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Climbing the Mesa

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  • Climbing the Mesa

    I'm a little nervous to be posting here but, here goes:

    I have always been “the large one,” even in childhood, a branch amongst my twiggy friends and cousins. I began putting on weight for real during Junior High, to the amusement of some of my classmates, but I basically felt like me – felt like I always had.

    My mother is a good cook and did the best she could with a limited budget – which meant a grain, potato and rice heavy diet. I grew up in an extended family of gardeners, and I still remember how salad felt like dessert, because we only had the fixins when we grew them. Much of our produce we canned or froze –apple sauce, rhubarb, corn, green beans, tomato soup, and pickles were the most often preserved.

    There are many reasons I made food my friend. As an adult, just when I think I've figured it all out and start the process of healing from a particular reason, another crops up. I keep quoting Shrek, “Ogres are like onions, Donkey, they've got layers.” Food made life better, and I began to pack on ten pounds a year in high school, so that I graduated at a size 18. I don’t remember how much I weighed then. The weight kept climbing through my twenties until, somewhere around 30, I was over 325 pounds. At that point, despairing and angry, I used Atkins to get back below 290.

    I’ve been hanging out in the 260 – 290 range for years now (I turn 39 in a couple of months).
    I found MDA at the end of this past July and went about 6 – 8 weeks of 80 – 85% primal. I was feeling so good, so great, like I had lost a lot of weight. And then I did something stupid.

    Over a year before, I had put the scale away and determined never to step on it again. I was so excited now, that I pulled the scales out and stepped on. I weighed more than 20 pounds more than I had anticipated. Seeing those numbers destroyed something inside of me.

    It’s heartbreaking the way we allow things – such as numbers on a scale – to inform our opinion as to our self-worth and self-acceptance and whether or not we deserve good things in life.

    I labored through the following weeks, numb. I still wore my Vibrams and tried to do a few things primally, but I also surrendered to the siren call of sugar and sloth. I managed to make it through the holidays with only a little weight gain, I think – I had once again banished the scales.

    After I returned to my regularly scheduled, post-holiday life, I began to attempt rewriting some of the script to make things more primal. I've fashioned a standing work station, which I’m experimenting with to see how often I can use it. At lunch, I've been taking walks (weather permitting). I've started a goal of a hike a week and am experimenting with a different primitive road in the surrounding National Forest land. I don’t do well with the “you must do two days of heavy lifting and three days of walking, etc.” mentality. I respond much better to listening to what my body is saying. So, even at my weight, when the dogs and I are hiking, there are times when I get the urge to “run”. I lumber along for a few trotting steps, I’m sure looking for all the world like some walrus walking her pups. Or, I pass a wall and feel like this is a great moment for some pushups off of it and I do as many as I feel I can. Whether it is dancing while doing chores around the house, throwing some extra weight in my backpack, or dropping into a nice, gentle, stretching toe touch, I’m trying to make movement something natural, something just folded into the rhythm of my life rather than something I “have to accomplish today”.

    I still find myself not quite able to not end the day without something starchy/sweet, whether that is sweet potato, popcorn with real butter, Brazil nuts and cream cheese, dark chocolate or whatever. It’s possible that my choices aren't terrible, but I want to get past my reliance on this food experience as my comfort at the end of the day. If anyone at all reads this journal and wishes to offer me encouragement, it is in this single area that I feel the most defeated.

    One of my sisters is getting married in July and I know I will not have gained enough health to necessarily “look good”, but I want to feel good – feel healthy. Hopefully to be in a size other than my tight size 22s. However, I’m trying to look beyond that date and make this experience not about the wedding – or a couple of other momentous occasions happening this year that makes me wish I was “thin.”

    I have this deep feeling that if I don’t make this life change now, make it successfully, I never shall. I shall reap the sad rewards of un-health (non-health, really) as I continue to get older. Maybe it is a mid-life crisis. Maybe it is the realization that, if all things stay the same, I will surrender to the inevitable decline and decay, not with grace and joie de vie, but with the whimpering gasp of a gelatinous blob deflating. Maybe it is a desire to get out of this arroyo and scramble, on hands and knees, face in the dirt if necessary, to see the view from the top of the mesa. Because I am worth the effort. Because life, and beauty and the breeze on my face awaits. Whatever the reason, I want to make it to the top.