“Today really is ‘Take Back Monday,’” I thought to myself, as I climbed onto the elliptical way too early and did my half-hour of cardio. If my muscles had missed the daily workouts while we wandered the hills of Tennessee and Kentucky, they didn’t let me know—too much!
It was a good vacation—relaxing, with new discoveries along the way. I still have so many buried memories of my obesity that come out to surprise me from time to time. For instance, I remember many times when I sat down in a boat and saw people move quickly to the other side to keep it from listing perilously close to the water. Well, I came, I saw, I sat in the boat on Lake Cumberland. No one moved and the boat stayed upright. Pretty cool! There was not a single moment that I couldn’t participate in because of my size or my arthritis. That is a powerful, healing, new memory for me to hold close!
I have taken back my life that went sadly out of control for so many years. That “taking back” is powerful. I know that I have all the tools I need to successfully manage my own wellbeing, after years of believing it was beyond my ability to control.
I have a friend named Janet who also believed her life was out of her control. She had even more reason than I. Janet has had a series of life-threatening illnesses over the past several years that would break anyone’s spirit. She had to have her left leg amputated above the knee because there simply wasn’t enough strong bone left between her hip and knee replacements to support her. Like me, she is obese, and that obesity has certainly worsened her chronic lung, heart and kidney disease. I cannot begin to count the number of times she has been hospitalized this year—and the number of times the shadow of death was yawning over her.
Janet began reading my posts this year and has commented on some of them. At first, she said I was writing about her as I related my experiences and memories of obesity. Somewhere along the way, she realized that if my “fat” experiences were so much like hers, perhaps she could take back some of her life as well.
“I read and re-read your blog,” she said when I visited her a few weeks ago. “I just love it. I’m doing the stuff you’re talking about and it’s making a difference!” It was so good to see that wonderful sparkle back in her eyes, and that beautiful grin just crinkle up her face with glee.
Janet has started regular exercises with her aide, and she is watching what she eats. She has notably lost a little weight.
“I’m only losing about a pound a week,” she said. I jumped right in.
“Who the hell cares?” I asked, somewhat uncharacteristically. It kind of just slipped out. But seriously, does it matter how quickly you lose weight? I still contend that slow weight loss is the best way to become healthier and stay that way. It takes time to mend all of those broken fences of the mind, and to build up those broken fences of the body. She is looking and feeling better. She had to have her leg prosthesis adjusted as it became too big for her. She is advancing her exercises and doing things she didn’t think she would be able to do again. She’s feeling better about herself.
Janet’s got game and she’s taking her life back. If she can do that—if she can be hopeful and committed and on a path to better health with all she has faced—well then, what the hell is stopping the rest of us? What is stopping you?