The main reason I store food and am learning all the skills that go along with it is to help my family be more self-reliant. I’ve touched on a few aspects of self-reliance (or self-sufficiency, whatever you want to call it): cooking, gardening, canning, learning to cook, baking, etc. One topic I’ve avoided is fitness. Why have I avoided it? Because there are powerful emotions involved whenever fitness, health, weight loss, etc. are discussed.
I’m not talking about weight loss here. That’s something entirely different than fitness. It plays a part in one’s overall fitness, but it is not the only part or even the largest part. Some might argue that you must be slender to be fit (see here) while others argue that you can be fit and fat at the same time (see here and here). I’m not here to discuss the merits of either argument. I’m talking about taking care of my body, so I can perform the tasks I need to perform. Eating healthier, homemade foods is a part of taking care of my body and so is physical fitness.
Today, I’m talking about the physical fitness part of self-reliance. I’m sharing something quite personal which I guard very closely, so I hope you will all be kind and refrain from harsh judgments. 🙂 Or, keep your judgments to yourself. That’s fine, too.
Not sure why I had my roommate take my picture, but here I am in my freshman dorm room before a dance.
As a child and teenager, I was very active, had a healthy body, and was pretty fit. Then, I got married and had my first child. I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal to lose the baby weight, as I’d had no problem losing weight in the past. Granted it was only 5 pounds, but how different could it be? I soon learned that it was very different. I tried so many different diets and ways of eating (low-fat, Atkins, whole grain, Zone, Ornish, and more), I worked with nutritionists, I taught step aerobics, I exercised on my own, I logged my food, and so on. Nothing worked. I was still fat. I was pretty healthy, and I was fit for my size, but I was a big gal, definitely not what I was as a fit teenager.
After a lot of thought and prayer and at least 22 serious weight loss efforts over 22 years, I opted to have a vertical sleeve gastrectomy just over a year ago. I didn’t tell many people, only family and close friends. Why didn’t I tell more people? I didn’t want to hear “You should just try _____!” Or “If you just did _____, you’d lose weight.” No, I didn’t try everything on the planet, but I am not an unintelligent person. I spend hours upon hours researching and reading. I tried many things that work for many people in the long term. I wasn’t interested in short term solutions or anything that might risk my health.
If I didn’t want to risk my health, then why did I have surgery? Without boring you with all my mental ramblings, here’s a summary. I tried losing weight for 22 years. It wasn’t working. This surgery and others like it work. The sleeve is not a magic cure, BUT it is an effective tool. When used properly, surgery would allow me to lose some of my excess weight. I knew I was at the point where I needed to lose weight, or it would affect my health in the long term.
You want a shorter reason? I want to be able to walk when I am 70.
Why am I telling you all this? There’s a chance you’ll lose all respect for me. That happens when people find out someone they haven’t met is fat. Everyone must find their own balance, to find what works for their body and their lifestyles. Truth is, I am not as fat as I was, but I’ll never be my skinny teenage self again. And I’m okay with that. I still look a bit like an apple on sticks, but I’m a much smaller apple now. I’ve lost 8 inches off of my waist and 2 inches off of my neck, and it feels good.
Allow me to get back on track… Fitness… What does that mean TO YOU? To me, it means living a healthy, active life for as long as I can. Since weight loss surgery is not a magical, instant solution, I exercise as I did before surgery. Earlier this year, I found myself slacking off a bit earlier this year after a nasty cold that would not go away. So, I signed up for a color run in Orange County. It sounded like a lot of fun, and it would motivate me to try something I haven’t done regularly in almost 3 decades: run.
I am using the couch to 5K program. I’m not starting at “couch” as I walk and exercise regularly, but I think it’s better to start slowly. Especially now that I’m in my 40s. But I waited a little too long to start, so I’m accelerating it just a tad bit. I need to be done in 5 1/2 weeks rather than the 9 they schedule. I’ll let you know how it goes.
This is not my first fitness event since my surgery. I swam the swimming leg of a sprint triathlon last August.
I was not looking forward to getting in the water as it was COLD outside!
But I did! The water felt fine. I am the one in the middle of the picture in blue.
Then my family and I participated in the Foam Fest 5K (which was a blast!) last September.
This was a muddy race! Not a great picture of me, but I promised I would be my real self in this blog, unflattering pictures and all.
But I didn’t need to worry, because there was a lot of foam to clean off the mud.
I had to “save” my youngest son, but we laughed the entire way!
And I still had a smile on when I got home in all my muddy, foamy glory. Look at those once white socks!
Wish me luck on my journey.
I’ll keep working to improve my health and fitness regardless of my size. I hope you’ll join me.