This post was inspired by a discussion thread among the Enterprise Irregulars about the challenges of quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight, one of which I’ve overcome and the other of which will always be a work in progress. It really does take a village, and I’m grateful to mine, to deal with life’s challenges.
I started smoking in 1960 when it was absolutely the norm in my family/social circles/etc. When I came home from school or work on one of my Mom’s mahjong party days (yup, that’s what Moms did before everyone went to work, in the days when one modest income bought a pretty middle-class lifestyle), the fug was thicker than Bubbi Bloom’s Yiddish accent.
I quit smoking for good, after some very tough times, in 1987, about the time I launched my solo consulting practice. I still reach for that never there cigarette when the jazz is smoky and the drinks are flowing. And I remember very well that the first thing I did when I conquered “The Tomb of the Inscription” at Palenque (that’s really me in the picture!) — a challenge to anyone’s lung capacity — was to light up. But I can say now with absolute confidence that I’ve kicked permanently the smoking habit, an accomplishment which I cherish.
And then there’s my weight. Having been given up for essentially dead on arrival, then slapped into responding and later determined to be a “blue baby,” I spent most of my earliest years being fed (probably continuously), and I guess my fat cells have never gotten over that. Did you know that, no matter how much weight you lose, once you’ve got a fat cell, you’ve got it forever? They deflate as you lose weight, but they lurk and connive to replump themselves — unless you get them sucked out, a truly disgusting thought.
Throw in the tendency to overweight on both sides of my family, and it’s little wonder that I’ve always been heavy, heavier, heaviest, interspersed with short (and quite confusing) periods of not being too heavy, of what I call my hotty years. 1983 was one of those years, and I remember it fondly.
Losing weight and keeping it off has been much harder than quitting smoking — at least for me — but I’m finding new determination with the general deterioration of skeletal function that comes with aging. Even as a long-distance (mile and then two mile) swimmer in my early teens, I was always the heaviest girl in my cabin at summer camp. I’m truly blessed to be free of the loss of self-esteem and general negativity that so often accompanies being overweight, but my joints haven’t gotten the message.
Frankly, this is the one big failure that I’ve carried with me from childhood, and I’d sure like to claim victory before I’m too old to remember why I’m doing this. We all carry with us some unfinished business — relationships we should have handled better, jobs at which we didn’t excel, exams for which we didn’t study hard enough, and the list goes on. I’ve got my fair share of unfinished business, but it’s mostly pretty minor stuff, perhaps because being overweight has overshadowed so much else.
I’ve reduced my workload (overload would be more accurate) for 2012 to something approaching reasonable (so full-time rather than double-time), and thereby reduced the accompanying business travel. I’m now very focused on losing a little weight each year — a little, not a lot. This is one area where achieving modest goals is much better than failing to meet aggressive goals. I have no illusions about how difficult this is, especially since I already have pretty healthy eating habits and a fairly disciplined approach to life. There’s even a body of research that confirms that the metabolism of overweight people fights to keep them that way, a phenomena to which I can truly attest. But if I could model the entire HRM domain in objects, I can certainly lose a few pounds in 2012.
Wish me luck!