A Hearty Effort

You see this girl?

Me golfin

Me, at (or near) my very highest weight — and careless about my health.

She was in a pretty scary place, facing a lot of very heavy health issues (yeah, pun intended). She was well over 100 pounds overweight. She was inactive. She ate most of the right foods — just way (way) too much of them. She was depressed. She was tired. She cried. A lot. She was in denial. Really, she was, to put it politely, naïve. She was … she is me.

And I was headed down a scary path. With a family history of a lot of diseases, disorders and ailments, all that extra weight was dangerous. That laundry list of health issues includes:

  • Heart disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Arthritis

It’s one thing to be genetically exposed to some of these health concerns, but I was making things worse for myself by adding my weight into the equation. I mean, this is something I could control. This is something within my reach.  something entirely different. But instead of getting it under control, I was letting it slowly kill me. And I didn’t care.

Until I woke up. It took my obese butt breaking a toilet seat, but I finally realized what I’d been doing to my body for the 28 years leading up to that embarrassing “eureka” moment. And through a lot of determination, sweat and tears (lots, and lots of tears — yes, crying is apparently one of my life’s themes) I got my weight under control. And my doctor said she’d have never known I used to be “that overweight.” But it’s brought me so much more than a healthier body and an appreciation for actually living life — of being present. It’s brought me a new desire and drive to help spread a message of healthy living to those who are ready, willing and able to accept it*.

My new healthy lifestyle (golly, that sounds cheesier every single time I type it) has helped me broaden my horizons and find new ways to give back to my community. For one, I’ve recently joined the executive leadership board for the American Heart Association Start! Heart Walk in Grand Rapids. This walk raises money to fund research and education about heart disease and stroke — the No. 1 and No. 3 killers of people in the United States, according to the American Heart Association.

And I’m putting together a team to raise money and support this cause. I think these types of events are great because they raise money in a way that can help people directly improve their own health — walking, being active and encouraging others to join them. And they’re very visible, media-friendly ways to get the message out. You can’t help but notice a crowd of a couple thousand people — many of them in matching colors.

I am proud to be a part of putting together this walk. I’m proud that I’m in a healthy place so I can give my whole self to this project. I’m proud to be able to be an informal spokesperson (through my writing and personal interactions) for taking control of your health and improving your quality — and longevity — of life. I work hard to demonstrate my own personal effort and commitment to a healthy lifestyle in order to encourage others to take control of their health. Because it truly is within their grasp — within your grasp.

I’ve found myself getting involved in a lot of walks for a lot of the causes very close to my heart (pun, again, intended). So, I’m trying to raise a pretty decent amount of money across these various walks. At times I feel guilty asking the same friends and family members for donations. But I could never decide which one to give up. Besides, I can’t count the number of boxes of Girl Scout cookies, magazine subscriptions, jewelry items, candles and other such things to support friends’ and family members’ efforts. So, onward and upward I go. Giving my time, myself, to the causes I so deeply believe in.

So, yeah. You see this girl?

Me running

At the finish line for my first 10k race. That face is pure and utter joy.

She is in a good place. She’s healthy. She’s active. She’s happy. She’s in control of her life. And she is lucky to be healthy enough to give back in this way. Some people don’t have that option.

*I still have a hard time having patience with people who are stubbornly ignorant or lazy about a healthy lifestyle — but I’m working on appreciating their journey because I was kinda there once, too.

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One response to “A Hearty Effort

  1. Pingback: Loving the Loose Skin I’m In « That's All Joy Wrote

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