My story (so far)

So, this really all started back in February, when I decided that I was going to drive halfway across the country (from Austin, TX to Walla Walla, WA.) A bit of background: I am a formerly homeless, recently married, morbidly obese woman.  To say that I am not good with saving money and don’t have much in the way of impulse control would be quite the understatement. No one thought I could do it. Not my husband, not my mom, not even the friend I was going to visit. But mostly, I didn’t know whether I would be successful or not.

Behold, I managed to do it. In 4 months I saved $2000 to drive cross country in 12 days and to have money to cover my bills when I got home. I don’t think anyone was more surprised than I. So I embark on this journey. On June 1st I left Austin to see the beautiful country that I live in.

I had an experience on this trip that ties into the story of how I got here.  Now, I am born and raised in Texas, never more than ~900 feet above sea level. A flatlander, if you will (and if you live around/in the mountains, then you certainly will.) So I am driving along US550 through Durango, CO heading north toward Grand Junction, CO and I pass this sign that reads something like “Mountainous road, next 45 miles.” At this point, I look over to the person I am with and ask a very important question, “What does that mean?” See, I have never been to the mountains, don’t really know what to expect, don’t know about things like downshifting, and certainly nothing about altitude and elevation.

I ascended from 800 ft to 11000 ft in 2 days. It turns out that I am fine going up a mountain. No problem, I got this. Then we turn a corner, and suddenly cliffs. Sheer drop offs with no guardrail. Like no thing I have ever seen. It was near to a psychedelic experience. Mountains are reality on a level separate of our perceptions, mountains are a universal reality. Breathtaking. Terrifying. I am deathly afraid of heights. Cue a panic attack at the top of a mountain. I saw death that day at the periphery, hovering in the blackness that threatened to consume me. I believed I was going to die.  We make it to Silverton, CO and pull into a parking lot. I am shaking from head to toe, tears streaming down my face. My brain is telling me over and over again that I cannot do this.

There is another (higher) mountain pass north of Silverton, heading into Ouray.

The only way out of this town is over a mountain and I am certain I almost died on the last one. In the midst of all of this, I am disoriented, nauseous, and cannot breath. My weight coupled with the elevation had me gasping for breath every 15 minutes the night we spent in Silverton.

We got up the next day at 6:30 in the morning, hoping to catch the pass before it closed for the day (for clearing fallen rocks!) The lady who owned the motel we stayed in told me I ought to eat breakfast, it’s 7 hours to Salt Lake. I told her I hadn’t had anything to eat since we crossed over into Colorado the day before, the thought of food makes me nauseous. I told her about my shortness of breath and disorientation and she said “You’ve got elevation sickness, you need to get off the mountain.”

No kidding.

She tells me about downshifting and that it is a scary drive, but people do it all the time, in the snow even, and if I just go slow and pay attention I will be fine. The whole way over the next pass I just keep telling myself, “It’s only 23 more miles. 23.” I did it, I am here to say. And that is amazing.

So what does this have to do with losing weight? I guess just that in the last six months I have faced tasks that seemed bigger than I am and I overcame them. Even when I knew I couldn’t, I did.

I weigh more now than I have ever weighed in my life and it is terrifying. I have  fused discs in my lower back and I work a desk job 40 hours a week. I have a literal and true addiction to sugar, and I never learned coping skills that didn’t involve something delicious.  For the first time that I can remember, I am ready to take this on.

I have been using MFP to track calories and macros for the last 23 days. I have stayed under my calorie goal every week, not so much that I am starving, but just eating until I don’t feel hungry anymore.  I haven’t been full in 23 days, but I haven’t been hungry either. I drink water and eat food that I can identify as food. I have slowly incorporated 2 hours of water jogging a week, it has actually helped alleviate some of my back pain. I have had a period that caused a mental breakdown and NEED for something gross (read: chocolate or fried) and I didn’t give into it (big props to my husband, because he didn’t give into me.)

I am afraid of this task, it seems much larger than I am. Some days I have wept with my need for comfort and self care. I am learning other ways to care for myself. This is hard, and I am afraid. But I have already overcome a mountain.

Thanks for letting me share.


One thought on “My story (so far)

  1. Rhie, I have height phobia and a sweet tooth if not a sugar addiction, as well as a tendency to overweight from being a very fat baby.So I can understand somewhat, and I absolutely applaud your courage on both counts. You’re a beautiful fat woman — but we don’t want to lose you untimely. I will keep sending you Reiki to help you conquer this as you did the mountain. xxxx

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