no stress triggering the urge to eat. I didn’t eat chocolate bars, no giant economy sized bags of chips, loaves of bread, no vats of ice cream.
5. I only ate when I was hungry.
When I finally got home I rushed to my scales. I weighed 200 pounds. This meant that I lost more than 50 pounds. I’m guessing that I lost between 70 and 80 pounds.
Even today, years later … I can feel the absolute RUSH of joy.
I can still feel the incredulity and disbelief that it was possible to lose that much and not be aware of it.
Funnily enough, about a month after I got home I found an article on the internet. It was about a research project that they did in several Scandinavian countries. it was all about the benefits of walking on cobblestones. There are a lot of cobblestone streets in Scandinavian countries!
The researchers found that walking on cobblestone streets resulted in over 30% more weight loss than walking on cement sidewalk streets. In addition to the weight loss they discovered there was a huge difference in the amount of stress accumulated by the participants.
The first factor in cobblestone walking is that you are constantly adjusting your balance. Sometimes you balance on top of a stone on your toes, other times you balance your whole foot across several stones. You are not just plodding forward, every step is different. This means your whole body in involved … thus more energy is expended.
The researchers concluded that the act of walking on cobblestones ALSO required your attention to be fully on the process of walking. If you didn’t concentrate and focus on walking, you were likely to twist or break an ankle, or worse. The process of concentrating on walking is much like a meditation. you’re not looking at your past, you’re not looking at your future, you are in the present.
The good news is:
I did NOT gain back any of that pre-Mexico weight.
In fact I started researching weight loss, different diets, food and diabetes. I studied scientific papers, followed highly respected researchers and doctors. Over the next few years I am convinced that I became more expert than most dietitians!
I lost almost another 50 pounds using the Keto Diet and Fasting. Today I’m only slightly overweight. I’d like to lose another 10 pounds, but at the same time am thrilled at where I am.
I am still researching, learning, studying and experimenting with different ways of taking weight off and keeping it off.
Question? Have you every lost weight without being consciously aware of it? How did you do it … when did you realize you had lost weight? I’d love to hear all about it!
Melanie Rockett has been a freelance writer for over 40 years. About 15 years ago she was diagnosed with Diabetes — and began a long journey of discovery. Today she lives a sugar-free life and has lost 120 pounds. Her website Sugar-Free-Zone.com is all about living sugar-free and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
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