I’m inclined to blame JD for my laziness and sedentary lifestyle. Where’s the 40-something mother of four who rode her bicycle to the grocery store when her car broke down? Who went out dancing with her friends? Who used a push mower to clean up the yard? She’s hiding under multiple layers of fat that’s where. Not that I was ever skinny. But it was such a treat to find myself able to wear size 14 the summer before I met him! I know, I know, 14 isn’t all that small by society’s standards. Well fuck society – I looked damn good in a 14! It was the first time in my life I can remember feeling good about myself. And I let it all slip away after meeting JD.
But, if I’m honest with myself, I was predisposed to be slothlike. As a child, as a teen, hell as a young adult it was just easier to do nothing. Don’t go anywhere or do anything that could result in rejection or humiliation. I learned that reading was safe. Books wouldn’t laugh at me or make fun of me. Seriously, when your so-called friends invite you to play Follow the Leader specifically so they can follow you, watching your flab bounce and exaggeratedly copying your less than graceful movements while roaring with laughter, how can you be expected to trust anyone? And why would you want to go outside ever again?
I know they were just kids but I was just a kid too, and at the time had no sort of support or positive influence to counter how they treated me. We lived with our grandparents then and had no idea where our mother was or if we’d ever see her again. And yes, that grandfather, the abuser; so yeah, books were my refuge, my solace.
And you know what happens when you read all the time? Remember this was the 1970s; there were no audio books except for blind people maybe; no Kindles or other e-readers. So when you read you sat or lay down and held a real life book. Every spare minute I was reading which meant every spare minute I was sitting or lying down. Of course I gained weight! The longer you live that way the easier it gets. Or perhaps I should say the harder it gets to break out of it.
After JD and I got together our dates consisted mostly of going out to eat – there’s his Jewish heritage coming into play. He’s fond of saying he was raised around Jews, Italians, etc. They all loved to eat and every family or neighborhood gathering had food as its focus. Back then I was raising three girls on a relatively low income and we rarely got to eat out beyond the occasional fast food or Papa Murphy’s pizza. (I know Papa Murphy’s isn’t “eating out” but it meant I didn’t have to cook so it was the equivalent in my book.) In any case I lapped up the nice restaurants, buffets and late night dessert runs like a cat addressing a bowl of cream.
In addition, he’d injured his leg badly a few years before and wasn’t up for dancing – my favorite form of exercise back then. It became easier and easier to sit for long periods. When we moved to Washington the long dark and dreary winters further drained any desire to get up, get out and do something besides work, eat and sleep!
So nearly 20 years later, I’m not wearing a size 14 and I’m still struggling with how to rekindle a desire to move. My friend bequeathed her bicycle to me and I’ve ridden it exactly once. Granted, it still needs to be adjusted for my height and none of the tools we have work on the one last part we need to raise. But it was also HARD! I remember riding a bike around our little farm and it wasn’t easy then, but it seemed a lot more comfortable than this one test ride I took. I don’t want to give up on this. Seeing my mother-in-law nearly bedridden with grossly swollen legs because she gradually stopped moving has me scared. I don’t want to be there in another 20 years. I don’t want to be reliant on the kindness of nursing staff or the diligence of my children monitoring said nursing staff.
I want to be independent and feel good for as long as possible. I don’t care about the size I wear any more (so I tell myself at any rate) I’d just like to find the right motivation to get myself up off my ass and moving, even if that merely means a walk around the block to start. I see my mother-in-law’s predicament and the light bulb goes on over my head – this is the inspiration I needed! Sadly, nothing has changed much. I tried walking in the parking garage last week (my co-workers and I go there to stay dry and the ramps help work multiple muscle groups, or so the theory goes). But that morning I stumbled on the train and again that evening I nearly lost my footing as I managed to hop aboard the train just as the doors were closing. The next day I was struggling to just get out of bed. I do take the stairs now when I’m only going up or down one floor. My knees can’t handle more than a floor at a time these days.
Another result of losing movement is that my house is a mess. Some days this bothers me more than the fact I breathe hard after a single flight of stairs. I used to be a decent housekeeper, damn it. It was still cluttered enough to be comfortable but I swept regularly and mopped floors. I didn’t do windows much or clean my oven regularly, but unexpected company wouldn’t have to hold their noses or clear off furniture to sit down. Now I find HUGE dust bunnies inhabiting strange places, and cobwebs drape gracefully from the ceiling in various locations. Now, I get by with the least housework I can get away with.
And I hate that I’ve come to this point. I want to be that 40-something woman again, with the energy and stamina to work full time and keep her house neat and play with her kids, now grandkids. How do I find my way back to her?
Without getting off the couch I mean?