The Weight Of The World
Last Christmas, I had a great job, patients I loved, a new granddaughter, and the tremendous pride of knowing that I had just lost over twenty pounds all on my own. No pills, no fad diets, just healthy changes. I remember putting on my favorite black dress to go over to my ex-husband's house for Christmas Eve with our newly expanded family, only to find that it was actually too big and was dragging on the floor! (I wore it anyway because, damn I looked good in it) I had not yet made the disastrous decision to chop off all of my hair, so for the first time in a long time, I felt beautiful. Not for anyone else, just for me.
Flash forward five months and I am stuck at home with a back injury, unable to complete even the most basic tasks because of the pain. The night my back gave out completely, my son had to come over and actually help me put on underwear. Our relationship has never been the same. By this point I had cut off all my hair in an attempt to curb peri-menopausal hot flashes, having quickly found out that not only did it not help with the hot flashes, but my face had gotten way too round to pull of the look. Through a combination of ongoing high dose steroids, limited mobility, and hormones, I had put all of the weight back on and then some. What little self-esteem and self-confidence I had was squashed like a bug.
So what does one do when no clothes fit, everything hurts, and waddling is your new form of transportation? Stay home. Only go out when absolutely necessary....say, to the job that you can really no longer do because of the injury combined with the weight. Avoid people. Post selfies on Facebook of JUST your face, at JUST the right angle, with JUST the right filter. Hopefully no one will notice. Oh, and this is a great time to start a food business that requires you to taste your food all the time, pretty much guaranteeing the weight will never come off.
There was one glimmer of light during this epic adventure. I discovered the YouTube sensation that is @sarahs_day. She is a pretty, energetic, and uber healthy Australian girl who originally started her channel to share her struggles with hormonal acne. If you watch her videos from the very beginning, you get to watch this fearless young lady evolve from a 22 year old university student, part time retail sales girl and part time gymnastics instructor to a YouTube influencer who shares her healthy and fit lifestyle with the world. I was inspired.
Realistically, I knew I would probably never achieve the level of healthy eating, workouts, and general bad-assery that she has, but there were some changes that were absolutely doable, even for me. By watching her videos, I discovered the benefits (and amazing taste) of apple cider vinegar. I mean, you can LEGIT put only that onto a salad, and it's full of flavor! I realized that there are other ways to eat a sweet potato besides in a casserole at Thanksgiving with brown sugar, butter, and melted marshmallows. Coat those bad boys in some olive oil (she uses coconut oil), salt and pepper, and roast in the oven for thirty minutes, and you've got a fantastic side for salmon that is the perfect combination of sweet and salty.
It was also because of her that I discovered Tropeaka, a line of healthy (and really tasty) vegan protein powders, immune boosting powders, natural energy boosting powders, and a plethora of other healthy and natural supplements that all introduced me to the power of the smoothie. The acai bowl. New ways to satisfy my sweet tooth without sending my blood sugar through the roof. I've incorporated a lot of changes into my diet that have become second nature, and I really do feel better because of those changes.
But here's the thing. I may feel better on the inside, but the outside is still a big ole hot mess. Recently, after a week of drinking water, making and eating healthy meals, drinking very little soda (which is huge for me), taking the stairs, and all that rot, I got up one morning and got on the scale. The same numbers were stuck on that scale like flies on a no-pest strip. As I looked at the scale this time, however, I wasn't just discouraged, I was pissed. It doesn't seem to matter what I eat or drink. I. Am. Stuck.
Now, before you crack those knuckles to type up a witty response telling me that I need to incorporate exercise to see any results, I already know that. But as you probably also know, getting healthy is 80% diet, and I wanted to get some of the weight off my knees before I ventured down that road. One wrong move and my knees are done for. Baby steps, right?
It's just all so frustrating. I'm reminded of my weight from the moment I move to get out of bed in the morning, when I look at my legs that are no longer dancer's legs, when I see the hernia that makes me look pregnant, when I wince in pain after standing up and putting my full weight on my knees. I'm reminded of my weight when I've been sitting at my desk for more than fifteen minutes then have to get up to get something off the printer, when I mentally struggle over what to have for lunch, and when I have to make the decision whether or not my knees and back can handle the stairs twice in one day. Finally, I'm reminded of my weight when I get back in bed at the end of the day and put on that oh-so-sexy CPAP mask so that my sleep apnea doesn't cause me to have a stroke during the night. I can't escape the constant, ugly reminders of my weight.
Yesterday, I had what my best friend Denise and I call an "apostrophe". If you ever saw the movie Hook, the character of Smee constantly confuses the word "apostrophe" for "epiphany". You know, the proverbial light bulb that suddenly lights up above your head? An apostrophe. I realized that my obsession with my weight is stealing my joy. It has seeped into every sulci in my brain, to the point where every thought that I have, every move that I consider making, becomes a game of Six Degrees of Separation. "If I go sit in that chair in my client's home, is it going to break under my weight, causing me to make a total ass of myself?" "If I wear a belt with these jeans to go meet up with friends, am I going to be miserable 10 minutes in?" "If I get down on the floor to play with the baby, will I be able to get back up?" Everything eventually circles back around to weight.
The truth is, I'm not a twenty-something fitness guru who is now CEO of half a dozen companies, and who partners with Tropeaka and White Fox Boutique and a bunch of other organizations. This young woman is amazing and I love watching her successes, but I am not her, I am me. I am 54. I am a nurse who worked through a pandemic. I've given birth to two (almost) ten pound babies who are now all grown up. I've survived divorce, depression, two suicide attempts, numerous job changes, and tremendous financial hardship. I also have a three octave vocal range and 35 years of epic experiences on stage, and I plan to make many more of those memories.
I will no longer let stressing about my weight steal my joy. It will not take up spaces in my brain that could be filled with memories of amazing life experiences that have yet to happen. That doesn't mean I'm throwing up my arms or waving a white flag in defeat, then surrounding myself with all my favorite junk foods, accepting the fact that I will likely have a heart attack or stroke before I'm 60. I'll continue to incorporate the changes that I have adopted over the last few months, because I really do feel a difference even if it doesn't show on the outside. I'll continue having those Tropeaka products schlepped to my door all the way from Australia, not because I think they are going to suddenly transform me, but because they are GOOD! I am going to follow the best advice that @sarahs_day ever gave me, which is listen to your body. Great things can happen.