Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The slothful, inactive waste of precious days.

Morning all, from the heart of a wet, drizzly England. What a grey day. It's matching my mood.

I drove my son to work early this morning then headed into town to do some shopping, or rather to mooch around. Since I have retired I have to count the pennies, so sitting down to have a coffee (and the slice of cake that goes with it) is a luxury I can no longer afford. I did buy myself a T shirt as I'll be going to Spain in May with my man.
Interestingly, I bought an XL size, knowing for now that comfort is more important than vanity. Me - an XL size. How ghastly. Food for thought.

This XL (extra large, hell, not even plain old 'large') awareness was a comfort in a way, given that today my jeans felt SO tight and uncomfortable. Movement was....well, not pleasant. I felt trussed up. My size 20 (UK 20) blue jeans are just too small and I must accept it. Again. I felt like a stuffed turkey bursting out of it's plastic wrapping. Everything was stretched tightly over my horrible, misshapen frame, and I felt, well - freakish - even though I'd tried to coordinate my clothes to look good, wore jewellery and make-up. My hair was freshly cut and looked neat, but still I felt middle-aged, fat and...no, not invisible but as though I had a huge, luminous arrow pointer over my head, following me around, marking the movements of "The Woman Who Is Bigger Than You". I am the big, pregnant-looking middle-aged woman. People stare and I feel SO self-conscious. I wore pop socks folded around my ankles, (the Norah Batty look because I didn't want the elastic digging into my calves, and the bulge would have shown under my silly, straight-legged jeans) blue (stretchy, elasticated waist) jeans and a grey T shirt that rode up over my hideously large abdomen when I moved. Ugh! The little blue cotton jacket which used to fit wouldn't do up around my body but I thought the long, silky scarf I draped round my neck would hang and the gap wouldn't be so obvious, and my black court shoes with little heel were uncomfortable. I just wanted to get home and put on something baggy and comfortable.

It would be so easy to accept my shape and live in huge, shapeless, loose garments. I could become Kaftan Woman. I could dress like the late Mama Cass. I like the idea of flowing voluminous swathes of material hiding the stumpy fat frame that is my body. Sounds good. No worries about what to wear each day. Right now, I DO accept my shape, but how I am kicking myself that I allowed myself to become so fat. With hindsight I can say I should have tried to improve my fitness even though I was without energy and ill a few years ago. If only I knew then what I know now I think I would have been striving not to gain weight. It's easy to put on, but so hard to lose.

I was a smallish rounded woman when I worked - well padded but certainly not fat, not wobbly and blobby as I am now, and much admired about twelve/fifteen years ago. Those were my attractive days, post divorce, out of an unhappy marriage, bringing up children, seeing my career take off and getting lots of male approval. In fact I had some VERY good years between 1996 and 2003. I had what I felt was a new lease of life. Then I became ill - wham! We do take our health for granted. Now mid-fifties I feel old in body (not head!)  and very fat and most unattractive (although my partner tells me I am pretty, bless him.) I still feel fiesty though and in my head, I'm invincible, although I know I am not. (Vulnerable would be a better word.) Put me down at your peril, world!

I ask myself - "WHY didn't you do something about it in 2008 when you began to mend? Why did you allow the slide into obesity, why didn't you vow to keep your fitness? You have more time to yourself now. WHY didn't you walk...love yourself...keep active?" Today I beat myself up in the same way. Here is a brand new day. What will I do with it?

'Not a lot' I hear that little voice in my head answer back. I have a glorious day in which to wallow, be self-indulgent. It stretches before me and unlike the decades before, it's a pretty hassle-free time. Bliss.

I think the truth is, if I carry on doing little and sitting about, I'll descend into immobility, and that thought terrifies me. I like being able to stride out...to walk, to bend...to weed the garden etc. OK, so through illness since 2003 - one blasted thing after another - movement WAS restricted and doing too much WAS painful, and I was drugged up to the eyeballs, so felt lethargic, but now I feel youngish still, in my head, and my face isn't too bad. I can claw back my vitality now I have had that last restorative operation. I CAN! (If I want to that is.....)

Trouble is, the whole aging process takes it's toll. We do slow down, lose strength and energy and our frames weaken. We deteriorate with age. That's frightening. I don't want to be an OLD person. I am still a girl - in my head.

TODAY and the years ahead...what do they hold? I have been thinking about them. I use it or lose it. I am growing older, I am middle aged, yet my stupid, stupid self-sabotage - my insistance this is ME time, an antidote to the incredible stresses and strains I bore over the last thirty years, that I shouldn't do anything that makes me uncomfortable, that I CAN be self-indulgent and have a right to be now I have retired from what was a stressful job, is bringing me down, making me a lesser woman.

Why isn't my retirement a time for self-improvement? I dunno.

Attitude. My attitude lets me down. From today onwards (perhaps, may be) I shall use it as I don't want to lose it. Wish I had thought about this years ago when the weight started creeping on. How will I look five years from now if I don't try to halt the decline...the march of time...or in my case...the slothful, inactive waste of precious days?

My life is precious, and so is yours, but life slips away. Self-talk needed. Enjoy it, use it and feel good about yourself. You are worth it. (Now, I should toss back my head and let my hair fly loose, and flounce away from the PC, as in the hair spray adverts.)

What will tomorrow bring? What will the rest of today bring? More of the same, or a new determination? Hmmm. Determination sounds like hard work. How much do I want a healthy, active body?

I need activity more than I need a diet. OK, so I do need to tinker with my meals, eat smaller portions, include more fruits and vegetables and I need to stop snacking but more than anything I need to build activity into my days. I am trying to convince myself that a walk round the block will be interesting rather than boring. My body will thank me as long as I don't sit down and enjoy sedentary pastimes for the rest of the day. If every time I walked round the block I picked up a one pound coin, I'd probably do at least ten laps! Incentive. How do you find the incentive to move? How can I motivate myself to be active? I hate gyms. I loathe them for all sorts of reasons, so I think walking is the way forward for me.

I know the theory. How on earth do I put it into practice?

"Just f*ckin' DO IT!" I am screaming to myself.

Oh, and before I finish readers...(sorry, I do go on, but stick with me) just let me tell you about this Californian woman who really moved me to tears the other day.

I was watching a programme we have here in the UK and you probably have something similar in the USA and in other parts of the world. It was called 'Super-Size v Super-Skinny' and about one obese woman and one anorexic woman and their eating habits. To cut a long story short, the fat woman was beamed a message from the States. The woman who was speaking to the overweight English woman was bed-bound..and late fifties I think. She had tubes in her nose to help her breathing and lay, with the flesh of her stomach out before her like a blanket on the bed. It covered the bed...like a small lawn. Her thighs were the size of small boats and she had several chins, podgy fingers and very chunky arms. She must have weighed 45+ stones. Her face however was the face of an ordinary woman, apart from the red blotches and tubes up her nose. Her eyes were extremely sad. She wasn't a sub-human thing although she was very much captive. The bed was her prison..her cage, and she couldn't stop those who came near her staring, in fascination and disgust. Her words, her manner and her dignity belied her fatness. She was an articulate and wise woman who had slowly, slowly descended into fatness, to hugeness - the way we can all go. She didn't put on the brakes, and found herself at the mercy of others who had to see to her daily needs. She could do nothing for herself except ironically, put food into her mouth. She had lost her dignity. She had lost herself. She was in pain, physical and emotional pain.

Her message? Don't allow the fat to grow..to spread, to take over. Stop the slide. From 150lbs we see 180lbs on the scales, and then 200lbs, and then 250lbs, and before long 300lbs, and it goes up and up but we don't want to use the scales. By then, hopelessness and despair can set in. She said (and I am paraphrasing her here) 'If I had only say 80lbs to lose, you wouldn't see me for dust. I'd be running to that gym. I'd be exercising like mad. I'd be out every day, with the kids, with people, moving, doing activities, going to the park...I'd be caring for myself. It would be so easy to put things right..."

Her name was Alayne I think, and at the end of the programme there was a little message to tell us she had since died.

OK, so I have a letter to post and the post box is up a hill about half a mile away. It's raining, but I don't care. That's where I am going.


  1. Hope you don't mind, but I can't help but say a few things. You sound very down, which worries me, and are being very hard on yourself.

    First off, you cannot change the past, so dwelling on 'why didn't I' in 2008 is just corrosive and won't help. You didn't do something then, OK, that's gone. You can do something starting now... if you want to.

    And please, please, please give yourself a bit of credit for where you are right now, even if you think you don't deserve to. You are ONLY wearing a UK size 20. Yes, I understand that it not where you want to be but that is only two sizes up from the UK average so you are NOT (repeat, NOT) the huge, horrible blob you seem to be seeing.

    Even if you were larger (I started losing when I hit a UK size 26) there is still a whole lot of good and beauty in the person that 'you' are. I just wish you could see it for yourself. Remember, your partner isn't just 'being nice' but is actually the wise one who can see the good things about you. You are pretty - believe it!

    And being 50? Hell, girl, life's just getting interesting!

    Yes, getting started with losing weight and keeping at it is damned hard, but you know all that. As for that walk around the block... just go and make it something special. Bugger the rain! Search for how many different flowers you can see and really look at them in detail to see their beauty. Then when you get home, do the same for looking at you.

    My concern about you sounding down comes from experiences with depression, my own and that suffered by friends and family. Depending how you feel about it, it might be worth a quiet chat to your GP. There's no shame in being depressed but you may need some help to shake it off your back.

    I wish you all the best for whatever you decide to do. Be happy and live the life you want, the way you want.

  2. Deniz...thank you so much for your thoughts. I love your positive attitude, and there really is a lot there for me to think about. This doesn't have to be hard, does it?

    Losing weight is do-able, if I choose to embark on a campaign and to commit to doing what ever it is that needs to be done to shed the pounds - that is, moving more, being conscious of what I eat, as well as planning meals rather than just grabbing something quick and easy to prepare.

    I agree that I seem reluctant to start, and I have no idea why I procrastinate. Health procrastination is weird. It makes sense to live healthily, but I seem to put obstacles in my way. I want to trip myself up.
    I did suffer spells of depression shortly after my Mum died, and this is different. I can make an effort for others but I can't make an effort for me. It's as though I get points for not letting others down, but it doesn't matter if I let myself down. I can rest when it comes to me...

    If I commit to looking after myself better, it seems like a chore, or an obligation. It's easier to moan about being fat than it is to fore-go all the foods I love and to move more. I have settled into a comfortable rut. I remind myself that a rut is only slightly less deep than a grave.
    I just don't seem to be able to frighten myself into losing weight for health reasons either. Am I secretly content with the way I am?

    I keep fairly busy. I am up early every morning to drive my son into work, and I usually go and mooch around the shops for a little while after I have dropped him off, or at least go to the supermarket for food. I have become quite good at saying no to foods which I really shouldn't eat..ie: cakes, crisps, snacks and sweet stuff. I have learned to love raisins and dried apricots instead of cakes! I have joined committees and I do a little voluntary work, I socialise regularly with my girlfriends and I see OH frequently, but I do conclude that I retired too early and have too much time to think. I need to think positive thoughts though! If I tell the world I am going to lose weight, I have to do it, or be considered a sham.