Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Change

It must have been a midlife crisis. That's the only explanation that makes sense.

I was 43 years old, and happy with my life. I'm happily married, with 4 wonderful children. I have a satisfying, although highly stressful and demanding job, hobbies that I enjoy, lots of yarn, friends, etc, etc. A home, a garden, two cats and an aging dog. And... An extra 40 or 50 pounds.

Most of the time, I was able to ignore the fact that I was overweight. I didn't like it, but I was resigned to it and tried to not let it bother me. I'd been overweight to one degree or another for most of the last 20 years. I'd dieted before, with varying degrees of success. I'd tried lots of different diets. I'd reluctantly decided I needed to just make peace with my body the way it was. And then I ran into some people I hadn't seen in a while.

I saw both ends of the spectrum. One of the couples that I'm referring to have both been inactive and overweight since I've known them. And they were suffering because of it. Between the two of them, they have diabetes, high blood pressure, and asthma. One of them has to wear a machine when she sleeps to help her breathe. The other recently had a stroke and has a hard time just walking around. They get hot easily, get tired easily, and generally seemed physically uncomfortable most of the time.

The other person I'm thinking of is very thin, and always has been. And she seems to have pretty good health for the most part. She rarely gets sick. However, she gets very little physical exercise, and has almost no upper body strength. Unfortunately, she has had a series of knee injuries that make it difficult for her to walk more than a mile or so without pain, and running is out of the question. Then a few years ago, she fell and broke 4 bones, including her hip. She seems very fragile, although I know she would hate being described that way. I'm almost afraid to hug her, because it feels like I will break her if I squeeze too hard.

Looking at these people was profoundly difficult for me. For the first time, I actually thought about my age. I was 42 at the time, and my life was half over. And if I didn't want to end up like one of them (and I didn't want that, although I love them all dearly), I knew I had to make some major changes in my life.

Now, seeing these people didn't propel me into instant action. I thought about it, I dithered, I procrastinated. I tried a diet for a week or a few days, then saw something I wanted to eat, and bye-bye diet. I finally got motivated enough to actually stick with something, and on June 24, 2013, I began changing my life. I simultaneously began the lifestyle change (aka diet) that would help me shed 40 pounds, and began getting active.

Now I'm 44.  I've lost those 40 pounds and kept them off (knocking on wood). I've gone backpacking, done lots of hiking, totally fallen in love with yoga, and even started running. I ran/walked a 5k and a 5 mile race last summer, and this summer I'm doing them both again. Plus a half marathon. Even 6 months ago I would never have thought I would want to run 13.1 miles all at once. And I'm excited about it.

You know what? I think I'm in the best shape I've ever been in. And I'm loving it. I'm determined to keep the weight off, and keep moving. And I'm going to talk (well, write) about it...

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