Thursday, November 20, 2014

Today I Resolve to Be the Healthiest Me I Can Be

Tina (center) being silly in thinner, more active times.

People who have known me for many years know that I have always struggled with my weight.  It was a battle that began when I was probably five or six and my mother first started talking to me about dieting and weight loss and not wanting me to grow up the way she had, being teased for being fat. As far back as I could remember, I knew that I was the heaviest of my mother's children when I was born.  I weighed 8 pounds and put my mother through 26 hours of labor.  My brothers were all easy she would tell me -- each of them only weighing 5 or 6 pounds each, and causing her far less grief.  This wasn't the way she worded things necessarily, but it was the way my young mind interpreted her story every time I heard her talk about what a difficult pregnancy I had been for her.  I was a chubby baby -- I had chubby little legs and chubby cheeks -- and when I became old enough to begin going to school I was embarrassed by the fact that I was always bigger than the other kids in my classes.

The battle to "slim me down" began very early in life.  I can remember sitting alone in the living room many evenings, eating my "diet plate" of a hamburger patty and cottage cheese, (anyone remember when that was considered "diet food?") or a tomato stuffed with tuna salad, while the rest of the family was in the kitchen eating whatever wonderful thing my mother happened to make that night for dinner.  This was well before my eighth birthday -- before my father and mother separated and he moved out, adding my brothers and me to the list of kids in our neighborhood from "broken homes."  I was often hungry and frequently sad -- I could never quite figure out what I had done to be ostracized at dinner time, but I knew it had something to do with the fact that I was a "big girl" and that wasn't a good thing.

My brothers and me

Over the years I have lost weight and regained it, then lost it again and regained it ... each time feeling a little more depressed and a little more like there was something fundamentally wrong with me. WHY can't I keep the weight off? Time and again I have wondered if I am just doomed to be overweight like both my parents. I have lost weight before so I know it can be done.  It is just the whole keeping it off part that has me stumped.

When my mother died in 2010 it should not have come as a surprise to me.  Her health had been declining, she refused to do the things her doctors told her to do (and after falling off the wagon with exercising and eating healthy I KNOW how hard it is to get yourself started), but I have to admit that when that day came I felt like I had been sucker-punched. Hard. I still have days where I replay that day in my head and it hurts.  I promised myself that I would learn a lesson from her death -- I would take better care of myself.  I did not want to be stuck at home in a recliner watching t.v. for hours on end and spending days never venturing outside.  I did not want to live the last half of my life weak, sick, and helpless.  I had already lost a few pounds and had been walking and occasionally riding my bike, but after my mother died I knew I wasn't doing enough to really try to lose the weight I needed to lose.  I started exercising in earnest, and I vowed this time when the weight came off I would find a way to keep it off.

Me in 2011 after a workout at the gym -- damn I felt great!
I signed up for a 5K running class -- I was one of the biggest people in the class, but I didn't care. I knew I needed to do something but it was terrifying. I was just so certain that I would be that person bringing up the rear on every run, slowing down the rest of the group, collapsing in a wheezing, sweaty puddle after the first block or two. So I was stunned the first day when I was actually able to keep myself in the middle of the pack. I was never a fast runner by any means, but I did learn to love it. Me! I started doing kettlebell workouts and riding my bike (often after my husband, brother and I would return home from a hike or a run!) and we began going on increasingly longer hikes on the weekends. We were all eating healthier, and eventually I got down under 200 pounds for the first time since those 2 glorious weeks I had spent at 197 when I was 20 years old -- and this time I stayed there for several months. I should have been happy. And I was often proud of myself. But I found myself slowly falling back into bad habits and with that came a pound put back on. Then 3 ... then 6.  

I tried to stop the weight gain.  I managed to slow it down for a bit, but the fear returned and with it the sense that I was fooling myself if I thought I could ever stay slim.  At the time my husband and I were struggling financially. The house we were renting (that we had only been in for a year-and-a-half) was being foreclosed on because our landlords had stopped paying their mortgage. Around Thanksgiving we got a notice that we were going to have to move soon -- AGAIN.  Moving has always been a truly difficult thing for me, even when it is something I have wanted to do.  This one hit me especially hard for some reason, adding to the anxiety and sadness I was already feeling.  The downward spiral came surprisingly fast.  I started coping the way I always had -- self medicating with food. Then last year happened.  Without going into great detail I will just say it was not a happy year for me. I met some great people, and I did one crazy, fun thing that I never, ever imagined myself doing (see the photo below), but by and large it was a dark and awful year for me.  

Yes, that was really me playing the Stage Manager in Our Town! (2013)
So, here I am back where I started. I have been stuck at this weight for about a year now, and it is not a happy place to be. I worry that I may never be able to get myself back to the place I was.  I admit that I am feeling like that little girl who had to sit alone, in hiding because I am overweight and therefore not allowed to eat what everyone else is having. But I don't want to feel like this. Today I am truly beginning over.  I am overweight and tired and everything hurts -- but I don't have to be this person.  I am not going to focus on the numbers on the scale.  I am going to focus on feeling better.  I am going to change one thing at a time.  I will start with a short walk after work and go from there.  My hope is that this time next year I will be in a happier place -- a healthier place.  I am not waiting for New Year's to make this resolution. Today I resolve to take care of myself and to be the healthiest person I can be. 

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