How I Found Freedom--and Realized We All Have Choices

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I’ve come a long way since topping out at 460 pounds. With SparkPeople, I’ve lost 150 pounds and gained Freedom. Freedom is my seated, wheeled walker. I went from completely bed-ridden to completely dependent on a wheelchair to being able to sometimes use a walker and now sometimes not even having to do that.

So what was it like? My first time walking without my walker or a wheelchair? It was WONDERFUL! It was all encompassing and so worth every bit of pain I felt. You see, I had been trapped in my room for so long and in my house for even longer. I had the occasional wheelchair trip out or walker trip, but those were few and far between. This walk meant my choices were coming back to me.

Now please don't think I’m a playing a victim--I am not. I used to play the victim, but now I realize things are my choice. I also realize that sometimes people need help getting started (or a hand) along the way). So as you read this blog post, understand that I am simply explaining how my life got where it did and how I came back from it to lose 150 pounds. I am not condemning or condoning any lifestyle.

I remember giving up my choices. That’s actually what living an unhealthy life is about. (Wow, I just now realized that as I write this.) I wanted to avoid the pain of moving because I have so many chronic illnesses: 3 herniated disks, 2 pinched nerve bundles, degenerative joint disease, bad knees, sciatica, fibromyalgia and arthritis, and clinical major depression among others. I lived in my bedroom for all intents and purposes. It was easier to be in bed to relieve the pain than move and eat healthfully. Since I had to stand to cook and standing hurt, I didn’t cook; I thrived on foods that were quick and unhealthy.

At first it seemed freeing to just be in bed, but when it became difficult to even walk to the kitchen or drive to work, I got scared. Soon I was packing on weight, because I was not moving and eating unhealthy foods. I was being treated for my illnesses with steroids, which added to the weight gain. Things seemed hopeless and I would cry as my steering wheel pressed against the hernias in my stomach as I drove to and from work. Finally I quit my job. The pain of sitting was too much.

I couldn't see it then, but now I see how I gave up my choices and gave in to an unhealthy lifestyle. If I had to go back, I would have fired my doctor soon, found one who could see beyond the scales and listened to my BFF from high school, Lioness822, sooner about joining SparkPeople. My doctors were not taking care of my pain so I could move. They were also not recommending physical therapy that was suitable for me. They simply wanted me to diet and exercise. Well, with chronic pain and steroids, that simply isn’t possible unless you treat the underlying causes, which in my case also included deep depression.

Now, my team of doctors are carefully chosen--and fired if they don't seem compassionate and helpful. I do not stay with anyone I don’t like or who has a problem treating obese patients as whole people instead of just fat people. Now I choose to get out of bed and cook healthful meals. I also choose not to use the wheelchair for everything. Freedom, my walker, is getting jealous because I can walk in my house--and in and out of buildings now.

That first walk without Freedom, the walker, was full of freedom, the spirit! I felt freer than ever. I knew I was never going to take my choices for granted again. It was like you feel on an amusement park ride on the inside. Gosh, I miss amusement parks. Just watch, I’ll be blogging about my first visit to one sooner than we think.

I use physical therapy moves and yoga and seated cardio to compliment what I can do. What I CAN DO is MY CHOICE. What I can’t do is not my choice. I look at things that look impossible and ask myself “What can I do?” Maybe the answer is only part of it, but at least I have a choice now. Maybe I have to break whatever it is down. Maybe I have to think out of the box. Most of the time though, I throw the box away.

If you think you have no choice, think again. Look at these choices I made:

Me at my heaviest in the wheelchair.

Me working the weight off using Freedom.

Me standing free with my SparkPeople friend, McCourt.

How have you found freedom? Did you feel as though you had run out of choices? How did you find motivation?

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Your story is so beautiful and inspiring! Focusing on what you can instead of what you can't do, and you are so right - slowly and steadily more and more possibilities can open up to you!

You have chosen yourself, and you have chosen a greater, more challenging life! Report
I used to weigh 400 lbs, and although I was never bedridden, nor do I have the list of ailments that you do, Beth, I definitely felt that my choices became more and more limited, the more I gained weight. The heavier I became, the more I sat and the less I did with my kids. It was the last straw to face yet another summer of sweatiness, stickiness, and discomfort that finally moved me to do something about my weight. I was sad that I couldn't go to amusement parks, too! Not only did I not fit into the rides, but I didn't have the stamina to walk around with my kids as they enjoyed the rides! Forget about finding a bathing suit to go swimming with my kids...I didn't even want to be seen in shorts, never mind a bathing suit. That meant being even less active - no swimming, no walking, no biking, no hiking - talk about limited choices! I truly think it was guilt (about the weight gain) and shame (about not being able to do things with my kids) that motivated me to figure out what I wanted to do about my weight. Keep up the great work, Beth - you look terrific, and you are a wonderful inspiration to so many of us here on Spark! Report
Wow! Thank you for sharing. I am so happy for you recognizing the choices you made in the past and now making good healthful choices for yourself. Keep it up! Report
Loved the comment & awakening to the realization that you had given up your choices. It's so easy to externalize the blame but you've chosen not to and the rewards are now there for you. Awesome! Report
OK Short and sweet! - YOU ROCK! Love ya GF

PS stop making me cry! Report
I so enjoy your written thoughts ------ Thank you so much for sharing and Hurray for being an inspirational and caring person!!! Report
I cannot even imagine what you have gone through to get where you are, nor do I know if I would "have what it takes" when I am not having much success in losing the weight I know I need to lose.
But you certainly show us that it takes guts and stick-to-it-tiv-ness (is that a word?) and you are certainly one to lead us to make better choices.l
Congratulations on what you have accomplished just doesn't cover it, but I'll say it anyway "CONGRATULATIONS!
Mary Lou Report
Beth, what you have done is a very courageous thing!! You did not give up!! How wonderful!!! I can not wait to hear about your upcoming experience at an amusement park! What was your favorite ride before? I am certain there are many new rides you will want to try out as well!! Take us all with you mentally, and just picture how we are cheering for you!!! Report
Keep it coming. Report
Hi Beth,
I often respond to your blogs because your situation and mine run in such parallel plains. I am at the same place with my walker--and today, I realized that we have shared many of the same health issues as well. I am so glad to be able to get around on my own power--I use my walker for longer distances because my back is severely damaged, but I can go anywhere. I give thanks for my family who have been so good about lugging that walker with us everywhere and getting it in and out of the trunk. Actually, I recently had to replace it. I was holding out, wanting to never need it again, but I have found peace with having it around. If it keeps me going and the walk is longer or the activity can last longer or be more fun, it is well worth it. There are a couple of things I have realized this past week--one of them is that time can be our best friend and that we have to learn to accept that good things take time to build. That is true with healthy living. Another is that our lives aren't sitting still and that we will have highs and lows. That is a really good thing in so many ways because it makes the special things even more special and desirable. the final thing that makes sense is that I can do it, you can do it, everyone can do it--but it is so much easier if we take this trip together and lean on each other, like we lean on that walker when we need it. Best wishes to you--you look gorgeous!! Gentle hugs, Sylvia Report
So inspiring Beth, loved it when you said you "threw out the box". I am so happy for you to be outside enjoying nature again. Report
You brought me to tears! What an inspiration you are! Keep at it, and don't ever let ANYONE, physician or not, treat you with disrespect. YOU ARE AMAZING! Report
you look amazing!!! And you have made wonderful choices.. Keep on doing so, we are so proud of you Report
Wow ... amazing story and great article ... thanks for helping me focus on the fact that choices I make contribute to me being overweight and out of shape. Good luck on the rest of your journey. I'll be watching for updates as you continue to get healthy and free! Report
Good for you, Beth! Thanks for sharing. Report
I'm not sure how you found your motivation but glad you did. You look marvelous!!! Welcome back to a life filled with freedom and great possibilities! Best wishes on your continuing journey. I look forward to reading your amusment park blog.

Welcome to your independence. I have come a long way. Enjoy the rest of your journey. Report
You are amazing!!! Keep up the good work!!!! Report
Thank you for sharing. I needed to hear that I am in charge of the decisions I make and I don't want to give that choice away. I also am encouraged to be reminded that it is not an all or nothing choice sometimes. I have been choosing nothing over something in the exercise dept. and am grateful to rethink that choice and decide what I can do, if not all, then part. Congratulations and keep up the good work. Looking forward to hearing about your amusement park trip soon. Report
You are such an inspiration. Rock On!!! Report
You are an amazing woman. Keep it going strong! Report
Love your post and outlook. Choices are what this journey is all about. Every day all day!! Congratulations and continued success. You're an inspiration!! Report
Congratulations! Your story is so encouraging. I am on the same path you were on. I love your attitude in saying "What CAN I do?" instead of not doing anything. And you are right, we do make choices everyday. But now I see it doesn't have to be an all or nothing choice. Thank you for your inspirational blog. Report
There's no doubt about it that you have great stories to tell, but here's the have a fantastic way of looking at things. I love the places your mind goes and how you capture it all in words. Like this:

I remember giving up my choices. Thatís actually what living an unhealthy life is about.

Thanks for the constant inspiration. Report
So proud of you Beth... you are my shero sweetie. SparkOn!!!!!!! Report
Congrats! & cheers to your continued success! Report
Congratulations on your amazing journey. After reading about what you have done it makes my rebound weight gain seem so small.

Keep up the great work Beth. You can do it! Report
Wow you are doing so well, this is something you will do x Report
Your amazing transformation is so inspiring! Congratulations from me and my family! Report
Thank you so much for sharing your story! I think we may need to have a nationwide SparkParty at your amusement park with you. :-) Report
Thank you for sharing your inspirational story. I'm just getting back to Spark after being gone a year & you are inspiring me to remember what I can do is more important then what I can't. Report
This is so great,I love what you have done for yourself,and I know it was not easy,what a great job you have done for your self,keep it up!!!!!you have gave us all so much encouragement and confidence,why to go lady, Report
You are truly inspiring. . very motivating. Thank you Report
You are amazing!!! I can't wait to see you at that amusement park!!!! Report
Wonderful Blog! You are showing us how to be courageous no matter what obstacles we face. Thank you! Report
You have done great! Keep up the good work! Thanks for being an inspiration! Report
Thank you for sharing your story. It is very inspiring. Report
keep it going... Report
It is so empowering to take control of your decisions and not depend on others to make those decisions for you. No one can truly know what you are capable of doing except you. I'm so glad you are choosing doctors with the right attitudes who will encourage rather than discourage. You were the first blog I ever read on SP and it so inspired me to push through my negative self doubts and strive to be a whole person again instead of just a "fat" person. God Bless You. Report
Wow, you are so inspirational! To have worked through all that pain and lost so much weight is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your story, and good luck on your continuing journey. I look forward to reading about the amusement park ride, I'm sure it will happen! Report
Awesome story.Good luck on your continued journey!! Report
After i read your blog, I felt very happy and motivated. I have multiple sclerosis and sometimes think that life is too hard because of it, but after reading this, I learned that I can do anything, I am very happy for you and your great accomplishments and I want to thank you for your motivation to help me feel like a normal person, even though I have multiple sclerosis!! Report
GOOD FOR YOU!!!!!! I work in physical therapy and wish my patients could all read your story. They let the pain control their life until they virtually HAVE no life left. I have seen a few make great progress but only through perseverance and not giving into the pain. Good Luck in living your best life. Report
You are very amazing. Report
What a totally amazing journey! You've come a long way baby! You keep movin' and groovin'. Congratulations on your success! Report
I am sooooo happy for you:) Report
Your story nearly brought tears to my eyes. I'm so glad you found a way to let your beautiful spirit shine through and that you feel so much better, healthier and happier are an inspiration! Report
I know I'm echoing many other comments, but... You are amazing! Keep up the good work. You'll get back to the amusement parks. Congratulations on your accomplishments! Report
Your story is an inspiration to me!! I am on my way to finding freedom, and that is through realizing that I have choices to make, and I have made wrong ones in the past, and can make good ones in the future. Thank you for sharing your story. Report
WOW you are awesome. A real inspiration.
Due to an accident I became also bedridden and the first few months I gained alot, too. Now I am walking with my walker little bit (until it hurts too much), the other time I am between my wheelchair and bed.
So I can relate with you and I am looking up to you with big respect. Congratulation! Report
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