Friday, November 20, 2009

TAKE PRIDE AND WALK IN YOUR SHOES - 31ST STORY IN SERIES

Two weeks ago, I wrote about today’s society needing an attitude adjustment when it comes to people who are not your basic size 0 to 10. I stated that many people today look at a heavy person and immediately judge that they are slovenly, lazy and unhealthy and treat them with disgust and that I had allowed this type of attitude to rule my life. I asked everyone to take a moment and walk in my shoes. I truly expected some backlash in e-mails for being so frank and open but this truly is the way I feel and there were no negative responses.

Now it is time to address those who are overweight or obese in society. Unfortunately, I realize there are some who do send the message that we are slovenly and lazy. I am not criticizing, as I know that an overweight person’s self-esteem suffers immensely.

The mind of an overweight person is our number one downfall. It allows others to influence us in a negative way. Many suffer to a point that they no longer care for themselves at all. I had a sister-in-law who was obese. She was a very highly educated woman who was a professor at a college and a successful business woman. She dressed in suits and participated in community organizations.

Over the years, weight caught up with my sister-in-law and it succeeded in pushing down her self-esteem. She stopped wearing make-up, dressed in sweat pants and sloppy clothes. Her hair looked at if it hadn’t been combed in a week. She hardly went out of the house and barely moved off the couch. It broke my heart when her grandson visited me at the age of 6 and told me, “Aunt Sissy. You remind me of my Grammy. (I’m sure it was my size.) She used to hug me like you but then she couldn’t get her arms around me. I hope you can always get your arms around me.” I promised Cade then and there that I will always be able to get my arms around him and hug him tight. I firmly believe that my sister-in-law’s weight was the main cause of her severe depression and dependency on pain pills for a back pain. It all began with her weight.

My dear sister-in-law passed away in her 50’s. My regret is that I lived over 1,200 miles away and was not there with the knowledge that I now have with my own obesity. Maybe I could have made a difference.

If you are an overweight person, please know that you do deserve to dress up and look presentable. Do not give me the excuse that you cannot afford the clothing. Years ago we only had specialty shops to buy bigger sizes and it cost a fortune. Today I often go to Walmart or other discount stores and find very presentable clothing at prices anyone can afford. There is no excuse. Pay attention to how you look when you leave the house. I may be in sweats or shorts at home but you will never see me in shorts in public.

If you are an overweight person, please know that you have the right to go to a beauty salon to have your hair styled, nails done or a pedicure. If you go into a salon and they treat you like you don’t belong there, don’t give up. Find another salon. I once went to a salon where they made me feel like only the model, skinny types could go there. I felt the stares and no one made me feel comfortable. I kept trying until I found a salon that I was happy with.

When you are happy with someone, let them know. They don’t realize how an obese person feels in these situations. I called the owner of Cuttin Loose, Julie Nicotra, and told her that, as an obese woman, I am very insecure about going to places for personal services but her staff has always made me feel like I deserved to be there, and more importantly, that they wanted me there! That is the feeling you need to have because you deserve to be treated that way!

Finally, if you feel you cannot get out and exercise because people will laugh at you, you are so wrong! I used to panic when they would make me run in the parking lot at Boot Camp. I could just imagine people going by and laughing at the fat old lady trying to run. After starting exercising, my fears melted away. I am amazed at how many people tell me they are proud of me for getting out there and doing it. I now have developed a pride in myself for doing it as well.

Who am I to tell you? I am no one special. I don’t have all the answers but I’m learning by walking through this journey. I even decided to start wearing my beloved saddle shoes. I like them. I deserve to wear them. I was walking in your shoes last December until I decided to polish my shoes.

I am asking you to get up and try polishing your shoes. Seek out the treatment you deserve. Get off the couch and try at least one exercise to start with. Put on make-up women! Shave and put on cologne men! Get your hair done. Take stock of your wardrobe and make a mental list of what is more presentable in the public.

Polish your shoes and get out and show others how to walk in them!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Recruit Dances to the YMCA! 30TH STORY

I have been participating as a Warrior of Wine at Schnebly’s Winery under the direction of Oshun, our trainer. Our session has ended and Oshun decided to spend more time as a personal chef which is her first love so I was once again faced with a challenge as to how to continue my physical journey to a healthier me.

The YMCA had stated that they would not have a Boot Camp until January as everyone is busy with the holidays. After speaking with one of the directors of the YMCA, I was informed that they would be starting an interim Boot Camp for a short period of time as the recruits showed their support of the program by signing a petition in favor of continuing the program.

Now I had a decision to make again. Do I continue to personal train with Oshun or do I sign up for Boot Camp? If you have been reading my stories, you must know the answer already. I compensate for my weight by being an overachieving workaholic who has to do everything on her own so it gives me a sense of accomplishment. Of course I chose to do both!

This past Monday, I arrived at the YMCA and was greeted by Nasty Nestor, our trainer. Nestor always screams at me, “Are you going to let me beat you D?” and I always respond with, “There’s no way I will let you beat me.” Immediately Nasty Nestor began trying me by having us stretch and then sending us to run five laps around the entire parking lot of the YMCA. When I first began at the Y, I remember trying to make just one row of the parking lot running and I could not do it. Today, I surprised myself by running one complete lap without stopping to walk. The four other laps were a combination of power walking and running. I felt like Rocky on the top of the steps in Philadelphia! I can hear the tune but can’t remember the words. I’m old!

After the run, Nasty Nestor had us doing steps, push-ups and more. I do believe he actually saw and improvement in my push-ups since the last time I had been in his Boot Camp. When I first started, I could not hold my body off the ground. Now I can hold the plank and bend elbows and lower my body to some degree.

While doing the steps, I realized that my left knee had become extremely sensitive and I took it a little easier. You may recall that I ruptured my anterior cruciate ligament dancing to the YMCA at a Catholic Women’s Convention and now have a cadaver ligament in my knee. I continued on with his demands but did take it a little easier.

On Tuesday Oshun came to my home for personal training. We spent most of the time with hard stretches as my knee still bothered me. Don’t think I didn’t work out. I sweated and worked just as hard stretching as I do with regular exercising! She also warns me about pushing myself too far as she knows how set I am on finishing things and not giving up.

The YMCA Boot Camp is filled with high levels of cardio exercises. On the other hand, Oshun counter balances that with low impact cardio exercises and stretching. I feel that they give me the best of both worlds.

I am icing the knee and on Wednesday, I only power walked the five laps as my knee was still sore. I may be determined but I am not dumb. My fear of injury is tremendous. I spent ten months in a wheelchair, brace, walker and crutches and I will do everything in my power not to injure myself. Oshun and Nestor are very caring in that aspect and both watch over me like mother hens.

I am back into the routine again. I attend Boot Camp on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the YMCA and personal training at my home on Tuesday and Thursday. On Saturday, I clean and do things at home and on Sunday I pray that I will survive another week!
Look out Nasty Nestor! The obese old lady is back and listen up.

You will NOT beat me!

Friday, November 6, 2009

WALK A DAY IN MY SHOES - 29TH STORY















Today’s society needs an attitude adjustment when it comes to people who are not your basic size 0 to 10. Many people today look at a heavy person and immediately judge that they are slovenly, lazy and unhealthy and treat them with disgust. That disgust is shown in stares and remarks thrown at the person.



Years ago, Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell were pin-up girls and the envy of every man. They both wore a size 14/16. Today, they would be considered “fat.” Today we also see stick figures on the runways and in the movies. Thin is in and it seems that anyone wearing a size 12 or above are out. If you are not obese or have never been severely overweight, you just cannot imagine how an obese person suffers through everyday events.


I am an obese 55 year old woman. I have always been extremely heavy since I was a child. This article may make some people angry and I apologize in advance but I am just telling the truth. I am asking you to take a walk in my shoes.


As a child, I was laughed at and ridiculed. I was the last one picked for games on the playground and gym class in the later days was a complete source of embarrassment. I was called, “Fat Sissy.” “Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me” is a complete lie! Oh I spilled rivers of tears due to the cruel taunting of classmates.


Most obese people have a great sense of humor. This sense of humor is developed as a protection mechanism. They pretend to laugh at themselves to cover up the tears. My sense of humor got me through my high school years. Yes, I did have boyfriends and I went to the prom and I believe this was because my sense of humor carried me through.


Every day of my life I have to confront fears of embarrassment due to my obesity. Will I have to sit next to someone on an airplane and have a tight squeeze? Will I fit in a theatre seat? Will I go to a restaurant and be crammed into a booth that is too tight? Will I sit on a lawn chair and break it? Will I have to squeeze between people in a crowd? I was once totally embarrassed when I went to a fair and couldn’t ride a ride because it couldn’t lock properly. These are just a few situations that I have to think of and plan for.



Being obese, I strive to look my best at all times, contrary to the beliefs of those people who think an obese person is slovenly. I spend time making sure my makeup is on, hair in place and that my blouse isn’t pulling too tightly around my body and showing bulges. I check my pants to make sure they fit properly and everything is in place. I do not wear shorts or tank tops in public. I do not wear spandex! I shower every day. Do not label me slovenly!


Laziness has become an obsolete word in my vocabulary. Yes, prior to Boot Camp, I was somewhat lazy but did not just sit around eating junk food all day. I swam, biked, etc. but not regularly. Now my trainer tells me that there are many “normal sized people” who could not keep up with my exercise routine and my lifestyle. I attend Boot Camp three days and do personal training two days a week. On the weekends I clean house, cut grass or whatever needs to be done. I rarely get a moment to sit. Do not label me lazy!



Even though I am obese, I am extremely healthy. “Why don’t you diet fatty?” I have dieted my entire life. I have gone up and down just like a smoker who quits and then starts again. I do not have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. The only medication I take is for an under active thyroid. I go to the doctor regularly for check-ups and everything is fine. Do not call me unhealthy!



In addition, contrary to many people’s beliefs, I am not deaf and I do hear you when you make smart remarks about my weight and fat people do have feelings. Every single remark hurts me like a knife piercing my heart. I won’t cry in front of you but I will in private. I won’t share why I am crying with anyone because it is too painful and embarrassing. I am crying now as I write this article because writing this truth hurts.


It has taken me a long time, a series of Boot Camps and sessions of personal training to realize that the treatment I have received by others has made me feel extremely unworthy in life. I have a loving and supportive husband, children, family and many friends, but I still allowed other people’s opinions to rule me.



On the outside, I have the persona of being confident and secure in all that I do. It is truly a fa├žade and I am beginning to realize this. I am a take charge workaholic who tries to do everything to make everyone happy to compensate for my sense of unworthiness. During this process, I always forget about ME! “ME” being happy never enters into my thought process.



I am mad. No, I am damn mad! I am angry that I have allowed this to happen to me. I guess some will say that I allowed it to happen to me. If you do, you haven’t walked a day in my shoes.



Please do me a favor. The next time you see an obese person, please don’t make them feel inferior. Walk in their shoes.

Monday, November 2, 2009

TRAINER TEACHES A PAINFUL LESSON! - 28TH STORY

On October 17th, our son Daniel married a wonderful young lady, Amanda Chambers. Friends and family came from near and far. Airport runs, dinners, entertaining, etc. kept me hopping. Once all my company left, I left on our annual trip with my daughters to the Mt. Dora Craft Show so I was still running like crazy. I just do not feel like I’ve rested in several weeks. Needless to say, I missed three days of Boot Camp and two days of personal training. On top of that, the stress got the best of me and my diet went out the door.

During our trip to Mt. Dora, tradition rules that we visit the Palma Maria restaurant in Casselberry, Florida. This restaurant is owned and run by the Rosinola family from my hometown of Tamaqua, Pa. When I was a little girl, the Palma Maria restaurant was right in front of my home and I used to walk through the back door into the kitchen to pick up food for our family. Then they moved to Florida and I stumbled upon them on one of my trips.

If you ever are up in Orlando and want a true Italian meal, go there. You will not be disappointed. The Rosinola’s bake their Italian bread so of course, you must have bread. On top of that, they make their own desserts and it would be rude to refuse the samples they bring to the table so to be kind, I end up tasting every dessert that they made. To be truthful, the peanut butter pie began calling my name the minute I opened the door! The main courses are to die for.

This past Tuesday was my first day back to exercising. I woke up early and did 20 minutes on the treadmill until my trainer, Oshun, arrived. The workout continued for an hour of sweating, heavy breathing, yelling and yes, crying. My body went from the floor to the elliptical machine to the floor to the ball to the spinning bike to the floor to the ball and more. At some point during my delirium, weights were strapped onto my wrist to add to the resistance of the exercises. My arms are like logs and I have my own natural weights but still she added more! “Don’t they shoot horses in this condition?”

Oshun pushed and pushed. During the stretching, my inner thighs screamed with pain but Oshun would not let up and continued to stretch my extremities to their limits. I silently begged for the time to pass quickly but didn’t dare ask if the time was up. I did not think I could lift my legs or arms one more time but I knew she would make me do it again if I dared to drop them so I pushed myself beyond my previous limits.

This day, Oshun taught and I learned a very powerful lesson. I will not miss more than one Boot Camp session or training session in a row, if ever. I paid the price for my lack of discipline.
Was Oshun too rough on me? No! If she had not done what she did by really pushing me extra hard, I would be tempted to miss again when stress got the best of me or I just didn’t feel like getting up. Was she too harsh in yelling at me? No! If she had said in a normal voice, “Come on Doris, just five more.” I would have said I couldn’t and stopped.
I think that trainers have their own different styles and you have to find one who fits you. I also think that the sign of a good trainer is that you absolutely despise them during the workout but realize that everything they put you through is because they care about you. Oshun is that trainer but she goes a step further by trying to open my eyes to my own emotional needs.
Perhaps the most important lesson that she is trying to teach me is to slowly retrain my brain that associates my obesity with unworthiness. Oshun proved her worth to me this first day back and I certainly want to prove to her, but more importantly, to myself that I am worth all of her efforts.