Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Very Personal Stuff

I never thought I would write about this here, but suddenly I want to share something about my personal "battle of the bulge."

The new trend in companies is "wellness" programs for workers. The idea is that workers who exercise and take care of themselves will be healthier, happier and cost less to employ and to insure. The theory is that when employers promote health and wellness for their employees, everybody wins. I think there is truth in that. Employers would do well to promote healthy lifestyles among their employees.

My company recently started such a program. It began with a pilot program emphasizing walking. I am a passionate walker, so I signed up immediately. In recent months, I have found myself at a plateau in my walking program. I am walking about as far as I can for someone who works as many hours as I do every day and then writes for several more in the evenings. I thought I was doing as much as I could possibly do in the way of walking. When the company started the "wellness" program, I signed up mainly in order to get the pedometer and find out how far I really walk every day.

The goal for the group is to build up to 10,000 steps a day over a period of several months. That sounds like a lot. It is. Ten thousand steps is approximately five miles. The very first day, I walked more than 13,000 steps, and I only wore the pedometer for a few hours. I realized almost immediately that my "normal" walk is about 10,000 steps. My "long" walks on the weekend are considerably more. I put in approximately 30,000 steps over the weekend and did not wear the pedometer all day either day.

We officially started the program yesterday. I'm at 29,000+ steps for the two days.

On the one hand, to someone who is really in great shape, my piddly ass walking program is probably not a big deal. I am not one of those hard bodied women you see in the gym. I have way too much skin for the size of me, which is gross. I don't feel like I'm in great shape and I don't look like I'm in great shape. That means that I don't think I should get any prizes for exceeding the goal at the very outset of the program. To me that only means that in order for me to really follow the program and increase my activity will be difficult. I may or may not be able to achieve that goal. Maybe the best I can do is to keep up at my current pace. Part of me believes that should be good enough.

By way of background, I should say that when I was in elementary school, I wore "chubby" girls sizes. When I graduated from high school, I wore a size 18 dress. When I was 22, I wore a size 20+ and had difficulty walking up one flight of stairs to the bathroom in my apartment. When I was 24, I lost more than 100 pounds. In the intervening years, my weight fluctuated some, but I never went above a size 14.

After I reached menopause, I got serious about trying to get my weight down as far as I could because I had developed high cholesterol. This year I will be 54. I wear a size 10. I walked nearly 8 miles today and barely broke a sweat (other than what you would expect due to the 90-degree heat). I realize that in some circles a size 10 qualifies me for fat cow status, but given my personal history of obesity, a size 10 is damned near incredible. When I was in high school, I could not have walked eight miles on a bet; now as a middle-aged lady, I can do it on a weekday evening after working all day and without any difficulty at all. Is that cool, or what?

I am exceedingly proud of that accomplishment!!! I encourage anyone who is overweight and wants to do something about it to simply walk up the street, and then around the block, and then around the neighborhood....... It seems so simple. It is. A simple thing that can change, enhance (and lengthen) your life.

Whether or not I can increase my daily activity remains to be seen. I would like to get down to a size 8. I don't know if I can do that. I intend to give it my best shot.

What I do know is that I am literally half the person I used to be. I have twice the energy and exponentially more stamina. I am 54 and I do not take any kind of medication on a regular basis. I am no America's Top Model, but I look pretty good by my own past standards.

Who knows whether or not I will live any longer because of it. I can say that I believe with all my heart that I live better because I lost weight and exercise regularly.

No comments: