I have always loved the water. As a child our family spent a lot of time enjoying the lakes and rivers of the Pacific Northwest. I have great memories of special “swimming holes” we loved to go to. Dorena Lake and Sharp’s Creek in Oregon and Sanders Pond in Idaho are my favorites. I always felt so relaxed and free when I was in the water. I loved how refreshing the cool water felt on a hot summer day, and how quiet the world became when you put your head under the water. I even won my leg of a relay race once in 8th grade P.E.
But as I grew older, I started gaining weight. And by the time I was an adult, I no longer spent any time in the water because I didn’t want to be seen in a bathing suit. I have always been overweight. Through the years I’ve tried a few diets, tried a few exercise programs, and studied about my “whys” of being overweight. I had “learned” a lot but I remained overweight.
When I turned 50 last year I had a knee ligament repair surgery. It made me stop and pay attention. The ligament wore out sooner than it should have because of being overweight my whole adult life. After surgery I went through six weeks of physical therapy. Three of those weeks were in the pool. It seemed to be a natural transition to begin a water aerobics class when the therapy was over. That was 18 months ago and now I can’t see myself NOT doing water aerobics.
At first I wore shorts and a tank top to the pool. And I had to go purchase these items because I never wore shorts. I certainly didn’t have a swimming suit. But after a few weeks, I grew tired of the shorts falling down and the top flying up during exercising and purchased a suit. I saw that everyone else in the class felt the same way I did. There was no longer any reason not to be comfortable in the class.
I am experiencing so many daily benefits of this new joy of exercising! I can wash and scratch my own back again. I can steady myself in the shower and when walking. I can sit straight up in bed without having to just roll out. I can lift and move my legs in any direction and height. My arms don’t ache from my carpal tunnel syndrome. (I still don’t have any strength; no cure for it. And I can still overdo and re-injure my wrists. But the aching is gone.) I can bend over and pick up things. I have real muscles and they are actually working for me. I don’t mind walking longer distances. I have full range of motion.
I am slowly losing weight.
I have made simple changes in my diet. No more DIETING for me. It hasn’t worked in the past and it won’t work now. I try to eat more fruits and veggies. And speaking of veggies, I don’t really enjoy them cooked. I’ve always forced myself to eat them because I knew they were good for me … except for potatoes and corn on the cob, of course. But I’ve always loved raw, crunchy veggies. And recently something clicked in my head … why force myself to eat cooked vegetables when I actually LOVED them raw?! Well, for heaven’s sake! So now I throw a few radishes and carrots or sliced cucumber on my plate and I am happy.
I try to order salads sometimes in a fast food restaurant instead of fries. I don’t always. I drink less Diet Pepsi, which is my biggest sacrifice of all. I try to drink more water and iced tea. I am thinking more REASONABLY about food. I know that I’d lose weight faster if I made better food choices, but my head isn’t there yet and I’m going with where my head is.
All this to say, that I am finally making the changes I wish I had made when was 20. And the changes aren’t putting me in my dreaded “box.” I hate structure and boundaries and lines. Diet and exercise always seemed like being confined to me so I avoided them. But I finallly connected my passions and joys with what was good for me … crunchy veggies and water and exercise! Who knew that was my winning combination?!
My husband and I go to water aerobics class together three times a week. We have a great time together there! We have a whole new set of friends there and laugh and play together and sit in the hot tub afterwards, feelilng very spoiled. When I think of the years that I deprived myself of the joys of being in the water again, I want to weep. I deeply regret this.
There are other joys I’ve missed … like amusement parks and concerts because I didn’t like the long walks from the parking lot and felt uncomfortable in the rides and seats. I’m not there yet but I will be. I am MOVING TOWARD JOY!
Young women, find YOUR winning combination. Take a deeper look at who you are inside make it work for you on the outside. It isn’t about how we look, it’s about being healthy and strong enough to enjoy this beautiful life God has given us.
Saying there is “more of me to love” has a new meaning to me now. There is more of ME to love now, not more of my flesh. And that’s the me I want to project to the world.