A few people in my daily life have noticed that I am a little slimmer than before, and I wanted to explain my thinking process that lead to the decision. I had a separate blog at one point called “Druid on the Run” (title used with permission from the Ditzy Druid). It fell by the wayside after I left working at the University. I am now reviving the title in this blog as hopefully a regular series.
Most weight loss programs seem to be based on vanity- how our society bases a woman’s worth on her beauty, and how in this day and age, fat is considered unattractive. This has nothing to do with vanity, or appearing sexy, or being “bikini ready”. This has to do with my health. Now, I fully believe that a fat person can be healthy. If you are healthy, and large, and are cool with that, more power to you.
But here’s what’s going on with me:
I had a major back injury in April. I was off work for an entire month. At first, everything was difficult. I could barely get my own socks and shoes on or shower, much less care for others as a personal support worker who showered and put socks on others. I almost needed my own PSW. My muggle job was so good about it. They were really understanding and respectful of my pain and restrictions. I was offered modified duty in the office. At that point it was not even known if I was going back to work at all. I thought that the office was what I wanted- regular hours, working downtown, and so on. But, I found the work of filing and alphabetizing mindnumbingly boring. I missed my clients. I missed making a difference. 95% of my patients are amazingly appreciative of the work I do. I have been doing this job for 14 years, and I have become very good at it. My patients are able to stay in their homes longer, and be healthier because of the work that I do. It’s very powerful. I worried about some of them, wondering how they were doing. I really enjoy working with the elderly. Both of my grandmas are gone, and I have no contact with my mother, so instead, I have the wisdom of a few dozen grannies. I get called an angel a few times a week. I could have probably stayed on modified in the office a few more weeks, but I really missed my clients. So I hit physio, massage and chiropractic hard. And I went back to work after a month.
My weight does affect my ability to do my job. I am very often needing to squeeze into small bathroom, or wedge myself behind a lift. I am constantly covered in bruises from doing this. Shedding a few inches would make this a lot easier, and a lot safer for both me and my patients.
I have had several back injuries in my life. And my knees are starting to ache. This may be just the effect of aging, but having probably an extra 100lbs of weight on my frame does not help at all. These joints need to last until retirement, or probably longer.
I am also noticing that, of my elderly patients, the ones who are doing well, well into their 90s, are the ones who stayed physically active. I have patients whom I maybe just help in and out of the shower twice a week, or help them with other tasks, but find that the ones who are independent later in life, are the seniors who power walked in the mall, played golf every sunny day, go for nightly strolls, or went on ski trips. These patients are far healthier, in both mind and body, than their non-active counterparts who watch TV all day. Studies have shown that because regular exercise is a factor in good cadiovascular health, good circulation promotes good brain health and decreases the risk of dementia. A lifetime of regular exercise has also been shown to decrease both cancer and heart attack or stroke in the elderly. So although I may be healthy and fat now, if I would like to enjoy my golden years, I need to promote good health now.
I have had two real life inspirations. My friend and neighbour Deb has dropped 100 lbs! She started by cutting out alcohol, using an app to track calories, eating more plants, and going for nightly walks with her husband. She has since joined a gym and her whole family gets into some hard core work outs.
My sister is working on a similar sensible way to drop weight. She has developed a love for salads, stops eating after 8pm, and walks at least an hour a day. She also regularly goes to a gym, and sees a dietitian. In less than three months, she is down 25 lbs.
So, my first step was to see my doctor. I’m not stupid, I know how to lose weight, theoretically. Any successful weight loss program for me has to address the psychological issues that lead to my weight gain, and not just be about food or exercise. My doc diagnosed me with binge eating disorder, and prescribed a medication that curbs compulsive eating. We discussed reasonable goals and time frames. My doc also talked about increasing vegetables, and working out until I break a sweat daily. She told me that I don’t need an expensive gym membership, just find a few videos online and do them in my living room. In my NET therapy sessions, we have been doing a lot of work around issues and beliefs about poverty, food and safety. I have examined how I feel about skinny women, how I feel about being a fat woman, and how that has impacted my relationships with others.
Now, I am trying to make better choices about food, eating more plants and less processed foods. I have drastically cut down on alcohol, having 2-3 drinks a week instead of 2-3 a night. Exercising for the point of exercise is hard for me, so I need to incorporate it in my life. So I am working in my yard an hour a day. This doesn’t mean kneeling down and gently planing a petunia. This means sawing down dead trees, chopping wood, digging through clay, carrying bags of mulch, etc. You will notice that I use to language “drop”, instead of “lose”. When you lose something, it’s a bad thing, and you want to find it. It’s a lot easier to drop something and never pick it up. I can also use “let go” or “release”, but that sounds a little corny.
I met with my doc for a follow up. So far, according to her scale, I am down 12 lbs. 88 more to go.