Last week we went to the beach. It was a gorgeous beach in South Carolina on property that also had a pool, putt putt, ping pong and other fun activities. Everything was in walking distance. It was so wonderful to have a week away from everything and to spend time with the kids. The best part, though, is the fact that I CAN.
I guess by now it seems like I’m repeating myself. But this really never stops getting old. The fact that I CAN do these things. In the past this would never have been an option for me. My physical abilities and level of energy were just too low when I weighed over 400 pounds to take advantage of these opportunities. People probably just think you don’t want to go to the beach for superficial reasons. Like the way you will look in a bathing suit. But I long ago stopped letting things like that hold me back. When you’ve been overweight for the majority of your life and significantly obese for awhile—you get to the point where you have to let go of the superficial. If you didn’t, you would never go anywhere. Of course it bothers you that you don’t feel confident about your looks. It definitely affects you if people stare. But ultimately you get out there anyway because regardless of the superficial this is still your life. And you simply must live it. No matter what you think you look like in a bathing suit!
But there comes a time when that is not the issue. It isn’t what you look like. It isn’t superficial. It’s the real life practical issues that get in the way. It’s the physical obstacles that keep you home. Walking on the beach sounds so peaceful doesn’t it? But here’s the REALITY. Walking on the beach is not nearly as effortless as people think!! For one thing there is the initial effort it takes to get from the car to the beach. Usually this requires walking through an uneven sandy trail or path leading to the beach where you usually encounter hills of some kind that you must walk over and through before finding a location that is less tenuous.
Walking in sand requires a lot more physical strength than walking on a hard surface. You must use muscles that you don’t usually use in everyday life because of how your feet move and shift in the sand. Let me tell you something . Walking ANYWHERE at 417 pounds is not easy. Even on the most stable and flat surface. It is often extremely hard to maneuver through life in this situation and because you are weakened by the excess weight you often are at great risk of falling . This is how I ended up spraining my ankle multiple times at that weight. I even fractured the bone in my foot once merely from the weight. Falling when you are over 400 pounds is also a great risk because you can severely injure yourself AND it can be extremely hard to get up again without significant help from others. All of this makes walking a fearful task. And one where you must be extremely cautious. Always carefully surveying the area around you to make sure you are not going to fall. And walking on the beach is something that is NOT stable. The sand is always shifting. There are sticks and shells and other objects that can get in your way. When other people just hop out of the car and head to the beach effortlessly—those of us in this situation have a much different experience.
There are other issues as well. I can remember once going to the beach at a large weight and sitting in a beach chair. My weight on the beach chair caused the legs to collapse into the sand. If I had been on concrete that would not have happened. Of course my weight may have broken the chair (that happened to me many times) BUT on sand there is a second issue. You may not break the actual chair BUT the legs may not be able to stay on top of the sand. They may collapse into it making you fall. Falling as I mentioned is never fun!
The beach house we stayed in was full of stairs. From the garage up to the main house. And again to the floor with the bedrooms.
And I want you to know that even NOW it wasn’t that easy for me to climb those stairs. I do have arthritis in one of my knees and when I lost down to about 180 pounds the feeling from that completely went away. Since I have put some of my weight back ON, it is amazing what a difference it makes. I read once that every pound you lose is the equivalent of 4 pounds off your knee. That means if you gain back 50 pounds it is like you have placed an additional 200 pounds on your knees! There is no wonder why our knees are so affected by our weight.
Even though I have regained some of my weight, it is nothing compared to being over 400 pounds. The fact that I can go up and down stairs, walk on the beach, get in the pool, play putt putt and ping pong with my children is all a miracle. And I don’t say that lightly. I could spend a whole 30 pages just detailing to you how each of those activities requires great physical strength. I don’t think people who have ever been extremely obese can really understand just how much physical strength is required to do even simple things. But it does.
Take getting in and out of a pool for instance. Unless they have steps or a zero entry system that allows you to gradually submerge—you are out of luck. It is very hard to climb up a pool ladder if you are overweight. Remember that being in the water adds weight and pulls you down. Climbing out of the water is a strenuous task and if you don’t have the physical strength to pull your weight up a ladder it makes it virtually impossible.
Ping pong is an activity that requires you to stand for a long period of time. This was not something I could have done at over 400 pounds. The same of Putt Putt. Another activity that requires a lot of maneuvering over unsteady and uneven walkways. Up and down hills. And STANDING with more STANDING!!!
Then of course there is the mere issue of walking everywhere. Walking to the beach. To the pool. To anyplace you want to go.
The beach should be a relaxing experience. Being invited to spend a week at someone’s beach house should be like winning a vacation! But for someone who suffers from obesity it can be another invitation you must say no to simply because you cannot overcome the physical obstacles that stand in your way.
This beach trip was a great reminder to me that losing weight is about living life. It isn’t about fitting into smaller clothes. Or looking good in a swimsuit. It’s about being able to walk without fear. Fear of falling. Fear of not fitting. Fear of giving out from lack of energy. It’s being able to participate WITH your family instead of remaining on the sidelines or being left behind because your body won’t allow you to keep up.
Here are some pictures of our trip!
Sometimes in the struggle to overcome food addiction, we become tired. I know I have at times felt that way. In the past year I have struggled so much to just renew my motivation to keep going. At times I just feel exhausted with the process. Sick of the fight. When sugar has reared its ugly head at me again, I have succumbed. I have found myself at times weakened again by its addictive allure. Fighting the ravenous hunger it always produces in me when I eat it. When I eat sugar, it stirs up chaos inside of me. A lack of peace. Always hungry instead of satisfied. And while many out there don’t understand why or how we can go back to something that is so tortuous to us….I know others do get it. Because in so many ways it is exactly the struggle I described on the beach.
Staying away from the addictive lure of overeating is often like walking on that uneven path. You never know where you might get tripped up. Which sand trap might be waiting for you. Which sink hole will swallow you up!
My kids had fun playing in the waves. But there was one wave my son thought he could take. And it went right over him. For a moment he disappeared! And then he popped up again. He coughed. The saltwater in his eyes stung. And he started heading in closer to the shore. I watched as he seemed for a few moments uneasy but then once again he got his balance. I had stood up from my beach chair thinking he was going to come back towards me. Leave the waves behind. But the opposite happened. He just started again. Ready to take on the next wave!
That’s what I have to do. That’s what WE have to do. This battle is not easy. And it will not be won without continued efforts. We cannot quit because the waves overtake us. We cannot become defeated because we were overtaken by something stronger than us. Instead we must simply be like my son. And get up anyway. Not walk back to the shore afraid. But instead shaking it off and continuing on in the game.
I’m happy to say that while sugar is a formidable opponent for me—I know how to beat it. And while it is not easy for me, it can be done. I will never be the fighter with a perfect record. I will never be the champion who has never been knocked out. But what I will strive to be is the one who simply refuses to get out of the ring. Who refuses to stay down. Who keeps getting up after every wave refusing NOT to try again.
This beach vacation was a reminder to me that life is meant to be lived. But it’s meant to be lived with our eyes open! Because living life comes WITH two promises.
One is that it will be full of trouble! Jesus actually assured us of this very thing before He ascended into heaven!. He said:
“In this world, you will have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration” —John 16:33
Now surely He was referring to much more tragic issues like illness, wars and the death of loved ones. But I have to tell you the description of “trials, distress and frustration” could in so many ways describe the journey of trying to lose weight!
Regardless of which trial we are referring to, I’d say that it’s a pretty specific and detailed guarantee that life WILL be tough.
But that isn’t all He said…..Because there is another part of that verse.
“But be of good cheer, take courage, be confident, certain and undaunted!! For I have overcome the world. I have deprived it of the power to harm you and have conquered it for you” —John 16:33
So that means we can get knocked down and know that it was to be expected. We don’t need to sit around simply considering ourselves failures because we experienced some trials. Some frustrations. Or some setbacks. On the contrary—we should be undaunted by it all because that means life has been delivered—EXACTLY AS PROMISED!
My waves are usually not salty like the ocean.
They taste a lot more like ice cream and donuts.
Some must rise from the ashes.
But I mostly need to just rise from the powdered crumbs of yesterday!
You may have noticed that most of my beach pictures are the kind so many of us take when we are unhappy with our weight. Carefully placing our children around us to hide the weight we are carrying. If children are not available, a plant will do! A table, a chair….whatever works! And that is how I have felt after having regained some of my weight. Like hiding behind a plant, a child, a pole!
But hiding does us NO good. And besides—who do we need to hide from? As I said before, when you live life in a bigger body you must learn to deal with that reality. It doesn’t mean you aren’t working on it. It doesn’t mean you are accepting that as your fate. BUT everyone deserves to live. No matter what their size. And regardless of that number on the scale, we all deserve to enjoy our life. Right now. AS IS.
So here are some of the more unflattering pics!
(Sitting down is NEVER a good look for me even at my lowest weight because some things I carry around just don’t respond well to gravity!)
I actually like this picture I took with my daughter Annabelle but it probably does show some weight gain!
This one, however, probably shows it a bit better. Sometimes I literally think my butt has it’s own zip code!
But regardless of some regain I have experienced—I know that I have much to be thankful for! I am thankful for the 13 pounds I have lost in the past month since getting off sugar–again. This recent sugar detox was like trying to ride a bull! Every time I thought I was going to beat the sugar, it would throw me right off and onto the mat again. I just never thought I’d ever find the strength to beat it. And you know what? That is always how it feels when you’re in the middle of it. So I’m grateful for breaking through that barrier again and finally feeling hope again. I’m also grateful that I still maintain the freedom from the 160 pounds I have NOT gained back. Because each one of those pounds is proof that while losing weight is not easy—it IS possible.
I’m so grateful for God’s many blessings and the promise that with each day comes new strength to fight again! So lets remember that while food often seems like the enemy we will never defeat—-even donuts have HOLES! They aren’t as solid an opponent as we think! Right in the center they are empty and so it is up to us to remember that. That food has at its core an empty promise. Just as the middle of a donut is filled with nothing, so we are filled with nothing lasting when we go to food for comfort. And while food (especially sugar) can be powerfully alluring and addictive, it still has NOTHING on the power that God bestows on us when we ask Him for help (Matthew 7:7)
So in the meantime let’s embrace each and every day no matter what the scale says! It’s only today we are promised. So let’s live it!