It’s now the second day of spring. It snowed yesterday on the first day of spring. It doesn’t feel like spring and these Meteorologists on TV might as well be telling us the Easter Bunny is running behind on chocolate orders and had to outsource holiday deliveries to Godiva. Fortunately the snow is melting very fast. I’ll tell you something else that is melting very fast, the weight around my middle. At least I hope so.
Because my injury is at a high level the muscles below my chest are mostly paralyzed. When a muscle is unable to move it becomes atrophied. The muscles that wrap around the abdomen are the support system for the core of the body. When you sit up, your core pulls you up. When you stay seated it holds you up. And when you walk it stabilizes the entire torso.
They work without even thinking about it. Their other job is to hold the stomach, intestines and other lower organs in place, tucked up under the diaphragm. When those muscles atrophy the organs slide forward and down causing a condition known as “Quad Belly”. It gives the appearance of a beer belly.
When any extra fat builds up on the body it tends to build up in and around that area. Also, the forward shift and lack of consistent muscle contraction can cause the metabolism to slow down considerably so once weight is gained it can be difficult to burn off.
It seems that somewhere between the holiday stuffing and gravy, the winter comfort food and the reduced trips to the gym due to below freezing temps and piles snow I started to resemble Boss Hogg on a frat boy Pub Crawl. If you’re too young to catch the Dukes of Hazzard reference I simply… well… got fat. This is not good. Fat building up around the inner organs puts me and other spinal cord injury survivors at risk for early on-set heart disease and diabetes. So with summer approaching and my deep-seated need to look sexy in a leopard print thong (but mostly to just be healthy) I got my butt in gear. However, not after a fit of remorse and self-loathing that fed my other deep-seated need to wallow in the kind of selfish vanity only another Virgo like myself could truly comprehend.
I truly love food. All kinds of food. Every ethnicity, type and shape. Baked, fried, roasted, grilled, fermented, chilled, salted, smoked, boiled or raw. Meat, dairy, veggies, pasta, fruit, bread, desserts… my god… I love the culture around food, discovering a great new restaurant or recipe, learning how something made, sharing food with friends, growing and preparing food. In truth, I don’t eat bad fatty food, processed foods, fast food or even candy! I just love high-quality, good food. What is it that song by Sting says, “If you love someone set them free…”
So chia seed smoothies and the gym, the continued electrical stimulation bike, smaller portions and a few other techniques have me exercising self-control and little by little seeing results. So screw you Easter Bunny and your tempting chocolate demons! Ironically, rabbits are vegetarians.
My goal is to lose twenty-five pounds… and keep it off. So often people with Spinal Cord Injury live a lifestyle and adopt habits to ease the daily emotional pain and frustration. Whether it be subconscious or not it is often covered by drugs, alcohol or anti-depressants. The need for the comfortable and familiar can run very deep and strong.
Certain foods and activities can act as a drug as well. Personally, I believe this condition is a result of the feeling of hopelessness fostered by a long-held belief by the medical profession that there is no cure. These unhealthy life choices cloud the vision of the future and continue to hold many in a permanent winter of despair. We have to look beyond the common held belief and start believing in ourselves.
We have to make positive, healthy life choices so we can live and be ready when the solution we’ve been allowing ourselves to hope for comes.
Spring always brings new life, and while your parents may have told you a libidinous bunny who lays colored eggs delivered all that candy to you… this spring I hope if you are reading this and need to let go of something to stay healthy, you will allow yourself to hope and believe the real truth that a cure is coming, and the next doctor who says, “there’s no hope”… well… even your parents told you the Easter Bunny was real.
Thanks for reading.
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