Since I started this journey, the question I am asked most often, in one form or another, is… Why Now?
I have toyed with the notion of being healthier for a few years. I have sporadically chosen to walk more, or to make changes to my diet. As I mentioned in a previous post, about 2 years ago I decided to stop eating French Fried potatoes. On January 1 of this year I quietly decided to stop drinking any kind of pop or soda. Unconsciously, and as much because I frequently need a ride home, I have dramatically cut back beer consumption. But, none of those things brought about real change.
So, indeed, Why Now?
There are several reasons why I decided that this is the time to make a concerted, accountable effort to change.
This winter, and my lower back pain. This has been one of the most brutal winters of my life. Whenever I talked about winters in the past, I always referenced 1978 as the gold standard. This year has been worse. Here in Southeast Michigan we have had near-record snow fall in the season. And, because there hasn’t been a thaw in months, all the snow is still around. That means we have high snow piles, and plenty of ice. When it does snow, I am the one who runs the snow blower, and even that has become a wrestling match. As a result, I have had low back pain for the past several weeks. I am sure I lifted some snow or yanked my snow blower in a way that started it off, but since then it has gotten worse. Now, I know part of the reason for the pain is just that I did something to injure myself, but also part of it is the extra weight I carry that constantly stresses my back. I am tired of back pain.
My knees hurt daily. For the past 7 or 8 years I have had pain in my knee joints. I have had each operated on to repair cartilage issues, and twice I have had physical therapy on the knees. They hurt daily. I wake up in pain, I am in pain during the day, and I am in pain when I go to bed. When I saw my Orthopedist last summer, the first thing he told me to do was to lose weight. He gave me a cortisone shot and prescribed therapy. I followed it for a while and it made a difference, but I never committed to it. Since then, if anything, I weigh more. I am tired of knee pain.
The calendar changed. I started this new journey on March 1, 2015. I had an appointment with my doctor the day before, where she reminded me that I am a low-level diabetic. The rest of my numbers are mostly good (more on that on my weekly update this weekend). And, she reminded me that weight loss and exercise were the two things that would benefit me most. I had my 52nd birthday recently. I am not getting any younger, and I want to live for a long time to come. I have to do this.
I was inspired. The truth is that all the factors above, while real and influential, pale in comparison to this one. Someone very close to me is going through a very difficult time with his health. This has been hard on all of us as he works his way through. But, he has been an inspiration to me, like no one else.
Since last summer he has lost 50 pounds. This while fighting a condition that keeps him from being active and exercising. By the sheer will of his self-control, and his desire to avoid some other medical procedures, he has lost this significant chunk of weight. Despite what he is battling, he actually looks better than I have ever seen him as an adult. He was in town recently, and I took him to the airport for his return home. After he got out of the car I was moved to tears. So many things contributed to those tears, not the least of which was how proud I am of what he’s done. While I was driving home I started asking myself questions. One of the questions I asked myself was “Why can’t I be so committed to being more healthy?”
The weight loss, and his commitment to being healthier is inspiring in itself. But, what is even more inspiring to me is his attitude. He is taking everything in stride, and maintaining a cheerful demeanor. He is still completely engaged at work, and highly productive. If he can have this high-spirited attitude with what he is facing, what gives me the right to complain that “dieting is too hard”, or “I don’t like exercise”?
All of my health issues can be attributed to one cause – my weight. Everything on my body works very well considering how I abuse it with what I carry around every day.
So, I decided that enough is enough. It is time for me to stop making excuses, exit my denial, and start making better choices.
What changed? I did. My mind did. I consciously changed my mind and decided to make a difference. I know this is going to be a long journey, and I know I am going to stumble on the way. There are going to be days when I am not focused on my health. There will be weeks I gain instead of lose weight. But, this is a fight worth fighting to me. It matters to me that I do this right this time.