I am not unique as a middle aged woman who needs to lose weight and is finding it difficult. I am definitely a sugar addict. Over the years I have attempted to lose weight using Slim Fast, Jenny Craig (multiple times) and Ideal Protein. Each time I was successful for a while, and then gained the weight back. This also makes me not in the least bit unique.
Last weekend my girlfriend Ruth and I saw a documentary called Fed Up which was really eye-opening. The first thing I liked about it was that it told us that although our country has spent decades blaming fat people for being fat (we’re gluttons, lazy, or both), it’s really not our fault. At least not as long as we remain uneducated about the ways that the food industry has contributed to our problem. The problem is sugar. All those supposedly low-fat options taste OK because they contain more sugar than their more fatty counterparts, and therefore they are more likely to make us gain weight. The documentary also talked about the way sugar addiction is similar to cocaine addiction, and how kids are targeted by advertising when they’re young and impressionable.
Anyway it was a very informative film and I encourage everyone to see it, but the point it made was that weight loss happens by educating yourself about what’s really in the food you eat. It’s not calories in calories out. The film showed us how differently the body responds to 160 calories of almonds vs 160 calories of sugar. Making the right food choices is key, otherwise you won’t lose weight even if you exercise every day. Especially as a peri-menopausal middle-aged woman. We live in a culture that bombards us every day with media that basically tries to “highjack our brains” (quote from the movie) and make us fail at whatever attempts we might make to eat healthier.
I am very lucky to have a girlfriend who is a registered dietician and is very knowledgeable about healthy eating options. She is also willing to go for walks with me, and her beautiful dog Lola (who has the most amazing warm eyes you’ve ever seen).
So, I have Ruth and some other supportive friends to help me learn about making healthy food choices, and to slowly overcome my phobia of cooking and prepare my own food so I’m not either eating a bunch of preservatives that are bad for me, or spending a fortune on healthy food cooked by someone else. The next thing to tackle was exercise.
I am beginning this journey at 211 pounds. I am 5’5″ tall and according to my scale am about 45% fat which is not healthy at all. I needed to find an exercise that I would stick with. Due in part I’m sure to my being overweight, I get lower back pain from standing or walking for just a few minutes. I enjoy bike riding, but before long I have pain in my shoulders and wrists. The seat isn’t that comfortable either; even a wide one. I enjoy swimming, but the local Y has only certain times when the lap pool is open. I work nights and sleep during the day, so my schedule rarely matches with that of a health club.
Then I started thinking about how much I loved being active as a child. I had a pink bicycle with a banana seat that I rode everywhere. My father and I shot hoops in our driveway. I loved playing dodge ball and red rover at school. How could I recapture that joy when I now lived in a body that was in pain a lot of the time? As I was contemplating these things, my friend Wendy posted this ridiculous picture on facebook:
Suddenly I was flooded with memories of a green and black big wheel I had as a child. I *loved* that thing. It had these red noisemakers on the back wheels so I could maximize the annoyance to my neighbors as I rode it around outside. My father cut the noisemakers off after a while, but I rode that thing all over the place and had a wonderful time. Such speed! Such exhilaration! I got on the internet and lo and behold, there was such thing as a big wheel for adults. They aren’t cheap; you can find the least expensive ones at the High Roller website. I told myself that if I purchased one, I had to commit to riding it regularly. I went for it.
It took two weeks to arrive, and two hours to assemble (with some bloodshed). My maiden voyage to Ruth’s apartment was partially documented here:
I can’t TELL you how much fun I have had in the 4 days since! I have definitely rediscovered a childhood joy. My back doesn’t hurt, my shoulders and wrists don’t hurt, and I have already put several miles on it. I feel hopeful about being healthier for the first time in a long time! I’ll update here regularly with my progress.