Thank you all for your get well wishes. I'm *much* better, so much so that I am going to actually go move my body tomorrow. Woohooo! In the interim, since I don't have training to babble about, and I've already laid out where I want to GO this year, I thought I set out where I've BEEN. I wrote this essay in response to a request for help for his overweight wife, from one of the tri-drs.
I too have been heavy all my life. I lost 90 pounds in 2+ years by increasing my activity levels, monitoring every bite I ate, and logging both. I followed the Weight Watchers program, counting points and found it worked quite well. I've bounced around a bit in 2006, but am back on track and have another 50-75 to go. I'd be more than happy to talk to your wife via email, or even on the phone, if she's interested.
First of all, she needs to be ready to do the work, for her and no one else. Not because you're being wonderful and supportive, not because she'd keep up with the kids better, but because she is finally sick and tired of being fat. And maybe she's even miserable about it. Exploring why someone is obese, and why they gain weight, and why they eat is really really helpful. I couldn't sustain my weight loss until I had the courage to tell a therapist that I needed help, and I needed to understand. I was a yo-yo WWer for 15 years, losing 20, then gaining back 30, over and over, until I found some courage to talk to a therapist. I don't mean that to sound preachy, but getting to the root of the problem is important, or there may not be long term success.
Logging food. Write down every bit. I didn't pay to join WW, but I had all the stuff, so I used my own journal and tracked everything. I weighed and measured and I drastically changed my eating habits, and especially my portion sizes. No more pizzas for dinner, just a couple of slices and a salad. I did it every day, for every meal and every snack. I planned my meals too. On a day to day basis, and a weekly basis. I was also flexible --- if someone said, lets go to lunch, I'd go. If I ate more than I planned, then I'd make up for that by eating more sparingly at the next meal, or the next day. I also journaled how I felt when I was eating, and about how much I was eating. I paid attention to hunger cues, and tried to follow them.
I watched thin people, and observed how they ate, and how they treated their bodies. I bought a scale. I was afraid of scales, I could never face the bad news, but I bought one, and weighed weekly. I don't weigh more (although I have) because women's bodies particularly vary from day to day for all sorts of reasons which have nothing to do with weight loss or gain.
Logging exercise. I found the President's Council on Physical Fitness web site, which has several different "levels" for logging exercise, to be a terrific way to start. For the first adult challenge, you have to log in some purposeful exercise 5/week, for 6 weeks (or something close). They you win an award. It was SO SO rewarding to feel like I could be a regular exerciser. The next level are the medals, and that was even more fun. Me, the non-athlete, won a bronze medal! From there I moved up the levels until I completed the gold, and then decided shortly thereafter to try tris. I also did stuff that I liked. I swam. I made yoga a regular part of my life again, and I found a gym where I could learn more about weight training. Eventually, I rolled in the running, and the biking, and put it all together in my first triathlon. What a rush that was -- I'll never forget how it felt to finish my first race. NEVER.
Support. Having your family be supportive is terrific, but she needs people who are going through the same thing. I found several groups through the WW message boards (no fee/membership to use). I also found that the more I talked about what I was doing -- with family and friends, the better the support became. I'd go out to dinner with friends, and they'd check with me about the menus -- is there something you can eat here? It also became part of my time with family that on the weekends, I'd get up and go for a walk, or a run, or go to the local Y. They expected I'd be doing that, and started taking that into consideration for the plans for the day. People I were visiting asked me what I needed in the house, while I was there. I can't even begin to quantify how important this was, and how important this support continues to be.
I also read books about nutrition, and exercise, and became a total geek about it all. Losing weight became MY LIFE. Now, I'm trying to learn how to make it part of my life, and balance it with all of the other things I want/need to do. But I've finally got the foundation.
Sorry this is so long, obviously, this is something that I have strong feelings and opinions about. Best of luck to her and you, and I'm happy to do anything else that might help.