Weighty Matters

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Taking Nothing for Granted

on August 27, 2013

I haven’t been to a Zumba class in to weeks because of meetings, renovations to the place where classes are held and then my vacation. I looked forward to tonight’s class ever since I got home from my trip. After work, I took the dogs for a walk, fed them and then went to the bedroom to change into workout clothes. When I balanced on one foot at a time to pull on my exercise shorts, I flashed back to two years ago.

Getting dressed was a challenge. In order to pull on underwear or a pair of pants or shorts, I either had to sit down or I had to hold onto a bed post or table for steadiness. Even with that support, I still need to bend down as far as I could to drag the clothes on over my foot. Putting on sneakers was even more difficult. The easiest way was for me to sit on the bed, bend my leg at the knee and prop it on the bed too so that I could reach my foot. The other option was to again sit in a chair, bend over and sort of contort myself to get my sneaker on. I can remember a time when I had to pause and suck in a breath so I could finish tying the laces.

***** Before I forget, I need to digress a minute. Someone asked me why I share these memories of the way that I used to be when I was at my heaviest, most awkward self. I do it because it’s important that I remember what it was like. It also matters to me in case there’s someone reading who is struggling with morbid obesity. It helps to know that someone has lived what you’re experiencing and understands. I hope it also helps to know that things can be better. *****

Okay, back to the topic. Tonight I changed clothes with balance and ease. Putting on my sneaks was a simple as crossing one leg over the other, slipping on the shoes and tying in a few seconds. No stress or strain, no struggle or shortness of breath. In that moment I thought, “As long as I live, I will never take this for granted.”

I then grabbed my water bottle and hand bag and bopped out the door. Millions of people do this every day without giving the ability a thought. It’s just normal for them. Now it’s normal for me too, but I will never forget the days and decades when it wasn’t.

Zumba kicked my ass tonight. Even though I’ve been doing Tai Chi, brisk walking and that 7 Minute Workout, I could feel a reduction in my ability and endurance. I pushed on through to get the most benefit from the exercise, ignoring the internal whimpering. When we finished the cool down and stretching period, I picked up my water bottle and towel, said goodbye and made my way to the car. For a second I slumped in the seat and just felt the gratitude sweep through me. I thought again, “I will never take this for granted.”

I need to appreciate every day, every pound lost, every time I walk or dance or move with control and balance through the 108 moves in the Tai Chi set. I want to remember the times that I say no to eating the wrong thing and yes to healthy choices. It’s all hard work and I’m grateful for the willingness to put in the time, energy, effort and determination.

Recovery is precious. It also isn’t automatically permanent. I have to keep nurturing my progress, reinforcing the healthier practices, and maintaining my determination. I don’t want to lose what I’ve fought so hard to achieve so I can never, ever, take it for granted.

4 responses to “Taking Nothing for Granted

  1. Hope says:

    Mary, reading posts like this make me so very, very happy. šŸ™‚ I love seeing how awesome you are doing.

  2. Pink Pelican says:

    I keep a couple of photos of myself from my heaviest days to help me remember where I was when I started my surgery journey. The way I looked wasn’t the only reason I made the decision to seek surgery … it wasn’t even the most important reason. But my appearance at my heaviest is a very stark, visceral representation of my obese life.

    *** The reason I decided to have surgery was that I realized one day if I didn’t make a serious change, if I didn’t find a way to stop things and reverse the situation, in 10 years max I’d be confined to a scooter. I’d likely develop heart problems & possibly diabetes. And I was trying to cut my toenails and I suddenly thought, what if I end up in a nursing home? What if my husband dies before me and I end up alone, and I can’t cut my toenails myself anymore? Because I can barely manage it now? Who will help me? (This was before our daughter presented herself, but the question is still relevant.) I was 46, and I realized, sitting there trying to cut my own damn toenails, that I was on the cusp of a precipitous decline in health and quality of life. Right at that moment, I was healthy with no comorbidities, but I knew that wouldn’t last, I realized that when things went downhill they’d probably go fast, and if I was going to do something to prevent that happening, I had to take action. The fact that my appearance would probably improve was a side issue. ***

    I believe, like you do, Mary, and you do, Skye, that it is VERY important to remember what it was like to be obese and how hard it was. It is VERY important to savor all the little, mundane, trivial things that make life so much sweeter as the obesity recedes. Not having to take pills anymore is great, if you had comorbidities, but it’s easy to forget the high blood pressure, the diabetic symptoms, etc., once they go away. Visual reminders are much more “in your face”. In a very strange way, the little, mundane, trivial things you can do every day can be a much stronger, much more immediate reminder of your changes than distant memories of taking pills for problems that don’t exist anymore.

    The day I changed my shoes and TIED MY SHOES while sitting in the driver’s seat of my car? AWESOME. The day I needed a dress for a wedding and realized I could go to ANY DAMN STORE I WANTED and when I did, I had easily a dozen pretty dresses to choose from that looked good on me, and the only consideration I had to make was whether the straps of my bra & shapewear were covered? Beyond belief. The day I could cut my toenails without contortions and frequent stops to decompress my lungs so I could breathe. (TMI coming) Every single time I go to the bathroom and have absolutely no problems whatsoever with personal hygiene.

    If someone has never had problems with obesity, they simply can’t comprehend. When I was obese, issues of bulk were normal for me. I just adapted and lived my life. It wasn’t until those problems started going away that I realized just how high the cost of adapting to them had been, how much they sucked out of my quality of life, without my ever truly knowing. I HAVE to remember those days, and I HAVE to appreciate all the little changes, because they have made my life so very, very much better.

    You are doing such an awesome job, Mary. I understand how hard it can be some days to stay on track, and that’s why we have to remember. You rock!

    • Mary Stella says:

      Pink, your choices and reasons feel like my own. I already had the co-morbidities too. Thankfully, those are resolved!

      A lot of people suggested I keep a pair of pants or dress from my pre-weight loss size to remind me. I didn’t. Like you, I have photos. I also have the memories of the physical struggle, the hygiene concerns, and everything else.

      You’ve rocked it, my friend.


  3. Skye says:

    That’s an important and powerful message: don’t take this for granted. It’s a message I need to remember for myself, for my own progress and successes.

    While I know some people would disagree, I think it is important to remind yourself where you’ve come from, so you can appreciate your progress that much more. And, I love that you also want to be a voice of hope for others who might be where you were. I think we all need that voice of hope now and then in our lives.

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