I often get asked what the trigger point was for my lifestyle overhaul.
I always stumble around for a good answer. I never quite know what to say because the truth is… Well, it’s just messy.
I did reach a point (July 2010) where I knew I was DONE with the way I was living my life. I wanted to be on a new path. No matter what it took. I felt that shift physically.
My gut and heart were finally ready to follow my mind.
But there were life-long cascading events that led up to that actual moment in July 2010…
I was fat. Not fitting in chairs. Special clothes. Exceeding weight limits. Routinely being the largest person in a room.
Unhealthy. Fatty liver. Cholesterol levels that were sketchy. High blood pressure. A category I’ll politely label ‘female issues’.
Diabetic, Type 2. Daily injections for blood glucose control. Finger sticks. Drugs to help with complications. Swinging highs/lows that made me oh-so-much-fun to be around.
I had grown used to all of this.
It was all manageable.
But there was a single, big event that changed my world…
My world stopped on 3/10/10 just after 9 in the morning when my mom died.
We had been fighting, all-out, to save her for months.
She died of MRSA.
MRSA is a drug resistant staph. A ‘super bug’. For my mom, it was a massive, systemic staph infection that could not be controlled. As time went by, NONE of the drugs available in the US worked, not even the experimental drugs, combinations.
My mom had a seriously compromised immune system. She had Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) from when she was 32. Complications from RA, for her, were diabetes and kidney failure. She was in renal failure when MRSA grabbed hold. She was a desperately difficult case for OHSU (Oregon’s teaching hospital) to work on. We were told routinely how dire and complicated things were.
The infection and complications overwhelmed her body 6 days after her 66th birthday.
I grieved. Hard. For more than a year I was secluded, closed-off and wounded. Hell, I’m still grieving 5 years later. My mom was one of my best friends. She shouldn’t have died. But her health was so complicated and compromised that her body couldn’t help her fight off the infection.
After she died I began to realize a few things…
I hurt my back 4 months before she died. Bulged 2 discs in my lower back. I tripped and fell. The doctor told me the weight of my belly is likely what pulled my back apart, the fall shouldn’t have done it. I was drugged into oblivion for pain management. I was crippled to the point that I couldn’t bend over my moms ICU bed and kiss her cheek as she was dying…
I will never get over that. Not even going to try. Being fat had finally caught up with me.
This was the first time I ever remember feeling resentment, remorse, disgust, regret (not sure of the right word….) at having let myself get so fat and unhealthy.
And I saw some incredible things in our time at the hospital. I realized that a good long-term strategy for survival is to NOT NEED healthcare/hospitals. I was, at 42, a surgical candidate for a back injury related to my weight, taking 3 shots a day for type 2 diabetes, 6-7 other meds. I was dependent on lots of doctors to keep me healthy.
Do you see where this is all leading…??!
Eventually I did too.
It took about 16 months for me to piece it all together and decide that it time to act.
One other note… (I said this was messy!)
Grieving changes you. Fundamentally. It scars you. It tears you to shreds. You literally feel like your heart is bleeding. You are in a blinding mental fog. And oddly, it makes you stronger than you ever thought possible. All of the sudden you are fiercely protective of loved ones and friends; protecting others is the only emotional outlet for the shit storm that is your mind and heart. Grief makes you so weak and vulnerable you sit passively, even in public, with tears streaming down your face because you don’t even have the energy to properly cry…
If you’ve grieved — you know what I’m talking about. You have your own definitions and examples for what it does to your life, your mind and your heart.
Having said that…
I began to realize that my mom would be so, so disappointed in me if I kept living my life as the walking dead. What kind of tribute was that to my mom?! She was INCREDIBLE and loved life and cherished people and enjoyed every moment she was given — until the very end.
I had to do that same… I had to live a FULL life. Not a half life of adapting and getting by.
I began to understand that the biggest tribute I could possibly pay to my mom (and dad!) is to show people that I CHOOSE to live life, love people and enjoy each moment I am given.
Things had to change.
The best visual I have come up with is that things were piling up.
Instead of them piling up on top of me and being suffocated by them – like I had always done in the past, this time; I stood on them.
They piled up. And I just kept blindly and stubbornly scrambling and climbing over them and standing on them.
I didn’t want to be suffocated. Or squished. Or buried. Anymore.
I wanted to LIVE.
But… WHY this time? I had learned to live life as a fat woman. I was managing my diabetes. I was getting by just fine.
Was my trigger point all really tied to my mom’s death? Was it the little things piling up? Was it just that I finally found a spark of bravery and determination that I had never felt/found/noticed before…
I really don’t know.
I think it was more likely a perfect storm and I was finally ready.
Perhaps too simple an answer to satisfy folks who are looking to be motivated for their own life change… But I really do think it was the right things at the right time and I had just enough guts to make a run for it – and quickly found the right people and tools and encouragement.
It’s still a daily fight to stay in control of food. I keep an eagle eye on my weight and work hard to keep it stable. I still hit snooze sometimes before getting my butt out of bed to go run. 🙂 I won’t lie to you. I understand that I will have daily battles the rest of my life to keep the good habits in the forefront.
My mom was proud of me. She made sure I KNEW that every single day of my life. And I know she would be just as proud of me now.
I am a very lucky girl to be so well loved.
I also know that if she was still alive she would be begging my dad to create a wheelchair with all-terrain wheels and a seat belt so I could push her into the hills on trail runs and she would be my running partner… 🙂