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Good Health Benefits

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

When I took this photo of Sr. Bahiano in Sao Paulo, Brazil, he asked me to post it on the internet and make him famous.

I wrote a blog yesterday about the hiking trip I took with my grandson last week. I wrote about some of the benefits of good health (aka NSVs) that I experienced on that trip. I've been stuck on the scale lately, so I want to review some of the good health benefits I've experienced in my travels as a way to measure progress without using the scale.

Traveling by Plane

My friends in my weight-to-lose category know the humiliations of air travel. As frugal as I am, I had stopped flying in economy because it was so uncomfortable and so devastating to see the grimaces on my seat mates’ faces when I sat down. I couldn’t really navigate crossing over the seats if I needed to go to the bathroom. And I carried a seat belt extension in my carry-on bag to spare myself the humiliation of having to ask for one.

On long flights that involved sleep time, I was not able to get the seat belt on over the blanket so every once in a while a flight crew member would wake me up (if I did get to sleep) to check to see if I had my seat belt on. He or she would caution me to put the belt on the outside. I probably should have said, “I’m too fat to do that,” but I would think that would be self-evident.

After seeing some TV reality shows, I worried about hanging over the seats and being forced to pay for an extra ticket.

I’ve traveled on the budget airlines in Europe but always managed to squeeze the seat belt around me, although it was usually tucked up under my belly fat and believe me, any amount of stretch was being used. I lived in fear of one of the cabin crew telling me that this would not do.

I ate the crap food because it was presented to me and I was addicted to the sugar-fat-salt combo which airline food has in abundance.

I had to switch to a bigger bag (for me anyway) that had to be checked. My clothes were taking up too much room.

All the walking to change flights, and waiting in lines, was exhausting and standing too long was painful.

I lived in fear that I would be pulled to the side in security and asked to lift my belly. I’ve seen this happen to others.

First of all, I can’t believe I’m able to talk about my girth. In the past I had so much shame attached to my body that I couldn’t talk about it. To actually articulate that I have a hanging-over belly is a big step for me. There, I said it. Belly, belly belly. It is liberating.

Not only do I not have to carry my extension seat belt, but on my flights to and from Sao Paulo (3 different airplane models in all) I had to pull the seatbelt tighter by about 3 inches. And the seat belt was over my stomach – not sitting under my belly. I was able to put it on outside the blanket on the night leg of my flight so no one had to wake me up to check.
I flew economy (package deal when I went to the Bahamas and on miles when I went to Sao Paulo, Brazil) both times this year without incident or grimaces, although I still take an aisle seat so I don’t have to climb over. On one leg of my Sao Paulo trip I had a row to myself and I sat by the window and climbed over the seats easily to go to the bathroom.

When I flew to Sao Paulo (a 14 hour trip),I took 2 Kashi bars with me and ate one on the way there with some almonds and dried cranberries instead of the meals on the plane. I did eat the lettuce sans dressing but honestly, the smells from the food were not enticing. I felt a lot better without that ball of processed food sitting in my stomach on the flight. I kept one bar for the return flight and I needed it.
On my trip to Sao Paulo, I had to bring a million things for the new baby who will be born in the next 4 to 6 weeks. I found a huge (26”) suitcase in the trash room in my building which had a broken telescoping handle. To repair the handle would cost about $100, so I decided to use the bag the way it is and discard it at the other end. I packed all the baby items I was bringing and had to check that bag and a Fisher Price Rainforest Gym (because of its odd size). That meant I had to carry on my bag. Could I fit my clothes in my 22” bag? Resounding yes. Yes indeed. Si, Sim, and Oui. I can return to being a carry-on only woman.

When I landed in Miami on my way home from Sao Paulo, even though it was only 6:30am, to clear immigration there was an hour and a half wait for US citizens. My connecting flight was scheduled for 2 hours and 15 minutes after my first flight landed. After clearing immigration, there was a 45 minute wait for customs where they were interviewing every single person. I think this may be peculiar to landing in Miami. Then of course, you have to go through security again. I made it to my connecting flight, but I was the last person to board. I didn’t even get a chance to buy a bottle of water. This is when I ate my second kasha bar. The benefit here is that now I was able to wait in the lines (with luggage), hike (I’m not going to say run but that is what it felt like) to my gate (it was 28 gates away) and make my flight. Was I winded? A little. Was I tired and thirsty? Of course. Was I in pain? No.

On that last leg of the flight, I realized how far I’ve actually come in the last year. I was a little bit winded, yes. But I made it. And I was not in pain. When I heard the click of the seatbelt, I reached down and pulled the belt until it was snug and relished the feeling.

Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels. I’m getting there. As of this morning, I have liberated myself from 40 lbs. I am stronger. I have more stamina. I am more flexible. I have learned to accept help. I am proud of myself. I am so grateful to be in this time and in this place today.
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