Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Looks like I'm a bit too late

I have been overweight for, at this stage, most of my life. Looking back I wasn't half as fat or as heavy as I thought I was when I was a teenager but for various reasons (my toxic stepmother being the main one), I thought I was huge. While I did have a lot of weight to lose, it was still just "normal" overweight. If there is such a thing. During my late teens and twenties it fluctuated. I'd keep trying and do well for a while and then the next crisis or the next bout of depression would hit and my overeating would get out of control again.

Coming up to my 30th birthday I kept saying it was definitely time, had to do it, now or never, at least my skin would still have some elasticity so perhaps I won't have quite as big a problem with loose skin after I lose weight as you see in those tabloid stories. And I did have another phase of losing a bit, making some progress (I was in therapy at this stage so working on other issues but also on the mental side of overeating as well), backtracking a bit, making a bit more progress. And then I moved to Germany.

Weightwise, I actually did pretty well for the first few months and of course then everything went pear-shaped and I ended up having to move to work in the department with the mega-asshole-bully for a boss and, although I did attempt it once more, weight piled on rather than dropped off. Over eight years in total (four working for the bully), working in a very high stress environment, more often than not struggling with depression and generally not doing well at all I ended up gaining about 16kg (about 35lbs, or 2.5 stone for those who don't do kilos).

Once I finally quit that job I really wanted losing weight and getting healthy to be at the top of my list for things to do. At my very heaviest my knees were starting to complain a little bit, although that did go away when I lost the first 3kg. It took me longer to get over that job than I thought it would so that really it was already March before I started seriously going for walks and paying more attention to what I was eating. I wasn't too bad in January and February I don't think but it was all a bit haphazard.

In April then, I got my new job and was thrilled. A move, a close to dream job, a new start, a new life. It might now be more than ten years since I said, "Yep, definitely have to lose the weight now, while my skin is still elastic and all", but maybe it wouldnt' be too late to at least set myself up for a decent quality of life when I get older. I'd have very little money but not working full-time would give me plenty of time to exercise and cook properly every day, once I'd lost a bit of weight I could start a pilates class, lose a bit more weight and be able to start yoga. I might be later starting than ideal but my 60-year-old self would thank me for it. And then the move happened.

That six weeks was honestly one of the most physically and mentally demanding times I have ever been through. I completely overdid it but, on the other hand, there was no other option. It all had to be done and it was just my tough luck that I lived on the fourth floor with no lift. Once it was all done I hoped that a couple of weeks of taking it easy would be enough to get me back to normal so that I could get on with things once and for all. It took more than a couple of weeks but I was determined to give my body all the time it needed to recover and since the weather was so hot anyway, not moving a huge amount was fine with me.

When the cooler autumnal temperatures finally started to arrive a few weeks ago I was thrilled. Finally. I'd be able to get out and go walking. Maybe I'd even give the bike another go. I still started off slowly, incorporating smaller walks into my day. Getting off the tram a couple of stops earlier and that kind of thing. And then I decided to walk to my new choir from work as the bus connections aren't great. It's a 4km (2.5 miles) walk down the river and I enjoyed every second of it, even if it did take me nearly an hour, slower than I was walking back in March. But my body didn't really seem to like that too much. I dialled things back for a week or so but then not only my knees but also my back started complaining and I decided that it really was time to just go to the doctors. Hoping they wouldn't tell me I'd actually torn or damaged something during the move.

After a visit to my GP last week I finally had my appointment with the orthopaedic doctor today. Really happy that I was able to get an appointment in just a week, even if I did have to wait a long time when I got there (about 45 mins after my appointed time then another hour or so inbetween seeing him, waiting, xray, waiting, seeing him again, waiting, and finally getting imprints taken for my new orthotics (since I was there anyway - I've overdue a new pair)). Unfortunately it seems like my grand plans of a new life and a new me and finally getting things under control before my body breaks down are coming just a bit too late.

The move probably did end up being the final straw but it's not anything simple (joke!) like a tear in the meniscus or anything. Nope, it's the beginning of arthritis. I should definitely lose a lot of weight as soon as possible but even so, I'll probably need to have knee replacements at a very young age and basically, will just have to put up with the pain as best I can. Obviously if it got bad enough that I couldn't walk, they would do something but it's all basically just a degenerative thing, too many years of too much strain (due to my weight) and that's that. At least I know that I am allowed to move, I'm not going to prevent something from healing if I do start walking again. It'll just always hurt a bit. He has recommended cycling and swimming as the best activities - they will apparently help more of the naturally occuring joint fluid to be produced. Cycling more than swimming, which is good as I already have a bike and swimming costs money. I could also get injections of hyaluronic acid, which are supposed to supplement/replace the missing joint fluid but unfortunately they are not covered by health insurance and cost €230 for, I can't rember, perhaps six shots? More than I can afford at any rate.

I'm finding it a bit hard to deal with to be honest and am desperately fighting feelings of just wanting to give up. I need to lose weight now more than ever and can't afford to let this throw me. But my old perversity is rearing its head a bit and I just want to....well, mostly I just want to cry and sulk and for somebody else to come and just kiss it all better. Knowing it's all my own fault doesn't make me feel any better about knowing that it's entirely up to me to improve things now. Even though losing weight and getting fit is what was on the plans anyway. Now that I have to do it... My brain is definitely its own worst enemy sometimes.


Fiona said...

I think there is a least a genetic predisposition to arthritis and I so much hope you are not really beating yourself up on the 'lifestyle' components when it's rarely just a single cause for such health issues.

I know what you mean about the move really tipping you over the edge. I don't know why (when I've moved so many times) that our last move was really a killer. Maybe it's getting older? Whatever it was though, it really was so very hard. I've also put on a LOT of weight (10kg in one year) and I'm finding it impossible to take off.

I've decided I'm going to start with portion size reduction just to try to lose enough initial weight (just a few kgs to make starting exercise again easier.) I like your suggestions of cycling and swimming. I have access to a school swimming pool but tend not to use it due to students being there the same time. Do you have easy/cheap access to a pool?

Anonymous said...

Don't be too hard on yourself! It's tough to lose weight, and keeping it off. Trust me, I'm speaking from my own experiences. The worst bit is up until getting started, and imagining that things will keep awful all the way through the process. Not true! If you start addressing the problem you will almost immediately feel better about yourself, and that feeling will get stronger. Start with a regular schedule, (commuting to work by bike?) First week will be horrible, but very soon you can't live without that morning and evening bike ride, or twice weekly swim.

Anonymous said...

Hi Moonwaves

I think those of us who suddenly find out that we've got a progressive health condition feel exactly as you are in this post, but the reality of it is - it's age.

Yes, we could all do with losing a few kilos, yes we should all exercise more, yes we should all cut out the junk food and eat healthily, all of which you knew before the difinitve diagnosis of arthritis. You've reached the age when all of us, who are lucky enough to get that far in life, discover that aging isn't fun, and we're not after all, immune to it.

Every single person that you see on the street that is older than you has already had this wake up call and some of them have done something about it, some haven't. It's completely normal, and any changes you make will result in an improvement. The human body is amazingly resilient.

Just make sure you're one of the ones that makes some tiny changes and you'll be fine. Each month decide what single change it is that you're going to implement that month to break an old destructive habit (crisps at work?) and create new curative habits (taking carrot sticks to work instead). If you try to change too much all in one go it'll be much tougher and the chances of not succeeding are higher. Changing one behaviour at a time is much more likely to produce longer term results.

Good luck with it.