Fit For Life by
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Prompted By Diets

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Truth be told, I was always slender, but my weight varied by a few pounds in college. Then, along with my friends, I’d go on the Atkins Diet…no carbs, only protein and 8 big glasses of water a day. The weight would fall off me. I’d eat eggs, hamburger (you couldn’t get good meat at the dining halls in college), cottage cheese (this was before yogurt got tasty). And pee A LOT! This would last about a week. Then I couldn’t stand it any longer and I’d go back to regular eating, which would include my favorite lunch…fudge cake and skim milk; YUM! But I weighed about 90 pounds throughout most of my college years, 89 pounds on my wedding day in 1974.

Going through periods of emotional difficulty was a sure way to lose weight for me. I weighed 84 pounds while living alone in Chicago from 1978-9. I struggled to put weight back on. Ah, for those days again! I weighted 98 pounds at the beginning of each of my pregnancies (it took me a while to get pregnant the first time…I thought perhaps because I didn’t have enough fat on my body). I lost my baby weight quickly (and I put on 42 pounds with the first pregnancy, 47 with the second…I was LARGE, but delivered good-sized babies too).

In 2003, I became sick and dropped to 90 pounds. I looked skeletal. It took me a few years to get back up to 100 pounds, which now was my desired weight, but then I kept going.

Six years ago, six months before turning 60, I looked in the full-length mirror in my bathroom and didn’t recognize myself. As I said, I had always been slender. Now I could no longer say that. I was up to 116 pounds. I was determined to change that, so worked with a trainer, who also discussed eating and healthy lifestyle choices with me all summer. I tried to give up carbs and as much sugar as possible. I had been doing a Pilates mat class at my gym on the Vineyard for several summers. Griffin taught me a different workout; 30 minutes of aerobics with an interval aspect to get the metabolism going, then weight work for strength building. The weight began to come off and my shape changed. It took a year, but I lost 18 pounds and got down to 98 pounds (a 2 pound cushion). I joined a gym when I returned from the Vineyard, and a new one as soon as it opened, for I didn’t like the original one back home.

I love my gym and take tough classes 5 days a week, doing my own workout the other day. One day I rest. But age has tripped me up and I’ve dealt with a series of injuries over the past 15 months, from tendinitis and a sprain in the left hip flexor, to bulging discs in my back, causing sciatica down my left leg. I have had three cortisone injections directly into my spine over the past three months, which have eased the pain. Just the past few weeks, I’ve been able to get back to the same level of aerobic exercise I once enjoyed. But now I have some pain in my left rotator cuff and began physical therapy in May on that. It doesn’t limit me severely yet. We’ll see.

My eating also isn’t as pristine as it was 6 years ago. Too many parties, too difficult to stay rigorous, too much stress eating thanks to the current political climate! So a few pounds have crept back on. Now that my back and hip are feeling better, I hope to take care of all of that this summer, but age and metabolism are stacked against me. Summer fruit beckons.

Profile photo of Betsy Pfau Betsy Pfau
Retired from software sales long ago, two grown children. Theater major in college. Singer still, arts lover, involved in art museums locally (Greater Boston area). Originally from Detroit area.

Tags: fad diet, fit at 60, keeping weight off


  1. John Zussman says:

    Thanks for this account. You have actually been extraordinarily stable over the years, yet you’ve had your ups and downs. It’s interesting how we have to adapt and adjust our diet and exercise programs as we age. I used to run in the hills; now I hike. I’m thankful for yoga.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Yes, John. Age catches up to all of us. Metabolism slows and our body can’t do what it used to. I am fighting hard right now to lose 4 pounds. That used to be a snap! Can’t wait for Pilates to start here on MV (one more week). That is my form of Yoga…not stressful on my body, but still a good stretch and I feel good after it. Also helps with my core, posture and flexibility. I do other stuff to keep the weight off. Let’s all keep up the good work.

  2. Suzy says:

    Well, here is one aspect of our lives where we are very different, as you will see when you read my story. Thanks for this education about the alien (to me) world of dieting and working out.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Well, Suzy, you’ve got SEVERAL inches on me (to put it mildly), so as my metabolism slows down, I DO have to watch my weight. I always had an hour-glass figure, but heavier on the bottom (actually more pear-shaped) and not long and lovely legs, so all those tendencies become more pronounced with age. I chose to fight back.

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