Have you ever been shopping in one of those huge malls? You know the kind with acres and acres of retail heaven, but with stairs that are located impossibly far apart, and elevators buried in the back of the anchor stores. One day, while visiting a friend in Atlanta, she and I decided to head to the mall for some retail therapy, and a snack or two. At this time, I weighed well over 250 pounds, and frequently experienced joint pain when I walked. On this particular day, I was determined to keep up with my average sized friend, and not sit down to rest like I did when I shopped with John.
We wandered in and out of stores, examining clothes that would fit her, but not me. I thought I was going to die. My legs hurt, I was tired, my feet hurt, I was done. Finally, she said the magic words. “Hey, there’s a great little coffee shop here. Do you want to get some coffee?” If I could have, I would have jumped up and down with excitement, but as it were, I just calmly said, “That sounds good.”
She and I began walking, and walking, and walking. Along the way, we passed comfortable looking chairs and benches, all calling my name. “Sit down Diane. Sit down.” But I didn’t, I just kept walking. She finally pointed up and said, “There it is.” I looked up, but as I did, I saw the stairs out of the corner of my eye. Looming ahead of me was the longest flight of stairs I had seen in a long time. They seemed to extend forever. “You’ve got to be kidding,” I thought, “There is no way I can do those stairs after walking around for over an hour.” But I just smiled and followed her.
She walked up the stairs like a normal person, barely touching the rail, and I started up after her. Step by step, I moved up, sliding my hand up the rail before my body, trying to get more leverage. She turned around and said, “You okay?” I nodded, not able to speak. I finally got up the stairs, and to my embarrassment and partial relief she said, “Why don’t we sit here, and I’ll check in at home.” I knew she could see I was out of breath, and probably looked in pain. We sat on the bench for a few minutes while she made her unnecessary phone call.
While sitting on the bench I tried to surreptitiously catch my breath, but finally found myself inhaling and exhaling loudly to be able to breathe easier. There, I had done it. I could talk again. I was embarrassed, and frustrated. I joking told my friend, “Next time, I’ll find the elevator and I’ll meet you up here!” We both laughed at my funny joke, but inside I was mortified. How in the world could this have happened to me? We eventually got off the bench, and walked over to the coffee shop where I only ordered coffee. If I hadn’t just embarrassed myself by not being able to walk up the stairs easily, I would have ordered a sticky bun to go with the coffee.
We enjoyed our time at the mall, and although she may not remember that particular event, it is branded on my mind. I was 29, morbidly obese and unhappy. It would be two more years before I finally was able to lose the weight and get fit.
I wanted to encourage you to never give up on yourself. No matter where you are today fitness-wise, you can be in a healthier place six months from now.
Did you ever try to avoid the stairs in front of you? What’s changed for you over the past months? Diane