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I never realized how unhappy I was....

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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

...until I lost 180 lbs. I never thought of myself as an unhappy person when I was morbidly obese. I was a master at ignoring my weight problem, pretending it didn't matter, that it didn't exist. I had a happy marriage, raised three sons, held down a full-time job and maintained a household all while being way too fat. Things were okay on the surface. And yet, as much as I tried to deny it or ignore it, I KNEW in my heart that being fat was literally ruining my life. It was the controlling factor in everything I did, especially as I got older, and the weight started to really effect my joints. Movement became really difficult, so I just sat in front of the TV, day after day. When I wanted to go somewhere, I had to consider, how far away would I have to park, what kinds of chairs would there be to sit in, would I be able to get through aisles or halls or around people easily or would my obesity prevent me from enjoying the activity I wanted very badly to participate in? These were the questions I asked myself before I went anywhere. I did not attend the high school graduations of several of my nieces and nephews, simply because I didn't want to walk too far from the car, I didn't think I could manage stairs in a gym, or handle walking on bleachers. I never fit in ONE chair when they would put a bunch of folding chairs close together as they like to do for those events, my bloated body always spilled over into the chairs on either side of me, and what if one of those metal chairs broke when I sat down? Too humiliating to even think about. There were so many things about my obesity that held me back from living a full life. The clothes I wore were HUGE, probably a size or two too big, just because I didn't want anything tight. I thought I was disguising my obesity by wearing FULL, flowing clothes, plus they were just more comfortable. Shoes didn't fit anymore. I wore Birkenstock sandals all year around because they were the only shoe that would go over my swollen feet. My ankles would swell every evening, and I would wake up in the night with my heart pounding, sure I was about to have a massive heart attack as my mother did, and suddenly die. I worried, I was scared, I was limited in what I could do and I felt powerless to change. It was overwhelming. I had so much weight to lose. How could I give up that fattening food I stuffed myself with and loved so much? I would tell myself that eating was my ONE joy in life. I never let myself get hungry, I constantly ate. I wasn't a person who could eat a huge amount at one time, but I ate ALL THE TIME! It's interesting how food really doesn't taste as good when you're not hungry. Food actually tastes better to me now, the fruits and vegetables and lean meat that make up my diet are delicious. I never ate those kinds of food before, concentrating on potato chips, candy, cookies, fattening meats, potatoes, gravy, butter, bread. And yet I never realized how sad I was. I thought this was my life, this is how I would live and die (probably young), as an obese woman.

But that day the doctor said to me, "The EKG seems to show you've already had a heart attack," really opened my eyes. Going to the doctor was always such an ordeal. He made me come in every six months for a blood pressure check-up and I dreaded it. The gowns didn't fit, the blood pressure cuff was too small, it was hard for the technicians to find a vein in my arm through all the fat when the doctor ordered lab tests, I argued with the nurse when she wanted to "get my weight." I didn't want to know how much I weighed. I didn't want them to know. Because then the lectures started. Oh my doctor was kind, but I felt his disapproval, his worry and concern, because my blood pressure was not being controlled by the 5 meds I was on, he knew I was headed for diabetes, high cholesterol, and quite possibly a stroke or heart attack. I'm sure that's why he misread the EKG, he just assumed I was already in trouble.

That day he spoke those words to me--Dec. 14, 2009--was the day my life changed forever. No longer would I eat mindlessly and consume thousands of calories beyond what my body needed every day of my life. No longer could I ignore what I had done to my body, to my health, to my life. I was almost 59 years old and that day I decided I would get healthier. I never thought I could be healthy, I just wanted to be healthier than I currently was.

Today--I AM HEALTHY! Oh, sure there are minor problems anybody has when they're 61 years old. Sometimes I am jealous when I see people who are crouched down, talking to their kids at eye-level, because my knees are so bad I could not begin to get in a crouched position. Not only would it KILL me to do so, I would never be able to straighten back up. But I know arthritis is my draw in life. It might just be in my genes, or it might be that the years of obesity did their damage, or a combination. Whatever--I can live with it--and there are surgeries that can help you feel better. I am having a hysterectomy on May 22, to take care of some other problems. When I scheduled the surgery, the nurse/scheduler told me, 'You're thin, you shouldn't have any complications with surgery." What a joy to hear that four-letter word: THIN!

I'm just back from a vacation where WALKING was the number one thing we did. We walked for miles, just touring the different sites, and there was never any question about whether or not I could do it. I knew I could. I had the energy and the ability, and besides I've been training for this very thing, with all my walking down the road in front of my house for the last two years.

And I feel so happy. Living life in a normal sized body is more wonderful than I ever imagined. It's so much easier than being fat. Sure sometimes I want to indulge in some food I know I don't need, or eat a bigger portion of something I really love. But I know this new life is all dependent upon me making the right choices and I think it's getting a little easier.

I saw the scale doing a slow upward climb in the last few months. I was being careful, but not careful enough evidently. So when we got back into town after vacation, I started once again making the really good choices that allowed me to lose all the weight in the first place and the scale is going back down! I want to lose 5 more pounds before my surgery which is 2 weeks from today. I feel good that I have gotten back into this more disciplined way of eating after eating too much for a while. I was afraid once I started that UPward climb on the scale I would not be able to reverse it. But now I have proved to myself that I can. It's a new life, a joyful life, a NORMAL life, and it's a life that I can feel blessed to be given the chance to lead.

I wore a new frilly, feminine, lacy blouse to work yesterday and made hubby take a picture. I LIKE feeling like a girl again, even at the ripe old age of 61!

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