Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Book of Me - Prompt 3: Your Physical Self

[Editor's Note: The Book of Me is a series of writing prompts focusing on lifestreaming or preserving one's own memories rather than those of our ancestors and family members. Click here to read more.]

This week's prompt in The Book of Me series focuses on the physical self, a topic which has always been difficult for me to discuss. While you wouldn't know it by looking at the photo above, taken just for the San Francisco Symphony's Black and White Ball in May 1987, I've struggled all my life with a weight problem.

I've fought the good fight on several fronts. I was overweight as a child, more so after my parent's separation and subsequent divorce in the late 1960s. Emotional eating has been a condition that I've come to understand better as the years go by. In addition, I am cursed with genetics which insist on making me a fat-storer and a "square shaped person." The running joke is that friends can always pick out one of my relatives at a family function since the men seem to be built just like the women: short, dumpy and as tall as we are wide.

In the mid-1980's, as I dealt with my sexual orientation, I decided to embark on a weight-loss program which resulted in my losing over 100 pounds in an 18-month period. I took up weightlifting, running 10K races and ballroom dancing. And it seems a penchant for peroxide and too much sun (Exhibit A above). Years later, an accident in 2001 would severely impact my ability to exercise for several years and resulted in the "weight creepage" as I call it. Add in arthritis from all those activities in the 80's and 90's and it becomes more difficult as one gets older to move and exercise.

While I haven't always come to accept my body, in my later life I've come to understand it better. I know what can and should be done, but we all know that saying and doing something are two different things. Rather than focus on physical appearance, my goal is (and always should be) to focus on physical health. Eat right, sleep enough and exercise; everything our mothers told us, right?

I still hold out hope that I'll arrive at that crossroads of body acceptance and good health, even if society pressures me to look a certain way. And given that I don't have any "twerking" engagements booked in the near future, I think I am good right now.

© 2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee


Linda O'Donnell said...

I can relate on so many levels. It really is all about who we are as people, and anyone who cares about our physical limitations and can just move on, as far as I'm concerned. Thanks for sharing such personal insights.

Baffledgenie said...

Very well written. I've followed you on different genealogy research sites for a long time and I always see your laughing profile picture, would never know what demons you battled. Happy you shared. I think this exercise is good for all of us.

MissPeggy said...

Thomas, I had a lump in my throat as I read this. I, too, have always struggled with weight. At family reunions, weighing 328 lbs. at 5'3", I was the tallest and the smallest of all of my cousins.

Now, I just want to be healthy.

Kat Mortensen said...

Thank heavens "twerking" is off your agenda. Just try to stay healthy. And steer clear of the peroxide too.😉