Losing (or Gaining) When Life Happens

By Special Guest Writer Lisa Benbrook

Years ago when I was very young and newly married, I was in a checkout line at the grocery store. Perusing the tabloids and “self helps” displayed there for the impulse buyer, I saw one of those mini-books about calorie counting. I ended up buying it because, especially back then, I was fascinated by all theories on weight loss.

I’ve always been just as interested as any other woman in having the perfect figure. Growing up my friends and I obsessed over our sizes and admired the “skinny” girls at school. My mother was very weight-conscious and my sister and I absorbed her philosophy.

Now that I’m an adult, I’m actually GLAD Mom insisted we could only ever have two cookies at one sitting! But in all honesty, I have never been obese. I’m a small-boned, short-statured girl who tends to hold just a little extra weight. At some times in my life I’ve even been a little plump. Some people said I was just right and should never lose any weight. Others said I should just work out, tone up. But I’ve never been fond of exercise for the sake of it. I hate weight lifting, jogging etc. I especially despise exercise machines!! Diets and calorie counting had only temporary results or no results at all for me. Cabbage soup diet: very good weight loss, but I felt faint most of the time. Adkins diet: Lost A Pound. Also I rejected any diet where I had to give up beer. J

So… back to this little book I picked up at the grocery store. It had a very small section which said, in part, if a woman does five minutes more of housework a day for a year, she will have burned enough calories to lose 10 pounds at the end of that year.”  Well, I bristled at that and totally dismissed it. Imagine! Was the book written by a man or what?? Male chauvinist pig! Yuck!

Ups, Downs, and Keeping It Going

Twenty years later, I have found, to my surprise, that my lifestyle is the only thing that has ever affected my weight.  That sounds silly, but if you think about it, it makes sense. For instance, I stayed a bit overweight after my pregnancy for two years. Reasonable. A bit plump for several more years. Still ok. Then… Life happened. My lifestyle changed when I began to work as a house cleaner, my child became a toddler, and over several years, without meaning to at all, I got extremely fit, toned and… thin!

Next, another lifestyle change: I got divorced and was suddenly back in the very fast-paced life of a single, dating woman. I stayed thin for the next five years due to not eating/dating/partying my socks off at the nightclubs ‘til 2 a.m. I felt great, although I can’t recommend the health angle here.

Then Life happened again… I fell in love with a man who loved to ride in 40-mile bicycle rallies and roller blade 20 miles around the lake. These endeavors I embraced with enthusiasm, and I stayed very fit for the first few years we after we were married.

That pesky Life… it just happens. As my man and I got older, things changed. He got serious about his career, worked long hours. I worked full time. We didn’t bike ride anymore, and I fell while rollerblading and was fearful of it ever after. Not surprisingly, my weight started creeping up. I eventually found myself 30 pounds heavier than I was when my husband and I met. I felt very fat and not sexy at all.

Thank goodness, a few months ago Life happened again. I got into a position to be able to change my lifestyle. I quit the job where I sat on my rear at a desk for eight hours each day, started gardening and… yes, vacuuming more. Six months later, I’m off my blood pressure medicine and have lost 15 pounds. I have not dieted or kept any organized exercise routine during this period of time. But I’m away from the company lunch spreads, the obligatory birthday cakes every week, the constant sitting in one spot. I have changed my life, and it has now changed my body. I just got into a size just above the size I was when I met my husband. I wore jeans with a shirt tucked in for the first time in eight years. I’m ecstatic about that.  I feel good about myself again. So now I’m gonna keep it going. I think I’m ready to get on my dusty treadmill and finish this project. Only 10 more pounds to go!

I realize that not everyone can change their work schedules, or quit a sedentary job. But I think it is possible to just…vacuum more?? Yep, I think the moral of the story is let your lifestyle help you lose weight. Works for me. 🙂

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Comments

  1. Great story Suzanne….I do think that you bring on a realistic view of body image and that lifestyle choices are the basis for how we affect our health. Sometimes it is, I must say, difficult to understand how body image has really evolved, and led people to do more damage to their bodies than do good.

    • Thanks Garick. This was written by my sister, one person who is comfortable with her body when it’s less than perfect :). I suppose pursuing a “dream body” is fun for some and a burden for others. When it becomes a burden, it ain’t worth it!

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