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Lifting Weight

September 10, 2010 Leave a comment

CloudsMy mom tells the story of how her commitment to a particular weight-loss program helped pull her out of the depths of depression. What I love about her story is that there are universal lessons that we can take from the choices she made…

  • In honoring her long held values of Order and Practice, she created structures that moved her beyond the temporarily uplifting ideas of her grief counselor to real, sustainable change.
  • She shifted her perspective on her health and appearance from “why bother?” to the “childlike pleasure” of conquering incremental, attainable goals.
  • By choosing change in one important dimension, her weight, she catalyzed movement across all the interconnected aspects of her life—her creativity, her physical environment, her connection to nature. And she’s open to additional change.

As you read her story, ask yourself, “What values do I need to honor in designing a change plan that works for me?”

Lifting Weight
by Audrey Fleming

I could never have imagined that the thing that got me out of bed in the morning was the step onto a bathroom scale.

In the six months since the death of my sister I had been rudderless, drowsing into the morning, retreating early to the recliner and the Midnight Milky Way bars and ice cream, the books of crossword puzzles, and the reruns of Law and Order that filled the time until dark when I could legitimately head back to bed. Too many losses, in five years—my husband of 56 years, my 41 year old daughter and then on Christmas Day my youngest, closest sister—had sapped my energy, left me dimmed, and, there is no other word, drifting.

I had gained a lot of weight and I hated myself for it. My clothes no longer fit and I had no energy for shopping. I wore the same things, loose, with stretched-out elastic waistbands day after day. I made a few useless stabs at thinning, gave up the candy for a while, used this diet and that, but always came back to, “Why bother?”

Thirty-some years before when my youngest daughter was little I had lost some extra pounds on the Weight Watcher program. I knew it worked for me and decided to try it again. Faithfully I started recording what I ate, adding points, walking, lifting weights and doing sit-ups to earn extra treats. I looked forward to getting on the scale each morning and to the weigh-in at the meeting.  I had a goal, a purpose. Just checking off the little boxes for vegetables and fruit, milk and protein, the glasses of liquid consumed, became an almost childlike pleasure.

Strange as it is, it has changed my life. I now set my alarm so I don’t oversleep. My bed is made quickly, the house straightened; I know I have to allow time for the exercise I need. Walking early, before the day’s heat, gets me dressed and out. And the walks make me feel good. I think as I walk, I pray, I write in my head, work on poems and other pieces, and listen to the birds; I let the natural beauty of the morning sink into my soul. I sweat. I drink a lot of water; I am being good to all my systems. I am even flossing every night!

Looking in the mirror no longer defeats me. I unpacked some more attractive summer clothes, had my hair cut, had a pedicure, I bought new sandals. I made a date to have my car detailed. I began to write in my journal more regularly, to plan a story or two, and actually worked out a new poem. I sometimes set my oven timer and organize an office shelf, a desk drawer or two until it bings. My desk chair has become as attractive as my recliner. And I am not berating myself for being lazy.

It might seem that all of these things could have been done without the Weight Watcher program. I had been seeing a grief counselor off and on since my husband’s death and her suggestions, her uplifting ideas always resonated when I left her office, sometimes for a day or two. Why didn’t her plan for me work? Was it that there seemed no end in sight? No reachable goal?

Raising my eight children had structured my life;  structure was something I understood at my core. With the family gone, I might always be in need of a fix. What happens after I reach my goal weight? What next?

I’m looking forward to finding out. Six months ago I couldn’t have said that!

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