Last week I found myself dreading my annual physical. I am not the greatest patient in the world since I had decided that a yearly physical was not for me, so I had previously skipped them the past two years. I had decided that since I get blood work every 3 months and get my basic vitals checked every month for Tysabri, going to another doctor appointment seemed pointless.
After my stitches came out this summer from my bike accident I found myself cornered at the receptionists desk at my doctors who basically made me make my appointment. I had my appointment last Friday and I realized in the week leading up to it the part that I was least looking forward to was being weighed.
Yup, my biggest fear was the scale. I personally chose not to own a scale. I know if I have one I will focus on the numbers way to much rather than just go with how I feel. If my clothes fit and I feel good then I shouldn't have to worry about some number. I know that I make healthy choices the majority of the time and I put in a decent effort on my bike too, so I really shouldn't have to worry.
When I get weighed at my bi-annual doctors appointment at the neurologists I always just turn around on the scale and no one ever has a problem with it. Of course my regular doctor has a nurse that weighs you in and she is not the friendliest person around. Since she forces you to weigh in with your face staring at the numbers I've tried closing my eyes but she will still tell you. If you ask her not to tell you, she will do it regardless. From what I can tell it seems like the majority of patients are pretty much 60+ and I have never seen anyone my age there. My mom shares the same doctor and she insists that there are younger people who go. Anyways, I am assuming that this nurse is completely oblivious to the reasons why some people don't need to hear the number which is annoying.
My need not to know my weight has been something that's been around for a while. When I was younger my aunt made a comment that stuck with me. She said that thanks to family genetics I was destined to be heavy. I'd like to list this under things you should NEVER EVER say to a 13 year old. That fear has always stayed in the back of my mind even though my mom always was quick to remind me that it's also based on whether or not you live a healthy life style. I remember staying at my grandparents house for the weekend and my grandpa was notorious for bringing home donuts after church. I was step on the scale after every meal and then try and "work off" whatever weight I had gained for the day. I would run laps with a soccer ball in the backyard convinced I needed to work off whatever I ate.
Luckily for me my focus changed when I started playing travel soccer. My parents did a great job with both my brother and I to make sure we got enough calories for our activity levels and I found that I worried less and less about weighing in. Throughout high school I was sidelined with knee injuries but I was always pretty driven to work hard during PT and always seemed to bounce back.
When I went to college I did well staying away from the freshman 15. I ate well but always found room for dessert. I made sure to get adequate exercise in and was happy with my overall appearance.
During the beginning of my junior year I was diagnosed with MS. High doses of steroids and eating as a way to cope landed me at my highest weight ever. It's safe to say that I was depressed during this time. I was pulled out of classes for the last month+ of the first semester and was able to stay at home and recuperate. I worked through PT and speech, but I spent my days pretty much at home. I remember the first time I went out in public after everything had happened. I was still having horrible tremors and spasms that left me completely unable to walk and stand up straight every few minutes. My mom took me to Target after not being out in public for over a month. I was anxious and even though it was pretty empty in the store I remember thinking that everyone was looking at me. We would walk until my body would spasm and I would hunch over in pain as my arm and face clenched up uncontrollably.
I even went to visit my roommates for the night right before Christmas break. My parents drove me the 1 hour plus to school, dropped me off and then picked me up the next day. Thankfully Steph, who is in the picture above never left my side. I remember walking to the dining hall and every few minutes would have a spasm were I would once again hunch over in pain as my body completely tensed up. I remember walking into the dining hall and grabbing a tray and then having another spasm as it felt like EVERYONE in the dining room was watching to see what was wrong with me. My tray dropped out of my hands as I just did everything not to fall over from the pain surging through my body. Steph picked up my tray and just stood there and talked as if this was a completely normal thing and when I stood up I continued the conversation like it hadn't happened. I am eternally grateful that she was there by my side treating me like she always treated me.
Thankfully I was put on a few new medications and my spasms stopped completely before I returned for the spring semester. I was still dealing with so much internally though that I just didn't know what to do. I ate, I stopped working out, and I just tried to stay afloat and not drown in everything happening.
When summer arrived I was ready to start focusing on me again. My diagnosis left me in a pretty shattered mental state and having the summer to focus really helped. I started eating right and exercising and I made a commitment that I would start treating my body better. When I went back for senior year I was still carrying some extra pounds but I looked like "me" again. I was eating better and working out and enjoying the new sense of balance I had found with life.
College ended and I found myself living at home for about two years. In those two years I was able to get life straightened out. I found a great job and I was able to save up and pay off student loans. Living at home also meant that I had plenty of time and funds to continue pursing a healthy lifestyle. A year after graduating I met Erik. Erik is great at pushing me out of my comfort zone because sometimes you need a little extra push to go for something bigger. He never questioned my idea to cycle 100 miles for bike MS and he was there by my side through all the long training rides and tears.
This past spring I signed up for my first real bike race. It was a step outside my comfort zone and I remember sitting in the car in the parking lot as people around me unloaded their uber fancy bikes and road trainers to warm up. I was completely panicked, but you know what? Once that race started I had a blast.
If you would have told me a year ago I would have been on a all female cycling team I would have laughed in your face. Turns out, it's pretty awesome and I am so glad I joined.
What I have finally realized is that I am more than just a number. I work hard and I should not let my attitude be dictated my some number on the scale. It's just a number, it doesn't mean anything. Last week I stepped on the scale and the nurse told me the number. I walked back to the exam room and I didn't worry that the number was higher or lower than anticipated. I reminded myself that it's just a number. I reminded myself how hard I worked this year and how much I've grown as a cyclist. The muscles I've built that carry me up hill after hill reflect all the hard work I've poured into a sport I love. Whatever the number on the scale says, I am happy with my body for the first time in a long, long time.