I have done a lot to learn to love the lumpy, mushy and ample body I have. About 15 years ago a doctor had warned me that, given my family history, I needed to do everything I could to manage my blood pressure. I took that information to heart and had adopted a primarily plant-based diet, restricted red meat to one a week, cooked with olive oil and started eating whole grains.
The shift in my eating habits over the years has been remarkable. Cooking from scratch and using dried instead of canned foods ensures I have a low sodium diet. I stay away from dairy, it no longer tastes good to me.
I took a functional fitness approach to my workouts. I got away from the military styled training I was used to and strived to walk and lift heavy things. I started doing yoga to support my flexibility and learn to trigger a relation response. I also find stretching fun and do it all the time when I feel stressed.
I found meditation helpful. Most recently I’ve adopted a Buddhist practice of chanting that instantly relaxes me. I garden, walk to work, cuddle with my dogs and kids all in an effort to slow down my A type personality and live a long healthy life.
My biggest challenge was three years ago when my family doctor informed me that I would be getting a prescription for blood pressure medication for my 40th birthday. I was so angry. I felt betrayed by my body. He quipped that I couldn’t fight genetics. It was the same year I had done my first mini sprint triathlon with my sister.
I’m wearing number 480 and having a lot of fun!
My resting heart rate was below 60 beats per minute in the morning and at the doctor’s office was 75. He believed me that I worked out but was skeptical of the quality of my diet. Here’s the thing though, I do love food. So while I eat all the right things I eat way more than I need to. At my appointment on April 2 this year I had surpassed my previous weight and now sit at 268 lbs. Holy crap.
Sitting getting my blood pressure done I was in tears. I had stopped weighing myself as it was the one thing I could not directly influence, I had focused on steps taken, resting heart rate and new activities.
My average blood pressure was 158 over 118. I was devastated. I felt I was smarter than my genetics and even with over eating I should still be healthy. My doctor asked what my weakness was for my health and I agreed it was the volume of what I ate. He suggested gastric bypass surgery. My jaw dropped and I climbed backwards out of my chair. Gastric bypass?
In Ontario this surgery is covered by the ministry of health through the Ontario Bariatric Network. It is a highly invasive procedure and one at odds with my own low intervention principles.
I booked an appointment with my psychologist to work through all the feelings I’m having about this. I know it is only by putting all on the cards on the table will I live the long and active life I want for myself. I happen to think I’m pretty delightful so I’d like to be alive as long as possible.
My psychologist put it very bluntly, I was in denial of the severity of my over eating. I’m leery of using the term addiction around food (it is not like I can abstain from eating). As an atheist who believes in my own empowerment I struggle with 12 step programs that rely on surrender to a higher power. I’m reading “When the Body Says No” by Gabor Maté and referring to Tracy’s information about Intuitive Eating.
My partner and I talked about how I used food to sooth myself. He did not, as my friend said, co-sign on my denial bullcrap. I am fortunate that my entire family is onboard with making even more changes to our lifestyle. I don’t have all the answers yet, as I draft this post it’s only been seven days of being a hot mess.
I am grateful for a feminist community who help me frame my wellness in ways that are meaningful to me. My friends who have shared their diverse experiences of medication, overeaters anonymous and gastric bypass. I’m thankful to everyone who takes the time to see how I’m doing, to be part of the rich network of support. I’m thankful I went to see my doctor and my psychologist.
Maybe I can’t fight my genetics and will need to deploy every intervention available but I sure am going to give it a try.
Given the readership this may go without saying: please be gentle in your comments below. I’m feeling quite raw about this but I also think by sharing honestly where I’m at I help inform how we frame fitness/wellness.