My mid-life crisis started with a free car. I drove a cute little car and our family needed another car for my daughter. My in-laws gave us their car. It was a very nice luxurious sedan. I gave my car to my daughter and took the sedan. I should have been thrilled with a very nice car, but I hated it. Driving it made me feel like I was 90 years old, fat and frumpy.
I spiraled into a seriously dark depression. I have given so much of ‘myself’ away over the years – all for the needs of my family. Giving up my cute little car was just one more piece of me gone. I started to take stock of all the things that I had given up over the years and realized that I did almost nothing for myself. I had become almost unrecognizable from the person I once was.
I looked in the mirror. I mean really looked at myself for the first time in 20 years. I could not believe the obese lifeless person looking back at me was, well me. I had gained so much weight. I had quit wearing make-up, I had quit taking care of me at all. There was no fight in my eyes at all.
I chose to change right then and there. I had enough. My kids were grown-enough. What did my family really need from me anymore? It was my time for me.
I wrote a list of all the things I wanted to change. Most of it was weight related, but not all of it. I have always been a little on the crazy side of radical, so I decided to write the list in a goal order. I attached a tattoo to each goal. I started on 9-25-09. I went out and got a Nautical Star Tattoo on my right ankle. For me, sailors use the stars to find their way home-my star was a reminder to go and find me again. I then came up with ‘good luck’ tattoos that I was going to add around the star. For me it’s good luck to always remember who I really am and be that person.
I wrote a food diary and took to heart all the things about health and nutrition we have all heard for years. I did not join any program or have any surgery. I am cheap-maybe I should say frugal. Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains, Lean meat, a little Dairy, I only use Olive Oil-sparingly for any fat. I kept it at 1200 to 1500 calories a day. I found ways to eat a lot of food with very little calorie content. I am rarely hungry.
I knew I had to move. I knew exercise was going to have to happen. I have always hated to sweat. I hated being hot and sticky. I had always sweated like a linebacker. No pretty little beads of sweat, it was always soaking wet looked like I just played four quarters. I played mind games with myself. I told myself that sweating was the bad stuff leaving. I just had to get over it.
I started with 20 min on a treadmill. Thought I was going to die. Could not breathe. I was barely going 2.2. LOL . With my hatred of sweat, thought I would mix it up with pool time. I started with 4 laps in a 25 yard pool. Every 3rd day I would add distance to either the walk or the pool.
A weird thing happened. Weight started to fall off me like I was scraping it off. Diet and Exercise-Who Knew? Sweat, suddenly seemed not as horrible. I started to add all kinds of different things I have never even tried before. Deep Water Aerobics, Ballroom Dancing, Yoga, Wii Boxing (of all things), I do a lot of Balance Ball work. When I watch the Buckeyes play, I do crunches on the ball every time they score. (Like the military people do, at the games, in the end zone, when they score). I keep a basket of hand weights and T-Band right beside the couch, so I can do some arm work when I am watching TV.
I have lost 115 pounds in 47 weeks. I have lost 5 inches off my arms, 16 inches off my chest, 17 inches off my waist, 19 inches off my hips, 10 inches off my legs. I am buying clothes in the normal section of the store for the first time in 20 years. I was just beginning to reach dangerous numbers in my health screens. I was not on medication yet, but at my last check up, all my numbers were totally normal, by medical standards.
I am not done yet. I still have more weight to come off. I know I am going to have to have plastic surgery to remove excess skin. (taking donations-lol). I still have a lot I want to try for the first time.
Step and Stride’s 10 Mile Challenge falls literally within one week on my 1 year anniversary on the new me. I could think of nothing better than to challenge myself in a way I never thought possible. I can’t wait. I’ll probably be the last one finished, but I will finish, because it’s what I do now.
I may not be the fastest at all the things I am trying, but I am no longer sitting on my butt. I may not ever get back to the person I was aiming for, I may go beyond “her” to a new person I never imagined could exist! This time it was just for me.
Walking changed my life. More importantly, walking saved my life. I have lived with constant, chronic pain in my lower back, hips, legs and knees since the age of 24 as a result of a bone infection in my spine that was misdiagnosed for 5 months. The infection caused a disk in my spine to collapse and disintegrate. I have degenerative arthritis and bone spurs on my spine, very near my tailbone, so even sitting becomes painful.
Over the years, it became increasingly difficult for me to manage the physical demands of working, raising my daughter and step-daughter and taking care of my home. Food became a way for me to find solace from my problems. I ate to deal with the physical pain. I ate to deal with the emotional pain caused by my physical pain. I ate to deal with the depression that developed as I became increasingly home-bound, just trying to get through each and every day.
At age 40 I weighed 280 pounds. I could no longer walk up a set of stairs normally. I had to bring both of my feet to each individual step before moving up to the next step and my knees still screamed with pain. I felt like a 70 year old. When I could no longer walk down a set of stairs normally, I knew that I was in serious trouble. I was also tremendously scared by the very real feeling that I was dying. I know that this sounds dramatic, but it is none-the-less true. I desperately needed to take better care of myself.
I decided to get off of my couch and start walking. It wasn’t easy at first. In fact when I started, I could only walk for 5 minutes. Before long, my 5 minute walk became a 10 minute walk. My 10 minutes of walking then increased to 20 minutes and within a few months I was walking for a full 30 minutes.
Jennifer Schiff, one of the founders of Step and Stride lived across the street from me. We lived across the street from each other for several years without meeting because I was virtually home-bound. That changed when I started walking.
I frequently saw Jen as I was starting or finishing my daily walk and she always called out words of support and encouragement. Hearing Jen’s, “You go, girl,” or, “Woo hoo, good job,” gave me that extra bit of motivation when I was struggling with my commitment to walk every day. Jen’s gift of motivation played a big part in helping me persevere.
Jen and I became walking buddies. Walking with Jen helped me to increase my walking time from 30 minutes to 1 hour and then to 1 ½ hours. It’s wonderful having someone to walk with because I don’t notice the aches and pains as much when I’m engaged in conversation.
It has been 2 ½ years since I started walking. I have lost 80 pounds. I am 49 years young and have been able to stop taking the cholesterol medication I had been on. My blood pressure is textbook normal range. The pain in my back, hips, legs and knees has dramatically decreased. I’m also experiencing something quite unexpected. I haven’t had the flu, or even a cold, since I started walking.
I no longer feel like I’m dying. I feel tremendously alive. No, I feel even better than that, I feel full of life because now I am. Sometimes I even run up the stairs in my house — because I can.