Thursday, August 4, 2011

Encouragement in Getting Healthy

No pictures on this post for now, I just don't have a good one yet. This post is a little out of my normal realm but I hope readers will forgive me. I am feeling really pressed lately to start working on posts that are encouraging and helpful in this area of life. I hope to make this only the beginning.

Like so many others in our society right now, there is someone that I love that is clinically labeled "morbidly obese." I have watched her for many years as she struggled to get healthy and get fit... again, and again, and again. I saw her during the "Phen-Fen" years, where she dropped more weight than I remember her ever losing; I watched all that come back after the medication was no longer available. In truth, I'll take the "larger her" than the scary medicine. I've known this person all my life and love her deeply and want to see her succeed in her quest to be healthier and to regain  herself in the process.

Let's be clear, this person is, in so many ways, amazing - and she is wonderful, but this is an area of struggle for her. She is at the end of raising six children. Of those six, all of them talk to her pretty frequently, and only one lives farther than two hours away from her. She has worked two jobs at a time to make ends meet for years and years. She is wonderful with babies and newborns - they adore her (and sleep for her, God bless them!) I'd say that makes for a lot of positives in life!


Up to now, I have watched people in society make nasty, jeering comments; laughing when they thought she was not aware that they were looking; whispering to one another over what food, or how much, was on her plate... Though she puts on a pretty good face of self-confidence, I know from other events that have taken place in her life that she struggles with that. Her weight is one symptom of that. The number of negative, snarky, unsupportive people she surrounds herself with is another: She doesn't feel worthy of being loved or of being fit and healthy. And she is absolutely worthy of both.


Full disclosure: I've never struggled with my weight. It is mainly the blessing of my genes, I suppose. As a result, this person used to ask me what I did to stay slim and I didn't have the answers to give that I do now. The truth is that only some of my "methods" will work for someone looking to lose larger amounts of weight: outside of occasional fish, I don't eat meat. I eat a lot of veggies and fruits. In almost every activity - from taking laundry to the washer, to doing dishes, to standing at the curb waiting to cross the street - I look for some little way that I can increase the exercise value of the activity. 
  • Taking laundry down is a gimme - in my house, it's down two flights of stairs. 
  • Doing dishes - I have been known to wear one- or two-pound ankle weights and either shift my weight from foot-to-foot or do leg lifts while I wash (the dishwasher was broken for a long time, but that is another post.) 
  • Waiting to cross the street - I fidget or I do calf-raises while I'm waiting for the light to change. 
  • Getting gas at the gas station gives me time for at least two or three elevated push ups off the back of my car. Do I look silly? Probably. Do I care if I look silly if it is increasing my overall health? Not on your life.

Now I'm trying to take a more pro-active role in helping her with her goals. As a result, I've begun watching documentaries, reading websites, sharing ideas and paying attention to my own healthy - and not-so-healthy - habits. And I'm finding SO many more resources out there than existed fifteen years ago! So many people in our nation are in a similar situation that now you can easily get on Netflix and find shows like "Ruby" (about a woman who, at her highest, was 700+ lbs. and her efforts to lose weight), Heavy (shows different people paired up to work out and be accountable to one another in their weight loss efforts over the course of six months); and "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" and the companion website JoinTheReboot.com (weight loss through juicing. I highly recommend this movie!) 

FaceBook support groups and off-line support groups abound and so as society turns its collective head around to the way of thinking that supports and encourages, I have hope for her - and for the others in my life who are also struggling. As I watch and love and care for this person, my prayer is only that I will be a help to her, an encouragement for her, and for others struggling along with her. 

But my own stumbling block is here now: I do not live close - I live clear across the country, in fact. And, as the lady in the pilot episode of "Heavy" said,"no fat person wants a trainer that has never been fat." I can see that. I can see the frustration of a "skinny" telling you what you need to do to get healthy. Saying it's all in your head, or those awful words: "if you'd only eat less." NOT HELPFUL, I know. So I'd like to do two things with this blog post - and parts of this blog, mixed in with my same, down-the-road advice to my children:
  • I'd like to get tips from people who read my meager efforts at writing - for those who struggle with getting to a healthy weight: what motivates you? What heals you? How can someone like me be helpful and not just a pain in the keester?
  • I'd like to put some subsequent posts that give movie/show reviews, recipe ideas and reviews, "fat-friendly" restaurants (i.e.: those that offer foods that are helpful to getting healthy), highlighting news and blogs done by motivating people and groups who are making it happen in their own lives. 
What do you think? I would really love feedback on this idea because it means so much to me to find ways to support and encourage this person in my life from a distance, in whatever way I can.

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3 comments:

  1. My advice is that she needs to put herself first; her health and her well-being need to be her priority for a while. I know this is completely opposite her mindset, but I believe that if she developed a me-first attitude, it would help. I think she should separate herself from her multitude of chores, duties, and obligations for just an hour or two a day -- turn off everything -- and just concentrate on herself and her own needs. Every day. She needs to realize that her needs are just as important as those of everyone else, and she needs to take "Me-time" every single day. She needn't be doing something every second for someone else. (I don't mean that to sound snarky, you know what I mean.)

    My $0.02. Adjust as necessary for inflation.

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  2. I don't know exactly how big she is, but there is something called "fat acceptance". Perhaps she'll never be able to lose much more than 50lbs, but a site like this www.mommagoround.com can be very inspiring to her to encourage her to appreciate her beauty. Fat people can be very beautiful and healthy. Here are some other things to inspire her: http://thisisawoman.com/blog/awesome-stuff-i-found-online-this-week-and-wanted-to-share/
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVVzgtp0_to

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  3. Thank you for the links. I'll definitely pass them on. Really I don't care how much she loses as long as she is healthy and happy. I have such a great time with her when we're together and call often in *hopes* of getting her ear for a time. She is in popular demand :)

    I'm really enjoying your blog, by the way. You've reinspired me to pull my old skirts out again! I think I was one of your first followers - may you have many more. Thanks for stopping by!

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I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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