MORNING WALK

MORNING WALK

From Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul

Morning Walk

It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.

Anne Sexton

I am my father’s daughter.

It was 6:30 on a Saturday morning and most sane people were still dreaming dreams, turning over in their warm beds and ignoring alarm clocks. Why was I walking around our neighborhood?

I am my father’s daughter.

I thought about taking a shortcut—if I turned right at the next street, I could cut ten minutes off my walk and soon be home, savoring a warm cup of coffee with the morning paper.

I am my father’s daughter.

This phrase became a mantra as I forced myself to walk those extra blocks. Ever since I had made the decision to lose weight by becoming more physically active, I had to daily talk myself out of excuses for not following through with my new exercise plan.

I am my father’s daughter.

My father had been a smoker. He started smoking cigarettes when he was thirteen years old, stubbornly maintaining his habit into his seventies. My sister and I had spent years trying to convince him to quit, but it took an X-ray of his lungs to give him the incentive he needed to finally do it, cold turkey, by sheer willpower. It had been five years since he smoked a cigarette, and I was so proud of him.

I am my father’s daughter.

I was skinny as a teenager. Everyone was always encouraging me to take seconds, and sometimes even thirds, as a child. So I had gotten used to heaping my plate full and then eating every single bite so that I didn’t waste any food. This was never a problem when I was thirteen years old, but when I reached my thirties, the pounds started adding up until the morning that I stepped on a scale and realized that I was 255 pounds.

I am my father’s daughter.

For a few years, I tried to find excuses. It was my metabolism. I ate the same way I had always eaten, so why else was I fat? Maybe I had a thyroid problem. As more years passed and I moved into my forties, I blamed the media for promoting a “thin culture” of unrealistic body shapes. I scoffed at friends on fad diets, convincing myself that my diet was healthier than theirs. I used to laugh about my sister-in-law’s skin turning orange from eating too many carrots. Surely, a few extra pounds were preferable to that?

I am my father’s daughter.

When my doctor diagnosed me with high blood pressure and prescribed medication, he told me that if I lost weight, I probably wouldn’t need the medication. When I fell down some stairs at work and the clinic x-rayed my knee, I was told that the fall had not injured my knee but that my knee didn’t look good, due to the strain of my weight. I decided I needed to make a change in my lifestyle.

I am my father’s daughter.

After six months of half-hour walks, four to five times a week, I lost forty pounds. Then I added weight circuit training three times a week and monitored the portions of food on my plate, and now, almost two years later, I am seventy-five pounds lighter. At a recent family get-together to celebrate my father’s five-year anniversary of giving up smoking, relatives exclaimed over my trimmer, fitter figure and asked me how I did it. I caught my dad’s eye.

I am my father’s daughter.

Deborah P. Kolodji

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