When you lose weight, do you lose your friends? [Dieting after sixty]

Jane had no idea when she decided to start on a program of diet and exercise that it would bring about such dramatic changes. Not just to her appearance, but also to how those around her would relate to her.


Jane was in her mid sixties and had been a yoyo dieter for the last twenty years. She was divorced and had not been in a relationship with a man for over ten years. She weighed ninety-six kilos and could see herself getting to a hundred kilos within a few years if she didn’t act soon.

In mid May one year she entered in her diary that on June 1st she would start to diet again and in very large letters she wrote right across the page for that day “D Day.” On the evening of May 31st she was carrying forward her uncompleted items for that day to June 1st and saw written across the page D Day. She thought to herself, “What was I thinking? What made me think I could finally start dieting again.” She then put a line through the words and ignored the diary entry.

The next morning when she was eating her way through a bacon and egg breakfast with the works in her local café she thought, “I’m such a failure. I’ll be overweight and unhappy forever.”

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When she returned home she looked at her diary again and thought maybe she could start a month later? So again she wrote D Day in her diary, this time on July 1st. She noted it was a Wednesday and thought to herself, ‘Thank god it’s not a Monday.’

Her goal weight was sixty-six kilos that meant she needed to try and lose thirty kilos. A week before July 1st she decided to do an audit of her kitchen. She took all the high carb stuff out of the cupboards and fridge and jammed it into plastic bags, which she piled at the front door.

She decided for the first month to cut all sugar and simple carbs and reduce portion sizes. Then she thought, “If by then I’ve started to lose some weight I may even try to do some exercise.” Then from August she decided she would also cut out bread and then start using meal replacements shakes for lunch.

She was starting to feel really positive about her plan. On June 30th she went shopping and bought in extra fruit and vegetables plus a range of low fat products.

On Wednesday July 1st she bounced out of bed and made her first coffee for the day with lite organic milk. Then she made herself a fruit salad and juiced an orange and thought, “That’s breakfast all I have to do now is make it to lunch with crashing.” For lunch she made herself a salmon salad with two wheat crackers. Dinner was asparagus followed by a chicken breast with salad.

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At 10pm that night she realised that she had made it through day one. It was her plan to diet for at least a year so now there were only 364 days to go. She had also decided not to weigh herself until the end of the first month.

Saturday August 1st just before breakfast she took all her clothes off, went to the toilet again, made sure the scales were on zero and tentatively stepped on. The pointer on the scales stopped at eighty-nine kilos. Six kilos less! She was in shock and got straight off the scales and then back on to check it again. It was still eighty-six kilos!

She was off the carbs and had her portion sizes under control, now she also needed to give up bread (and butter) and start to exercise. So she proceeded to take out all the bread that was in the freezer, then the butter, the peanut butter, the honey and the cheeses and put them in a plastic bag for her neighbour. She had tried to increase her exercise by parking further away from locations and walking to the shops but so far hadn’t been able to start a serious exercise program. By the end of August she had lost a total of ten kilos and was down to eighty-five kilos and had managed to get back into size sixteen jeans and was feeling really happy with herself.

The next week on her way to a luncheon she stopped off at her local café for a coffee. The café was crowded so she had to sit at the community table at the back. She’d been there for several minutes when she looked up and straight into the eyes of a man sitting opposite. He made a remark about the weather and the next thing they were talking.

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All she could think of was, “Oh why hadn’t I started my diet on June 1st then maybe I would have been back into my 14s. At least I’m sitting down and he can’t see my big bum.” He told her he just lived down the road and that he was newly divorced. Then to her surprise he asked if she would like to have lunch or dinner with him soon. She accepted. Naturally she started panicking as it had been so long since she’d been involved with a man.

They had dinner the next week and she was happy with how things went. He asked to see her again and the following weekend they went to the movies. To her surprise he told her that several years ago he had also been overweight and that he now followed a strict food and exercise regime. He also told her he was committed to a low G.I. eating program and that he walked daily.

By the end of the next month he had encouraged Jane to start a daily walking program early each morning. He worked with her to develop a low G.I. eating program that included starting her day with oats, a combination of raw seeds, yoghurt and fresh berries.

The romance blossomed over the next few months and her weight just melted away and she came to love walking. By June the next year she was sixty-six kilos, her BMI was 23 and she was into size 12 jeans and have achieved her goal!

Unfortunately by then the romance was on hold due to some complications. Jane was disappointed about the relationship but delighted that she’d managed to stay on course with her program.

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As her transformation became obvious many of her married friends stopped involving her in their social activities. Then as she no longer ate carbs when having coffee out with her friends she realised they were not contacting her. One friend told her that with her new slim appearance she made them feel guilty about what they were eating when she joined them for coffee.

An overweight friend who telephoned her regularly asked her what was new? Jane told her that she had just bought a pile of new clothes as she had finally lost thirty kilos and was now a size 12. The friend hung up and to this day has made no further contact.

There we also some facetious people who said to Jane, “How long do you think you’ll be able to keep it off, especially at your age?”

What really stunned her was a year later when she was talking to a friend on Skype with the camera off. He friend said, “Why don’t you have the camera on. Are you fat again?”

This story about Jane demonstrates that at times friends are not always that supportive when someone manages to achieve their goal.

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Have you lost a significant amount of weight before? How did your friends and family react?

Check out your BMI if you don’t know it. It can be calculated at: www.health.nsw.gov.au

xxx Carole L

If you would like me to cover any particular topic in this column please email me at: [email protected] 

Anyone with a BMI over 25 and over the age of 60 should really look seriously at devising an eating plan that has reduced kilojoules. You need an uncomplicated plan that can also fit in with your lifestyle, and one that you can adapt if necessary for unavoidable social events. Please note that Carole is not a physician, dietician or nutritionist. If a reader has any issues about their weight that are medically related then a professional opinion should always be obtained before embarking on any changes or restrictions to their diets.