Am I The Same Girl


My recovery is finally at a point where I’m sick and tired of being cooped up in the house. When I leave, it’s for physical therapy, or for brief trips out; at the moment, I feel caged up and I’m ready to fly the coop.

It’s got me thinking about the things I am looking forward to doing — not just because I’ve got a new knee that doesn’t limit me like the old one did (well, to a point, it still does; I’m not quite at 100%, yet), but because I put in the hard work to lose enough weight and get in good enough shape that I’m on the verge of being able to do a lot of things previously off limits. These are just a few of the things I’m looking forward to doing.

Top of Pinnacle Mountain — I’ve been there.

Hiking. A couple of my friends post photos of their hiking trips. Mountains, waterfalls, woodland trails. These are all things I absolutely loved doing, once upon a time before my body became my enemy. I long for the outdoors, being able to hike without limitation and thought.

Swimming. I grew up across the street from a lake and I spent the vast majority of my first 16 years of life on the lake. Any chance I could, I was was swimming, canoeing, sailing, and in the winter, ice skating. I must have been a fish in a former life; I live to be near water. My best vacations are waterfront somewhere. A gym I used to belong to had a pool, and it was a sad day when I realized that swimming was out; my goto swimming stroke is the breaststroke and the frog kick put sideways pressure on my knee to a point where it buckled.

There’s not much scarier than having to fight the natural reaction to a buckling knee: gasping. You don’t gasp when swimming — not without water in your lungs. For my own safety, I had to stop swimming laps. I hated that; it was like a piece of me, gone. There has always been something ethereal to me in the ability to slice through the water, suspended and floating. I imagine it’s much like flying.

Dancing. I can’t say I’ve ever been a good dancer, but who says you have to be good at something in order to enjoy it?

Thinking less. This is the big one. Until you’ve been physically limited, it’s hard to understand how much active thought goes into just existing. As an example, we were part of a group of friends who played bar trivia every week at a restaurant that set aside their bar area for trivia. It was popular, so unless we got there early, finding a place to sit could be a real challenge.

I hated going there because of the crowd. I felt claustrophobic there. I knew that once I was seated, I wouldn’t even be able to get up and use the restroom, because that would mean asking any number of people to move so I could get out of my seat — and then back to it. I honestly felt like I wouldn’t be able to get out in an emergency. I felt literally trapped.

My physical limitations — both my size and my knees — meant I was constantly having to think about things those without these issues likely rarely think about. Will that chair hold me? The hostess is sitting us in a booth — will I fit? Can I walk that far, and if I can’t, how can I break up the walk so I have a place to sit and rest?

This has been a constant and ongoing process for me, and although I was able to leave the size component behind, the physical limits caused by bad knees are about to be behind me. My right knee was in very bad shape; my left will also be replaced but isn’t as bad. My right one would randomly buckle, lock, or twinge so badly that I’d nearly fall in an attempt to get weight off of it. Not so with the other, and while I don’t know yet when it’ll be replaced, it’s not going to hold me back in the same way the right one did. (I’ll likely schedule the second surgery next Tuesday, at my one month follow-up.)

I am excited to test that out. We’re going camping in a little more than a week; while I’m still recovering and I know I’ll have to take it easy, it’s still going to be different for me. I can actually trust my knee, now, to not do stupid things when I put my weight on it. There’s huge power in just knowing that joint isn’t going to suddenly do something stupid. I can put one foot in front of the other, and unless I’m testing out some dorky dance moves, I should stay upright and moving forward like a normal person would.

Me? Normal? How cool is that?

This is what I wanted: living life with fewer limitations. There are always limitations for everyone, but if I can do something to improve, that’s what I want to do, because handicapping myself was the dumbest, most oppressive thing I ever did to myself.

I’m still that same girl. Just better.




I’m making large strides just about every single day, now — including a return to my normal way of eating.

That’s right. After being off plan for roughly a month, and enjoying it at points, I’ve come to accept that I don’t feel mentally comfortable or physically right when I eat things that differ from the way I’ve been eating for the past nearly five years.

I’ve felt this way for a while; when I’ve gone on vacation, I’ve allowed myself to change what I eat. Those seem to be the real tests; when I come home, will I keep eating in a way that’s detrimental to my body? That’s the time I’m most likely to go off a diet and not get back on.

May this bridge burning be permanent!

These days, I think differently. I may deviate for a bit for specific reasons, but my normal is the way I eat when I feel my best, and that’s the way I eat when I’m actively pursuing health goals. My body feels better. I drop water weight, which is always a relief. This week, five pounds of water have vacated the premises. I still have a way to go before being back at my low weight, but I already feel much better after just a few days of returning to my normal.

It’s a crucial difference from my previous 50+ years on this earth. I always saw diets as temporary things, as punishment in a way, as something to get through and then, of course, stop doing at some point. Mind you, as many of you know, I was quite successful on a previous attempt; but instead of keeping the goal of health in mind, I finally drifted off course and gradually regained all of my weight, including an additional 35 pounds or so.

Failing on purpose is never the answer to finding success. Sure, we all fail, and those failures have something to teach us; I am glad I learned from that experience, so it wasn’t wasted, but we should never choose to fail. I was entirely too hardheaded and unwilling to bend, so I kept trying the same things over and over. And in my mind, my way of eating and my physical exercises were merely a way to get to an end, and I convinced myself I’d eventually be able to stop doing what I was doing.

That’s really not how this works, but it took walking this journey to figure that out. It took truly accepting that my changes needed to be both sustainable and permanent. My old normal was always moving toward how I had been living before whatever diet I was on. My new normal is being in command of my body, being in control of how I feel. It’s not deprivation, which is how I viewed every single effort before this one; it’s the fulfillment of goals, it’s the reversal of damage, it’s the mindset of success.

Over the last few weeks of recovery after knee surgery, it’s been easy to get lost in the process; I’ve been in pain. I’ve been dealing with all the things people deal with after a major surgery. I didn’t concern myself so much with what I ate, especially since I was at the mercy of hospital dining options and then in consideration of what was easy for my husband to fix while I wasn’t able to be up and about. Working through this has reminded me of how important it is to me, both mentally and physically, to be in charge of how I fuel my body.

In a little more than a week, I’ll have my follow-up with my surgeon — and will likely set the date for replacing my other knee. I am proud to have made it this far, and to have tackled the first surgery with gusto; while there is still plenty of healing to do, I think the second surgery will be less of a catharsis, and I’ll be meeting it head-on and strong. I’ve made myself promises I plan on keeping.

I’m over the bridge and I get closer to where I want to be every single day. I work hard every day to burn that bridge and never cross back over it to the other side.


Two Steps Forward – One Step Back


Over the past week, my progress has accelerated somewhat — to a point where my physical therapist moved me from a walker to a cane, and the walker is being tucked away for my next knee surgery.

When you’re in recovery, it seems like the process moves in slow motion. While I saw a little improvement each day, I have spent an embarrassing amount of time over the last 17 days crying, in pain, arguing with myself about whether I’ve been lying to myself about my abilities. Beating myself up for not preparing better before surgery. Wondering if I’m really cut out for this.

Just keep moving forward.

Until this week, anyway. I knew I was making progress when my physical therapist kept trying me on new things to see how I’d do instead of repeating the same training over and over again. I’ve never been quite as happy to be able to step over a plastic cup by actually bending my knee enough to do it, rather than compensating in some way. It’s simple things, but they’re big, too.

Some might see this as a form of regression; I spent a long time using a cane before I could reliably and steadily walk around my neighborhood. And here I am, again, actually happy to be moved back to a cane. I know this time it won’t take me nearly as long to get my stability back, and once the pain from newness wears off my knee, I’ll be able to build back up to the amount of walking I was doing previously — and surpass it.

Likewise, I finally stepped on a scale and I know how much weight I’ve gained. Yes, it’s a setback. No, I’m not thrilled that I’ve put on a few pounds. The good news is that instead of letting the old voices that used to screw with my head convince me that I should just keep eating and ignore weight gain, to my detriment, I know with certainty that I’m in control. I didn’t come this far, after all, to let recovery defeat me.

A lot has changed in 17 days; even more will change in the weeks to come as I learn, train, and test myself on the way back to where I was before I started this process. I know some finding it frustrating to make progress and take steps backward, but I see this as a necessary part of moving forward; even losing one step for every two taken is moving forward.


Baby I Kneed Your Lovin’


One of my knees is 56 years old, and the other is 11 days old.

The last week has been devoted to my nifty new body part, basically giving it an introduction to life at La Casa by punishing it into submission. Its first days of life have been spent being strapped into an apparatus that automatically bends it 6 hours a day, taking it for walks — whether it likes them or not, forcing it to bend more and more in routine sessions, and taking it to visit to people who specialize in making it do things it doesn’t presently feel all that cheerful about doing.

I want my new knee to know this isn’t typical life around these parts. There’s about a week and a half more to go of the bendy thing and the ankle stranglers will be cleaned and relegated to a box early next week, waiting for the next time. After that, we’ll settle into a normal lifetime of exercising, walking, occasionally visiting Those Who Bend and Straighten, as well as letting my brain do other things than calculate how much time I’ve got left to be strapped into the bendy thing before I can chill out with the ice packs. (CPM machines are marvels of therapy, but they aren’t much fun.)

Not my knees, but I don’t take any bologna.

I’ve come to have a nearly zen relationship with ice packs. There is nothing more comforting on my baby knee than to be wrapped in something cold after being subjected to exercise bikes, leg lifts, calve raises, hamstring stretches. It’s the equivalent of a cold beer on a really hot day.

In the opposite direction, my baby knee has introduced me to the wonderful world of People Giving Us Food, which is awesome, but somewhat unkind to the scale. It’s been hard to wrap my mind around that my body currently needs more nourishment than it usually requires, thanks to baby knee; hubby lost weight after his second surgery. I have not done the same. Far from it. But next Monday comes a marking point: as my baby knee and I make the transition in the third week of recovery, I’ll be returning to my normal way of eating.

I have absolutely adored and appreciated the kindness of others, but my hips have been enjoying it far too much, so the shift back to sane eating is now in countdown mode. Goodbye, cruel carbs!

After that? Perhaps a normal life for a bit, working at losing the weight that’s come to revisit in recent weeks, all in prep for introducing another baby knee to the world. But that one ought to be a bit easier.

I Hope You Dance


It’s no secret, by now, that my weight loss has been at a plateau for a good six months. And six months can seem like an eternity.

I know there are likely a certain number of my readers that aren’t interested in my blogs unless I’m talking specifically about having lost more weight; everyone loves a success story. We’re drawn to them like moths to light. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t publicly post photos of my progress; on the Internet, there are plenty who would steal progress photos to misrepresent a product or diet. There are even more who would take the opportunity to use a photo of an obese woman to scorn or mock.

(Don’t worry. When I feel I am at a point in my journey where it’s appropriate, I’ll post more than headshots.)

There’s also a certain number of folks who think that if you’re on a weight loss journey and your loss isn’t at a constant, you’re a failure. And frankly, while waltzing across a six-month plateau, I get the niggling feeling at times that I may not be able to progress past where I am at this moment.

Most of actual steps, not stunt steps.

Sure, that concerns me, but not enough to throw my hands up in the air and just say screw it and go back to my old habits. Every day is a choice, and choosing to willingly go backward is the wrong choice. Instead, I’m learning more about my body, with the determination to continue moving forward.

In my journey, weight loss is only part of the story, not the whole story. A journey toward better health must be comprehensive; sure, I’d love to look great in a dress, but more importantly, I want to feel good, move with confidence, improve my lifestyle, discover new capabilities, and live life to my fullest. It’s easy to let the scale be the only focus, at times; and while it’s important to include that as one of the indicators of moving in the right direction, it is, by far, not the most important.

This weekend, I’m on an annual writer’s retreat with a dear friend. (*waves to dear friend!*) The cabin we stay in every year is at the bottom of a hill, directly on the lake; the porch is on stilts over the water. Both of us have to carry our things down a long series of steps to get to the cabin.

The first year I came here, I really struggled with those steps. It took me forever to go up and down them. Imagine carrying a couple bags of concrete, and that’s what I felt like — without even carrying my things. Moving forward a couple years to last year, I was extremely proud of the progress I’d made in handling those steps.

And then there’s this year. Last week, I injured my knee, and it took the better part of a week for it to return to a normal enough state for me to feel confident enough to take the steps. My friend even offered (okay, insisted) that she carry my things down for me; she’s much more fit than I am. But I beat her to the cabin, and I decided I’d give the steps a try.

Mind you, because of variances in my weight at the moment, I’m roughly 15 pounds less in weight than I was this time last year.  (I’ve weighed less.) But I’ve been walking, and I really hadn’t realized how much of a difference that made until I took the steps. Down with a load; no problems. Up, towing an empty cooler on wheels (hey, yes, I cheated a bit, thanks to my hubby for the tip), no problems; just perhaps a 30 second catch-my-breath moment halfway up to the parking lot. Second trip down, no big deal. Trip back up with my friend to go to dinner later? All the way to the top with no stops, somewhat out of breath.

Last year, it took me the better part of an hour to fetch everything, including breaks to rest. I didn’t need to do that this time, and I also took fewer trips. I certainly wasn’t Rocky Balboa running the streets of Philly (I hope I have that movie reference right!), but my fitness level this year far exceeds even last year. And that matters — a lot.

I still harbor thoughts of taking myself out of things because of perceived discomfort or the possibility of not being able to do something, but I’m more of a risk taker these days. These may be small risks in the light of what normal people do on a daily basis, but the more I do them, the more they become my normal. It is, as they say in the diet world, a huge non-scale victory (NSV).

As a follow-up to last week, I’m happy to report that I’m moving forward with plans to increase my ability to walk. I’m breaking in a new brace that will hopefully extend my abilities while stabilizing my knee in the interim between now and surgery. While I’m not crazy about having to use another brace, since this is my third one, I’m willing to do what it takes to get me further to my goals.

I’m not gonna sit it out. I’m gonna dance.


I Did It


This isn’t one of my normal blog entries; it’s more about getting caught up.

Last week, I didn’t write a blog — not because I fell off the wagon or neglected it, but rather because the laptop I took camping with me decided it also needed a few days off and malfunctioned on me. It’s back up and running a bit better after some work on it today, so I’m going to slog through a quick recap in anticipation of this next blog, as well.

That was a MUCH smaller creek when we set up camp.

So — no cool pics, no music video… just me. (Okay, maybe one pic.)

We went camping last weekend; part just pleasure, part because of an annual event where some of the party goers camp. It’s always a lot of fun and I was looking forward to it, but honestly, lots of stuff just didn’t go my way.

For one thing, it rained like crazy. For another, the campground had us in a campsite next to a creek… and heavy rains with creeks? Well, you can see the picture, here. (Literally. See right.) The waters rose nearly to our campsite. It was muddy as heck. We couldn’t cook outdoors. And the bugs were partying more than we ever thought about — mostly in my eyes, nose, and ears.

At least there wasn’t damage done, other than just a lot of exhausting activity. I met my step goals every day and then some, and the weather complications certainly added to the workload — much more to clean, keep dry, mitigate. Needless to say, by the time we got home, all I wanted was a hot shower and a three-day nap.

Not that I got it. The day after we came back, I washed several loads of clothes, we opened the camper back up so it could dry out a bit, ran errands, took my mother to an appointment, and yes, packed for the next road trip. We leave tomorrow morning, heading to visit my daughter and her husband, a dear friend, and then on Saturday, a full day of tailgating and then see Jimmy Buffett and ZZ Top in concert.

In other words, the pace certainly isn’t letting up, and Saturday will be one tremendously long day — followed by a day of travel on Sunday. I’m making the prediction, now, that Saturday will be the most steps I’ve accounted for yet on this journey.

And while all this has certainly been trying, it’s also a victory on a lot of levels. While all this activity is exhausting, the real miracle here is that I’m able to do it at all; I couldn’t, even last year. Just walking from the campsite to the closest bathroom was beyond my abilities, and this past camping trip, I walked twice as far in each direction without issue. I carried things, cleaned, cooked, put up camp, took down camp, cussed the rain, cussed the bugs even more, but I did it.

I did it.

I also never would have even considered a tailgate in a field for an entire day and then heading for a big concert in a stadium. The thing is, right now, I know I can do it. I can make it through the day and the concert, even though I’m sure I’ll sleep like a rock afterward.

So there you have two weeks’ worth of blogging rolled into one entry. While I’m up in weight from camping and traveling, my ability to walk and to just do has surprised me once again, and this is pretty exciting and satisfying stuff.

It’s About Time


Since I’m a matter of 1.8 pounds away from 150 pounds as of this morning (148.2 pounds down!), I’ve been thinking about the things that got me here.

Things I’ve learned this time over the last time I lost 140 pounds:

Slower is better for me.

When I lost 140 pounds, before, I lost it relatively fast; the majority of my weight was gone in a year, before it really slowed down, and it took about 18 months total to level out at 140 and stay there for a couple of years. After that couple of years maintenance, it creeped back on pretty quickly. I had a heck of a time keeping my weight within an acceptable range.

My brain really never truly and fully accepted my body’s changes, and because of that, I sabotaged myself without really realizing I was doing it.

I felt like a fraud most of the time — a fat person trying to pass herself off as some closing in on a normal weight. I couldn’t accept that I really was that person that was just overweight instead of morbidly obese. I felt like I had to constantly prove myself; if the scale wasn’t moving, I needed to do adverse things to get it to move. And, wouldn’t you know it, I plateaued and stayed at one point for the better part of two years, and then crashed and burned.

I thought about everything I ate during that time when I was actively losing and when I plateaued — and I still do, but it’s from an entirely different perspective, now. I have a much better idea where my food triggers are, what the consequences will be if I choose to eat something that’s a trigger, where my zones are for losing, and how my body works.

148 pounds of lap dog. Who’s a good boy?!

Before, I convinced myself I could eat more because of the amount of exercise I did; for me, that wasn’t possible, because my metabolism doesn’t forgive calories that way. I overate on protein, thinking I was burning it all up. Not so — the body can and will store overages of protein the same way it stores overages of anything else.

I was also stubborn about things. My brain stubbornly refused to let go of the notion that I should review what I was doing and change my tactics. Instead, I kept spinning my wheels and digging myself into a rut.

Taking weight loss slower has allowed my thinking to evolve along with my body. I’m more willing to try different things to see how they work. I’m more educated on the workings of my own body’s reactions and changes, even though I’m still occasionally surprised. While I still have my fat-brain days, I have a truer idea of both my current abilities and my capabilities.

Letting go of being inflexible has helped immensely.


You can’t exercise yourself thin.

Now, before anyone disagrees with me on this, I do believe that exercise plays a crucial role in overall health. Two people of the same weight look vastly different if one is a couch potato and the other works out on a regular basis; muscle takes up less room than fat, so the more muscular of those two people will appear slimmer. Muscle is also metabolically active, which is a great thing for anyone wanting to manage their weight.

That said, there are a lot of fallacies out there regarding exercise, especially with the advent of shows like The Biggest Loser, which I watched for a couple of seasons, and then stopped because it angered me. I felt it perpetuated the idea that if fat people would only make some effort and stop eating, they’d drop all their weight. That’s only partially true.

On that 140 pound loss, I started early on by walking and adding to the length over time. I started adding strength workouts, and that was good, too. Eventually, I peaked, but kept pushing past that peak to the point where I injured myself, and constantly felt bad. The effort I made didn’t give me results even close to that effort. I over-exercised to the point of exhaustion, as if I were training for some big competition. I spent 90% of the time feeling sore and longing for recovery weeks.

I sacrificed far too much in the hopes that I’d increase my metabolism and lose weight, and ended up doing it entirely wrong — for me.

This time around, I only recently started walking, again — not because I didn’t think it was necessary, but because I needed to lose enough weight to make walking comfortably possible, again. I add a little bit at a time. I can feel myself getting stronger, and I would only call this light to moderate exercise. For me, though, I’ve been able to lose all the weight I did originally without exercise.

Sure, I’m larger right now than back then at the same weight. I’m well aware that I’d look tjommer and be stronger if I were still strength building, but back then, I believed that was the only way for me to maintain my weight — and I’m learning that’s not true at all.

My goals are to increase over time to moderate exercise; enough to generate health benefits without making me long for recovery weeks.

You can certainly change how your body looks with exercise, and I recommend it; but inevitably, it’s what you put in your mouth that makes the biggest difference, and there has to be a happy medium so that my lifestyle is one I enjoy, not dread.


I have nothing to prove.

During that first 140 pound loss, I felt like I had to prove myself. I’m sure a lot of overweight people feel this way, especially if they are obese, because they’ve endured a lifetime of both overt and covert judging regarding the extra weight they carry. When they make the effort to lose weight, they may be afraid to say anything, because others will then think “finally! It’s about time!”

If they fail, then, they feel exposed.

I drew a lot of attention when I lost 140 pounds. People didn’t recognize me because the weight dropped so fast. They were excited for me, but then I’d be asked for constant updates, and the pressure was on. If I couldn’t produce results, I felt like a failure — when what I was really doing was setting myself up for failure. And, of course, I failed. Big surprise, eh?

Big surprise, eh?

This time around, the changes have been slow and I’ve adapted better. I have nothing to prove, except to myself. If people think I should be losing weight faster or doing something differently than what I am, that’s on them, not me. I will get to my goals in my own time, and no one else’s. My accomplishments are for me, not to impress anyone else.

I created this blog to be accountable — both to myself and to those I value, because I’m really good at not being truthful with myself. Knowing the level of transparency expected of me keeps me honest. I admit that I often feel like I’m disappointing folks on the many weeks I don’t report a loss, but that’s my journey; how boring would this be, if I blogged about losing exactly two pounds every week?

As it is, my average loss per week is .75 pounds — that’s an average, and if you’ve been around a while, you know there are plenty of weeks that go by with no loss at all. It’s not a constant. That can be aggravating at times, but being persistent pays off.


The road to success looks more like a drunk on a mule charted it than a nice, flat highway.
My first big weight loss was pretty predictable for the first 100 pounds or so. I dropped weight in steps; I wouldn’t lose anything for three weeks, and then the week before my period, I’d drop 10-15 pounds. Every month. My weight loss graph looked like a staircase.

This time around, I was more than a decade older, past menopause, with other health complications that were finally being treated, but treatment doesn’t mean it’s suddenly easy to lose weight. My weight loss graph looks more like a tilted EKG, these days. I’ll drift up and then down, flat-line (OMG!), and drop again. It jumps around quite a bit and there’s no predictable indicator of anything, really. Trends, perhaps, but nothing I can look at and predict my loss down the road.

It’s taught me patience that I didn’t have before. It’s taught me to look at indicators other than weight loss for signs of success. I know how my clothes fit, for instance, and the variations are easier to tell the more weight I lose.


I should live more in the moment.

Losing the bulk of 140 pounds in a year meant I basically lived in thrift shop clothes so I wouldn’t go broke. Seldom did I find something I just absolutely adored, though. So when I kept smaller clothes and have found myself working my way down through them, now, some of them have been donated before I ever got back into them.

Why? Well, for one thing, they’re a decade or older, and some were just too far out of style to bother, even if I’m not a fashion plate. For another, I want to treat myself better and enjoy every moment, which means I want to like what I wear, what I do, how I spend my time.

I spent far too much time, back then, living a life that would get me to an eventual goal instead of living a life I actually fully enjoyed. I made do, I got by, I did things to move me forward — all well and good, but I denied myself the pure enjoyment of just living.

This journey has been about learning to change while creating a new lifestyle that’s not only manageable but rewarding, as well. I used to live thinking about the future; when I get down to size 10, when I’m thin enough, when I lose enough weight… all those were some distant goal and anything short of that goal was just along the way. Now, I take joy and where I am at this moment, and only a small portion of my day is given over to weight loss; it doesn’t define me the way it once did.

Living in the moment means I can find joy in the things I give my time to, whether it’s just day to day activities, giving myself over to my music, my work, or getting out and having fun. I don’t torture and punish myself in the name of weight loss. And most of all, I do not deprive myself of the things I love and enjoy.


I’m but a few pounds away from 150 pounds down. I initially plotted to lose 200 pounds, and then evaluate at that point where my health is. Here I am, nearly 3/4th of the way there — and while I know there are those that think a nearly four year long weight loss effort seems like a long time to endure, I actually am stunned to be at this point, with the reality that not only have I been successful, but that next 50 pounds is fully and completely in my power to reach.


I’m Still Standing

I haven’t lost weight in the last month or so — I’m still just above my low — but something different is going on.

I’m getting muscle tone back. The more I walk, the more confident I feel; the muscles in my legs and core are getting stronger. I am more sure-footed. And while I may not be losing weight, I’m losing inches; more clothes are going in the sell/donate pile, and I am right on the verge of dropping out of wearing plus-size clothing. Well — from the waist up, anyway, and a girl’s got to start somewhere!

No jumping to conclusions, people!

I really noticed this last week, when I took my mother to an annual appointment that happens to be in a small nearby hospital. I’ve had to cop out of walking in with her, before, because I felt the walk was too far for me. I felt absolutely horrible once because she fell in the hallway after leaving her appointment; she hit her head and ended up in the emergency room. I should have been there to keep her from falling.

This time, I walked back with her, and then she told me she forgot something in the car, so I trotted out to the parking lot and back, and then walked her to the appointment location, further in the hospital. She seemed a bit off-balance, but to me, the walk was no longer a big deal at all. My walking abilities used to be close to what she is, now, and she’s nearly 30 years my senior.

I joked with someone, recently, when they said they were growing old; I said I’m aging in reverse — I’m getting younger! Instead of my abilities leaving me, they’re coming back. Because I can go out and do more things, I find myself wanting to get out and do more things. And why not enjoy these new-to-me-once-again times?

Yesterday morning, I took my mother on a “field trip” to a local state park. She loves the outdoors even more than I do, and we had a great time; I packed a lunch, and we meandered around a bit. We sat lakeside and enjoyed the breeze on our faces, and I checked out a campsite we plan on camping at in the near future. Later yesterday evening, I wore a new top, and met my friends for dinner, wearing wedge heels that I bought last year but still felt too unstable to wear. I couldn’t walk down the hallway in them, then. Now? They’re comfy and easy!

This comes down to appreciating these changes; why sit inside on a beautiful day, if I don’t have to? Why merely choose to exist, when I can do so much more? At this point, my health starts to self-perpetuate: the more I do, the more I want to do, and nothing is going to stop me, now.




Despite having been on this journey for three and a half years, my body is still surprising me.

At this moment, my surprises are my physical changes, specifically from exercise. A few months ago, I started wearing an old FitBit, just so I’d have a more accurate way to count steps than using my phone. Since that time, I’ve gradually increased my step goals from around 500 a day to 4,000 – and I’m meeting those goals. At the end of each week, I listen to my body; sometimes I increase that goal, and sometimes I stay put until I’m more consistent.

I wish I’d thought of that!

I’ve been paying attention and listening to my body all along, but physical activity and exercise is a different kind of listening. I often check myself, because I worry that I’m being too easy on myself — but my instincts say that this is the right way. I remember putting 4,000 steps on one day early in the process and my knees hurt badly the next day. Now, 4,000 steps is a pleasant challenge; not entirely easy, but not simple, either. Considering that not so long ago, I struggled to walk even around my own home without the use of a cane, this is fantastic!

My muscles are getting stronger. Walking helps more than just my knees and my legs; it’s helping my balance, my endurance, even my breathing. Getting out and about throughout the day also has helped my mental attitude, getting away from whatever I’m working on at the moment, often taking my dog along. There are just no negatives right now, although I’ll admit that on our recent rainy days, I have tended to get my steps in inside a store or community center. Sometimes that’s not the best thing for my budget. 😉

Simply put, I feel stronger, overall, since I started walking. It’s also another freeing move for me. I can’t tell you how many places I’ve wanted to go that I’ve reconsidered because of mobility issues; while I’m not going to go walk a marathon any time soon, I certainly don’t have the concerns about getting around that I used to.

My goal is to reach 10,000 steps a day. I don’t know when I’ll reach that point, but there’s not a rush; I’ll get there and I know it’ll happen.

Many programs recommend 10,000 steps a day for losing weight. I’m going to make this clear right now — that’s not why I’m doing it. Sure, my end goal is to lose weight, but that’s just part of the overall picture; the ultimate goal is to be healthy, and cardiovascular and muscular health are huge parts of that. Being mobile, having the ability to do all the things I want to do, and knowing my health is improving — that’s what I’m after.

It’s also a relief. When I walked for exercise years ago, I had time/distance targets and I always walked to music. That’s not a bad thing to do, but I always felt compelled to do it, rather than wanting to just get out and enjoy myself as I walked. Now I walk without distractions, and I take in everything around me, whether it’s on a park trail or in my neighborhood. I think about how my body feels, and it feels good to do these things, rather than a chore.

This is a long-term change that can only benefit me as I continue to lose weight and work toward the eventual likelihood of knee replacement surgery; the stronger my legs are, the easier my recovery will be. And afterward? I just might work up to walking a lot farther than I ever have.

I tried incorporating walking into my schedule last year, and it just didn’t click for me; now it has, and I’m very glad.

So, if you don’t mind, it’s time I got off here and got some steps in.


Shape of You


These days, I get constant reminders of just how far I’ve come since the beginning of this journey, and how much has changed in my day to day life.

Most of the squirrels in my back yard look like this, and I never feed them.

In September of 2013, my first month on this particular effort, I made notes about changes in my condition. Here are a few highlights:

  • My highest weight during the month was my starting weight of 371. My lowest weight during the month was 354.8 pounds, for a total loss of 16.2 pounds.
  • IBS symptoms are decreasing from daily occurrences to 1-2 times a week.
  • I feel as if I’m able to get up off my love seat without as much effort.
  • On the whole, I am sleeping better, with wakefulness in the wee hours of the morning only occurring 1-2 times a week, as opposed to being almost daily.
  • I still experience knee pain, back discomfort when standing, as well as pulling on lower back and upper thighs when standing; probably because my fat distribution causes me to stoop somewhat to counterbalance.
  • To help myself mentally, I chose 50 pound increments. I am 34 pounds away from the first goal.
  • I have a lot of support at the moment, and I hope this continues.
  • I am still anxious about being in situations where I must stand or walk. I am unsure of footing and fear falling.
  • I have to remember to be more patient with my current status instead of wanting everything right at this moment.
  • Accomplishments: I’m not sure what to include, here at this time, other than staying the course for the month. I achieved my goals of starting off right, which I think has helped me through some times of doubt. Instead of starting halfheartedly, I weighed, I measured, I took photos, I took video, I enlisted support.
  • My biggest challenge is mobility; standing, walking, endurance. These are structural as well as distribution issues; structural in that my knees are in bad shape (level 4 osteoarthritis). This will continue to improve as I lose weight.

Last night, I had a meeting in the downtown area in a larger city I live close to; just the simple act of finding a place to park and walking down the street to my destination, and then getting down the stairs, would have been close to impossible for me. These days, the only part of that journey that bothers me is the stairs; I can make it up and down them, but it takes me a while because of the condition of my knees. That will continue to improve.

I don’t wake up in pain every morning. Most days are pretty good, actually, and I no longer fear standing or walking. Standing for longer amounts of time, especially on concrete, still bothers me — but not like it did, before. As for walking? I’ve been making the effort to increase my walking, bit by bit, and now, shopping or walking in downtown areas doesn’t bother me. In fact, I rather enjoy strolling through my neighborhood on a daily basis. My goal is 10K steps a day; I’m currently at 3750, and add a little more each week.

I still fear falling, but my gait is strong and getting stronger.

It’s a heck of a lot easier to find clothes that fit, and they don’t all look like they were made for dowdy old women. I have a waist, again, and by golly, I’m discovering I have shoulder blades!

Heels! Granted, I don’t wear ankle breakers, but I can get around in moderate heels. This was impossible except for the very shortest of walks back then. I’ve got a pair of wedge sandals that I bought last year, and I’m looking forward to wearing them this year.

We’re going camping in a few days, and I know things will be a lot easier for me, even compared to just last summer, especially since I’m setting daily step goals and routinely achieving them.

I breathe easier and better. IBS issues all but disappeared in my second month and rarely reappear.

I still set my ticker goals in 50 pound increments. In just 6 pounds, I get to reset it for a goal of 200 pounds lost. Incredible!

While I still experience knee pain, it’s a lot more manageable and isn’t debilitating; before, it was a handicapping condition. While I still don’t walk with as much freedom as other people my size and age, I’m much more in the normal range instead of needing reassurance that I’ll have places to take rests and relieve knee pain if I need to go anywhere.

I still have tons of support — thank you!

I can still be impatient, but I’ve learned so much over the last 3 1/2 years about the importance of getting my head straight. A prime example: I’ve had a really good recent run of weight loss, reporting losses every week for probably 5-6 weeks, but not this week. Before, I would have been bothered by it but unwilling to look at the reasons that might happen. This time, I understand; I ate too much this week, plain and simple, and sometimes my body isn’t in losing mode for reasons that don’t always make sense, so I take those times, do the best I can, and move on.

I’ve given myself another chance at living instead of just existing, and I’m enjoying the heck out of it. This is the biggest and best gift I could have ever given myself, and it’s not just my shape that’s changing.