How did this happen to me? I’m pretty positive that just about everyone – at least once in his or her lifetime – struggles with this question. Oh, I know the obvious answers; everyone does. After all, they are not a secret. Suffering from an illness or an injury, aging years, a slowing metabolism, poor eating habits, too much time hanging out on the couch, too much time staring at the computer, too many reasons that translate into avoiding the gym, lying and denying to oneself…blah, blah, blah!
How did my body get so out of shape? As a college student, I could down a pack of Oreos in one sitting, go out drinking for three nights in a row, and stay fit by simply doing “Jane Fondas” a couple times a week. As a new mother, the pregnancy weight disappeared just by chasing my toddlers around. When I turned forty (maybe this was a mini-mid-life crisis), I hit the gym with a vengeance. Three times a week, I worked out with a trainer who didn’t tolerate any whining, had no mercy, and kicked my tush. He had me leg-pressing 575 pounds and bench-pressing 75 pounds with relative ease in no time flat. All of the lunges, squats, and sit-ups yielded firm thighs, a tight butt, and a flat stomach. And, to balance out the weight training, yoga classes helped lengthen my muscles, strengthen my core, and find my “center.” I didn’t mind the exercise routines, was happy with the results, and felt great.
So how did this happen to me? Personally, I think my sister – who struggled with weight issues for years – gave me the evil eye. First, my trainer mysteriously left my gym to work at a new one. Then, the kids’ schedules began to take on a higher priority and demanded tremendous amounts of time. Then, a new job left me exhausted and drained – mentally and physically – at the end of the day. And then, the packs of Oreos suddenly turned into unwanted, unshedable pounds. It seemed that, somewhere along the way, I fell off the treadmill and haven’t been able to get back on.
Part of me feels like I’m in good company. If you’ve ever watched Oprah, The Biggest Loser, or Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, you know that obesity is a national problem. (Obesity, by the way, is defined as being about thirty pounds over the ideal weight range, based on a person’s age, height, and frame.) Heck, you don’t need to see it on TV! Just go ANYWHERE in Georgia (i.e. the airport, restaurants, the mall, etc.), and you can see the problem for yourself.
Part of me wants to blame someone else. Restaurants serve portions that are far too big and offer fattening temptations. Grocery stores are full of processed and unhealthy foods. Work-related breakfasts, lunches, and dinners pile on the pounds. Family and holiday get-togethers become stressful food-a-thons.
Part of me is jealous that my husband, by just hopping on the elliptical three times a week and cutting his calorie intake to “only” two thousand calories per day, dropped twenty-five pound in a mere three months!
Part of me knows that I’m just making a bunch of excuses. We all know what we should or should not eat. We all know that dieting is not the answer, but “healthy living” is. We all know that – especially as one ages – at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity is a must.
When I discussed this topic with my mother recently, she pointed out that, at 93 and 94 years old, my grandparents never exercised a day in their lives. She then cited examples of friends who, seemingly in good physical shape, “dropped dead” from heart attacks or contracted cancer and died. “So,” she concluded, “none of this exercise stuff really matters.” She may be right. Maybe I can remain a couch potato and live into my nineties. Maybe I’ll get into the best shape of my life and then get hit by a bus (God forbid!). Should I pick “Door A” or “Door B”?
How this happened to me is irrelevant. I’m tired of blaming or offering excuses. The pity-party has officially ended. I’ve cleaned out the pantry, the refrigerator, and the freezer. The house is officially a fat-free, low-cal, low-carb zone. Egg whites, cantaloupe, and Greek yogurt make regular breakfast appearances. Fish and turkey are the entrees of choice. Broccoli, green beans, and spinach have never tasted better. Nuts and berries are the between-meal snacks. The words “whole wheat” or “multi-grain” must precede any splurge on sandwich rounds or pasta. My two vices? The daily cappuccino and the weekend glasses of wine.
Oh yeah. Last week I started working out with a new trainer. I’ve now had four sessions with him and my body is in agony! Every inch of me hurts. And, it serves me right for letting myself get this way over the last eight years. My goals are to get back into skiing, scuba diving, hiking, being generally fit, and feeling good. I’m going to lose fifteen pounds, get a flat stomach back, and then get a boob job!!!
And, when my number’s up, hopefully I’ll look good too.