Are you ready for this?
There was something about becoming 50, half a hundred, nearly old that made me stop and take stock of what I was doing with this life that is, it is terrifying to say, more over than begun.
I moved to this house with it's beautiful view, with the river just outside the back door and every night, when everyone else was asleep, I would stand at the back door and look out and breathe. I love the view from my house, I love my garden, I love how clean the air is and how fresh the world looks.
At night time, the lights on the water have a gloriously calming effect and as I stood, one night, I couldn't help thinking that out there is so much beauty, so much to see and do and here I was, hiding. I hide behind my fat, my fears, my misery. I hide behind excuses and depression and day after day, week after week and year after year I have watched life pass me by.
I have 6 children, 2 grandchildren, so many friends and chances to enjoy what life has to offer and here I was, just here, hiding.
So, at the start of the year, when everyone was thinking about new years resolutions, I was feeling as though I couldn't start another year, I was sure I couldn't finish another year and I felt hopeless, completely and utterly hopeless.
I felt at a crossroad and that somehow I had to make a choice, so I did. I decided that I would go to the doctor with an open mind and tell her just how things were. Physically I was old, so tired, pain filled, every joint hurt, I was slow, everything about me was shut down. I don't think I have ever been as low as I was at the start of this year.
So I went to the Dr and I told her that I was afraid by the way I felt, that I was sure that I was physically as well as mentally ill and didn't know how I could keep on keeping on.
I was fatter and heavier than I have ever been, less confident than ever and I hurt.
I had an X ray and discovered I had cervical spon.dylitis and that's why I had pins and needles in my hands, why my arms were numb and why my shoulders hurt so much.
When I went to discuss the results with the Dr she spoke about physiotherapy and pain killers and then whispered something about a referral for exercise and then quickly started talking about something else. I stopped her and asked what the referral for exercise was and she told me in a somewhat dismissive way that it was a prescription of sorts for time at the gym, a personal trainer who would work out a programme of exercises suited to me.
I looked at her and said ( guided by some insane inner voice, confirming that the mental health issues were perhaps worse than even I knew) " Let me have that"
LET ME HAVE THAT! I did, I said that, my lips moved and everything.
So she did, she gave me a sheet of paper that I was to take to the gym, give to the trainer and she would get me moving. The paper had some boxes to tick and the Dr ticked a box that said " High impact" HA! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!
Oh my hell.
What had I done?
I felt pretty sure that if the shame didn't kill me, the exercise would, my blood pressure was 169 / 111, my blood tests for cholesterol were actually great, impressive even, the tests for sugar levels were OK but more in depth testing showed that diabetes was not too far away in my future. My weight was morbidly obese and my BMI was 46. This so wasn't going to be pretty.
I put it off for a week or three but I was determined to do this.
I was also referred for Cognitive behavioural therapy and I decided that I would go for that too. Mind and body, double whammy.
I went for the induction at the gym and was weighed and measured, BP taken and BMI noted. Steph showed me the machines and worked out a plan for me and I was to go twice a week and work that plan both times.
I did as I was told and every time I came home I was shaking, head to toe shakes and I would eat a quick lunch and sleep.
I started off doing 2-3 minutes on the stationary bike, the treadmill and I would try the Elliptical ( Cross trainer) but that thing almost gave me a stroke, I just couldn't do more than 90 seconds before getting the most excruciating pain across the left side of my head and neck. So I gave up, I concentrated more on the stationary, recumbent bike and rather proud of myself would do up to 8 minutes at a time!
At the end of the 6 weeks I had lost a stone ( 14 lbs) 4 inches of my waist and reduced my BMI to 43.
I had reached a point where I liked the feeling I had when I left the gym, I went to all 12 sessions booked on the referral plan and I knew that in order to keep losing weight ( having changed the way I eat, stopped eating rubbish and cut out diet coke and drinking more water) I would have to keep going to the gym. I realised that I had not taken any pain killers for my joints or neck for the last 3 weeks or so and that my hands and arms were less numb.
Today, 14 weeks after starting at the gym, I have lost 36 lbs, 7 inches off my waist, my BMI is now 40, I am classed as obese ( see ya 'Morbidly' don't come back, ever.) and my BP was 139 / 84.
I can now do 30 minutes YES THIRTY MINUTES, Half an hour on that bloody Elliptical machine, at an average speed of 9.4 kmph.
This is me, a new me, a me that is proud of the choices I have made this year and stuck with them. This is a me that can look out the back door and see that rather glorious world and know I can be in it and enjoy it. A me that knows I am doing everything I can to get better, to feel better and do better.
I like going to the gym, I like walking in and feel excited when I set goals and achieve them. I like not stopping when it hurts, I love that I keep going when I really, really want to stop and every time I see the numbers on the scale go down I rejoice and feel so thrilled, I can't wait to try harder to move it down some more.
THIS IS ME!
I am quietly confident that I can do this, that I can escape from the misery I have been hiding behind. I have never stuck with any kind of healthy living plan for this long before and never, ever have I exercised. I have hated any kind of exercise for as long as I can remember. I used to run cross country for a while in my 20s and I went to the gym when I was married to the first one, I loved that and then I conceived Sophie and that was that.
I really love the weight lifting at the gym but have cut right back on that part because I stopped losing weight, I am still far too big to turn that fat into muscle! I have incredibly impressive biceps under the fluff and as much as I enjoy all that huffing and puffing and ripping of muscles, I am not ready to look like a Russian shot putter! So I do that maybe twice a week and the fat burning, sweat making gym work 4-5 times a week. I also bought an ab lounge ultra sport sit up chair.
Oh my good heavens, it doesn't feel like it is doing anything, so you keep doing it and then a few hours later, you realise you were working those abdominal muscles and maybe it would have been wiser to pace yourself and slow down a bit!
I think it will take me a while to believe I am losing weight and changing how I look and feel. I still look at clothes in the size I was, I still feel that shame and desire to hide away but I going through the motions, I am behaving as though I don't feel that way in the hope that habit will become reality, that one day I will feel as confident as I may appear.
I like not feeling helpless, in fact I love it. I love waking up and thinking of small things I can do that I can I couldn't do last week, or even yesterday.
I am finding the strength to be me. Hope is a glorious thing.