I didn’t mean to make you upset.

But reading about people who do these incredible things and are in tiptop shape and are scolding other people because they are not, always upsets me because …

I remember being twenty years old and deciding to “get into shape.” I tried running, but my doctor said I probably wouldn’t lose any weight unless I was able to do five miles. So, I took my bicycle and mapped out a five mile route at my college, and I determined I was going to work and work and work that route until I could run the five miles. But I was only going to do this every other day, because I was worried about all the pounding. You wouldn’t believe how sore I was for weeks. Thank God the stairs were narrow at my dorm, because my thighs were so sore I had to brace myself on the railings and “hop” down.

So, I did do this. For a year I worked and worked until I could run the whole thing. We have some VERY high hills at our school. Truth was, I hated it. But I made myself do it, because I was “fat.” (I weighed 145–150 lbs at 5'4".)

Unfortunately, I have short legs and no matter what I do I cannot run fast. I guess I lost about fifteen pounds, but it felt like it took up my whole entire LIFE. Between stretching and jogging and walking after (I’ve never been fast enough to actaully call myself “running”) and then being a mess and having to clean up, it pretty much took up my entire morning or afternoon, every other day. I felt like a slave. Every other day I’d get up and think, “Ohhhh, noooo, again? Didn’t I just finish?” Make no mistake, I was in the best shape I’ve ever been in (as I discovered climbing many flights of stairs with family), but I ended up SO discouraged.

Try as I might, I COULD NOT get faster at it. Everybody else out there jogging passed me like I was standing still (and there’s a lot of people jogging at a college.) I’d pick someone up ahead and try to force myself to match their pace thinking I could push myself and get faster and I never could. Friends picked on me because of how slow I was and how I didn’t look any different. (Um …. what? I went from a size 12–14 to a size 8.) And, God forbid I eat anything I liked and missed in my diet. The second I did … here came five pounds again.

That’s been the story for any kind of exercise routine or regime I’ve ever, ever tried. Other people just do better, faster, and with less effort. I haven’t been below 200 lbs in a very … long … time.

I’ve had to accept that whatever I eat (50–75% raw vegan is best for weight loss for me, but hideously time consuming) and whatever exercise I do, it takes me twice the time out of my life for half the result. Other people are thin and they never exercise at all! I’ve had friends who lose weight terrifically easily “just doing a little walking.” “Just cutting out sweetened tea.” Ugh.

I. Don’t. Even. Want. To. THINK. what I would have to do to be able to do the things you do. It just makes me feel like lead in my very stomach. Yet, um, the tone of the writing does sort of imply, maybe just a teeny, weeny bit, that those of us not this thin and in this tip top shape are lazy, don’t want to do anything, don’t exercise, and don’t care about our health. And we should work and work and work and work until we can do what you can do or else we are weenies. And … my goodness.

Last year I could swim fifty laps a day around, not across, our complex’s swimming pool here, and it’s a pretty big pool. It’s not Olympic size but it ain’t no kiddie pool. I worked back up to jogging four miles again. I am 52 and seriously overweight and by rights I don’t think anybody would look at me and think me capable of jogging at all.

I was SO proud of myself. I entered a 6K and I never thought I would do that. Not only did I finish it and jog the whole thing, but I was sort of in the middle of the pack and not dead last as I had feared.

Unfortunately it was a “Tacky Light Run”, so of course it was December, and right after I paid my entry fee I found myself coming down sick. I was so mad at having to miss the run I … went out and did the run anyway.

I got such a horrible case of bronchitis it kicked off this tachyarrhythmia issue I didn’t know I had and sent me to the ER and then to the cardiologist. It’s been really tough getting out there to try to jog again because I’ve been terrified of going tachycardic out there on the sidewalk and keeling over or something. But I’m trying to work back up to four miles again slowly. So far, so good. I am on an antiarrhythmic that seems to be working. (I’ve also been clinically depressed and trying to drag myself up off the couch without resorting to medication.)

Did I look at ALL different last winter? No. I NEVER do. There’s the same fat, sitting below my bra band. Maybe it got a little bit smaller on the road to the Tacky Light Run. But … not … much.

(I know! One salad every other day! Maybe that will do it! *snorts* No. No, thanks.)

I explain all this because there are limits to what I am willing to put up with. Yeah, it would be nice to be in the phenomenal shape you are, but I can’t imagine THIS body being your size and in your shape without me literally living in the gym, even though you don’t have to.

I knew this BEAUTIFUL girl once who also had to. She looked like a model. And when I asked her what she was doing … she was eating a carefully portion-controlled diet and working out THREE HOURS A DAY. Every day.

That is what some people have to do, and after 52 years in this body I’m pretty sure I’m one of them.

You know what? I’m willing to work up to four miles jogging (even though it’s always taken me forever to do the same distance some people polish off in half an hour). I’m willing to do that. And if it doesn’t make me a single digit size and I’m not wind sprinting up and down mega flights of stairs and doing one-handed push-ups and whatever else it is you’re doing ... what?

I think the undertone, and maybe it wasn’t intended, that anybody not in your shape is lazy and should be ashamed of themselves because they don’t want to be healthy and they don’t want to do any work is what upset me. Because my body is a real struggle for me and it has been since my late teens, and do I care if I get heart disease or diabetes or cancer??? Do I care if I’m 94 and in a wheelchair like my great aunt because I can’t walk anymore without falling down???

You betcha.

I write (sometimes) about how childhood affects adult relationships, and politics. Mostly I just read. Student of psychology, astrology, and life.

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