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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Why I Chose Fitness

The Buddhist Mortician posted her story on the My Fat Spouse Forum

I was a fat kid of divorced parents, both of whom, went out of their ways to model how to hate life. They were not happy people. I can honestly say I never saw either of them having fun when they weren't drunk or eating something. When they were sober, it was gloom, gloom, gloom... my mother died of cancer when I was 10, and I'm convinced her disordered eating (I rarely saw her eat, and I recall her being very slender, but I know from photographs that she was occasionally chubby) and her frantic, three-job lifestyle directly contributed to her death. My father hung in there until I was 26, but sleep apnea, undiagnosed diabetes, and cardiovascular insufficiency finally killed him as well. They died at 46 and 63, respectively-- too darn young.

Loving life and loving yourself are skills which must be modeled for a child to internalize them. I honestly grew up thinking that it was foolish and deluded to be optimistic about the future. All things led to decay and death, with no way out except patience... why not destroy yourself and get it over with quicker? So I drank.

I met the man I'm with now about 3 years ago. I'd been in a serious relationship before him, but it ended up VERY badly-- my ex-husband suicided a couple of years after we broke up (I left him because he refused to get a job. Flat-out refused. We had no money except the pittance I brought in through work-study and student loans, so we lived on fried eggs and potatoes, and I put on 20 lbs, which we fought about-- a classic situation of two people tearing each other down). The man I'm with now we'll call Evan, as he's a very even-tempered and fair man.

He came into my life at a time when I was getting over a very serious nervous breakdown, drinking far too much, and living in squalor. Since my teenage years, I've not been fat-- but I didn't work out or eat right either-- I just monitored my caloric intake so I could ride my body's setpoint of 140-150 (I thought that was its setpoint-- I'm 5'3").

He brought over good food for me to eat, and some linens for my mattress, and he listened to me squall and wail, and he let me be as crazy as I needed to be. He rewarded me for sane thinking by telling me I was thinking sanely. If I reacted in a perfectly regular, human, non-crazy manner to some event, he let me know I'd done so. Gradually I began replacing maladapted, useless responses with healthy ones. God only knows what motivated him to be so patient. Certainly I was in no condition to give him anything but gratitude-- weird, crazy gratitude at that. I simply had (and still don't have much) any idea of how normal people react to things.

Fastforward a couple of years. I'm an intellectually curious person, and as my life-long depression began to lift, I started to read about homeopathic ways to decrease my anxiety (which was CRIPPLING) and my emotional lability (I'd gone to psychiatrists-- total waste-- only wanted to drug me, but couldn't even figure out which drug would work, since I didn't fit into a diagnosis). Dietary supplements and lifestyle changes appeared to be the ticket. I gradually altered my diet, over the course of a year and a half, to include mostly vegetables and protein. Gradually I learned to hate Little Debby. Gradually my body learned to dismiss large amounts of sugar and horrible fats. Gradually my mind cleared.

I started to walk. I was still eating right. I'd done a colon cleanse and knocked 10 lbs off of myself permanently, and rediscovered my naturally tiny waist. Then an acquaintance recommended a particular gym to me. I didn't think about it-- I just joined. I was out of work due to the recession, living on savings, and I really had nothing better to do. I cut out the Internet to make room in my budget for the gym membership (I already don't have television, and without Internet, there's just not much to keep me sitting on my ass). And I decided I'd go for six weeks. If exercise would help my depression, but needs 6 weeks to see results, I might as well take my cure on the chin-- even pills need 2 weeks or so to start working.

We're coming to the end of this monster... Evan does not work out. He did not tell me I needed to work out, except to help my tension knots which were seriously bunging up my entire righthand side. Without his nagging at all, I fell in love with exercise.

Five months later, I can touch my toes. I can do a squat, which I could not do before without falling over. My balance is improved. My stamina is through the roof. I cannot sit still to save my life. I am becoming obnoxiously jittery and I hate work meetings where we SIT all day, six hours a day. But every time there is something even mildly strenuous, like a scavenger hunt around the downtown of our city, everyone complains of how out of shape they are and how hard WALKING is. I used to be that person. I still have sympathy. But I LOVE being in my body now.

I truly feel, because of my experience, that mind and body are one. You can't live as a sane, happy person in a body that is failing all around you. You cannot be self-confident when you're taking orders from a bottle, or a cookie.

My journey of self-improvement has led to me committing to a year in a volunteer organization, and considering going back to school for a useful degree. I do want children so I can model happiness for them, but financially and socially (since neither Evan nor I are motivated much by money, we live monkishly, and very weirdly for 2009 America), it might not happen. That's okay. Life rolls on, and what happens, happens, but I will be fit and healthy enough to face what comes. I KNOW that, and that gives me the greatest base for happiness and confidence I can imagine. I love my life now. I only wish my mom and dad were alive so I could show them.

1 comment:

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