Anyone who has been reading this blog for the past year knows that I have been on a private campaign since last March to lose weight and get healthy. If you're so inclined you can read about some of the practical details here and here.
My motivation was fear. I have been blessed with remarkably good health all my life but it is well known that serious diseases and conditions begin showing up more frequently when people hit their mid-70s. And I was approaching my 72nd birthday.
Now, almost a year-to-the-day later, I have lost 25 percent of my body weight, having dropped 40 pounds - 160 down to 120. My estimated body mass index (BMI) has gone from 29.3 (just .6 below the “obesity” level) to 21.9 which is smack in the middle of the “normal” category.
My blood pressure, never wildly high, has settled to normal. All my other readings – cholesterol, triglycerides, etc. - are also normal.
One of the biggest fun parts of losing weight for me is no longer being apprehensive about the results of those tests. For the decade that I was carrying around too much extra weight, I was the definition of “white coat hypertension.”
Having health measurements in the normal range doesn't mean I won't get a terrible disease or that I won't just drop dead one day of old age – those things happen to healthy people every day. But the likelihood that I will make it to my grave without too many health difficulties is increased.
All that is important but I had no idea how much fun stuff would result from losing 40 pounds - little things every day that give me a frisson of pleasure and a reminder of what I have accomplished in 12 months.
• I can bend over to clean the litter box and pick up the cat food bowls without pain and effort. A year ago I had been contemplating what it would take to convince Ollie to eat on the counter so I could avoid squatting down.
• The mirror is no longer my enemy. I can look at myself naked now and feel fine even with this wrinkly, old-lady body. I had turned my eyes from mirrors for the past ten years.
• I no longer dislike photographs of myself.
• I've mentioned in previous weight loss posts that walking – the feel of swinging my legs forward just feels good. It's a joy to walk now.
• Stairs and hills are no longer endurance tests. I can get to the top of three stories (the most there are around here) without becoming winded.
• I feel strong and in control of my body. A lot of that is due to the exercise routine that has become part of my life - I can easily do 50 pushups and 50 crunches among other strength-building, cardio and flexibility work. But it wouldn't have happened without the weight loss first.
• It's great not to constantly think, “do I look fat in this?” Of course, I did. Now, I don't look fat in anything.
• Most of my old clothes fall off me now and I'm slowly buying new stuff. What's fun is not being stuck in the extra-large department anymore and that there are many more attractive choices in smaller sizes.
• I can carry all the groceries from even a big shopping trip into the house in one go without having to stop to catch my breath.
• Who knew even my feet were fat. Two pairs of shoes I never wore because they pinched my toes don't hurt anymore.
• And I give myself a private little smile now every time I hook up the seat belt in my car because I don't need to pull it out all the way to attach it.
The last really fun thing is more ephemeral, not so measurable as the others. It is that I don't recall, for many years, having such a consistent sense of personal well-being as I have had day-to-day for the past five or six months – since I lost enough weight to be noticeable in both energy and bulk.
To say this feeling of wellbeing is fun is to dismiss it too lightly – pleasure is a better word. I am no longer tired out halfway through a day. I don't worry and wonder about my health as I did before.
But mostly it is a sense of comfortableness, of contentment with living. I could give you a whole long list of things I don't like about my life but I don't fight them as I once did or make a big deal of them.
In a way similar to meditating, I note that I am displeased with a situation and file the thought while I get on which what I'm doing. Not that I forget or am unconcerned – it just doesn't take up as much space in my consciousness as before.
Is it really possible that weight loss creates a sense of wellbeing as profound as that? I have no idea but I have nothing else to attribute it to and it sure makes life better. More fun too.