About seven years ago, after an annual checkup with my primary care doctor, I sat in my car sobbing uncontrollably. My doctor had just diagnosed me as “diabetic”. Here I was sitting in my car, just turned 40 years old and diabetic was the very last word I wanted to hear associated with my health. I know to most people this sounds like a common and insignificant diagnosis to throw me into such a tailspin, but I understood on a more personal that anyone else why diabetes is called “the silent killer”.
Culturally diabetes “sugar”, hypertension “pressure” etc. is commonplace and because it doesn’t seem as life threatening as, say, cancer or HIV, it is relatively accepted as the “Oh you just take a pill or an insulin shot for the rest of your life” disease. However I knew differently, I knew too well from watching my mom, how this disease affects your body. and life.
My mother was diagnosed as a Diabetic in her 30s, by 40 years old, she’d have a triple bypass, and by 50 years old she was on dialysis for kidney failure (yes, diabetic medication breaks down your kidneys with long-term use). My mom passed away at 56 years old. She had so much love and light and life left in her she wanted to live but years of complications had taken a toll. So why, at 40 years old was I sitting here with this same issue?
On my follow-up visit, consulting with him about my options (most of which I knew, like healthy eating and exercising) but did not follow and was taking my life for granted, and ardent about not wanting to be on the medications we explored the idea of gastric sleeve surgery, which showed indications of diabetes being gone in patients virtually immediately after the surgery. So, even though I was not obese enough to be considered “medically necessary (I was 254 pounds at the time) my medical insurance would cover the surgery because of the diabetes diagnosis.
In April 2013, I underwent the surgery and proceed to lose about 75 pounds in about a year and a half (lowest weight after surgery 181 pounds) In another blog post, I’ll speak on self sabotaging behaviors but I think it’s interesting to note here that my unspoken goal weight at the time was 175 pounds (6 lbs away from my lowest).
I hit the gym about 3 times a week on the treadmill (I did not know how nor was I interested in any of the other equipment, strength training etc. – walking was comfortable for me) and about twice a week on the trail near my home. I thought I would never see over 200 pounds again. However, unhealthy eating habits, procrastinating, lack of motivation to exercise was not cured with a surgery and add a series of unfortunate events i.e. Hurricane Irma and its damages, stress about a business I couldn’t get off the ground, empty nesting when being a mother was my entire life, led to a 40 pound weight gain over the next 4 years (10 pounds a year is easy when you’re not paying attention and by summer of 2018, I’m standing on my scale over 220 pounds wondering how did I get here?
In that moment I realized that there is no short cuts to success, no easy road to your long-term goals. If I wanted to be healthy, to manage my weight and all these “hereditary” diseases, I had to break a generation cycle of sick and unhealthy, I had to do the work.
I picked up the phone and called a personal trainer. I called up a few friends and family members and started a fitness group to train together – there is strength in numbers – an accountability. In the six months or so that I’ve been working out with Alphonso Hopson of Empowering Love Fitness, it has not been easy. I’ve quit on myself many times. I’ve cussed, cried, prayed and walked away saying I was never doing it ever again. I’ve went to bed sore and woke up with every muscle in my body screaming at me. I even fired him a couple of times (Give thanks that Al is persistent in his quest to assist people in being a healthier version of themselves) Although we still fantasize as a group about being strong enough collectively, to lift his ass and throw him in the canal across the street.
Lacing up is hard work for me EVERYDAY. I will myself to love the burn. I need it to become a habit, as routine as a shower, brushing my teeth, my meditation practice and time in my prayer closet. It’s not easy, I’m nowhere near where I want to be but I am determined to not give up on myself. I don’t let the scale and inches define my goals but feel good about feeling stronger every day. Some days, it’s not about healthy or building muscles, it’s just therapy. I’m watching my body get stronger. It gets less hard. I recommit to loving myself and doing the work necessary to be a better me.
Sometimes,, I think about my mom and it makes me sad. She didn’t have the same resources available as I do. I am blessed with a supportive husband, to be in a position in my career that I can block out time in my schedule for myself, I am financially able to afford to pay someone to show me the proper way to train, I can afford to healthier food options . I don’t always get it right. I still reach for comfort foods on particularly stressful days, I still never get up excited and loving the idea of hitting the mat or the jumping jacks but on the days when it’s especially hard… I center myself, remember that I am making a choice to S.O.A.R (find the Strength Over All Resistance) and when I have to push through and feel like I have nothing more to give… that last jumping jack, crunch, push up, squat or if yoga, that warrior pose… I whisper to myself “this ones for you Mom”
Strength Over All Resistance