Tales of obesity and bone loss: Facts, friendship kick-start fitness goals
BY JENNIFER MIFFLIN AND SUZANNE WITT For Sun-Times Media
Chirpy Girls Jennifer Mifflin and Suzanne Witt.
Sometimes we need a drastic event to shake us free from the grips of our daily routine. Being a working wife and mom can take its toll. Days rife with tasks and details caring for others can leave women casualties of neglect in their own bodies. One day you look in the mirror and wonder, who is that woman - who kind of resembles me - carrying the extra pounds, is physically inactive and prone to obsessive worry and anxiety? Hello, reality; my name is ___.
Years of yo-yo dieting and subscribing to an all-or-nothing lifestyle have really devastated me both physically and mentally. Over the years I've drastically lost a lot of weight and regained it just as quickly. And currently the scales are up for me. I've never been afraid of aging, but right after my 40th birthday I started taking stock of myself and decided I needed to take control of my health once and for all because a) we don't have an infinite enough of time on the this Earth, and b) the older you get the harder it is. Moreover, I want to show Peter and Greta how important it is to persevere and be unrelenting no matter how out of reach a goal may seem.
Now to swallow my own medicine ... Can I really lose weight again? Nope. Not the way I've been doing it. This time has to be different. First, the focus has to be on my health. The end result (being thin) cannot be the mindset. Instead, I need to live in the moment and derive accomplishment from making healthy choices.
At this point in my life, losing weight isn't about aesthetics or fitting into a certain dress for a particular occasion; it's about being vivacious and embracing the journey as a means of confidence and empowerment. No longer is it, when I'm 50 pounds thinner, I'll do this, this and this. 'Cause guess what? That ain't going to sustain you for the long-haul. Believe me, I know from experience. Otherwise, I guarantee you'll be thin for five minutes and then revert back to old patterns.
For the majority of my life, I've always been an average weight. I was probably my thinnest while going through divorce proceedings, as stress and sickness took its toll. When I vowed to take control of my health, I walked my keister off each evening post-work and improved my diet. It was how I coped. To this day, walking is still my primary means of exercise. Now I just have a toddler and terrier in tow.
Fast-forward two years; then came marriage, a new house, and my first baby. Although I was quick to lose the post-partum weight, largely due to chronic neurosis, I never toned properly. In fact, I've never been as fit as I could be. While others in my peer group run 5Ks and marathons, slip into Jeggings and snug-fitting sweater dresses, without an inch to pinch, I've stayed status quo.
My dream is to be to be 40 and fantastic - mentally, physically, emotionally - and I'll admit it, aesthetically, too. I'm realistic about what I hope to achieve: I'm not looking to enter the next Midwest Female Bodybuilding Competition. But I do believe it's now or never to look and feel my best. Sometimes life has a way of passing you by if you don't take the bull by the horns. My goal: Michelle Obama will look to my arms for inspiration!
Most importantly, I want to be healthy for Catherine and a role model in terms of fitness and wellness. Women have such self-esteem issues related to weight - because we see and process such unrealistic images of the way we should look. If Cat can avoid the mind-body mind games, eat well, stay active, and feel comfortable in her own skin, I'll have done a good job as her mom.
As friends who care about each other dearly, we decided the best thing we could do was to respect each other's goals and figure out a way to support one another. But we needed to establish a baseline. How healthy (or unhealthy) are we, really? We decided to partake in Little Company of Mary Hospital and Health Centers' "Wake Up Call Screening," a comprehensive cardiac screening offered to assess our risk for heart disease and stroke. With heart disease being a main killer of women, and both having family histories, we decided this was an opportunity we couldn't pass up.
Diagnostics entail a blood oxygen level test; comprehensive blood cholesterol and chemistry level tests; body composition analysis; stroke screening/carotid artery ultrasound; abdominal aortic aneurysm ultrasound; peripheral vascular disease screening and heart rhythm screening for atrial fibrillation. The hospital offers the screening once a month to the entire community for $150, which is an enormous value as the tests would independently cost $3,000.
Although the results won't be back for two weeks, we walked away armed with the knowledge that Jen's body mass Index is 35 percent (which is in the obese category); Sue's at risk for osteoporosis and both of us have high blood pressure (hello stress and anxiety).
Although Jen is horrified by her weight and BMI and Sue feels like she's shrinking or will be in a body cast if she trips over one of Cat's toys, at least it's an honest start to our wellness journey.
Stay tuned for the full results of our diagnostic tests, and the unveiling of the blueprints of our individual plans. At least we're in it together.