"I have five sisters and I was the thick one," Sandra said. "As a result, I have always been self-conscious about my weight. On a good day, I'm 5-feet tall, but at 160 pounds that makes me medically obese. I'm 60 pounds heavier than two of my sisters, yet we're all pretty much the same height. My mother was the first to recommend that I go on a diet, and she introduced me to the Cambridge Diet, back in the day."
She continued: "The Cambridge Diet was one of those meal-replacement-shake plans. I would drink three or four shakes a day, which probably equaled about 600-800 calories a day. For sure, I lost weight rapidly. Two dress sizes in like three or four weeks. But once I reintroduced regular food into my diet, the weight just piled right back on, and then some."
Next thing, Sandra was off to college where she quickly piled on the "freshman 15," plus 10. A well-meaning roommate suggested that she try these little black pills to shed the weight quickly. Those little black pills, a/k/a black beauties, were amphetamines (speed).
"At first, the black beauties were great, and I lost weight effortlessly! It increased my energy, decreased my appetite and I could study all night long." But, after awhile, the side effects started to kick in, like headaches, insomnia and rapid heartbeat.
Once again, the pounds crept back on once the product was discontinued.
After that, Sandra tried all the health and nutritional-supplement weight-loss products found in health-food stores. When the now-banned, over-the-counter weight-loss supplement Ephedra was big, she was right on that bandwagon. "If it was in the health-food store, I figured it was legit. I tried them all: MetaboLife, Xenadrine, Hydroxycut, Dexatrim, Stackers, etc.," she said.
Again, after the honeymoon period, Sandra gained back all the weight.
Determined not to give up, Sandra moved on to the national commercial weight-loss programs, like Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem and LA Weight Loss. She had varying degrees of success with these different programs, but they just weren't sustainable. The one lesson she said she learned from these various plans: portion control.
She also tried the product Alli (which caused anal leakage), body wrapping and sauna suits, and she even had a tummy tuck.
It was all to no avail. Those stubborn 20 pounds would just creep back again.
That is, until she got real and stopped looking for magic. Once she realized that she must exercise regularly and eat sensibly forever, she was able to finally end her personal battle of the bulge.
"I have never felt better," she said. "Now I know that this is just how I have to live. I have to exercise pretty much every day and watch my portions religiously, if I want to maintain my weight and keep my body in tip-top shape."