I have never been the type to love Spring or Summer. The sun has always me feel anxious and like I wanted to avoid it at all costs. I raise an eyebrow every single time someone says, “OH I can’t wait for winter to be over!” It makes me cringe to think of those summer days, everyone wearing shorts and tight shirts, swimming suits, and all that activity out where people can just LOOK AT YOU all the freakin’ time. Never having been a thin wisp of a girl or woman, winter is a comfort, a blanket, a covered time when we all duck away with none of those pesky public displays of one’s thighs in the bright shining sun rays.
As I get older, 48 and counting, I am still a very round, very robust figure of a woman:) I have plans to get more healthy, just because I don’t want to feel like shit for the rest of my life, so my cold frozen heart for summer is beginning to thaw and crack, every so slightly.
Here is the story of how I found the sun.
I’ll skip the first 40 years for the most part. There was bike riding until dark, mud pie making in the back yard, swinging until it was so cold I would take a blanket out with me, and lots of playing in the water of the summer sprinkler, and then I went to college.
People out in their short shorts, very tight crop tops (it was the 80’s after all), shirtless young men and coed’s laying in the sun on balconies, yards, rooftops. I was intimidated and mortified. I had worn a jacket for years already, that jacket that was huge and flowing and gave me the extra coverage I needed to face the world everyday. Trust me on this, from my point of view, I was a huge disgusting blob that was better off at home in her room watching TV all day while eating Twinkies, fried potatoes, and drinking lots of Pepsi all to make my own world away from those nutbags out there with less cloth covering their bodies than I had in a sleeve of one of my shirts!
Fast forward through my 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s and it was pretty much the same. I became intellectual about it all. What a bunch of low common denominated brainwashed zombies, craving the sun because they wanted to jump on the bandwagon. They wanted to join in all the mindless activities, doing nothing, accomplishing nothing, just being in the sun and looking at each other. It created some of my finest high horse moments, and there have been many through the years.
Now, let’s stop off in 2007 when I had a hysterectomy. The baby making parts were gone along with all the hormones and other good things they do for our bodies. I changed from the inside. Pain, lots of pain, not from the actual gut region, but all over my whole flippin’ body. Keep in mind I had never had a bad back, knee pains, sore joints at all, nothing beyond the normal stuff like if you lift too much at once or have a bad hangover. This was pain from the depths of something, deep inside. I did my research and found a lot about it all. Removing those hormones and enzymes and a bunch of stuff I don’t fully understand made a big difference to my body. From top to bottom the pain started. Getting up made my hips hurt. Sitting down made my knees hurt. Walking made my hips hurt, sitting made my hips hurt, laying down made my hips hurt. It all hurt. I took some medicines at first, but after a while that seemed like a bad idea. You see, I like medicines:) Next would be finding some healthy options.
I stopped eating meat by 2009 and that helped a lot. I lost some weight, got some energy, but still the pain persisted. I tried different foods, less of this, more of that, nothing did the trick. I tried exercise but the pain was too much most of the time so I gave up. Still overweight, but that’s nothing new, have been all my life, I could feel it starting to be part of the problem. That thing that kept me out of the sun on those summer days was working against me in a new way. More weight means more fat. More fat means more retention of fluids and toxins and stuff, apparently. I’m not a doctor or scientist so all this is from my own reading up on things, but we all know if you are carrying a 100 backpack your body will suffer more than if you are not carrying that 100 extra pounds around. OK, this isn’t a news flash to anyone, and all those years of hiding away from Spring and Summer and shorts and tight tops and jeers and looks and people rolling their eyes as if a fatter person has no right to be out in that sun, they were the winter of my mind. I know that sounds deep, but I know what I mean.
I hibernated in that comfort. I hid away in my decades of “This is who I am”. As the seasons changed I felt my mood change with them. Summer I was unhappy inside. I hated it, hated it all. In the Fall I was thrilled, more coats, more long pants, more coverage and I fit it. Wearing a jacket on a chilly day didn’t look out of place like wearing the same jacket in the 100 degree sun (which I did many times). But as my Winter mind thaws Spring is tugging at me.
For the past three years I have felt it. I tried taking walks at the parks around town which was nice, and yet the pain in my hips and feet would make me dread it. And winter was a good excuse to not go, but I didn’t want an excuse, I wanted to feel better. I tried the treadmill, which is so boring and painful I would want to cry 2 minutes in. If a fat person says they want to cry on the treadmill everyone just laughs and thinks you are just lazy. Nope. I tried swimming at the Y, but then realized that pool chemicals are not good for the thyroid, and anyway, all that fuss just to get there, I gave up again. Two years ago we started hiking some, not much, but a little and I LOVED IT. I freakin’ LOVED it. My feet didn’t hurt, and I have no idea why. I enjoyed the nature side of things, walking with my husband was cool, and I began to feel better in general. As life does things didn’t go so smoothly, so challenges arose.
I did end up tearing a tendon (which included surgery on my foot making the hiking thing complicated so I gave up, as I do). I found out I have plantar fasciitiis, bursitis, arthritis, and general overweight middle aged features that are just part of life. The problem was that every time I felt I was finding a way to lose some of the bulk the pain got worse and worse and worse. OH, also along the way I found out I have hypothyroidism, which some say is caused by being overweight, some say it’s genetic, some say it just is what it is…but whatever, I have it and it’s a struggle to mix in with all the other stuff. However, it plays a roll in my Spring thaw.
This thyroid thing makes you feel cold a lot. A LOT. I feel cold from the inside out. When I feel cold, things hurt more. It’s a lovely cycle of life and annoyance. It’s like someone put one of those frozen pack things out of a cooler into my “core” and it never ever stops being cold. That kind of puts a new spin on the whole thing. I mean, for most of my life I was too hot, hot and uncomfortable. I felt too hot to go out in public sometimes because my face gets really red and puffy and I feel like a blob. It only made sense that if I didn’t want to be the blob, I needed winter to surround me and I embraced the concept fully. Now, I have winter inside me, so yea, this shit just got real.
Last year I got super lucky and was working with a young man who thinks a lot and loved to talk about life and motivations and all that. He works out at the gym every day, sets goals, and achieves most of them. He’s not a round middle aged woman, he’s a lean, muscly 20-something who took something I said and pointed it back at me. We were talking about life and how I don’t like things to stay the same all the time. I get bored with routine and schedules and that’s part of why I don’t stick to exercising very good, but what he was hearing was that I am overweight, aging, aching, and yet I keep things the same by not really doing anything about it. “So, if you like things to change, just do something different.” or something like that…and the switched was flipped.
I had thought about buying a bike, but all of a sudden I just did it. I bought 2 bikes and we started to ride. Me and my husband, not me and the 20-something:) It was June and it was awesome. Hot and awesome. No coldness, no sore feet, some sore muscles, but hey that was to be expected. Some pounds came off and I enjoyed it all…and then Summer faded into Fall and my Winter was turning against me. I can’t ride in the mud and the snow and the freezing cold. I mean, I could, but I wasn’t ready for that yet. I’m still not, but never say never.
Winter, you were so good to me for so long. You hid me from the world and hid the obnoxious unclothed people from me, which made me love you even more. The thing is, I’m moving on. It’s January, today it was over 50 degrees….and I wanted you to go away. I know, I know, it’s all a bit much and it’s all happening so fast, but it’s for the best. I need to ride my bike. I need to feel warm. I need to feel better, and you, well, you want something different. We have grown apart. Don’t be sad, I still love your close friend Fall, and I have become more fond of your first cousin Spring due to my growing interest in gardening, but that’s for another article (and pardon the pun “Growing interest”:)). I’ll always crave the hidden me, the one who hates the idea of exposing myself to the world in shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt in the bright sun. It’s just that now I have found reasons to want that sunshine, those warm days. I found reasons for wanting to wake up to a green day with a dry bike trail and sun to warm my bones. I’ll get more exercise. I’ll feel better, and that’s what we both want. Don’t worry, I can’t forget about you, you make life interesting. I do enjoy brisk days when the sun slides across the snow and the world seems at peace. I even enjoy shoveling the driveway with my husband, and then coming inside for a hot cup of tea. You bring the holidays and cozy nights on the couch. You get me in the mood for baking and cooking and memories of my Grandma’s in their kitchens stirring up good things for when we all came to visit and go sled riding. Let’s be honest, I can’t avoid you, we live on the same part of the planet and neither of us are going anywhere. Keep those twinkling snow flakes waiting for me and that amazing crackling sound the trees make when they are covered with ice. I’ll just be over here, pedaling in my bike shorts, getting some sun, and feeling no pain:)