Urban Poling, the Final Frontier The Voyages of a Fat-to-Fit Urban Poler
by Rosemarie Sears
This is the story of my 16-month-to-date mission to explore a strange new body, seek out a new life and to boldly go where this woman and this body has never gone before…or at least not for a very long time. Cue Jill Scott’s song Golden because this is how I am now living my life—like it’s golden. I’ve been on a rollercoaster ride and then some to reach this point. So settle back and listen to my tale.
On October 15, 2014, I had a lumbar fusion and a laminectomy with instrumentation or, in plain English, my lumbar spine was fused so that I now have metal rods and screws holding me together. Now six months to the day, I’m celebrating the journey as I head to the first stop of my goal to walk in Toronto’s Sporting Life 10k (May 10) and the Cardiac Heart Foundation Walk of Life 5K (May 30).
So what happened to get me to this point? On December 31, 2013, I stepped on the scale, with a cocktail at my side. For those of you who have jumped onto, placed a tremulous toe onto or been pushed to step onto a scale, you know it calls for copious numbers of drinks before and after—and sometimes during. Often it is important to have medical personnel or a phone nearby with 999, 911 or even 666 on speed dial. Why? Because as the numbers go up, you become diaphoretic, your heart rate and blood pressure increase, you speak profanely about all that is holy, and on a rare occasion you may even pick up that scale and toss it outside, like the opening credits of SCTV. I have some tricks to share with you, and I offer them in no particular order:
- Switch the scale from pounds to kilograms for tremendous psychological advantages.
- Kick the scale when it sounds like it’s laughing at you.
- Kick the scale if it sounds like it’s groaning.
I’ve weighed myself on tip toes, on one leg, leaning on a wall, holding up a wall, holding onto the bathroom counter, before and after going to the bathroom, before and after shaving, one eye closed, with one arm tied behind my back, kneeling, sitting and lying. I’ve fallen off a scale and sprained my ankle (refer to the previous comment about medical personnel). But the bottom line is that the number on the scale never surprised me. I was no lighter. I just had to agree with it.
To get back to my original point, I got on the scale—remember, with my cocktail—and watched it climb…100, 200, 300 350, 360 and higher (I stepped off before it could climb any further). How had I got there? I was an elite athlete well into my twenties, but then there were two kids, four step-kids, a marriage, divorce and a failed business by my mid-thirties. And with each major event, the pounds became my ever-present companion.
Over the years, I had tried to relieve myself of this bodily accoutrement with some short term successes, but mostly with periods of frustration, disappointment and physical and emotional pain. I started to suffer from back and leg pain and numbness. Eventually I couldn’t feel below my waist, I couldn’t walk two steps without pain, I had lost much of the quality of my life and was surviving on prescribed narcotics. I was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, herniated discs, spondylosis and scoliosis. Something had to give. I wanted better. I deserved better. I had to do something.
As my symptoms and function worsened, I revisited my specialist and decided that if I didn’t want to end up in a wheelchair I needed to have surgery. But I needed to be less than 300 pounds by the date of surgery. I had failed at dieting and other weight management programs before. I looked back at where and how I had achieved success in the past. My strategy was “training,” not dieting. I simply set a goal and trained.
A colleague had told me about urban poling and suggested that it might be helpful in my efforts to exercise. Walking was both a pleasure and a pain but one of the few things I could do. In the spring of 20014 I started walking with my Urban Poles five or six times a week, something my body had been craving for a long time. I progressed from around the block to 15-minute walks to 60-minute-plus walks. I found success along with the peace I also needed. On October 15, 2014, I weighed 299 pounds.
Six months later, with many stops and starts along the way, I now weigh 280 pounds. I’ve weaned myself off of all narcotics, and I’m training for Toronto’s Sporting Life 10k and the Cardiac Heart Foundation Walk of Life 5K. My goal is to finish in less than three hours. My training regimen has been enhanced by Mitch and the team from Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Care, as well as Niki at Glen Abbey Sports Therapy Clinic.
However, without my Urban Poles and ACTIVATOR poles this story would be very different. I can honestly say that urban poling has changed my life. Stay Tuned, Rosemarie will be sending us another update in a couple of weeks! ###