I am starting over. Again. For the millionth time. A few years ago I lost 70 lbs. For the first time in my life I got it. That exercise is life. That my health depends on the foods I eat. It was not a diet or a temporary thing, it was long term change precipitated by cancer. It was life or death. My eyes were opened and I saw it. I was well on my way to my 100 lb. goal when I got hurt. My knee injury did not change my new view, it merely slowed me down. For two years and through two surgeries, I kept up my new lifestyle. Weight loss leveled out but that was to be expected until my knee was fully healed. Only it didn’t fully heal, it never got back to full range of motion and now I am permanently disabled. Even so, I continued to walk, jazzercise (greatly modified), and ride my stationary bike. No excuses. No slack. Move to live, and live to move. Pounds started to creep back on…I kept moving.
Hannah left to go around the world, and I took a second job after school to fund my trip to Thailand. That added stress to an already overwhelming year at work. Yet, I still got off after working two jobs and went straight to Jazzercise before going home. Like I said, this change I made was real. But somewhere along the way, I went into a bit of a funk. My load got heavy. My food choices were not great. The few pounds turned into more, until I had gained 35 or 40 lbs. back. I cannot tell you how many because I am scared to get on the scale to find out. Like an ostrich with its head in the sand, I refused to look at the truth. My clothes told me. Pictures told me. I knew…I just didn’t want to know. Then today I went to the doctor for my regular diabetes check-up. I turned my head when I got on the scale…but the nurse called it out when she wrote it down. I guess she thought I would want to know. I did not, but when I heard I was heartsick. Once again as it has been for the past several years, my blood work was fabulous. Blood sugar right where it is supposed to be. Blood pressure superb. Once again, I am the healthiest of the sick people. The doc was all cheers until the she saw that I had gained 15 pounds since my last visit 9 months ago. Yikes!
I have sat in this humiliating chair so many times before. I pay this doctor to give me wake up calls, and she is very good at it. I could give myself the speech…actually I do, in my head only my speech to myself has no compassion in it. None. I beat myself up so much more than anything she could say to me. But I do my time and I sit in this chair and grimace and say I know, I know. I will be better. I will do better. I will try harder. And somehow, the groveling apologies get into my head and defeat me. Tears sit just below the surface and I swallow hard to keep them from choking out my voice as I promise to lose the pounds I have gained. I want to leave and eat a whole gallon of ice cream…go into a diabetic coma…and sleep for days. I have been here before. So. Many. Times. It is exhausting and depressing and last time I just knew I would never be back here again. Yet, here I sit.
What is it about going back to that which you know will harm you? Is it complacency? Somehow I don’t think so. I do care a great deal about my health and well-being. Is it self-contempt? In the past I would have said maybe yes, but my cancer journey taught me I am beautiful no matter what I look like…so no, not self-contempt. I think it is the familiar. It is comfortable not to change. There is nothing unexpected. It feels safe, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is not safe to turn to something that causes you to feel like a failure, that is bad for your health, and that could make you sick or harm you. There has to be a total transformation of your perception of yourself. There has to be a new pattern set to replace the old one that DOESN’T WORK. So I have to look for a new viewpoint.
What I learned through my brief but significant 70 lb. success is that I cannot focus on what I did not do. I cannot focus on how I have fallen short. I have to look at what I have done, and turn around the bludgeoning going in my mind. For starters, I did NOT gain back 70 lbs. It is not too late to start again…I am still 30ish lbs. down from where I started all those years ago. Not bad…not bad at all. I did NOT quit exercising. I work out no matter what, maybe not as hard, or as often…but I still work out. My health has interrupted my routine but it has not stopped it. And another thing…I did NOT go back to the horrible eating habits I had before. My food, when I cook (key issue) is healthy. So I am not a complete and utter failure here, nor am I defined by the number on a scale. I just need some small adjustments to get back on track. The hardest work…the completely different mindset… has already been done. Now it is just the walking out what I ALREADY know. I did this before, and it made all the difference in how I felt…and because I did it before I KNOW I can do it. And so…here I go…again.