Mowing Without Concern and The Forty Yard Dash
When you're morbidly obese and your family and friends worry about you, often times they will offer to do things for you that might be a little too strenuous. Anything that requires climbing a ladder, or working outside around the house, or just anything that requires physical activity or excludes anyone over a certain size could be a task that a loved one or close friend might offer to do. It would happen all the time at over 500 pounds. Back then I would often just pay someone to mow the lawn, the neighbor kid needed money and we needed grass cut, it was a good trade. But every now and then I would get out there in the heat of summer, all 500 plus pounds of me, and I would push that mower. It wouldn't take long before Irene and the girls would start getting concerned. They would watch me from inside, wanting to help, but I would never let them. I know it might sound like I babied them, but I didn't want my girls operating such a dangerous piece of machinery! They could have done it, I'm sure, they can do anything, but I'm the dad, I'll handle the yard. After watching me quickly become drenched in sweat, the girls would make me a tall glass of ice tea or water and bring it to me, always asking me to take a break and warning “don't over do it dad, are you OK?” And I'd always or most usually reply, “I'm fine, I got this.” But I knew that I was skating on thin ice with my health. When I would struggle to mow in the 100 degree Oklahoma heat, all of a sudden twenty bucks to the neighbor kid seemed like a bargain. Our old house had a huge lawn and the grass would grow high and fast right along with my weight and out of control blood pressure. I wrote about an amazing experience I had mowing on a hot summer day at over 500 pounds. The following is a blog excerpt from Day 21 titled “Friends, Family, and A Lawnmower”: I remember mowing the lawn at our previous home on one hot summer day, must have been early evening and it was a big lawn. I was over 500 pounds then too, and I must have looked half dead out there pushing that mower. As traffic drove down the block they could see that I was having a real tough time, pretty soon a guy I didn't know drove by and waived, then just minutes later he comes riding up on a mower and tells me to take a break. I protested a tiny bit, but there was no stopping him, he was mowing my lawn. I felt weird just standing there so I went inside to get him a glass of iced tea. After he finished the entire lawn he enjoyed the rest of his tea while I kept thanking him over and over. I offered him some cash, and he wouldn't hear of it, then he rode away. I never saw that guy around the neighborhood again...ever. Where did he come from? Who was he? He really didn't say. I wonder if he didn't save me from collapsing that day. Perhaps my guardian angel.
I think about that stranger every time I mow. I still have no idea where he lived and how he passed by in a vehicle, then minutes later came riding up on a lawnmower. Surely he lived close, but I never saw him again. I finally mowed our lawn tonight. The other day a good friend of mine called and offered to come over and mow it again for me with his big riding mower. The last time it needed mowed, he did it for me, not because I couldn't physically, but because it had to be mowed and my schedule was keeping me away. Dan is a wonderful person. He takes care of his friends. I'm very lucky to have him as one. I thanked him for the offer this time and then I politely declined. “I got this.” Mowing tonight was so easy. I know it was exercise, but really, I'm not counting it as much. I pushed that mower with the greatest of ease, right out there in the setting sun, with the sweat trailing down my dirty face. I was mowing without a care or concern for my health. I had it completely under control, just like my blood pressure and steadily dropping weight. It's all good. And you know what I noticed? The girls didn't bring me even one ice cold drink the entire time I was out there! I'm not complaining. It feels good to know that they're not pressed up against the windows watching me and praying that I don't die out there. They don't have to do that anymore. I finished up and found them inside on mom and dad's bed watching a movie. Sometimes I look at them and even though they're 19 and 15, I still see them as little girls. I doubt that will ever change. I don't want it to.
Courtney decided that we would hit the trail today in the middle of the afternoon. I protested a little and so did Amber, but Courtney was taking the lead and she had decided we needed some sun! How can I resist too much? I'm so proud of them. We normally walk in the early evening, but mostly at night under the stars. Our walk wasn't the longest we've ever completed, but it just might be one of the best. We did what we call a “hard two.” It isn't a leisurely stroll, it's more like power walking, and it gets the heart rate up quick! Courtney and her friend Dylan kept passing me, so I would jog a little to pass them. This went back and forth a couple of times. Then, without confirming each others intentions, we raced. I mean raced! We did a full-on sprint for about forty yards. It felt incredible. I've tried it before but it's never felt this wonderful. I stayed right there with Courtney! I was running hard. Now don't get me wrong, I still have no clue how people can run like this for long distances. Forty yards was all I could handle at this weight. I'm sure when I reach my goal I'll be able to run a 5K without much trouble, but at 332, forty yards. Of course that was an all out sprint. I was running like the wind blows. I was running as fast as I could possibly run. I don't know what it looked like to the people driving by the trail, but to me it felt like I was an Olympic sprinter. When I think about how far I've come in the last 265 days, it's easy to get emotional. On Day 1 I could barely “waddle” a quarter mile, now I can sprint. If you're reading this and you're having trouble simply walking, just do what you can. Just do something. It doesn't matter how far or for how long. Just do it. And then the next day, do it again. Your consistent effort will make it easier and easier. Your weight loss will contribute significantly to this progress, and even though you might not be able to imagine it today, someday you'll be sprinting too! Mom---I hope you read that closely! My mom has been discovering this wonderful progress for herself. When she started she could barely move. Just walking to the mailbox or down to the first curve in her drive was a challenge. Now she completes a mile daily. I'm going to race my momma someday, you just wait! It's such a thrill to talk to her every night and hear how she's just completed another walk. Her weight is dropping too and she's feeling so good these days. I couldn't be more proud.
We baked some popcorn chicken and fries for dinner. With the sweet and sour sauce and ketchup, it checked in right at 400 calories. It was one of those meals where I prepared exactly enough. If you grabbed an extra piece of chicken, you were grabbing a piece of somebody else's portion. We did have several fries left over after counting out the 120 calorie portions. Those fries are still sitting cold on the table. That's a very strange sight. Before this life changing journey, those fries would have been gone before even one of us excused ourselves from the dining room. No way did we ever leave fries sitting unclaimed. We did tonight.
We're getting ready for a wonderful lake swim. The dock where we go is pretty deep water, like twenty feet deep. Twenty feet of water provides a wonderful workout. You can't just relax and enjoy the water, you have to move, you have to tread water. You have to survive! It doesn't take long to get really tired and that's when we'll head for the dock ladder. I'm looking forward to this water workout tonight. I hope the water is warm! Courtney just suggested that we walk another “hard two” before our swim. Forget Jillian Michaels, we have Courtney! Thank you for reading along my journey. It's been a wonderful transformation thus far and the next 100 pounds will only multiply the physical and emotional rewards. Goodnight and...