Begin Today

Since adolescence I have been obese. Whether I have been ardently fat-positive, angrily fat-defensive, dieting, exercising, not exercising, in love, not in love–whatever–being a fat person has taken up more mental space than physical, and too much at that. Though there have certainly been periods of self loathing, I now say this with equanimity: I am fat. It is a fact, but it is no longer a definition.

But the other truth is, whatever the emotion and judgement/non judgement around that fact, if I don’t change this body of mine I will die–of a stroke, of complications from diabetes, of asthma, of despair that I have become increasingly less mobile, less able to find clothes, less willing to try new things that involve movement or flexibility. I am too young to be that old. I am too vibrant to piss away my life.

My mother was morbidly obese from her 20s on. She died at 78, and most nights in the last 10 years of her life she slept in a chair because she could not lie down comfortably. I don’t recall a time when she enjoyed walks, or swimming, or anything more active than sitting on a pontoon boat. Mom was brilliant and a great storyteller, and she went out of the house less and less in her 60s and 70s. Whenever I go to a new place I think of her, and of the hunger she had for seeing the world that aching knees and accompanying lethargy kept her from satisfying.

My mom was also a heavy smoker. For 45 years or more she had a couple of packs a day. Then, when she was about 70, she woke up, made her coffee, grabbed a cigarette, and started coughing. She put the cigarette back in the pack and never smoked again.

Not. One. Puff. Ever. Again.

So, on March 22 when my doctor wanted to put me on yet another medication, I thought about my mother, and it occurred to me that I must have inherited more from her than my body type. Why couldn’t I find her will in me and decide to live a healthier life?

It is now July 22, and I have lost over 50 lbs, am riding a bike, my total cholesterol has dropped 40 points, and I feel amazing. This is personal stuff, and it touches deep “issues,” but I think my story and my little discoveries might be of interest to others, so I begin a new set of posts on this little blog about how I am finding ways to choose health. I should have started this blog four months ago, instead of reconstructing what has happened in the last three months. Yeah, and I should have changed my eating habits and my behaviour 20 or 30 years ago. But one thing I have taken to heart in this process is that I can start–anything–today. Not “after Christmas” or “by my next birthday” or with the lament that “it’s too late.” I begin this record today, drawing from some videos and thoughts I have posted on Facebook along the way or kept in my personal journal. I hope you find something funny or fun or even thought provoking here, but, really, this is my public testament to choosing a healthier, more active last third of my life.

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