The health side of writing

It is no secret I’m obese. Have been most of my life but for a few years between the ages of 14-23.

Yes, yes, I know many of you will say TESTIFY, or IF YOU’D ONLY WATCH WHAT YOU PUT IN YOUR MOUTH, or, YOU SHOULD EXERCISE. And it will do no good for me to say I’ve done all of that. Over and over. It is the sad litany of so many of us who battle bodies that just want to be fat, in a society which renders us ugly, unacceptable, lazy liars.

Having said all that, two years ago I said to myself: I DON’T WANT TO BE LIKE THIS ANYMORE. Now, anyone who knows me well, also knows when those words come out of my mouth, that means a grim determination has spawned. I’ve done that sort of thing over and over in my life, whether it was dealing with a toxic relationship with my mother, or refusing to give in to depression, or any number of things. So, in April 2016, just months before my son and his amazing and now wife were to be married, I put myself on a diet and a journey to become a thinner, hopefully healthier, me.

September 2016

I’d never indulged much in junk food. Just wasn’t in my lifestyle, because I love to cook, and love fresh, natural ingredients. So that wasn’t a problem. Portion control was brought in to play, and the old standby of calorie counting. At that point I couldn’t really look at much in the way of exercise, beyond some chair yoga, because of debilitating arthritis. However, I decided the hell with what the alleged experts had to say, and I cut my intake to 1500 calories per day. Now, you just try that out for a few weeks and see how you fare. It’s hard. Especially when you’re trying to keep a balanced diet. But I did it. And as of November 2017 I lost 65 pounds.

Then came the expected plateau. And since then I’ve only lost three additional pounds, despite cutting those calories back further to 1200 per day, and implementing a gentle cycling regimen of 20 minutes per day. That latter came about as a result of being accepted to have two knee replacements in April 2019, and setting about some pre-habilitation so that surgery will be successful. The cycling hurts like hell. My knees are shot. My surgeon asked me why I’d waited so long to see him, to which I replied I’d been told I wasn’t eligible for knee replacements because of my weight. His response? Nonsense.

So, determined once again to overcome adversity, I’m pedaling away on my wee cycling machine, and now doing gentle walking laps the length of the house (which is 40′). Those laps usually result in 800′ per day. That likely doesn’t seem much to you. But to me it’s the equivalent of having walked a marathon, because, again, THAT HURTS LIKE HELL!

Has the weight again started to come off? No. But I don’t care. I’m doing my best, and eventually something has to give. And it won’t be me.

June 2018

Now, all of that likely sounds very grim and depressing and futile. It’s not. There’s another effect of all this dieting and gentle exercise: I’m proud of myself. I’ve taken charge and am doing something positive to affect a positive change. And that resulted in a vain, but happy surprise today. Last year I purchased a lovely rayon shirt dress. I knew when I ordered it online it likely wouldn’t fit properly, given my shape which very much resembles a pear. The dress did fit, but was snug through the tummy and hips. Did I return that dress? No. I hung it in the closet, knowing full well my journey would eventually take me to a place that dress would fit well. And this morning, in a burst of hopefulness, I put that dress on. And it did fit. Much better than last year, despite only having shed a modicum of weight since the purchase. It’s still just a wee bit snug, but not like it was, and is perfectly acceptable. And I’m happily hobbling about today sporting my new dress. I’ve gone from a size 32 to a 24.

So vain. But it also feels so good.

What does any of that have to do with writing? Damned if I know. But I also know eventually this experience will work its way into something I write, because all of life informs what we do creatively. It is the journey. It’s not the destination.

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