Get ready, deep thoughts ahead…
The past several weeks, I’ve hobbled through the doors of the physical therapist and done exercises that shouldn’t be hard for me. I’m trying to gain strength and reduce pain from my ankle injury. The extra time on my rear end has left me thinking, which is always dangerous for me
Before you think I’m going to complain about how sucky it is to be injured, I’ll spare you: this isn’t about injury. This is about life.
In the past few weeks, I’ve shared my weight loss progress with people outside of my normal bubble. I was asked something that I hadn’t thought about for a very long time:
What was the turning point for you?
A couple of days ago, blog reader Kimberly posted a question that was similar:
I have a recurring question in my mind, when you (being you…me…overweight…obese, whoever) have a whole lotta weight on your body, where/how do you find the motivation, energy or whatever is needed to get your ass up and at ‘em and exercise?
This has always been a hard question to answer by writing out. It requires distillation of 30 years of weight struggles into an answer that makes sense. It’s messy. It’s complicated. Was there really a lightbulb moment?
The past few weeks I have been watching a show on TLC called “My 600 Pound Life.” It follows four of the heaviest bariatric surgery patients in history through their procedure and then seven years of progress afterwards. It smacks me in the face every time I watch it, because that could have been me.
At over 400 pounds, I was unable to walk or stand for more than 10 minutes at a time. I would binge eat on the most crazy things and have no idea why. My large weight gain happened around the time when I was dealing (or not dealing) with my mom getting young-onset Parkinson’s Disease. She had to move far from me with relatives who put her in a nursing home when she was still in her 40’s.
My deterioration followed hers. She lost her ability to stand very long, and then lost the ability to walk. Her mind got clouded, and her laugh faded. She developed a propensity for all things sugary-sweet and overly processed. Her days were spent watching TV and not interacting with anyone. I couldn’t help her, so I hurt myself.
I was at a press conference for a company I worked for at the time, and a photographer at the event sent me the photos to use on our company website. On the disc was one photo of myself from afar, and I couldn’t grasp what I saw. I was unrecognizable. I remembered that day and standing on my feet for about 15 minutes and going home with swollen legs and ankles. I remember that I had to walk about 1 short block from the car to the event site, and was sweating profusely when I entered the building. I remember that I rode in my boss’ SUV whose seatbelt was so tight that I feared it wouldn’t clip. I was in denial.
I straightened myself up for a while after that shock, and lost over 125 pounds. I started to get friends as I found the confidence to enter graduate school and push myself towards a better, more active life.
When my mom died at age 50 while under my responsibility (I had to move her back near me as the relatives weren’t taking care of her) at an awful nursing home, I held it together until graduation and then promptly started to destroy myself again. Old habits came back fast, as did the weight. I ended up at 455 pounds.
I watch these people on “My 600 Pound Life” and see myself. Yes, it might be my former self and habits, but inside, it is still me. The stares from strangers, awful comments from strangers, inability to walk, binge eating, justification of poor behaviors… it’s like watching a time machine into what my life would have been like if I continued along that path.
What are my options I have every day?
- Be pissed and upset at genetics, binge eating habits, societal pressures of beauty, injury, circumstances. Give up.
- Continue pushing towards HEALTH. Stop looking at everything as a battle. Learn to live in order to continue living. Find life.
A weight loss journey isn’t something that begins and ends. It’s a daily struggle of fighting your habits and trying to complete a long sequence of correct decisions.
This whole blog isn’t dedicated to showing how I can drop numbers on a scale, it’s about showing how you can learn to live your life without limits. Am I proud of the weight loss? Of course. But those days that I get upset about being stalled for a really long time or having an injury from doing something you thought would be epic, I have to remember that I’m choosing life. There are people that deal with illness, natural disaster, and disability. Each day, I have to be thankful for the day I have and make the choices to best control what I do have. Thank you for helping me live.