Well Worth the Weight
by Charlene Paul
About a year and a half ago, my son and I embarked on a journey that changed both our lives. We struggled with weight issues for years, and each year we resolved that we would challenge each other to reach our weight loss goals. We enjoyed success here and there, losing 25 or 30 pounds each. But slowly we sank back into old habits until those 25 or 30 pounds reappeared with a few more.
At one point, I was ready to throw in the towel and cry, “Uncle.” I was set to admit I couldn’t do it. The weight had won and I had conceded. It wasn’t a glorious day. In fact, it was a day filled with darkness, loneliness, and despair. I was tired of getting my hopes up only to fall flat on my face again.
But my young son wasn’t ready to accept defeat. He read and researched and found a way that worked for him, so he called and talked to me about it and asked if I would give it a try. I was reluctant, but decided I would join him as long as he didn’t tell anyone else what we were doing. He agreed.
My kids have pleaded with me for years to take better care of myself so I would be around to watch their children grow up. They worried about their brother’s health and silently wished he could find a way to shed the pounds. They have offered advice and encouragement. And we have disappointed them again and again and again. They didn’t voice their disappointment; it was evident in their eyes.
But something changed as we embarked on this new path. We experienced success, and instead of falling back into old habits and patterns, we experienced even more success. That success wasn’t dramatic at first, but it was fun and exciting to see the pounds melt away, and as our clothes outgrew us, we compared notes and pictures, and spoke several times a week. His encouraging words kept me going when all I wanted to do was curl up with a good book and a big bag of crunchy, salty chips or an ample bowl of creamy, cold, sweet ice cream. He reminded me that the happiness those things brought only remained until the last bite, and then it was back to darkness and despair.
My husband and I received FitBits from another son and his wife with a challenge to walk 10,000 steps a day. Quite a feat for someone who couldn’t walk a quarter mile before stopping to rest, gasping for air, and hoping my heart wouldn’t beat out of my chest.
But before long, 10,000 steps weren’t so daunting. My son started running and I kept walking. The steps and miles added up. We rejoiced in being outdoors and staying active. Hikes replaced television. Walks replaced naps. Runs replaced snacking. And the more we moved, the more we wanted to move.
My son travels a lot for his job, flying overseas several times a year. The first time he flew to Asia, he had to request a seat belt extender so he could sit in a seat designed for a person half his size.
A year later, he took the same flight and sent us a picture of him buckling up without the assistance of that seat belt extender. The armrests didn’t dig into his thighs, and he was much more comfortable. His grin spoke volumes and encouraged me to continue my journey.
As my weight dropped, my energy levels rose. I could get up off the floor without help from my husband. I ran and played with my grandkids. I slept better and woke up feeling rested and refreshed.
When we began our adventure, we were aware we would have to find new coping mechanisms since turning to food would no longer be an option. If the money runs out before the month, if gas prices explode, if computers crash, if cell phone reception is crappy, if friends or loved ones let us down, we have to do something drastic. We have to – GASP – admit something is out of whack, that we’re sad, angry, scared, happy, nervous, or any myriad of emotions. No longer can we bury frustrations and emotions under chunky chips of chocolate, piles of popcorn, or sizeable sips of soda.
It hasn’t been easy. In fact, if someone tells you there is an easy way to lose weight and get back in shape, don’t you believe them. There is no magic bullet, secret potion, or simple surgery. No matter which choice is made to help with the process of losing unwanted pounds, it still takes work and sweat, and yes, sometimes even tears. But it has been so worth it. My son and I are enjoying lives filled with activity, health, and a promise of a future.
We both still have a ways to go in our quest for healthy bodies, but we are so happy to be where we are right now. We are not sitting back wishing to lose weight and feeling depressed every time we look in a mirror.
This year when I write my New Year’s resolutions, the top two will not be to lose weight and get back in shape. This year my top two resolutions will be to love myself so I can love others, and to find joy in my life.
Our mother/son journey has changed our lives. It didn’t obliterate struggles, but it has helped us face our struggles and fight to overcome them. Together we have lost more than 210 pounds. But we have gained so much more than anything we lost. We are better people now because of our challenges, and we have gained the confidence necessary to accomplish hard things. I am so proud of him, and I am so proud of me. It has been well worth the weight.