August 27, 2010
"The journey of one thousand miles begins with one small step" ~ Lao Tzu
I got a little excited this morning at the prospect of making my way down the street in my new neighborhood to go to the Marshall’s in the local plaza. I know there I will find an array of exercise equipment overstocked from some department store and it will more than meet my needs at a really great price. OK. So let me back up a bit.
I turned 49 last month. Happy Birthday to me and all that. Thank you. And in the process, well, not just this year, last year too, (but that’s another story) I realized that all of the weight I had put on and taken off and put on again through years of tough diets and working out, had taken a toll on my body. My body feels like it has been taken hostage by an 95 year old woman (my mom is 92 and moves better than I do). My body hurts when I get out of bed, it hurts when I climb the stairs and it even hurts when I sit down. I hate to think of some of the other things it might hurt to do, so it is definitely time to do something about all of this pain.
I have never been a small woman. On the contrary, I am nearly 5’10” and weigh, well suffice to say much more than is allowed and is comfortable. On top of it all I am gifted with a dowry of hips from both sides of the parental spectrum. Yup, I am one of those people you dislike sitting next to on airplanes. Don’t get me wrong, from the waist up, I am deceivingly small. From the waist down – look out.
Many of the women in my family are built this way. We are lovely people with beautiful faces, who are highly intelligent, charming, fun and even sexy. We just have hourglass figures. Somehow the hours always end up in the bottom of the glass. Hips. They have been a fact of my life since the middle of high school when mine kept growing even though no other part of me did. I mean, I didn’t grow boobs until I was in my twenties – my late twenties at that. You just get used to things after a while.
My hips never kept me from doing anything. I played volleyball when I was in my late twenties, softball in my early thirties, then tennis and some basketball. Each time I ended a sport however, I always noticed how I was just a little less flexible than I had been as a high-school athlete doing round-off back handsprings on the balance beam. But you know, I just put it off as getting older, putting on a little more weight and understood that eventually, I would take care of it. I still got around OK, traveled, went out with friends…the seatbelts in some cars were too small and I was always grateful for the discrete stewardess who handed me the extender. Chairs with arm rests bother me, but you know it friends, family and loved ones would always run interference by offering to get the one chair without armrests or by paying more money for tickets up front where seats were wider and there was more leg room.
I didn’t notice that I stopped running; I did notice one day that I really couldn’t go very far when I did. I didn’t notice that I was winded, until my mom who was 85 at the time out-paced me up a hill. I didn’t notice that I climbed the stairs only once a day and then only if I had to and I certainly didn’t notice that I had stopped getting down on the floor to play with all of my favorite little people until I realized that I really couldn’t for fear that I wouldn’t be able to get back up without help or embarrassment. I tried to recall when I stopped getting on the floor to stretch and workout. I used to love doing that in the mornings…
According to the Office of Women’s Health at the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, African American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese compared to other groups in the U.S. About four out of five African American women are overweight or obese. African American women are 70% more likely to be obese than Non Hispanic white women.
Let’s face it. I’m a statistic -sort of. In my lifetime I have lost at least twice my body weight through diet and exercise. I have watched my shoe size evolve from a slender normal shoe to extra wide. Oddly enough, I am basically the same hip size, it just has spread out into a funny shape and I don’t like it one bit! My doctor and I talked about options. For me there are few.
I have two non-blood related sisters who have had bariatric surgery. They had obesity-related health issues. I don’t. Let me see if I can explain this more clearly. I am fat. Just fat. Not fat and diabetic, not fat and hypertensive, not fat and arthritic, just plain old fat and that works against me within the medical profession and with the insurance companies. I can’t get any help unless something goes wrong. It’s the dumbest thing I ever heard – not that I am ready to have surgery; but it is dumb nonetheless.
Despite the fact that 80% of people with Type 2 diabetes are fat, and that people who are overweight are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats, and LDL cholesterol – all risk factors for heart disease and stroke, it was determined in 2007, African Americans were 50% less likely to engage in active physical activity as Non-Hispanic Whites. Like I said, I am only partially a statistic - right now.
So for now, I do Jenny Craig when I need a quick boost and can afford it, weight watchers when I can fit it into my already over -crowded schedule, but most of the time – it’s walking with a large bottle of water. I lost 50 lbs that way last summer and kept half of it off. I lost another 25 this summer and I am still counting. And I think that working at a yogurt shop and sticking MOSTLY to fruit helps. I’ve lost ten pounds so far.
This afternoon I will head out to Marshalls and grab the mat, a set of dumbbells and my yoga ball. I have workout class tomorrow morning with a trainer. She runs a modified boot camp class for women on Saturday mornings. I am hoping I can gather the courage and strength to join her at 5:30 AM one of those five times a week classes. You never know. Anything’s possible. In the meantime, though, I will just be trying to make it down onto the floor! And back up again.
One small step.
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