Sunday, September 9, 2012

Carrying a Heavy Load: The Beginning of My Journey

Carrying a Heavy Load

Last week I transported two bags of goat feed from my garage to our humble goat barn not too far behind my house. The bags weighed fifty pounds each. As I hoisted one up and onto my shoulder and walked a short distance to a waiting cart, I could hardly imagine actually carrying that much weight all the time. I hoisted the second one up and took it to the cart. Three bags together would almost equal the amount of weight I've lost since October 1st, 2011. It's insanely crazy to think of a hundred and forty pounds of fat hanging on my frame day in, day out. If you put a bag of feed on each shoulder and one on your back, your body would immediately feel the oppression of its weight and, in no time, start to tire from the added load. A hundred and forty pounds! Good grief! That's heavy! 

The Things That Scare Me Most

I knew I needed to lose weight. I helped a co-worker carry a heavy item a short distance, and, once we put the object down, I was out of breath. Then it took forever for me to recover. My co-worker, who really isn't in shape either, kept looking at me and asking, "Are you going to be OK?" What a wake up call! If I am getting this way now, how will it be 10, 20, 30 years from now? What will I want to do that I will not be able to do? I could already see it in my life. I was not doing many of the activities that I used to because I was out of shape and lazy.

And the health risks of being overweight are undeniable. First there are heart problems, which run on my mom's side of the family anyway. I wasn't just overweight. My heart and lungs were not conditioned because of my sedentary lifestyle. The heart becomes weak due to its lack of inactivity, and its condition deteriorates. Just like any muscle, a lack of use will eventually render it useless.

Another health factor that really gave me the heebie jeebies was diabetes. I don't mean to minimize or make light of the disease, but it really is a frightening thing to have. Not only is it closely linked to cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes, it is a disease that, if it fully runs its course, causes one to basically slow rot. Diabetes ultimately damages small blood vessels as well as the nervous system. Ultimately, these two combine and many diabetics lose their eyes and limbs due to the slow decay of these body parts. If a heart attack or stroke don't get ya, its a slow, miserable death.

Over 11% of the U.S. population 20 years and older have diabetes. About 27% of people 65 and over have it. And the numbers continue to grow! In my state alone, the percentage of those diagnosed with diabetes grew from less than 1% in 1958 to almost 3% in 1985 to over 11% in 2010. Guess what other percentages grew as well? Obesity was a little over 10% in 1985 and up to over 31% in 2010! Now just because those two things happened concurrently does not mean they are related. Please don't be duped by junk science. But the correlation between the most cases of diabetes and obesity and inactivity are well established and documented. 

So what does it all mean? The risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and a host of other problems are greatly reduced by maintaining a healthy body weight and exercise. Yup, you can prevent most of these woes! Not only that, many of them can be reversed. Many with diabetes who lost weight and developed an active lifestyle actually reversed their disease to the point that it simply disappeared.

I knew I needed to act. If I did not, the future would be grim.

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