Thursday, June 12, 2008
I got an email yesterday which really sparked some thinking on my part as I typed up my reply, and I thought perhaps it was worth saving for later reading also. So, here is the letter (included with permission from the author) with my response. I hope it helps someone... these thoughts are still racing around in my head and might prompt a more coherent entry later but for now, this is what you get.
And while some of what I say may seem hard or uncaring, I don't apologize for any of the sentiments I express. It's the truth as I see it, and as I have lived it.
I read your Spark Page. What an incredible journey you have been on.
What is sad for some for some of us is that getting healthy is expensive. It's expensive to eat healthy and many of us can't afford a personal trainer. With the high costs of food, it's hard to eat healthy.
What I would like to know is how you got started? Did you just wake up one day and say "This is it. I'm tired of being over weight and I'm doing something about it...now." I've told myself that many, many times.
I'm at 239 lbs. My goal is to get down to 170 lbs. by Dec. 31, 2008. I have a long way to go. My biggest down fall is the carbs. I love them all. I love my snacks. I don't like sweet potatoes.
I have a picky husband and son. I eat what they eat. We can't afford to make two meals.
Any suggestions? I would love to hear back from you.
You're right, it IS an incredible journey, one that we are all on, one way or another.
I have actually been trying to lose weight ever since my children were born, and my oldest is now 21 and my youngest, 18. I have tried to exercise and eat right for that many years. I think if I'd had SparkPeople I would have had a lot more success on my own than I did. So it was not a 'one day I woke up and decided" sort of thing.
However, the urgency of it was steadily growing plainer to me. My knees were hurting more and more. I was having trouble doing very simple, basic tasks. Sleeping was getting harder and harder. My doctor said I was about to develop diabetes, and I had to go on thyroid meds and was about to need blood pressure meds. And I was watching my own mother's steady decline, much of it made significantly worse by her excessive weight that she'd carried for all my life. She was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and had several hospitalizations. She can barely walk now. And I knew that that was the path I was following as well.
My husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas 2006, and honestly, I couldn't think of anything. All I wanted was to get the weight off, and I knew by this time that I needed help. I never really expected that I would get that help - it was simply too expensive. My husband ended up giving me a coupon for a personal trainer... said I could spend $300-500 on one.
Honestly... that would have purchased about 2 months worth of personal training... and he thought that then I could do it on my own after that. I almost didn't want to start, because I knew 2 months simply wouldn't do the trick, and I really didn't want to be disappointed with another failure. But... after two months, I'd had such success that my hubby understood that I needed to keep going. Was it hard to spend that money? ABSOLUTELY! I felt horribly guilty about it. And it was tough finding ways to afford it. But we've managed by cutting out many other things, and doing without a lot.
I know that many or most people can't afford to hire a personal trainer, no matter how much they cut out of their budget. But everyone can find somewhere to save... even if it's cutting out a fast food meal or 3 in order to buy some decent meat, or leaving the cookies off the shopping list so you can buy fresh produce. Paying for cableTV? Wouldnít it be better to be paying for a gym membership? Is that harsh? Perhaps it is. But the reality of what being severely overweight does to you is harsher. A shopping cart full of healthy food probably still costs less than doctorís visits and prescription medicines. A gym membership is less expensive than hospitalization. The truth is that you will find the money for the things that you value. So what you have to do is ask yourself what you TRULY care about in this life: cable TV? That extra case of soda? A big new tv, or a new car, one more pair of shoes? If thatís where your money is going, thatís what you value. Now ask yourself, isnít your health more important than those things? Isnít the joy of a long and healthy life worth sacrificing a few of those things for?
My suggestions are this: Talk to your husband and son. Tell them how much you want to be healthy so you can be around to take care of them, rather than them needing to take care of you. Ask if they're willing to let you make 1 (or 2, or 3) healthy dinners a week. The other nights you can make the same things as always, and just eat smaller portions. Try to find ways to make those old dishes healthier. Look for tasty, flavorful recipes. Spices are your FRIENDS..they might be a bit expensive but they can really flavor up a dish without adding calories or fat. And GET MOVING. Exercise is also your friend! Just start small. Cut out sodas and drink water - that SAVES money! Cut your portion sizes a bit - that saves money as well.
Check at the YMCA.. a lot of people are able to go there for a good, inexpensive gym membership, and often they have trainers there you can use. Just start making small changes and you will be surprised how much you can benefit.
Keep the faith, Linda. Your journey is as incredible as mine is, and it's just waiting for you to start down the path. Believe. You CAN do it.
Stay in touch, my friend.
P.S. May I suggest that you not put a time limit on your weight loss. I've found that just sets yourself up for disappointment, and then you get discouraged and quit. Just look at five pounds. Say, I'm going to do ALL I CAN to lose 5 pounds. No one can be intimidated by losing 5 pounds. Once that five is gone, reward yourself with something non-food, like an afternoon to yourself, a special book from the library, a walk in the park, whatever you enjoy, then move on to the next five pounds. It will take as long as it takes... don't spoil the journey with the stress of missed deadlines. Just get out there and enjoy the trip!