H. D. writes:
In 2003 I weighed 166 at 5’6,” wore a size 14, had a heart arrhythmia, chronic ITP (platelets between 10-20,000, the dangerous range), full-blown ulcerative colitis, rhinitis, rashes, and anemia. I was 35, grouchy and generally irritable and fatigued, was on several prescriptions, and felt like I had no more energy for any activities. Whenever I saw my doctors I was told that surgery, avoiding certain strenuous activities, and lifelong medication were in my future. Men rarely gave me a glance, unsurprisingly, and I dressed to conceal.
“In 2008 at age 41, I weigh 131 (size 4 or 6), just finished a half marathon, look like 33 on a bad day, work out six times a week because I am bursting with energy, am an active member of a gym and a running club have a generally outgoing disposition. Lunch most days is a large salad with sprouts and other nutrient-dense vegetables. Now I use my pharmacy only to buy toothpaste, because all my illnesses are gone, including the heart arrhythmia, and my platelets have been at 125-135,000 (normal) for almost a year now. I take no medication, feel like 25, and astound people whom I tell I am 41. I am brimming with interests, friends, hobbies and activities in addition to my full time job. I have become so accustomed to admiring looks from men that I hardly register them anymore. I shop for clothes wherever I want now, usually fashionable boutiques for younger women.
“One funny effect of this change in health habits is that people initially thought I had resorted to some exotic treatment or procedure because of the dramatic change in my appearance and energy levels. When I told them what I was doing (not counting calories, not doing Atkins, not doing Weight Watchers, just cutting out certain foods, taking vitamins and building my health) I encountered disbelief.
“There are also some funny moments, such as on the lunch line when I order my organic salad toppings and always order two portions of sprouts and twice the vegetables the others order, or when I encounter overweight colleagues in the elevator when I am carrying my 5-pound healthy lunch upstairs, or on a business trip when I started peeling a tangerine I kept in my handbag and the business guys turned to see where the smell was coming from. Or on another business trip when I had just run a 15 km race before jumping on an airplane and it turned out that I was the same age as an overweight, fatigued, graying depressed businessperson in our group, who the next day skipped lunch with us and ate a granola bar instead.
“Another funny effect is that people who did not know me in the bad old days find it hard to believe that I was ever overweight or unwell and think I must be exaggerating or even lying about having been those things. To lighten things up on business trips, when I take out my pumpkin seeds or piece of fruit or four glasses of water in a conference room, I say I am a “recovering fat person” and people are genuinely amazed when I tell them I lost almost 40 pounds.
“Or in the pharmacy, of which I was once a frequent customer handing over three or four prescriptions at a time (for nasal sprays, prednisone, cortisone inserts for colitis, pain medication, antibiotics, synthroid, asthma medication) when I hand over the toothpaste and they say expectantly, “anything else?” and I say, “Nope!” and bound out to enjoy the day.