My Better Half

By Susan DeBow

The last piece I wrote for Sasee had me weighing in at a house and a half. My new hip had led this horse to water to swim and start moving. The walk from my car to the pool made thoughts run through my mind such as: My, my, can’t they have a moving walkway like in the airport?

That was four and a half months ago. Today, I am happy to report that I am on my way to living my life in my better half. Not only am I ridding my body of excess fat globules, but I am working on ridding my mind of the clutter that added those globules to my personal portfolio.

I’m down 80 pounds with 80 to go. That is, to be at the weight I was when I was 25. My goal? To be able to fit into my wedding dress next year on our fortieth anniversary. Right now, the veil fits fine.

What have I learned on this journey to fitness? Lots.

I have learned that the gift of resiliency and healing power of the body is incredible. Part of my problem throughout my life was that I didn’t appreciate the gift I had been given. I’m not talking lovely, movie-star body with no stretch marks, or one where you can see Paris between your thighs. I am talking, two arms, legs, a heart and other organs that function well.

That I took them for granted is an understatement.

That was the past. I am so grateful that at the age of 59, in spite of years of over-indulgence, my body is forgiving me and inviting me to be its friend. Yes, the parts are older. Some parts are slower, some represent the work of gravity, and some have decided to allow wicky-wacky hair to grow in places that should be smooth, but those are minor inconveniences. Especially compared to the path that I was on…to an early grave or a permanent seat in the recliner.

I have found the beauty of movement. That is the difference between me and the young chicks. The term “exercise” still gives me the vapors. So far, I’ve walked out of four “exercise” classes after ten minutes. The act of doing deep crunches while holding twenty pound weights, with hip hop music on, does nothing for me. Not to mention that neither did the supposed Glee inspired class where knees were treated like rubber bands. That is the gift of getting fit this time around. I am starting to understand my body…when to say yes and more importantly, when to pick up my water bottle and say, “Sayonara, I’m off to the pool.”

In my younger years, because of insecurity or ego, I would have stayed and suffered and done more damage to my body. Now, I just trot on and leave the looks from others in my dust. As my granddaughter’s swim team members write on her back for a swim meet, “Eat my bubbles.”

I’ve learned that I am not big on repetitive, group exercise. In a short period I get bored with routines and teachers who are only comfortable if you do exactly as they do. My muscles and body tell me what I need and what kind of movement I need. I adjust my movement accordingly. Adding some movements and putting others on pause.

I have found the joy (I can’t believe I’m saying that) of walking. Have iPod, will walk. And I don’t need a walking buddy. The time I spend walking, listening to my music and thinking and dreaming is now one of my favorite activities. Two miles at least a day.

Sometimes, I leave my music at home and listen to the birds singing. Sometimes, I sing back. There is something in me that makes me want the birds to believe I am another bird in heat.

I’ve learned that fresh, unprocessed food is delicious. And easy. I love to eat raw things. And finally, I can see why Eve just had to eat that apple in the Garden of Eden. I am sure it tasted much better than the processed hamburger that was available at McEden.

Another thing I have learned is that a plate of food served at a restaurant is not a portion size. Unless you are talking two days worth of eating. In the past, if it was put in front of me, I ate it all so I could be president of the clean-plate club. Not anymore. I’d rather not need a nap after every meal.

I’ve learned that society treats me much differently now that I have lost weight. I am becoming visible again. Eyes that looked away now make eye contact. Greetings are exchanged. Part of that is because I no longer avert my eyes from shame. I also believe that part of it is people are responding to the little spring in my step. And the hope in my eyes.

Do I look wonderful in a swimming suit? No and yes. No, if you judge me by society’s standards of no cellulite, a front pooch or batwing arms. Yes, I look marvelous if you notice the attitude that this is my life, and I am back in the game – on my terms. And oh, what a feeling that is!

Instead of schlepping in, winded and wane, I am moving more like an athlete. There is purpose in my steps and a head on my shoulders that is engaged and laughing.

As it goes, I am carrying around two less forty pound bags of water softener salt. I have two more I want to lose. For years, that has felt like the weight of the world…physically, mentally and emotionally. Each pound I lose is a bullet of salt. One by one I am making the road I travel lighter and lighter. And eventually, I hope to only live in my better half.

About this writer

  • Susan DeBow Susan DeBow is a Midwest writer with a Southern heart. Her work has been published in the Chicago Tribune, Family Circle, Christian Science Monitor, Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Writer, Poets and Writers, among many others. Her first novel, Cleaning Closets, was published in 2007 by Dialogue Publishing.

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