Saturday, July 14, 2007


My neighbor is an inspiration. Several years ago she was in a bad car accident and spent a long time recovering from her injuries. She was always "plump" but post-accident she put on even more weight. She had significant physical problems, and lack of mobility plus comfort eating led to a really large woman. When I met her, she was, to put it bluntly, fat. Very overweight, and extremely pear shaped - she wore shapeless dresses all the time, she was always out of breath. She's around my age too, the age where so many of us give up and assume that as we get older, we get fatter, so we live with it, and after all, she had a fine excuse in her physical pain post-accident.

Quite a while back, maybe two years ago, she joined the gym after her PT benefits had run out, and started working with a personal trainer to pick up the slack after the end of her physical therapy. And it has been like watching the incredible shrinking woman. We don't see each other daily, our schedules are different, and weeks could pass without seeing each other. Every time I saw her, she was different. She started looking better, then better and better, then damn, she looks fantastic for her age, but she was still a slightly pear shaped middle-aged woman. And I thought wow, what a great thing she has accomplished, You Go, Girl!

But she didn't stop there. She just stuck with it, eating right and working out, and continued to shrink! And as she lost, her butt lost weight too, but she remained pear shaped, and I honestly thought that she'd get down to a nicely fit lady with a somewhat more substantial caboose, a J-Lo Butt, because "that's how she was made." I was wrong. My neighbor is now flitting around the neighborhood walking her dogs in SIZE 6 JEANS. SIZE. SIX. I haven't worn a six in at least 15 years. The other night I saw her wearing her black spandex gym attire, and damn, she has the body of a teenager. And now there is a big poster of her in the gym, and her story of how she did it. She lost 105 pounds. No plastic surgery, no stomach stapling, no nothing but good old honest diet and exercise. She says she was never thin in her life, she was always "pleasingly plump" and then got bigger from there. Now she's flitting around in the body of a hot young thing. Her husband must think he woke up in a parallel universe with a new trophy wife.

You know all of those excuses we make, the lies we tell ourselves, the stuff about how Once You're Over 40 (or 50) you get heavier and that's how it is, and Oh, I Have Back Problems, I Have Bad Knees, I have this reason or that reason, and of course, the old classics, "This is how I'm shaped, I'm not designed to be thin?" also known as "I'm Big-Boned." This woman proves that all of those excuses are just that - excuses, not reasons. If anyone had told me that this tiny woman in spandex was inside that very heavy lady in the Omar the Tentmaker dresses, I never, ever would have believed it. I'm telling you, she took every one of my personal excuses and reasons and justifications for my extra pounds and blew them all away. There is no excuse for not aiming to look like I did at 19. It can be done. And this is part of my overall vow to Never Settle - I will not settle for "looking good for my age" when I have proof right in front of me that someone with far more physical limitations than I have, and who had far more weight to lose, now makes me feel like the Fat Neighbor by comparison. She's really inspiring.


Jan B. said...

Wonderful story! I have always believed that, except in rare cases where circumstances are unusual, most people CAN lose weight if they just do the right things. Yes, being older does change metabolism, but you just work with that. (Sounds like you're working on it, too) I've never believed anyone who said, "I've tried every diet in the book, and can't lose weight." I honestly don't think they've followed anything correctly if that is the case. Thanks for sharing.

Janet said...

Hmmm.... I see what you're getting at and, of course, as a fat person my opinion on this subject is suspect! ;-) And not to be argumentative. But I do think people have body types. I have a huge chest and I always did, from when I was eight and started to wear a bra, onwards. I could lose 100 lbs, but I'll always have big boobs -- smaller, of course, but proportionally big. I've seen people lose a lot of weight and still have a butt, or flabby arms. So I'm not sure that every single person everywhere IS genetically cut out to be skinny. You, of course, may very well be!

I'm curious if you can tell if she has any loose skin. I think about that sometimes -- wow, what if I did lose those 100 lbs... would I have flappy skin?

Ginnie said...

I am also heavy and worry about the skin issue. But I also do not want to worry and feel guilty over every bite that goes in my mouth. I am losing weight now, but I got this way by being obsessed with food, and dieting and being skinny is just another food obsession.I have spent so much of my life dieting, I really am not sure I know how to eat normally anymore. I would like to be healthy and be able to enjoy things without feeling so awful about myself.But I do think most us have a set point that our body is comfortable being, and it may not always be thin. And, frankly, if the worst that can be said about me when I die, is that I was overweight, you know, I am good with that.

ChelleC said...

This story really is inspiring. I bought a treadmill last month . . . and I'm on a quest, but this story inspires me for those days when I say, "It won't hurt to skip exercise this one day." Yeah, it will because one day runs into two etc. I also need to add strength training to the mix once I make the treadmill a regular habit.