Monday, November 4, 2013

A Thousand Miles

There is an ancient Chinese saying found in the Tao Te Ching, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step".  Over the years, this has become somewhat of a mantra of mine as I find myself stopping and starting, stopping, and then years later starting again.  When I feel the most like a failure, I try and take the opportunity to ask myself some careful questions, Why was this unsuccessful? What could I have done differently? Who was I really doing it for?  And let me tell you, that last one is a doozy.

The truth is, we do a lot of things in our lives because we think we 'should', or because we think they'll make other people happy.  The flip side of that coin is that we often give up on the things that are important to us because we don't have time or because we're not willing to sacrifice someone else's happiness for our own. Which inevitably leads to conflict and failure.  Or at least that happens in my life a lot.

Which leads me to two months ago.

As an overweight woman, I've dealt with my fair share of issues.  Self confidence issues from a culture that says fat = ugly, space issues because everywhere I go I'm too large to be comfortable and always feel out of place, and emotional issues because food is how I connect with people, but it's also how I hide myself.  In August, I had my first major health issue related to weight - and it was a huge wake-up call.  I injured my knee badly trying to get in and out of the backseat of a 2-door coupe, and it continued to hurt weeks later.  I looked up knee injuries online (because insurance isn't really a thing I have right now) and found out that it's most likely the combined result of moving my body in the wrong way, and a long-term issue because of my excessive weight.  Aside from weight loss, the only major treatment for this condition is only 31.

Don't get me wrong, I try really hard not to buy into the whole thin is beautiful bull that the magazines and tv shows sell us.  I spent my life trying to make good choices but refusing to let my size dictate the rest of my life.  I didn't want to become like my mom, aunts, and grandmother - generations of women obsessed with calories and exercise, yo-yo-ing between extremes and hating themselves for every minute of it.  I also fill with rage every time I visit a doctor's office and instead of offering a helpful solution for my cold or UTI, the doctor focuses on my weight as though it defines my ability to be healthy.  Screw everyone who thinks they know anything about me based on my size.  I am a product of our culture and I refuse to apologize for a lifetime of indoctrination that puts someone with my metabolism and medical history at a serious disadvantage.

But my body was telling me that something needed to change.  It wasn't about advertisements or clothes in the mall.  It wasn't movie theater seats that never fit or amusement park rides not made for me.  It wasn't even the way people looked at me when I walked in the store or a restaurant - like I should be ashamed of myself and hide in my home rather than show my ugly fat ass in public.  It was about me.  And that day, with the fear of permanent damage to my knees and the knowledge that this wasn't going to be easy but that it was necessary, I started my journey.  Who knows, maybe this time I won't give up.

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