In May 2015 I weighed 310 pounds. Walking the 2oo yards to the mailbox left me out of breath. I was tired all the time and couldn’t do all the things I wanted to do around the house and farm. I’d been fat all my life – or at least since around the fifth or sixth grade when my school pictures show my face plumping up. Interestingly, that’s about when puberty hit and I started to develop and feel very self-conscious over my body.
Last year something finally broke inside me and I decided I was DONE being fat. There were several reasons, several motivating factors, but basically I was finally ready to get moving. So far I’ve lost over 100 lbs, as you can see in the chart above, and have run 5k races, walked six miles in a go, and managed to do a host of other physical things I never thought I could do. I went from a size 26/28 to 14/16. I still have about 50 pounds to go, but I’m really pleased with my progress.
Aside from all the personal happiness this gives me, it also gives me an edge up in any disaster situation. If I was in the next town over getting groceries when an EMP hit, I could actually walk home in a day or two without risking a heart attack or taking a week to get home. Or the next hurricane that hits floods our basement again I won’t have to stop bailing out the basement after 10 minutes because I had no muscles in my arms or back.
The physical fitness also lets me do farm and garden chores much more easily. I lugged buckets of dirt from the pile where it had been delivered into the fenced off garden to fill our new garden beds and I didn’t die after two bucket loads. I can clean the chicken coop and then still have a normal day after instead of having to take a nap and spend the rest of the day on the couch. It turns my daily activities from “OR” (I could can a batch of stock OR I could clean the coop OR I could take the dog for a walk) into “AND” (I could can, clean, AND take the dog for a walk). In a TEOTWAWKI I would have the energy and strength to actually undertake subsistence farming and/or housekeeping without electricity.
Learning to eat less and learning to limit portions also would help should food become scarce and we had to implement rationing. Once you get used to small meals at certain times of day every day, your body doesn’t crave food all the time (your brain, well, that’s another matter, but I’ve learned there’s a big difference between cravings and hunger).
How’d I do it?
A lot of people who hear how much I’ve lost ask “how’d you do it?” Well, it wasn’t easy, but it’s been very worth it even with my recent struggles (between some bad food choices and it being so bloody hot and humid that going out for a run is too miserable to contemplate). Here’s how I’ve done it:
- eat less – minding my portions, tracking my calories (SparkPeople is my tracking system of choice and is absolutely full of supportive, kind people. They also have a TON of useful, interesting, and informative articles.)
- exercise – working out three to six days a week (I use Zombies, Run!, which is a smartphone app that gives you a story, lets you listen to your own music in between story clips, and build a base with “supplies” you gather on your run – and you don’t have to run, you can walk if you prefer, or even bike or use other equipment. As creator Naomi Alderman says, if you can move above a shamble, you can do Zombies, Run! I constantly preach the awesomeness of Z,R!)
- start small – I started with 10 minutes of walking a day and now am up to walking 10k at a time (and am working on running that far). 10 minutes a day can change your life.
It sounds super easy to eat less and exercise, but it’s really, really not. I am something of a food addict – I use food to entertain, to comfort, to suppress unpleasant emotions, etc. I was doing a lot better until I got complacent a couple months ago and have been struggling a bit lately, but I’m back on track now. It will take a couple weeks for my weight to start to reflect the “back on track” – my weigh ins lag about two weeks or so behind my eating habits. I also have been off the exercise wagon lately – my schedule got crazy and I let the exercise slide, which is no longer ok with me. But, this is a lifelong journey. There are always going to be ups and downs and slips and starts. Where in the past I would have freaked out and given up entirely at a slide like this, now I’m just yanking my brain’s leash and pulling myself back on the wagon.
I highly recommend you think about your physical fitness as a prep for disaster, small or large, natural or man-made. If you are a couch potato or armchair quarterback, start small and make some healthier changes. Give up soda, or walk for 10 minutes a day, or even just park further away from the mall entrance. It may just save your life. I know it saved mine!