Five years ago my mother had surgery in early August for something called spinal stenosis. It can cause pinched nerves and pain in legs and back. It is often caused by osteoarthritis. There is no “cure” other than surgery when it progresses too far, but there are things you can to do help reduce the severity. Weight loss and exercise are the two things that work best. This was her third surgery for this condition and her doctors advised against the surgery since she also had adult onset diabetes and emphysema. On September 18, after 6 weeks in the hospital, she passed away from complications and pneumonia. She was 71 years old.
I realized I was going down the same path and that unless I made some drastic changes in my life, I would face the same issues. Like my mother, I had smoked for a number of years, but I had already stopped smoking before my mother passed. She had emphysema and COPD. She was extremely overweight; so was I. At 5’1″, I weighed almost 300 pounds. She had high blood pressure; so did I. She had diabetes. I had been diagnosed with “pre-diabetes.” I was taking medication and checking my blood sugar daily. She had osteoarthritis; so did I. The doctors had recommended exercise and weight loss for many years. She didn’t listen.
I knew I wanted something more for my life. I wanted to be able to enjoy life to the fullest. I didn’t want to be confined to a walker, be in pain, live on boxes on pills, and be limited to sitting at home. It took me several months to make a decision and start to make changes in my life. After getting off to a good start, my best friend died after gastric bypass surgery. It was a major setback in my attempt at healthy living. However, good friends, family, and a wonderful therapist help me get back on track.
I have shared the ups and downs of this journey in my blog posts. You can read some of them on the Weight Loss and Healthy Living page. I finally hit “onederland” last year. I am off the diabetes medication and have normal blood sugar now. My blood pressure medicine was cut in half. I hit a plateau after that and weight loss was very slow. After a bout with the flu in Dec. last year, I was sick with bronchitis for several months until I was hospitalized in May for pneumonia. Lack of exercise, poor eating habits, and months of steroids accounted for gaining 20 pounds.
Early in June this year, I was convinced to join “The Biggest Loser” contest at a local gym. It was a 9 week competition that included training classes each week. I wasn’t sure about doing it, but decided to give it a try. A little exercise never hurt anyone and it might help me get my strength back.
Now, please understand that I have belonged to gyms before and during this weight loss journey I have exercised quite a bit, however, I have never exercised like this before. I have learned about planks, wall squats, mountain climbers, burpees, Russian twists, curtsy lunges and more. I have pulled tires around parking lots and even lifted a monster sized tire with my group while my very
insane brave trainer stood in the middle.
Last week I decided to get really brave and do a parking garage workout. I wasn’t really sure what it entailed and honestly, I was a bit scared. The parking garage workout included r
During this time, I also counted calories to include carbs, protein, and sodium. I will admit that I went under my calorie count for a couple of weeks and my trainers help me understand the need for proper nutrition and calories, etc.
Even with all of this, I only lost about 11 pounds during this 9 weeks. I know and appreciate that any weight loss is great, but I was disappointed with my numbers. I did lose inches and I am now able to fit into the new pants I bought at the end of season last year. I am going to keep following my weight loss program and exercise classes. I have a weight loss goal and I intend to reach it.
I “gained” a lot during this 9 weeks. I was challenged physically in ways I never imagined possible. I came home from class so sore I could hardly walk up the stairs. Yet, the pride in what I was able to do far outweighed any physical pain. I met some amazing people in my classes who are supportive and encourage each other. My trainers Jamie and Nicole have pushed me to do the things they believed I could do and adapted exercises when my injuries/knee issues prevented me from doing something. I learned that I can live without stuffing my emotions and fears with fattening, comfort foods. I discovered that apples, bananas, berries, and grapes are pretty sweet without added sugar! (I still won’t eat peas or broccoli!)
Most of all, I learned that being healthy is more than just losing pounds. It is about living in a body that works at its optimum condition. It is about believing in yourself and pushing yourself to do the best you can. I am learning that I am more than my body. I may not have won the “biggest loser” contest, but that’s OK. This is one time that “gaining” was a good thing.