Becoming less of a person and being comfortable in my genes
by Carolyn Wyler
I had three strikes against me. One, I was a woman. Two, I had some predispositions in my genetic make-up. Three I was menopausal. Technically I could throw the menopause in with the whole being a woman thing, but for all the additional swinging of moods, having my life hot flashing before my eyes on a daily, if not hourly basis, bones deteriorating, body expanding, sleep depriving, fatiguing, depressing, that menopause has to offer.
I feel it totally earned its own separate strike.
I knew something had to change. I was stressed, anxious, depressed (genetic and hormonal), tired and frustrated. My back and hips hurt and I had a genetic tire around my belly. My cholesterol was elevated (thanks again, mom) and I couldn’t climb a flight of stairs without my legs starting to shake and becoming SOB (a medical abbreviated term for Short Of Breath and not a description of who some might argue that I am a son of). Overall, I was not a happy-healthy person, and the entire couch and potato relationship and food and mouth disease I had going on was not working well for me.
I always wanted to get healthy. I instructed patients on the subject on a daily basis and I found myself feeling a bit hypocritical. I would explain to them that they should cut the fat and get moving, all while I sat munching away at my potato chips, veg-ing out in front of the TV in the evenings.
When I first went in to meet Jenny, I was skeptical. She was full of promises of how good our relationship would be. Walks on the beach in a yellow polka-dot bikini, spending sprees at shopping malls for new clothes, reclaiming 10 years of youthful life, better nights in bed, etc. etc. It all sounded too good to be true. Promises, promises.
I have to admit our relationship was rocky at first. I couldn’t see me as Jenny saw me (as LESS of a person) and I wasn’t really sure how committed I was to our relationship. She was such a controlling bitch with a lot of limitations.
But she soon got in my head and I found myself unable to do anything without thinking WWJD (what would Jenny do?) If I really wanted a chocolate chip cookie and I knew Jenny would never know but I ate it anyway, I would inevitably feel so guilty that I ended up going in on my weekly confessionals, a.k.a weigh-ins and break down and confess that I only ate the one chocolate chip cookie and I would never, ever, ever do it again. I promise.
But that was the great thing about Jenny. She told me it was OK to indulge once in awhile but to keep up the good work and keep trying. I soon found myself both loving and hating her. Everyday I looked at myself in the mirror and realized that I was becoming what Jenny wanted me to be and ultimately what I wanted to be as well. I was becoming less of a person.
While Jenny was helping me with taking off the pounds I also devoured books on how to help with my emotional wellbeing and how to handle the stress in my life. While I lost a total of 32 pounds, there was at least that much weight on my shoulders that I carried around from stress and anxiety that I knew that I had to get rid of as well.
Exercise helped to increase my endorphin level, which ultimately improved my mood, but I also needed to learn my limitations. And so I am learning what I am actually and ultimately responsible for and what is someone else’s responsibility/issues that I sometimes try too hard to take on as my own. I am learning to let go of worry and stress and learning to say “no.”
I can’t say that things are all perfect now. I still have a bit of stubborn belly fat, elevated cholesterol, and a brain that wants to freak out at the slightest sign of a problem, all of which I can blame on genetic defects. And when you have hormones and genetics attacking you at once, sometimes you lose and have setbacks.
But as some addicts struggle so that they don’t fall back into their addictions, I too continue to struggle to remain on track. I realize the weight loss was the easy part. Keeping it off and not carrying around extra physical and emotional baggage is a bit more difficult.
I am enjoying being less of a person however and continue to work on becoming more comfortable in my genes.