Last night, my husband and I were invited to a special event. The crowd, all acquaintances – some closer to strangers than friends – all older than me by 5-15 years.
As I looked around the room, I felt very out of place, less because of my age, and more because of my mindset.
It was a room of married heterosexual couples, (one widow and a couple of sisters under 25). Most fit the status quo; they plan to work until retirement, they have adult children and possibly grandchildren. Very typical middle-age Canadian people. Needless to say – good Lord willing – the direction I’m moving.
The table was filled with food – the regular ‘party’ fare – a veggie tray, a unique cheese tray, a cracker tray, party punch and an assortment of desserts including pecan pie, coconut cream pie and a double layer lemon cake with fresh raspberries on top.
I sat next to the widow (she’s young and lovely and so much more than the label I’ve given her here). We chatted about our mostly grown children and our dogs. Across the room, the men gathered; an average cross-section of the mid-fifties male – gray haired, tan pant and polo shirt wearing crew – with taut and swollen pot bellies, white whiskers from a two day growth and bi-focals. (not unlike Exhibit A, minus the cigarette, of course.)
And nestled on couches, frittering among themselves, the wives. (See Generalization B)
I couldn’t help but notice sallow complexions, pinchy clothes and tired eyes.
IS THIS REALLY OUR FATE?
We’ve just become totally complacent with our health. We eat all kinds of fast and fake foods. We sit all day at desks or lounge on couches. We eat way more than we need to. We loathe movement and exercise and do almost anything to avoid it. We are by our middle age – for the most part (there are always exceptions) FAT, SICK, SLOW, SLEEPY and APATHETIC about our bodies. And we think change is too hard, so we just accept where we’re at.
These photos are taken almost five years apart. The “Before” photos were taken by my daughter on December 28, 2009. The “After” photos were all taken between April and August of 2014. (*Yes, I take ‘progress’ pictures of myself. I have all kinds of photos in stages of my journey.)
The difference in my health and my shape is the result of a lifestyle change OVER FIVE YEARS.
It’s not a 21 day fix. Not even 30 days.
No Skinny Teas or Raspberry Keytones.
No miracle fat loss pills or crazy restrictive diets.
This change is a result of my commitment to moving everyday.
To lifting something heavy, and squatting low; making muscles burn and the heart race.
I was 39 in the photo on the left. And many people would say I don’t look too bad. After all, we are a BAAAS (Body Acceptance at Any Size) Culture. But it was the way I felt. I was Weak. Winded. Lethargic. Anemic. Lazy. Anxious.
I was close to 190 pounds. (I’m between 5’9 and 5’10) I had a high fasting blood sugar, high blood pressure (144/85), low iron, a waist measurement of 37″, my thyroid was sluggish and I was considered pre-diabetic by my MD.
I couldn’t even say it was left-over baby weight. My oldest child was 17 and my youngest was 7 and I was nearly 40 but felt 50. And I hadn’t even begun to experience peri-menopause or menopause.
Every year, at my annual physical, my weight would creep up another few pounds. Even just 5 little old pounds each year would mean a 50 pound weight gain for my 50th birthday. I wanted NO part of it. I was absolutely certain I didn’t want to live the rest of my life just barely getting by in my body.
As you can tell from the images I’ve shared, THIS is where I was headed next.
This is not body shaming. FOR ME, this is toxic. It’s unhealthy. It is a body in need of pharmaceuticals. And maybe even a heart attack waiting to happen. And I just didn’t want that reality.
Here’s what I did want.
I wanted to feel limber and stretchy and tough. I wanted to make use of my body. I wanted to be pain-free. I wanted to lose weight, but more important, I wanted to feel strong. I wanted adventures. I wanted to run on a beach somewhere. I wanted to go hiking in the mountains. I wanted to feel young and vibrant and energetic. I wanted to enjoy the possibilities my body had to offer. I wanted to be kind to my body.
And one day, I wanted to be a Gramma who could toboggan and bike ride and play ball and make cookies and chase kiddies at the park.
And so bit by bit, day by day, I chose to move closer to what I wanted.
And it didn’t happen overnight. The first 2 years were a want with little action. But it was a starting point. (My active lifestyle is only two and a half years old.) I battled old habits and poor choices and chose new at every turn. But believe me! I ate the chips when I really wanted chips and then I got my ass up and moved the next day and chose something healthy at the next meal.
I share this, not because I’m doing it right and I’m calling out all those who struggle or self loathe.
And I realize that there are plenty o’ people who love themselves exactly as they are and feel no need to change.
I share this for the people who are exhausted.
For those who are tired of being fat and sick and tired.
For the people who have tried and ‘failed’ and have all but given up.
I share it to back you up. To cheer you on.
To remind you that there is NO QUICK FIX.
But you possess the power.
– – – – –
There is no easy way out of the condition we’re in – as an obese and diseased middle aged population.
It is WORK. And we’re in denial.
We tsk-tsk the misfortune of others and ignore the fact that we’ve got our own foot on the gas peddle.
I’ll change soon, we say.
I’ll start someday.
I’m not as fat/sick/unhealthy as ‘they’ are.
I’m just built this way – all the women (men) in my family look like me.
– – – – –
How do you see yourself in five years? What do you want for your health?
If your body could tell you how it feels and what it needs to be happy and healthy, what would it say to you?
When I finally asked my body that very question, the simple answer came back loud and clear.
I want to MOVE, it said.
*I have no idea what I weigh. I can’t remember the last time I stood on a scale.