MY FORTIETH BIRTHDAY
I started dieting when I was only twelve years old. Many years later, after numerous diet attempts, I finally reached my goal weight.
By July of 1997, I had achieved a fifty-five pound weight loss. Although I'd had some successes from previous efforts to lose weight, I had never maintained my weight loss, and I had never attained my ultimate goal weight.
The reason for this is that each attempt had been a diet, not a change in my life. I ate boring diet food. My husband walked me in circles around the local high school track like a dog, forcing me to exercise. And I complained that he was merciless when he made me walk longer than my mandatory 20 minutes.
When I joined Weight Watchers in 1997, the year of my fortieth birthday, I was determined to change the structure of my life and not to simply focus on its superficial aspects. That year on Mother's Day, I informed my family that what I wanted for my gift was a "group" walk. It was not a popular idea!
In the past, we had spent most Mother's Days grazing for hours at various local buffet brunches. Walking for pleasure was well beyond my realm of experience. This was a woman who usually circled the grocery store parking lot for ten minutes to find the closest space, to avoid the task of walking an extra twenty feet. Besides, where would you go for a hike with your family, to experience all of the blissful nature I'd so often heard people talking about?
So I chose nearby Folsom State Park, envisioning a delightfully refreshing walk along the lakeshore. Unfortunately 1997 was a drought year, and the lake looked like a mud puddle. My loyal troop trekked along with me as I anticipated communing with nature. Instead, we found ourselves plodding alongside a mud flat which swirled with swarming gnats. Not far behind me I overheard my son mumbling to himself, "Why couldn't we just go to a buffet like always?"
While my first hiking experience wasn't quite what I had imagined, it did trigger the discovery that exercise could be fun. Now, only four years later (and fifty-five pounds lighter), I can proudly reflect on the fact that my family and I have witnessed the Yosemite Valley from the top of Half Dome, hiked alongside an Alaskan glacier to a breathtaking lake, admired the wildflowers while trekking to the top of Mount Diablo, and wandered across Europe while carrying everything we needed in our backpacks.
And every year, on Thanksgiving morning, we Run To Feed The Hungry, raising funds for the local food bank.
What a difference attitude makes! Activity is no longer the chore it once was, but a pleasure and a gift that opens new and wonderful vistas.
Finally, I am living the life I had always imagined!