This was the number that finally made a difference. It was the number that shook me out of the latest downward spiral I had been in for how long – I can’t say. The fitness I wanted for myself had, at that point, been pushed aside into irrelevance by the forces of depression and sadness.
Two years ago I had already been moving back and forth of the continuum of wellness and crisis. I suppose most people didn’t see it, but I knew. The death of my mother two years before that had been more difficult than I ever admitted. What I see now was that I was gradually veering off course, but not radically enough to panic over it. My normal practices of exercise at the gym and eating reasonably well started to seem less important. The priorities had shifted. I was eating anything I wanted. There was always room for another drink. And loud laughter made it all seem like things were as they should be.
Weighing in was once part of the gym ritual. It was never a big issue or source of stress. Mostly I just liked to know. I had developed a pretty accurate sense of my own gains over the years. I started lifting and running in high school. I never made it to the phase of thinking I need to just take my shirt off to do yard work. My abs have never shone through my natural insulation. But I had been making good progress leading up to my first year in college. Then for some reason a tumor in my head decided to flare up and put pressure on my brain stem. I lost control of half of my body. No one could ever tell me what the cause was, but since I felt like there needed to be a cause, I assigned it to working out too intensely.
The tumor withdrew on its own, just as unceremoniously as it had appeared. And life moved forward. I continued on the fitness journey, though I never had the courage to push the limits much any more. Still, I managed to keep the pendulum swinging mainly toward being healthy. I ran 5ks. I kept going to the gym, but i always found reasons to stop going, too. Not good reasons. Just….stopping. And then I would rally myself again and start from whatever new hole I found myself standing in.
I moved on to doing a couple of half marathons and a few obstacle races. Over the years it was fun to do those, but i never really trained properly for any of them. I would just sign myself up for one out of nowhere to scare myself into action again.
So, two years ago…. At that point I had divorced long enough to have gone through a few relationships, always ending poorly. But I felt like I was still ok. Then driving to work one morning, I had found myself in slowed traffic. It was dark, and the cars ahead of me had come to a near full stop. As I sat there thinking I was not going to get everything done at work I had planned to by going in early, I saw it coming. The suv was approaching way too fast to stop. I saw it, and I gripped the wheel and thought, this is gonna hurt.
The woman in the Lexus tried too late to stop, and slammed into my Camry at probably close to 50 mph. The force pushed me into the car in front of me, too. It hurt. My car was crushed on the back and the front. Hers was mostly fine as was the car in front of me.
Later that morning I went to the hospital to make sure I wasn’t hurt very badly. The car did its job protecting me from the worst of the force. I was decent for being in a near-deadly crash. It had probably been a full year since I had stepped on a scale. I had gone into full blown, cover the ears, shut the eyes, la-la-la-la, avoidance mode regarding my weight. I knew, of course, that I was wearing “fat clothes” because nothing else would fit. I knew I couldn’t breathe after tying my shoes. It was bad. So, when the nurse told me step on the scale, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
117. The scale registered in kilograms, so I didn’t understand at first what it was. I had one more delay tactic left in me. I avoided one more time, at least for a few hours more, until later that night. I converted to pounds that 117. I had reached my official heaviest point to date- 258 pounds. I am approximately 5’9″, so that is a lot of extra weight.
Depressed even more with that revelation, I did exactly nothing about it, But then after some time recovering from the accident I started back in the gym. I tried to see what I could do on the treadmill, remembering my 5k times. I had to stop before I reached ten minutes. I was panicking after five. Surely it wasn’t this bad, but it was.
What changed? My kids. My beautiful kids never said a word about how I looked or if I seemed different to them. But without saying anything about what I needed, they spoke to me about wanting to go to the gym with me, or to go on walks with me. It was while I was watching videos online with them that I first saw someone talking about LifeSum. I looked it up and got started.
I almost have a full year of data on the app now. I have been keeping the food diary and exercise log. I have done it with the help of my kids and precious small circle- the inner circle- of friends. I haven’t been posting about it on social media, but to those in the know, it has been a ride. Nearly a year ago I set a goal in the LifeSum app for weight loss to get me to 215. Today I am there. I have now reset my goal, and I will keep on reaching, reevaluating, and resetting. I am finally doing the journey in a sensible and sustainable way for me.
If I put weight back on now, it will be due to positive gains in muscle mass and strength. With 50 years old on the horizon, I am feeling good again.