Being overweight wasn’t just hard on me, but it was also hard on my family. I was often tired, and lacked energy for participating in activities that most people do without thinking. Going shopping for clothes, standing for long periods of time, walking up stairs and playing with my children were hard for me. I did all those things, but I quickly tired, and often found excuses to cut the trip or activity short. I remember one time when we were watching our daughter play soccer, and we had forgotten to bring our folding chairs. I stood there, and stood there for what seemed like an eternity, but was in reality only about 20 minutes. Finally, I looked at John and said, “The bugs out here are bothering me, so I’m just going to sit in the car.” And so I left him standing there – alone – to cheer on the team and our oldest daughter. As I sat in the car I berated myself for being a wimp, and not having the endurance to stand for just a few minutes. Once again I was angry with myself for being so fat.
One game that I did like to play with my daughters when they were small was the “rest game.” This game was an obese person’s dream. It went like this: I would lay on the couch in the living room and pretend to be taking a nap. They would run in and out of the room every few minutes yelling, “Don’t get up yet – your nap time isn’t over!” I loved that game, because I didn’t have to exert any energy or even get up. This game could easily go on for a half an hour or more. At the end of the game we’d all go and have a snack together. The girls something healthy like cheese sticks and apple slices, me something unhealthy like chips, chocolate and a cheese stick thrown in for good measure.
The games I didn’t want to play were those that involved any physical exertion. Things like bike riding, going for walks, dancing, throwing the ball, swimming, etc. were off limits for me. I would sit and watch the children play those games and participate in those activities, but I never joined in. I was the classic Mom on the sidelines. I was living my life on the sidelines. I’ve had people tell me that they don’t really have a lot of motivation to lose weight because they can participate in any activity they want to. I would have told you that too back then, but if you had asked me to “prove it,” I would have been hard pressed to follow through. I’d ask you this – Are you truly physically able to do anything you want to do at your current weight? If you lost some weight and improved your fitness level would that activity be easier and more enjoyable?
Rest game, as fun as it was, didn’t get me anywhere close to achieving my physical fitness and weight loss goals. The games I needed to be playing couldn’t be played on the couch. I needed to get up off the couch, out of the chair, and move away from the sidelines. Finally losing weight enabled me to really be able to participate in my children’s lives. No longer did I have to sit down while the rest of the family walked the nature trail at the park. Now I was leading the way through the trees.
How has being more active changed how you interact with your family and friends? Diane