Beach Trip

April 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

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!

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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!

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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.

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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!)

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I actually like this picture I took with my daughter Annabelle but it probably does show some weight gain!

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This one, however, probably shows it a bit better.  Sometimes I literally think my butt has it’s own zip code!

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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!

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Véronique April 16, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Honestly, when I look at your pictures I see YOU shining with your kids….not weight gain.

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tb April 17, 2015 at 1:25 am

there, could not have said it better myself. this person, veronique, has posted the absolute truth. Holly, i love your clothes. even with a bit of weight on, at least you take pride in your appearance and dress nicely and look very presentable. i look like a bum, it is the truth. i also love your bible quotes and even though i have a very strong religious background, including living with religious nuns and sisters for years on end, i find your bible quotes very very interesting and i had never thought about that stuff before, incredibly. love your blog, love and salute all your hard work and efforts. here is to you, cheers and onward!

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Pam Holmes April 16, 2015 at 4:41 pm

Holly, I was nodding in agreement as I read the first part of your blog. So many things that happened to you, happened to me as well. I remember NOT going to a wedding that was being held in a yard, fearing the folding chair would sink into the earth if I sat in it. I missed so many things during the obese years. And you’re right, there is a big difference between choosing NOT to do something simply because you are embarrassed about how you look, and NOT being able to do something at all because of your weight. I have experienced both. This summer, my obese daughter-in-law invited me to the city pool with her and her daughter. When she arrived to pick me up, I was wearing long pants. She suggested I at least wear shorts so I could wade in the pool, and reluctantly I changed into some pants that hit just below the knee. When I got to the pool I was amazed to see that well over 50%
of the people there, all of whom were wearing swimming suits were overweight. I told myself, that I really need to get over myself. I am so sure everybody is staring at my less than perfect body, I kept myself from enjoying diving into that pool on a very warm day–and it looked so inviting. I remember too that first time I attempted a game of putt putt golf with my family during my weight loss journey. I had not played for years because of my obesity, walking and standing hurt so much. I was not yet at goal weight, but was down significantly in weight, and we were celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary at a state park. What fun it was to be able to really celebrate–including a round of putt putt golf. Like you, I never forget when I couldn’t do those things and I think it’s important to appreciate all that we have gained from our weight loss, even as we struggle to keep the weight off. Thanks Holly for the reminder today. I needed this!
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Brenda April 17, 2015 at 4:43 pm

Pam,
I’m with you with the get over it attitude. Yesterday I bought 2 pairs of shorts for the upcoming summer. Last year, I would only wear capri pants because of my saggy knees from weight loss. Forget it. I’m done being hot!

Holly,
I’m really proud of you for getting back in the fight. I know that when I was 354, I could physically not do half the things I am enjoying now. I may not be where I would like to be at this point, but I am working on it and my addiction to overeating and sugar. I may fall off, but I know I have the tools to get back on track. It’s a constant daily struggle to make healthy choices, but I know that I feel better off sugar. That’s for sure!

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Mrs Abella April 16, 2015 at 9:48 pm

Holly, you can do it! You’ve come a long ways, and you’ve gained ability to do things you enjoy! You’re right, at 400+ it is next to impossible to do things, and so we miss out on life. I’ve been there and understand that feeling all too well.

Our goal should be a healthy body, no matter the size or number on the clothes/scale. So what if it’s larger or smaller than someone else–God didn’t make us someone else, He made us…us!
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Anneli April 16, 2015 at 10:57 pm

Beautiful!! What a great vacation. Thanks for being so frank about how hard something like the beach is when you’re heavy. It reminds me to count my blessings! And we ARE blessed. My friend had 5 heart bypasses this week. 5! I didn’t even know that was possible. The sun is shining and our hearts are beating. We’re in great shape!!
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tb April 17, 2015 at 1:30 am

holly, i also just wanted to add that i have only lost two pounds since october despite trying pretty hard! maybe i am not really trying. anyways, losing weight is hard!! by the way, have you tried eating hemp hearts? i find they are very healthy and are more filling than other forms of protein. you might want to try them. without them i might not have lost any weight at all. anyways, good for you for losing at least several pounds recently, much better than i have managed to do.

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Emily Aldridge April 17, 2015 at 2:39 pm

Holly, Just wanted to tell you that you are doing a great work and You do inspire me.

Keep blogging! and Keep inspiring People that struggle to lose weight

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Tanya Martin April 17, 2015 at 4:33 pm

You are very brave to post your unflattering pictures. Although I think you and your family are lovely. I find I too hide behind objects to hide my weight. My husband laughs because I have to take 10 pictures to capture a single good one that I can post. Doesn’t matter if his eyes are closed in the picture, as long as I look ok. Your blog is very inspiring and I look forward to every post. Thank you for the encouragement.

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John (Daddy Runs a Lot) April 17, 2015 at 5:48 pm

I can go on, for a very long time, between “religious” and “spiritual,” and how people who claim to be “spiritual but not religious” are just lazy . . . but, unlike most of my comments here, I won’t go off on that particular tangent. Let’s just say that I consider myself spiritual, but not religious (and, for that, lazy). The beach? The beach is my center. It’s where I find strength and peace and where “everything is right.”

Every year, my family heads on a vacation, with several other families (20+ of us, all total) to the same beach. Every day, save for one (the day after a day that I’ve stayed up until 2-3 in the morning drinking tequila), I wake before the sunrise, bike myself to the beach, run along the beach until sunrise, do yoga/sun salutations, head into the water, run back, bike back, have coffee/breakfast. I think that it’s almost been a year since I’ve been through this ritual is why I’m dealing with such a funk — I need the restoration.

But, that said, running along the beach . . . well, it blows. I have to aim for a place where the sand has been packed by the waves — but I don’t actually want to run in active water . . . and if sunrise happens to fall around high tide? Well there is no packed sand, it’s all loose . . . and every step I take is difficult. So I get your “hard walking in the sand” bit — it’s something I know all too well.

I’m glad you got to get out & enjoy some time with your family . . . it really looks like all were happy.

And, as I still deal with “weight maintenance,” whatever the heck that might mean, I still have lots of parts of me that, as I’m no longer as big as I once was, just, kind-of, are there. They drive me nuts. But, well, I consider the skin that just hangs around my belly a battle scar.

Because conquering the food addiction? It’s a war.
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Vail April 25, 2015 at 3:32 pm

Thank you for the reminder about sand. I am heading to my sister’s to house sit in July and plan to spend most days at the beach. While detoxing from sugar I have let myself have some food items that normally I wouldn’t eat, but because they have no sugar I have let myself indulge. I would really love to be ten or fifteen pounds lighter before heading out onto the sand, so no more compensating! No sugar doesn’t mean everything else. This is me getting up and heading for the next wave, and I really appreciate the company.
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robin April 28, 2015 at 12:15 am

Your kids look so very happy.

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