03/18/2014 11:36 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How I Got Down to My Driver's License Weight

2014-03-14-DLforHP.jpgOnce upon a time I got down to my driver's license weight.

I want to share with you how I did that.

And just in case you're thinking what my husband loves to point out, that "getting down to my driver's license weight" means I "lied" on my driver's license, I didn't look at it as lying. I looked at it as committing to a goal.

In the summer of 2006 I was committed. I was going to get down to 114 pounds -- from my then weight of 130, 135 -- and I was going to do it in ten weeks. 114 is what I weighed in high school, and then again for about ten minutes on my wedding day.

Here's what I did for ten weeks.

Five days a week I consumed, at most, 1140 calories a day -- and only 100 of those calories came from something questionable in terms of health, like butter. One day a week, my limit was 800 calories -- which mostly consisted of a bottle of V8 V-Fusion. One day a week -- my free day -- I ate as much of whatever I wanted.

And just like that, the pounds started to come off.

Well, I mean not "just." There was the constant, insane hunger. But I'd been keeping track of my workouts for years. Now I kept track of what I ate, cut back on that, and the scale rewarded me every week.

As to what powered me through the summer of hunger, as we came to call it, was how quickly I saw results. You get to a certain point in your life and you think, "That's it. I'll never be slender again." I was surprised by how quickly I lost the weight once I made the decision to do it.

And yes, I realize this is no way to eat -- or live. I hadn't yet discovered a plan I could stick with for the long haul. But it was part of my evolution, and I want to fess up.

You don't even want to know, for example, how much I lived for my free days. On the Fourth of July I got up at 3:00 in the morning to start a free day early. I was already two pounds under my goal weight, but I was going to stick out the ten weeks just to see how low I could get. Darrell got up about a half hour later to use the bathroom, and he found me at the dining room table eating holiday cake straight from the pan and reading Eat, Pray, Love -- which he dubbed Eat, Pray, and Eat Some More. "Thanks," I said, raising another forkful. "I think I will."

I never really stopped eating on a free day, and by sunset I was usually so jittery from all the extra sugar and whatever else I almost welcomed the return to Sparta.

On the last day of the ten weeks we set out for some fun in the Minneapolis area. I hadn't gotten enough sleep the night before, but I still felt great. And that, all by itself, made me wonder how much I'd let down once this experiment ended. I needed less sleep, I had so much more energy, and I was finishing projects I'd been putting off for years -- though part of that was busying myself in another room while Darrell and our daughter ate a normal meal.

I felt so much better for eating so much better -- and so much less -- six days out of seven.

Why would I stop doing something that seemed to be working?

Well, as I said, the constant, nagging hunger. The Mall of America was the worst it ever got. Darrell and Katie took what felt like forever selecting a pastry from a cute little coffee shop and I thought I'd go crazy, waiting. Watching them eat their treats wasn't so bad. But pick them out already! Standing in line with them as they contemplated their choices almost drove me to climb over the counter and bury my face in a lemon cream cake.

Hanging on was worth it, though. When I woke up early the next morning I climbed on the scale to see 108. That had become my new goal once I shot past 114. I had a banana and a granola bar, and went back to sleep for a little while longer with a smile on my face -- knowing when I got up for good that day I could eat whatever I wanted.

Which is what happened. I ate everything in sight. Katie and I had a deep-fried Twinkie on a return trip to the Mall of America. No treat was too decadent.

You can see where this is going. Right back up the scale to 130, 135 pounds. But it took years -- only because I was "good" more days than "bad."

It was a constant struggle, though. Is this a free day? Or am I going to be "good" today? And if I felt so good on the days I was "good," why did the so-called "bad" foods have such a hold on me?

Is this what my life had become? Stressing over the same 20 or so extra pounds? And speaking of stress, those 20 pounds represented four times that stress on my knees -- so it wasn't just vanity at play here.

Almost every woman I knew felt the same way about at least a little bit of stubborn extra weight. Almost every woman I knew talked about that more than anything else. How boring. What a waste of a life.

And it was my life. I didn't know what to do. I was always either gaining or losing -- and I hadn't found a way to stabilize at a weight I felt good about.