I'd like to share something that I wrote on April 29, 2012:
Why Lose Weight?
Why am I losing weight? It seems like an odd question to be asking myself three months into this gig but I read an article on another site that encouraged people to examine their motivations for losing weight. The article suggested that examining and understanding why you want to lose weight will help you be more successful throughout the process. The idea is that when you have those moments of depression, despair or angst which cause you to shout out, ďWHY AM I DOING THIS?Ē that having that answer written down can help you retain and/or regain focus.
Iíve come to realize that I signed up for WW out of fear. Sheer, gut-wrenching, primal fear. When I saw the scale in my doctorís office register 302 pounds, I panicked. I thought of my mother and how being morbidly obese for most of her life robbed her of quality of life. I thought about all the pain she suffered, all the surgeries, all the illnesses and all of the problems she had with her knees and how almost every single thing that was wrong with her was due to her weight. I thought about the end of her life, in a nursing home, unable to walk, in almost constant pain, without any meaningful means of escape or enjoyment, of how she turned so bitter due to the loss of her independence and ability to even use the toilet on her own. I thought of what a strong woman she had been, what a kind and loving mother, what a smart lady she was. But in the end, she was left with little but pain, the loss of any kind of independence and life-crushing weight.
For me, seeing that scale register 302 pounds slapped me upside the head with the realization that I was heading down the same path. While I am actually healthier than my mother was at age 48, I have realized that I am on borrowed time. I am much too young for my right knee to be as bad as it is. I was becoming increasingly sedentary and pain was becoming a specter that overshadowed everything. I was starting to have trouble doing routine, minor things. Even cleaning myself after using the restroom was becoming problematic. A year ago, I stopped shaving my legs because I was worried about falling in the tub and bending and stretching to shave was painful and difficult. The realization that routine hygiene was becoming increasingly difficult placed all kinds of alarm bells in my head that went off in a raucous cacophony the day I saw 302 pounds on a scale.
Shortly after I joined WW, my eldest sister slipped and fell in her tub. She broke her left shoulder and her left knee. She is also morbidly obese. Ironically, and I didnít realize it at the time, she fell on my motherís birthday. Her injuries are such that now, even three months later, she is confined to a wheel chair. She cannot sleep in a bed; she must sleep in a recliner. She is currently in an assisted care facility. Her shoulder is healing, albeit slowly. Her knee is, well, I canít use the kind of language here that I want to use to describe her knee. Iíll simply say that it must be replaced. But they canít replace her knee until her shoulder heals and she can use a walker. My sister has a very long, very tough row to hoe. She is 59 years old.
My sisterís fall augmented my fear with a grim determination. I will not end up like that. I will not! I hope.
Determination is all well and good but it isnít sufficient. Fear is neither well, nor good, and while it is a powerful motivator, I donít think that it is enough for long term success. Neither fear nor determination help me very much when Iím sobbing alone in the dark for my mother, for my sister and for me; for all that could have been, but wasnít. It doesnít help to ameliorate all the pain and waste and hour upon hour of joyless depression and exhausting anxiety. Fear and grim determination cannot be my touchstones for success.
So, what other reasons do I have to lose weight?
The facile answer for me is that Iím losing weight to get healthy. But what does that really mean? What defines a healthy person or a healthy lifestyle? I think the answers will vary from person to person. As I examine this thought, I realize that being healthy, at least for me, isnít just physical, itís also emotional. So now, I want to change my answer to Iím losing weight for better physical and emotional health. But what does that mean?
Well, Iím not sure I have all the answers right now. I may never have all the answers. But I do have some answers to the question ďWhy lose weight?Ē
- To slow down the degradation of my knees. There is no doubt that my right knee will have to be replaced, but maybe I can save my left knee.
- To make that eventual knee replacement less traumatic and decrease my recovery time.
- To increase my agility and my stamina.
- To reduce the risks of stroke or heart attack.
- To avoid diabetes.
- To have cholesterol and triglycerides in the normal range.
- To avoid high blood pressure.
- To improve the quality, and possibly, the quantity of my life.
- To learn new eating habits that will last a lifetime.
- To understand that while I need food to live, I donít have to live for food.
- To move from fear and grim determination to calm acceptance of a new lifestyle fueled by a cheerful determination and the enjoyment of each success, no matter how small.
Yes, there. Right there are motivations that I can live with. Right there are touchstones that I can reach for when Iím alone in the dark. Yes, right there. And, perhaps, I can add this one last thing. My success at losing weight would have made my mother very proud and happy. While I understand that I must do this for myself, the thought of her lovely smile can be my beacon in the dark.
: My sister has recovered better and faster than any of us expected. Her shoulder has healed and she has come through knee replacement surgery with flying colors. She is now at home and back to work part time.