I’m a generally positive person, so when I began my healthier lifestyle journey six months ago, I attached to it a number of positive motivations – like seeing myself slender, in stylish clothes, healthy, active and energetic, being noticed by the sort of man I might like to be noticed by – that sort of stuff.
But the thing that’s most compellingly underpinned my currently successful (so far) attempt at adopting a healthier lifestyle (after so very many failed attempts over the years), is not a positive, but a negative motivation.
Not something I want… but something I don’t want.
I’m in my mid-50’s and people – too many, I fear – within my circle of family, friends and acquaintances, are beginning to succumb to what are known as the diseases of middle age; that’s chronic conditions like high blood pressure, blood clots, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, cancers, auto-immune conditions, and so on. (Notice I’m leaving out high cholesterol – that’s because I personally don’t believe that high cholesterol is a disease, or something that needs to be cured.) As somebody in the lower reaches of morbid obesity (BMI over 40), I was in the high risk category for all the above.
I was getting away with it though. I didn’t have any signs of any of those conditions.
But the anxiety was growing in me – the time-bomb was ticking ever louder. Eventually (mainly due to episodes which it isn’t necessary to relate here) my anxiety reached the point last summer when I could no longer ignore it. My palpable fear was that I would one day in the not-too-distant future find myself in the doctor’s surgery, being given bad news about one of those diseases of middle age, and realising that I might have avoided said bad news if only I had adopted a healthier lifestyle and taken control of my weight.
Now I’m not stupid. I know I can be greatly reduced in weight and greatly healthier and more active, and any of those diseases could still strike me. But it’s about minimising my risk. And even now, just around one-third of the way to my ultimate goal (no longer morbidly, just plain old obese), my fear has begun to recede. And I know that once I get my weight into the correct zone and my body consistently more active and in better condition, I’ll be able to stop feeling guilty of the simple sin of failing to take proper care of myself.