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Excerpt Fifteen: On the Road Again

From the book "From Fat to Fit: Turn Yourself into a Weapon of Mass Reduction" by Carole Carson

Life is full of obstacle illusions.

—Grant Frazier

Having spent his adult life as a family man tied down to his forestry job, my retired husband harbored a pent-up desire for travel that seemed to peak during my fitness efforts. At the risk of sounding paranoid, I wondered if at some level he was testing me to see if he could bring back his party-girl wife! After all, he said, it wasn't nearly as much fun for him to eat and drink alone, especially when I sat across the table from him being so pure and wholesome.

When he proposed a vacation on the Mendocino coast, I had no reason to decline—that is, except for not knowing if I could maintain my regimen while traveling. But after all, I asked myself, what good is a fitness regimen if it won't travel?

I would need a plan of attack. I could take the scale—now my very best friend instead of my enemy—to weigh myself. If we were flying, I could walk briskly during the preboarding time to log a few exercise minutes. But since we were driving, I'd need to get up early and exercise before we left.

Even more worrisome was dining out. My husband likes fancy places with cocktails, tempting entrées, and lovely desserts, and his choice of restaurants in Mendocino would be no exception. While I watched him enjoy his favorites, I would be forced to remain focused on my own goals.

But I am very stubborn. The more difficult the challenge, the more determined I become. I began thinking about the advantages of eating out and ways I could cope. At least I couldn't walk into the restaurant kitchen and help myself to seconds as I could at home! When ordering, I could get food prepared exactly as I liked, and I could choose what I wanted to eat. I could control portions by ordering appetizers instead of an entrée. I could package food up and take it back to our motel room. And I wouldn't have to spend hours in the kitchen surrounded by temptations.

For exercise, I'd have to be flexible. Because I was keeping up with my classmates in my Body Pump class, I began to think of myself as a jock, a real athlete. I could easily walk three to four miles, more if necessary. I would look for a place to walk along the ocean each day.

Red Alert—Medical Emergency Intervenes

A few days before we left for our trip to the coast, I scared myself and my husband badly. Four months earlier I'd been put on a beta-blocker to silence an unusual heart sound. Although I'd once casually mentioned to my cardiologist that I was losing weight, I hadn't told him how much or over what period of time.

As I was getting ready for bed that night, I passed out cold in the bathroom. I bruised my shoulder and hip on a tile step when I fell. Dick heard the crash. I didn't—I was unconscious from the moment I went down. When I returned to awareness, I tried to get up and walk to the bedroom. I passed out again. I finally crawled on all fours to the bedroom and climbed into bed.

After I passed out again, Dick insisted on taking me to the local emergency room. From my pulse, blood pressure, heart rate, and other tests plus some astute questioning, the emergency room doctor eventually figured out that the beta-blocker prescription was too strong for my current size and weight. Losing weight and exercising had significantly reduced my formerly high blood pressure. Because of the medication, my blood pressure was now too low, and that was why I was passing out.

I had learned a hard and expensive lesson about how important it is to have medical supervision. My doctor needed to be my adviser on my fitness journey. I'd used other resources and collected companions of all sorts along the way—but never thought to include my doctor. Once again I realized that all of us are dependent upon each other for our well-being.

Dick and I left on time for our Mendocino vacation, grateful that the medical emergency was a fading memory.

Next: Carole learns that nothing tastes as good as being thinner feels.

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