"You move with less pain" Amy commented when we were at lunch today.

"I do?" I asked, startled by her observation.

"You do. It isn't as hard to move any more is it?"

I stopped for a moment and thought back. "It is certainly easier to move around. To get up and down. To walk places."

"It used to hurt you to move sometimes. I used to see the pain of it in your face. Your feet hurt or your back and it was like you were gritting your teeth and just pushing through it."

She was right. It used to hurt to walk.

Just a few days ago I walked down a long hallway at a clipped pace and in a rush. I felt like I was zooming. "Wow, that hasn't happened in a while," I realized. It felt good. Like I was strong and energized. Typically walking depletes my already limited stores of energy. It feels like climbing a mountain. I have a 10-minute walk from the parking lot at work to my office and sometimes that has been the worst part of my day to push through that walk. The other day I realized I don't mind it. In fact, I look forward to the chance to not be sitting.

For me, sugar brings pain in movement. When I am off sugar for a few weeks, my feet stop hurting, my ankles do not throb, my joints don't crack. (Gosh, that sounds creaky and old.) After staying off sugar for weeks and dropping those first 30 pounds, I noticed a significant decrease in the amount of pain in my feet and ankles each day. Sometimes when I woke up those first few steps would hurt everywhere. It took me a long time to realize that hurting every time I walked wasn't "normal." I remembered a time when I liked to walk, when I felt powerful and strong at walking. But the last couple of years, it has hurt. Either my feet or my ankles or my back. And any time I stayed off sugar for a week or more the pain would decrease and then come roaring back when I started eating sugar again.

Mostly, it feels like I was given a finite and minuscule amount of energy each day and to burn it frivolously by walking anywhere seemed farcical. Energy is precious and to be conserved and cherished. It is priceless. Watch someone obese sometime. Notice the lumbering gait, the slow, deliberate movements, the economy in every motion. Sick people do the same thing. You do not move more than necessary. Ever.

For me, I gave up picking up pens from the floor. I was constantly writing in notebooks at church or work or home and invariably I was dropping a pen. I learned to just let it stay on the floor. The effort to hunt it down, bend over, pick it up and re-engage my writing was too costly. It was easier to carry multiple pens and leave the others to pick up pens. (And love to all of you pen picker uppers out there.) Pens on floors bother people and I also learned quickly that if I just waited a few seconds anyone halfway agile next to me would usually pick it up for me.

It is not just about the movement itself, it is also about the energy. What is your energy like? Do you have reserves of energy at your disposal? Enough to do the dishes, vacuum, go for a run, plan a hike with your kids on Saturday, and work in the garden every day for a week? Not me. Even one of those tasks could knock out my energy for several days. You learn to eliminate any extraneous effort.

One of the best parts of weight loss is rediscovering energy. It is like being sick and getting well again. You are so very grateful for the improvement that before you took so wildly for granted. I can do dishes, clean my house, check the condos at my second job, do the laundry, go grocery shopping and still feel excited about going for an afternoon walk in the sunshine. Walking to and from my car at work is not the worst part of my day. Energy is precious and abundant and you can spend it with abandon, even frivolously. This is one of the highlights of changing.

I even pick up pens again.


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