If you ask me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you. I came to live out loud. ~Emile Zola
Struggling with health and weight. It’s the story of my life. Mostly, I’ve made attempts at weight loss more than I’ve made moves toward health. But today is a new day, and I’m ready to share my journey toward a healthy lifestyle with weight loss as a positive consequence. And, just so you know, I’m terrified of sharing all of this!
At 45 years old, I’m morbidly obese. I currently weigh 281 pounds (Gulp! Did I just post that???) at 5 feet 8 inches tall. I wish I could blame it all on being big-boned or having bad genes, but I’d be lying. My weight is a reflection of years of poor eating habits accompanied by a sedentary lifestyle. It’s also, as I’ve recently discovered, an outward sign of my relationship to myself.
I suppose I was a little overweight growing up. Although my eating habits were poor, I was physically active. Dance classes–ballet, jazz, flamenco, tap–were an almost daily part of my life from age 3 through high school graduation. Ballet classes, along with other forms of dance, were part of my routine during college, too. These activities undoubtedly kept me from becoming severely overweight during those years.
After college, however, my physical activity practically ceased to exist, save for the occasional forays into attempts at weight loss and drunken weekend disco dancing. I quickly gained and then lost weight repeatedly as I engaged in typical yo-yo dieter practices. My weight went up and down, fortunately without serious health issues, until today when I find myself at my current weight of 281 pounds.
Although weight loss has typically been the Holy Grail, today it is just one piece of the prize I seek. At this age, I am not only worried about losing weight, but also about my future health and quality of life. As I mentioned, I’ve been fortunate to escape (so far) without seriously debilitating diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or the like. The worst I’ve experienced are gallstones, resulting in surgical removal of my gallbladder, and a kidney stone (OUCH!). I am not on any medication nor have I ever needed to be. I know these days are numbered.
What will my life be like in 10 years? Will I be able to squat to the toilet by myself? Will my knees be so damaged from lugging around extra weight that I’ll need knee surgery or have to use a cane to walk? Will I develop diseases I’ve somehow managed to escape? Will my body begin to crumble due to the crappy treatment its endured at my hands?
Forgetting about the future for a minute, what is my life like now? What are the activities in which I engage or do not engage due to my health and my weight? Do I ride my bike? The seat on my bike sinks down under my weight. Do I take dance classes? As much as I love dance, I am unable to move quickly enough to participate in dance classes. Do I take yoga classes? My weight is too much to bear in most yoga poses. Do I participate in Pilates sessions? My stomach gets in the way of Pilates exercises. I am a master of excuses and rationalization and, frankly, I get winded from tiny bursts of activity. I’m tired of this; it doesn’t work for me anymore and I’m ready to change.
My cynical self tends to think that this is just one more fling of the yo-yo (Here we go again…), but I do my best to shut that voice out through healthy self-talk, of course (Thank you, Martha!). Honestly, it would be great to focus on dramatic weight loss just to be thin again. I mean, who am I kidding? Being thin feels AWESOME! But, what is driving me right now is not weight loss, but rather the vision I have of the all too near future and the quality of life I’ll lead if I continue making the choices I’ve made.
I see how family members have suffered due to health issues and I don’t want to live the rest of my life like that. I want to live a healthy life as I grow older running around playing with my nieces and nephews and, someday, their kids. I want to struggle with the regular pains of aging rather than those incurred due to my mistreatment of my body and mind. Granted, I can’t undo the inevitable upcoming consequences of my past behavior, but today–this minute–is completely in my control and I’m taking charge.
I find myself in this place at what some would consider late in the game, but I’m happy to be here now. I’m ready to face this challenge, so I’m taking action. I’m eating healthy food, moving my body daily, and continuing to work on the gremlins. I don’t expect this journey to be easy; I’m braced for the potholes and hairpin turns ahead (As Bette Davis’ character said in All About Eve, “Fasten your seat belts; it’s going to be a bumpy night.“). It will be a mixture of feelings of pride, awesomeness, humility, fear, and sheer terror, but I am committed to sharing it all on this blog. I realize that by doing so, I am putting myself way out there and that thought both terrifies and excites me. This is how I’m choosing to live my life. I am wholeheartedly working through this health thing and I hope you’ll come along for the journey.
With terror and excitement–xoxo