Conquering IBS, Losing LBS

Heather After
Heather Before
 I am thrilled to be able to spend time playing with my children, not sidelined with a painful health condition. 
*People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.
Heather lost weight with a prior Weight Watchers program

After years of struggling with the debilitating symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Heather read a Success Story on that rekindled her interest in the plan.

For as long as I can remember my weight has fluctuated. Chronic health issues related to IBS made eating correctly difficult. I was never "thin" or "obese," but I certainly didn't sustain a healthy weight. My weight was at an all-time high the day I got married. The day people say you should look and feel your best, I felt ugly.

First Try
Just after my wedding, my husband enlisted in the Navy and was sent on a six-month deployment. I took that time to join Weight Watchers meetings, and started following the POINTS® Weight-Loss System. Although I lost weight, I also quickly lost my motivation to stick with the changes.

After my husband returned home, we had two children in two years. The pregnancies sent my weight back up. I felt like I was spilling over my clothes, not only when I was sitting but also standing. Nothing fit and I was miserable.

As I thought about taking the weight off, I browsed the Weight Watchers' Web site and ran across a Success Story about a woman who found relief from her IBS symptoms by following the plan.

Chronic Discomfort
I was diagnosed at age 10 with IBS, but had suffered with its symptoms even as a baby in diapers. I was constantly bloated and uncomfortable. After every meal, I felt like I had eaten a Thanksgiving dinner. I sought treatment, but could find no relief. I spent years in chronic pain. Doctors repeatedly told me that to feel better, I needed to change my diet. They suggested adding fiber, which I would try for a while. I also tried medications but nothing worked. I couldn't seem to get the right mix into my body to change things. Reading about a member's successful weight loss, coupled with freedom from her IBS symptoms, gave me a reason to give the plan another shot.

In the very first week of the plan, I noticed a huge difference in my symptoms. The smaller portions and higher fiber foods worked wonders for me. I no longer felt bloated or sluggish, and my energy levels went up. Feeling markedly better motivated me to stick with the plan. The weight loss wasn't bad either! Today I feel so much better that I sometimes forget I even have IBS.

A Tough Shift
Initially, the hardest part of the plan was adjusting from eating whatever and whenever I wanted, a pattern from my pregnancies. I had to learn to space my meals throughout the day and budget my POINTS values. I made mistakes along the way but realized that the sooner I got back to basics, the better I did. If I messed up badly one week, I would open my Week 1 program materials and start over.

Fitting in Fitness
Finding time for fitness became a nightmare. I'm a Navy wife, mother of two boys under the age of 2 and a school teacher. It's difficult for me to find a spare minute, yet I knew that physical activity would further reduce my IBS symptoms.

I love to walk, so in warm weather I put the boys in our double stroller and go to the park or around the neighborhood. When it's cooler, I walk the mall. Pushing a double stroller with 60-odd pounds of toddlers is great cardio and strength-training exercise.

I love feeling fit and healthy with two small children. I am thrilled to be able to spend time playing with them, not sidelined with a painful health condition. Evening hours are now spent in the yard wrestling with the kids, rather than stuck on the couch in pain. My body is lighter and my mood is too! This time, I lost the weight for me and am enjoying the benefits to the fullest.

Heather' Tips:
  • Get one of your fruits or vegetables in first thing in the morning. I make omelets with vegetables, or oatmeal with a banana diced into it.
  • Set a date to start. I picked the beginning of a month, on a day near the beginning of the week. Doing this gives me the feeling of having a fresh start on a new week.
  • Use the Web site! The Fitness & Health Gateway has given me ideas to incorporate into my fitness routine when I don't have much time to work out.
  • Break your goals down into smaller goals. It makes them easier to reach, and there are more rewards!
  • I have a huge sweet tooth. If I need a "big treat" like an ice-cream sundae, I try to save up for it and make sure to fit it in. I try to keep this to just once a week or every other week.
  • I add 8 ounces of unsweetened cranberry juice to the water in my Weight Watchers' mug to help me meet that Good Health Guideline.
  • Remember: "What you eat in private is what you wear in public."