My first 18 years were the formative years of my fitness… I was indeed a chubby kid after about 8-1/2. My Mom first tried to help me lose weight on our own but, she was as clueless as I about what to feed me. Obviously I was chubbing up on the same food that she and the rest of the family were eating and they weren’t having problems. As I said in yesterday’s blog entry, she finally reached the conclusion that somehow my metabolism was slower than hers, my Dad’s and my brother’s.
The sad thing was that no one gave me the tools to be “fit”. My mother couldn’t – she didn’t understand. She was naturally thin, she was naturally energetic – she mowed her own lawn until she was 70. She jumped off of a 30 foot high platform in the middle of her brother’s East Texas woods on a rope swing at 73 and at 74, one year before she died, she went parasailing. My father, a salesman, worked hard, ate pie and coffee for lunch and when he gained 10 pounds he cut the sugar out of his coffee – he also died at 54 so I am feeling lucky since I’m now 58, I made it 4 years longer than he did – and counting. My brother was an athlete and even now, at 53, he’s maybe 20 pounds over weight but nothing close to “fat”.
All through high school I had to take physical education (PE) classes – wearing those vile uniforms with the pleated shirt and bloomer drawers. ugh. And then they wanted us to play softball or basketball or volleyball – awful having to take something like a bat or your hand and hit the ball or put the ball in a hoop hung on the wall. Even worse, calisthenics – jumping jacks and lunges – squats and crunches – double ugh. One year they offered archery for 3 weeks. I loved it but they never offered it again — who knows why — probably too dangerous. Dance? Again it was fun but short-lived – three weeks max during the coldest months because, well there was also basketball that we could play inside and the PE teachers weren’t really dancers. Swimming? I could swim but I was afraid of the water – they, of course wanted us to swim long laps, competing against each other, in an Olympic sized pool that went from 4 feet to 15 feet — along about 6 feet, I would start to tense up because I could see the bottom of the pool dropping away below me — terror!!! By 10 feet, I couldn’t get to the side of the pool fast enough – thought I was going to drown. Tennis? OK but I still had the hand-eye coordination problem I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with the astigmatism I had in my right eye, that, though corrected aesthetically, caused depth perception problems.
Flash forward to now. Well, actually about 4 months ago. Almost exactly 40 years since the night I lay in bed in deep heart pain over my agonizingly thin body. I was feeling my body. The convex belly that I had to poke through to even feel the barest tips of the hip bone – the sheath of fat over my ribs – the ribs are still there – but well padded. I thought about the night so long ago when I had decided to become this. Not exactly, but had just decided to give up the 500 calorie diet and the amphetamines. I lay there wondering “I wonder what it is like to be fit?” I wonder.
After I gave up the prescribed drugs, I needed to eat more food – without the tools to get fit – in spite of trying to teach myself how to eat properly and even sporadically exercising – mostly the hated calisthenics – I gained weight. For a while I looked “normal” but then by the time I was in my mid twenties, I was “heavy” and by the time I was in my early 30s, I was “fat” and by the time I was in my late 30s, I was “obese”.
About 13 years ago, I started taking water aerobics classes. As exercises go, water aerobics is pure magic. If “they” back “then” had only combined the hated calisthenics with the fear-inducing swimming, “they” might have taught me to be fit. It combines the benefits of calisthenics with the ease of being in the water and eliminates the fear factor of swimming because you can either touch the bottom or use a flotation device. I actually love it. I became so enamored of water aerobics I took classes in teaching it, although my fear of teaching it because I am “still” fat keeps me from teaching. I have worked up WA routines using dance moves, sports moves, and of course, calisthenics.
After a while, 12 years or so ago, I calculated that I had lost approximately 20 pounds of body fat in a relatively short period of time – about 3 months. “Weight” lost was not 20 pounds because I’d gained muscle mass, but I was on a road to “fitness”. And then (here comes an excuse) my beloved Mom died. Gone. Left the planet. This set me back so far it was astounding. All the comfort eating came back in a rush and I didn’t have to sneak eat because I lived by myself so all the food was mine.
Since then, sporadically, I have done my water aerobics thing. I still love it and, up until August of last year, my spouse and I were regular visitors at the indoor therapy pool near our home. Did I say I love water aerobics? Well I’ll say it again. I do… but I also love being in water. It is so incredibly relaxing.
The pool we use has a couple of different jetted areas – the standard “hot tub” but also a jetted area of the swimming pool where extra hard jets of water come out. Sometimes I arrange myself where the water just beats hard against my shoulders – massaging all the tension and stress away – other times I float in the bubbles a distance away from the jets – feet hooked into the side rails of the pool – like floating in a glass of champagne. It becomes almost a sensory deprivation kind of relaxation – except there is the sensory stimulation of the bubbles and the lovely sound of rushing water.
This morning, we are planning our first trip back to the pool. Funds have been so short for so long and we were unable to afford the fees until now – now we’re just making it happen – choosing fitness over something else – it really isn’t much money for both of us – and we received a little Christmas money from our family, so it is the perfect use. Pool time.
Today. January 4, 2011. I choose to be fit. The beginning is the return to the pool. After that – better food choices. No silly diets, no has-been stars trying to convince me that their diet plan that got them back into a bikini is the right one – I don’t need or want to wear a bikini again. I am not planning on a flat stomach – and certainly not a concave stomach. I don’t really even care if I never change dress sizes again . . . I just want to be fit.
I allow my image of me as a fat, overeating, sneak eater – that my former doctor so casually created for me during my formative years – I allow her the formal death that she deserves. She really doesn’t exist – then or now. She was created in that tension-filled, sterile exam room that smelled of antiseptic.
This was hard to write and I have removed the parts that I “can’t stand” – sorry. If you read the parts I edited out, thanks.