I developed an awareness of my lifestyle on my own somewhere around the onset of my 20’s. Considering that I am sitting, legs dangling, atop the apex of my twenty-fifth year, this is a very sad piece of trivia indeed. Before that time, I subsisted largely on second and third helpings, Mountain Dew, and really anything that left a grease mark on the plate. Fortunately, I never had much of a taste for sweets (I guess I was sugared out with that Mountain Dew). It was the way of my household, the way my family ate. I thought it was normal.
I was in college when I had a chest pain. Twenty years old and my heart protested its environment so enthusiastically that I lost my breath. Then began my transformation—or was it my reformation? I was a sponge for information—anyone who’s taken healthful living seriously will tell you of its addictive nature…all of the sudden you just feel so good. Even today, I can estimate the calories on just about any plate. I have omnipresent knowledge of RDA’s and UL’s…and enough about fiber to make you go cross-eyed.
Why this topic, why now? I almost never talk about this stuff here…part of my self-therapy, I suppose: it is easy to become obsessed. That, and everyone in audience tends to feel uncomfortable when you inadvertently cause them to take a look at their own habits. Nick and I were out to dinner last night, and somehow this subject came up, so it is on my mind. “It’s hard,” I told him. On one hand, I’m incredibly proud of how I’ve changed myself for the better. I’ve lost weight, have kept it off for years, and I’m so fit. I’m only about a month and a half out of surgery and I jogged for 75 minutes the other day. I couldn’t have gone for even two minutes a few years ago—at that time, having been out of the hospital since birth. On the other…I’m so ashamed of how I was, how I behaved, and how little I knew while still in my self-dug trench of poor health.
While in the process, my friends and family would ask me, “How do you do it? How do you lose weight? What’s the secret?” There is no secret. There’s only one thing that works, and it’s got nothing to do with that infomercial you just watched from Guthy-Renker or those expensive pills on the shelves that control your appetite by making you feel like you’re going to puke if you even THINK about food: it’s nutrition, and it’s exercise. Do you know the FDA recommends 9 daily servings of fruits and vegetables? 25 minimum grams of fiber? Take your weight in pounds, divide it by two, and it is this amount of water in ounces that you should get a day, base. The American Heart Association calls for sixty minutes of heart healthy exercise every day. I dare you to meet these recommendations and see if you feel like making the same lifestyle choices afterwards.
Nick asks me about this topic now and then…he notices things about me…a lacking confidence in my appearance, my disbelief when someone seems to find me attractive. To this I can say that I am grateful to my beginnings: while confidence is the sought out trait, I would rather have mine invested in my personality than in my appearance. My mother was complimentary of my looks, but what mother isn’t? (And especially when her daughter looks so much like herself! LOL!) She repeated this same sentiment those last months we had together…that the way I grew up made me exactly who I am today. If a book could be interpreted by its cover we wouldn’t need to waste all that ink underneath. An overweight person is not a lazy person. An overweight person is not a glutton. An overweight person has a story, just as everyone else has. One could say that I changed myself a few years ago…but I didn’t, not really. I just switched out the cover.