13 months ago, my brother asked me a question
He said “Do you think you can get out of this hospital chair and walk to the end of the hallway and back?”
I weighed 417 pounds
I had just had major surgery
And so I answered him with no hesitation.
“NO…NO I CAN’T”
You know what he said ?
“OK THEN…..LET’S GO”
Didn’t I just say “NO, I CAN’T“??
So I repeated it
He smiled at me
And said “OK….I hear you…..now let’s go!”
I remember thinking back then
I really love my brother BUT
I’m not so sure I like him right now
But you know what?
I DID IT
I got up out of that hospital chair
And I rolled my IV pole with me to the door
THERE….I said….Good enough?
He laughed but I knew
He wasn’t going to let up
That is the longest hallway I’ve ever walked down
Walking at 417 pounds is painful anyway
Your feet are always swollen
Your back always hurts
The weight in my stomach is always trying to pull me over
And add to that major surgery
I told him halfway down the hallway that we needed to go back
He just looked at me and said
“OK I hear you….Now let’s go”
When I made it home from the hospital
He told me to pace the hallway
30 times back and forth
Ok it’s a small hallway but really???
Maybe I had expected he’d be a little easy on me
I did just have surgery after all, right?
Yeah I know what they tell you in the hospital
To start walking right away
But walking hurt
Walking always hurt
My life hurt
Being alive hurt
Before surgery and after
Being me was painful
Breathing was hard….walking was hard….living was hard….
Just existing was exhausting
I could be sitting in a chair doing nothing
And be totally and completely exhausted
When you’re 417 pounds, your body has to work so hard just to keep you alive
Getting out of a chair is like a marathon to a super obese person
The only problem with telling my brother these things
Was that he already knew
He had lived my life
But this same man
Ran a Triathlon yesterday
For the second time
So he just looked at me and smiled saying
“OK…I hear you……Now let’s go!”
So I paced my hallway 30 times
And the next day he told me to do 50
A few days later, he said
“We’re going walking outside”
It’s Texas…and it’s JULY
I’m over 400 pounds
I can’t even wear shoes because my feet are too big
And you expect me to walk OUTSIDE?
In the HEAT?
In flip flops?
Where people can see me??
“OK…..I hear you…..Now let’s go!”
So out the door I went
To the mailbox and back
It was exhausting
The next day we went one more mailbox
You know the rest of the story
Because I started with the hospital hallway
And I made it up to 5 miles
Over the next few months, Lee would come out to visit me
And every time he came I dreaded it!
Because I knew he’d throw something new my way
Remember that day I wrote about Rocky?
When he had me walk further than I had ever walked?
And when I wanted to give up
He busted out his phone and played the Rocky theme song!!
Lee is always making me do things I don’t want to do
And when I tell him I CAN’T do it
It just doesn’t seem to matter to him
He smiles at me and we end up doing it anyway
The funny thing is that you think you know yourself
I thought I knew ME better than anyone
But in the past 13 months, I’ve done things I never thought I could do
I just really didn’t think it was in me
That I was capable of it
Until he pushed me into trying
My brother left this comment for me the other day
I think we all need to keep this in mind when we’re struggling
Because one of the reasons I would always quit diets
Or quit working out
Was because it was hard
And I struggled with it
And somehow I thought that meant I was a failure
So it became easier to just NOT TRY
It became easier to just GIVE UP
I stopped believing in my own abilities a long time ago
Probably right about the time my husband walked out the door
Right about the time he said “I don’t love you anymore”
Right about the time he told me that I was the reason he could not live in the same home with his children
Because I was just too awful to be around
Too awful to look at
The only thing I ever really wanted to do
Was be a good wife and a good mother
And he told me that I had failed at both
I knew right then….at that very moment
That I was a failure
And that’s when I stopped trying
I stopped caring if I lost weight
It didn’t matter anymore
I was no good
I was a failure
So who really cared if I gained another 100 pounds anyway?
And I did
It was hard for me to make the decision to have this surgery
Because it cost a lot of money
Out of our own pocket money
And I didn’t think anyone should waste a dime on me
On someone who was always going to fail
On someone who wasn’t worth it
But my family convinced me otherwise
They told me that I was worth a second chance
And that no matter what happened
They loved me anyway
That long walk down the hospital hallway
Wearing the hospital gown and rolling the IV beside me
It was the first tiny glimpse of victory that I experienced
Because I did not believe I could do it
My brother did
But I didn’t
Until I made my way back into the hospital room and realized
I DID IT
30 paces in the hallway seemed too much
Until I did it
Counting mailboxes in the Texas heat was an impossible dream
And when Lee had to fly back home
I was alone
But something had changed
A tiny drop of confidence had begun to grow inside of me
And out of that came curiosity
What can I do if I choose to believe?
What can I do if I believe there is still hope for me?
Not long after that, I made my way all the way around the block
A victory to this day that is so sweet I can still taste it
My kids would throw ice packs on my legs when I returned
But the smiles on their faces proved that what I was doing had purpose
It had meaning
I wasn’t the only one being surprised
They were too!
The excitement at watching me do things no one ever thought I could do
And now here we are 13 months later
And I’ve done something I never ever thought I would do
I joined a Crossfit Box
After a conversation with an old friend who told me how it had changed his life
I said these words
“I wish I could do something like that”
And he said
Oh no…not ME….I could NEVER do Crossfit
And he said to me
Yeah ok….I hear you…..DO IT ANYWAY
He told me what he couldn’t do when he first started
And that the whole point of Crossfit
Is doing YOUR best
Can you do YOUR best?
What if your best is just getting off the couch?
Because that was MY personal best 13 months ago
That tiny bit of confidence that was birthed inside of me during my hospital hallway walk
Had grown big enough that I walked into a Crossfit box last month
And started a whole new journey
And let me tell you what I could NOT do
One month ago, I could not lift the bar at Crossfit AT ALL
The bar by itself weighs 45 pounds
Without even putting any weights on it
And I could not lift the bar AT ALL
While everyone around me was adding weights to their bar
I wasn’t able to even lift it—PERIOD
So instead I had a PVC pipe
I actually cried the first day I had to do this
Because I felt embarrassed
Here I am lifting a PVC pipe…and kind of struggling to be honest
While everyone around me is packing weights on to a bar that I can’t get to move an inch!
But by the next week
I was lifting the BAR!
And I was ecstatic
I still didn’t have any weights on my bar
But I was lifting it at least!
And I never expected to go any further to be honest
I thought that the bar itself was probably going to be my biggest accomplishment
But today my coach, Diana, asked me a question
“Do you think you could lift it with weights added on?”
I was wondering if she was talking to ME
I mean….come on….last month I could only lift a PVC pipe, right?
Can’t we be happy that we’ve gotten this far?
Surely you can’t be serious??!
Besides….I know what I’m capable of, right?
And without hesitation
NO I cannot lift that bar with weights on it!
To which SHE replied
“OK then….you will”
And she walked away to go get the weights
I stood there for a moment thinking to myself
Didn’t I just say “NO, I CAN’T”??
So I repeated it
She smiled at me
And repeated “I heard you….You will”
I’m not sure I like her anymore
She’s starting to remind me of my brother
She added the weights
And GUESS WHAT????
I DID IT!!!!!
13 months ago, I weighed 417 pounds
And I was sitting in an attorney’s office
Drawing up a will
Because I was ready to die
I could barely breathe
And life was too physically painful
I just didn’t believe that there was hope out there for me
And I wasn’t sure that it was even worth the effort to try one last time to change things
Sometimes we need people to ask us the question
“Do you think you can do it?”
And when we say “NO…NO I CAN’T”
They look us in the eye like my brother
Or like Diana did today
“Well OK then…..YOU WILL”
I was able to lift the bar with weights on it
And if Diana had not told me I could do it
I would never have tried
Do you have someone in your life who can do that for you?
If not, let me be that person
Let me be the one to ask you
Do you think you can do this??
If you just said no
Then let me quote my brother and Diana
“OK THEN…..YOU WILL !!!”
And I KNOW you can
Because if my brother can be told by a doctor that he has just a few years left to live
Because of his severe obesity
And this same brother can text me pictures of his 2nd Triathlon yesterday
If Merrily can do what she has done in only a few months time
If I can go from the brink of death
To being a member of Crossfit
Then you can too!
Don’t fool yourself
This is a battle
And the Father of Lies will tell you
That you CAN’T do it
But trust me when I tell you
That this is one battle you CAN win
I would never have known that
But for the people who have stood beside me
OK ….I HEAR YOU….NOW LET’S GO!
You really are stronger than you think!
Do you know why I know this?
Because of my son, CJ
It’s funny the conversations my two little ones have sometimes
They were in the backseat talking
I had just shown them the picture of me lifting the bar with the weights on it
Charlotte said to CJ…..”Mama is getting strong”
But CJ replied…”No Charlotte. Mama was always strong!”
And an argument ensued
“No she wasn’t, CJ! She could barely walk before!”
And CJ got angry!
” Mama was always strong!
Her “strong” was just on the inside
Where you couldn’t see it
Now her “strong” is starting to show
On the outside
There was silence
And then finally Charlotte said
“Ok…I think you’re right”
And then their conversation changed to more important topics
Like Peanut butter and jelly
And whether grape was better than strawberry
But I drove on down the road
And tearing up a bit
Because my son believed
That I had always been strong
It’s just that my “strong” was on the inside
Where you couldn’t see it
My “strong” is showing up on the outside too
You know what?
He’s right about me
And he’s right about YOU
Your “strong” may not be evident to the world
Maybe it’s not even evident to you
But to some people out there
Like my son
And when you say “I CAN’T DO IT”
“OK….I HEAR YOU……NOW LET’S GO!”
Because they know
They know your “strong” is in there
And when you believe it
It will slowly seep out of you
Until one day
The “strong” on the inside
Shows up on the outside
I told CJ when we got home how happy I was that I had lifted those weights today
And he said “Mama…quick!! I need to take your picture fast!”
And I said “Why?”
He said…”Because you’re so happy! I can see it falling out of you!”
So he snapped a picture of me!
And I thought
Wow….isn’t that a great way to sum it up?
The way you feel when you’ve accomplished something you never thought you could ever do
And then there you are
With the happy falling out of you!!!