Friday, January 29, 2010

The Tipping Point

By Terri Brisbin

First, thanks to Trish and Michelle for inviting me to blog today.

I’ve been on my own journey to try to get healthier and wanted to share a bit of it with you all. I’ve done the roller-coaster weight loss thing, having gained about 75 pounds between marriage and child #2 and then lost 75 pounds between child #2 and child #3, only to regain it all and more ever since. But I reached my ‘tipping point’ about 18 months ago.

For those who haven’t read Malcolm Gladwell’s work, the ‘tipping point’ is the point at which a market shift occurs, when a trend begins, when a paradigm shift occurs, aka a change in the way you think about something. And mine began about three years ago when I was diagnosed with kidney cancer.

Oh, I wasn’t an immediate convert at all. After surgery and recuperation, I really didn’t pay attention to my overall health. But a followup visit a year later to an endocrinologist brought me to my tipping point. The doctor pointed out that all my tests and levels were ‘fine’, but if one shifted to bad, the rest would topple with it. I went home thinking that this young doctor (did I mention I have children older than her?) was just an alarmist, but her words both troubled and resonated for weeks.

I realized that I was being really stupid! I mean, I’d been given a second chance when my cancer was found early and treated and I was not doing anything to appreciate that chance. Finally, a few months later, I gathered up my courage and took the first step toward a healthier style of living. But, it hasn’t been easy!

I’ve been using the Nutri-system(R) program to lose weight with its focus on portion-control, balanced foods and getting active. I decided to begin at the end of December 2008 and, by October 2009, I’d lost 80 pounds! And, even better, my blood pressure, sugar levels and cholesterol readings are waaaaay down. My doctors are happy and I am, too.

It hasn’t been easy at all, made worse because I love carbs (breads, pastas, potatoes) and generally hate veggies and don’t like fruits. Although sweets were not a big temptation to me, salty foods are. Why eat a handful of potato chips when a bag would be better? One piece of pizza and a salad when two pieces would be soooo much better? So, I found the structure of Nutri-system to be very helpful in getting control over my diet. It forced me to eat veggies and fruit every day, and it pushed me to get more active. It was easy to follow and worked for me because I only have an older son and hubby to cook for and we usually eat different things.

The exercise part is more of a challenge for me, but something I’m working on. Once I began losing pounds, it became easier to walk. And, in spite of a history of fracturing my back twice (yes, I broke my back twice….), I was able to travel to Scotland by myself and walk my way to castles, tombs, ruins, caves and shorelines. Uphill, in both directions, at times, it seemed. It was something I would never have been able to do while carrying around those 80 pounds.

My success so far, the encouragement I’m getting from friends and family, and the changes I’m seeing and feeling in myself are pushing me now to maintain the weight loss and to continue to get myself in shape. I’m still struggling and know that I always will, but I’m feeling a bit more confident in my efforts. Potato chips call my name as I pass them in the grocery store, but I know if I succumb to their temptation, all is not lost.

And that is my other tipping point – realizing that one misstep isn’t the end of the world. That if those darned potato chips win the day, I can still reclaim control. And that each day is a new battle…..

Have you reached your tipping point? Can you share it with us?

P.S. – One of the hardest things during this process has been giving up my favorite foods or recipes – but on the Hungry Girl Web site, she shares lots of ways to substitute and change recipes and ingredients to make your favorite foods healthier. Hey, anyone who can tell me how to make ‘better’ cocktail hotdogs is okay with me! Take a look at .

Terri is a married mom of three sons (two grown and out, one too big but still home!) and she lives in Southern New Jersey. The author of more than 20 historical and paranormal romances, Terri currently serves on the RWA Board of Directors and is busy writing more romances for Harlequin Historicals and Kensington Brava. Visit her Web site at


Elise Hayes on January 29, 2010 at 8:10 AM said...

What a journey, Terri--congratulations!!

I think the tip you shared that resonates the most with me is realizing that even if the potato chips win (and they inevitably do win sometimes), it doesn't mean you've lost everything. You can beat the potato chips the next day (and, like you, I'm a salt freak--I'd take french fries over ice cream any day of the week).

Congratulations on this inspiring journey!

Michelle Butler on January 29, 2010 at 9:20 AM said...

Wow, Terri, that is so impressive. Congratulations on your dramatic progress. I'm glad you found something that worked for you - and experienced a tipping point.

I don't really think this journey started with a tipping point. I really did go back to Weight Watchers - for about the 20th or 30th time - last January 09 not necessarily believing that this time would be any different from the previous times. I had just promised myself I would give it a year no matter what. I hadn't hit bottom, gotten a scary medical diagnosis, shocked myself by how big I'd gotten (I wasn't actually at my biggest size ever - about 10 pounds smaller), etc. For lots of different reasons, this time has worked.

Do you have any future trips to Scotland planned?

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on January 29, 2010 at 9:21 AM said...

Thanks for your awesome post, Terri. As I've told you in person, I'm amazed by how much you accomplished in a year. That takes a lot of will power and determination, and I admire you for it and hope to adopt more of that myself.

I too like the tip about if you lose the battle one day, you don't have to the next. One day at a time...

Sally Kilpatrick on January 29, 2010 at 10:36 AM said...

Terri, I'm really impressed by all you have accomplished--congratulations! I'm slowly but surely learning that one mistake doesn't give me carte blanche for twenty more.

I'll think of you as I continue to struggle.

Terri Brisbin on January 30, 2010 at 4:47 PM said...

Michelle --

About Scotland -- though I don't have a trip planned right now, I know I'll be going back...and sooner rather than later! I just got the brochure for the Edinburgh International Harp Festival in the mail (it's in April!) and it's calling my name. Knowing I have air-miles enough to do a round-trip is not making it easy to resist! LOL....

I would like to do a northern England/Borders/Southern Scotland trip, but in the words of Robbie Burns, 'my heart is in the Highlands' so I cannot conceive of a trip that doesn't visit there.


Michelle Butler on January 30, 2010 at 7:34 PM said...

I've been to a lot of places in northern England/Borders/Southern Scotland, and there are lots of cool places to visit there. I really enjoyed Hadrian's Wall, lake country, cumberland, north yorkshire, york, etc. Have a great trip the next time you go!

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