From Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul

One Newspaper at a Time

Imprisoned in every fat man a thin one is wildly signaling to be let out.

Cyril Connolly

One of the unfortunate side effects of being very overweight is constant back pain. Sitting, standing, lying down, carrying, lifting . . . no matter what the activity, my back is always in some state of pain.

Recently, I decided to do something about this. Not only did I want to relieve the back pain that carrying around an extra 150 pounds creates, I also wanted to head off all the other medical problems I knew were in my future. My biggest concern was exercise. How could I possibly move this bulk of mine around when I was already in pain? Stretching, jogging, lifting weights and all the other activities that I knew would help get the weight off just seemed impossible to do with my back always feeling like it was twisted in a knot.

So I started out slowly. I got a paper route, which to be honest was not a weight-loss strategy at first. However, after I signed up, I found out that I had to porch all of the papers. This meant that I had to get out of my car (YIKES!) and physically walk the paper up the driveway and place it on the porch. This may not sound tough to many people, but to a 300-pound woman the thought of getting in and out of a car and walking up and down forty-seven driveways didn’t sound fun. And I just knew this would aggravate my back to the point that I wouldn’t be able to move at all.

Day one came and I got in and out of my car and I huffed and puffed up forty-seven driveways at two in the morning—and I sweat like I hadn’t in years. I hauled myself home, got in bed and went back to sleep. When I woke up several hours later, I sat up and realized that not only was my back not throbbing in pain, as I had thought it would, but it actually felt a little bit looser.

Each week I noticed my back pain getting progressively less. Well, I figured that if just walking a little every day could help, maybe adding in a little extra exercise would help even more. I took it easy, a little at a time, doing simple exercises and other activities like playing with my children instead of popping in yet another movie for them to watch. And here came another side effect. I started to lose a little weight. As the weight came off, the back pain lessened.

I had always thought that I couldn’t exercise because I was too large. The pain in my body, along with the sheer bulk of me, was simply too much to put through any kind of a workout routine. If I did manage to exercise, I just knew I would be in agonizing pain the next day. But just the opposite happened. This amazing human body began to function better the more I exercised. Logic had always told me that if I lost weight, my back wouldn’t hurt so much. After all, 300 pounds is a lot of weight for one back to carry. But the task of losing that weight just seemed too much to conquer.

So now I’m taking baby steps. I have created a mental picture of me, newspaper carrier that I am, with 150 newspapers, eachweighing a pound, strapped tomy back. Every time I lose a pound, it’s like I’mthrowing away one of those newspapers. Each time I toss a paper, my health is that much better, my back pain is that much less and I’m one step closer to the healthier, happier person I want to be.

I try not to look at the whole picture—losing 150 pounds. I don’twant to knowhowmuch I need to lose or howmuch further I want to go. If I focus on the fact that I have only delivered ten papers out of a 150-paper route, I’m going to want to just crawl in bed and never see the light of day again. So I don’t focus on that. I take it slow. I allow myself to be proud of every moment I can sit without leaning over to crackmy aching back, proud of every ounce I’ve lost and every ounce of mobility I’ve gained. And I just take each day as it comes, one newspaper at a time.

Michelle McLean

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