The year I turned fifty, my health went down the toilet. My colonoscopy turned up a precancerous lesion that required surgery, but fortunately, needed no chemotherapy or radiation. The retina specialist diagnosed my advanced macular degeneration, and I was in and out of the dermatologist’s office with numerous skin problems. The last straw was finding out I was borderline diabetic because of the weight I’d gained.
The cancer scare and the macular degeneration were upsetting. Perhaps because it was the last of the run of bad health news I got, the diabetes sent me over the edge. I spent several days crying about the shape I was in. That so many things turned up at the same time was a wake-up call.
The answer, as you know, was to lose weight. Diet and exercise. Ugh. Hard to say which is more difficult, but since losing weight is eighty percent diet and twenty percent exercise, I’d have to say dieting was the bigger challenge. Joining Weight Watchers helped. Sticking with the plan helps even more.
Having done nothing but sit on the couch or at my desk for maybe fifteen years, getting active took some doing. In fact, I really didn’t get active enough to make much of a difference for three-and-a-half more years. Don’t get me wrong. I worked at it, but was in such bad shape that I just wasn’t able to do much.
Next month I’ll be 55 years old. Even saying the number makes me feel ancient. For the last year-and-a-half, I’ve been exercising for at least thirty minutes four or five times a week, often more. I’ve become a runner, and even enjoy (sorta) the weight-lifting.
Two years ago, I weighed fifty pounds more than I do today. When I saw my regular doctor this week, she said she wants to take me off all the medications I’ve been taking for the last decade. I thought you had to stay on statins forever, once you started, but she said that wasn’t true for someone whose lost fifty pounds.
I saw my dermatologist too. She froze a bunch of age spots on my hands, making me look like I burned myself with a cigarette–about a dozen times. I told her that the problems I came to her for years ago have mostly disappeared. She said losing weight and exercising made the difference. Who knew?
Next month I’m having surgery to repair a hernia–an operation I’ve known I needed for decades. I’m in great shape, so the doctor expects the surgery will be a breeze. I’m worried about aftercare, now that I live alone, but my recent ex said he’d be there for me. Nurse friends tell me I should be fine on my own after the first twenty-four hours. We shall see. My biggest concern, frankly, is the disruption in my exercise regimen. I’ve come too far to backslide now.
After that’s done and I’m back on my feet, I’m going to have cosmetic surgery to remove several moles from my face. Because I slice the top off a mole on my lip when I shave, I’ve kept a mustache for as long as I’ve been able to grow one. I suspect that getting rid of my very gray goatee and mustache will make me look a lot younger.
I know my success has inspired a lot of people, particularly my old high school pals, to make changes. I hear from folks now and then who say they admire me for sticking with it. They tried and just couldn’t do it. I suspect, based on my own experience, that perhaps they are trying to imitate my current active lifestyle when they’re probably where I was four years ago.
Baby steps. Do what you can today, and try to do a bit more tomorrow. Whatever you do, don’t give up! I haven’t, and today I’m a different person because of it. You can be, too. I promise.