I’ve been on my weight loss journey for seven and a half years now.
So many little things which have now become “normal” for me – not just in terms of eating behaviour, but also in my abilities to move – were once things I couldn’t even dream of when I first started on my journey.
I’ve always been disabled. And for most of my life (from the age of 9) I’ve been overweight.
From my own personal perspective, it was easy to use my disability as an excuse as to why I was overweight and why I was unable to move MORE.
With hindsight, it was my WEIGHT that significantly prevented me from moving more. I could barely stand for a few minutes, let alone walk any distance. I would need someone to help fill the car with fuel as the whole process of standing whilst operating the pump was just too exhausting.
Whatever our abilities, we can all move just a little more, even if it’s just going for a trundle in the open air in a motorised wheelchair. In fact, the benefits of doing just that can be immense.
I have just returned from an amazing trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar. This is my third “adventure” holiday to far flung destinations and remote locations in as many years. The trips have involved long haul flights, climbing into single engine 12-seater planes and being hoisted into and out of jeeps whilst on safari. More are planned.
One of the day trips planned on this holiday was a boat trip in a traditional dhow (wooden boat). The thing I’ve always enjoyed about boat trips is that you jump on, travel about, see things and jump off. Not too much walking involved.
Not this time!
On arrival at the beach, the tide was right out and I could see, much to my dismay, that the boats were waiting about half a mile out in the shallow water. I immediately started to worry that I’d not be able to get out there – walking across sand and then rocks and rock pools ankle deep in water.
BUT my choices were limited.
I either attempted that walk, or neither of us would be able to do the trip (already arranged and paid for). The drive to the beach had already taken 40 minutes. We really wanted a day away from the hustle and bustle of Stone Town.
As we waited and were all kitted out with our flippers and masks/snorkels, I was experiencing an inner fear that was rising deep within me.
Eventually, we were allocated a crew member, who’s task it was to walk small groups out to the waiting boats.
Our group was allocated “Big Show”, a huge gentleman built like a water buffalo!
“Big Show” took hold of my wrist firmly in one HUGE hand, his fingers holding me tightly. “I will help you Mama” he said and started to walk me towards the boat at a steady pace, taking account of my short legs and reduced stride length.
I couldn’t look forward as my eyes needed to concentrate on the uneven ground beneath my feet, avoiding rock pools and particularly slimy patches. All the time he kept reassuring me with the words “polepole, polepole” (Swahili for “slowly, slowly”). Before long, we had reached the group of boats and I was heaved aboard – not in the most ladylike fashion, but by now I was exhausted and keen to get aboard and have a seat!
Likewise, when we stopped for our lunch, the boat had little option but to anchor in the shallows with a half mile walk to the beach and restaurant we were lunching in.
But this time, I was less fearful. By now it was the middle of the day, the sun was blazing down on us (30 degree heat). I slid into the water and up to my waist and Big Shot took my wrist.
This time, he walked me about 50 steps and then said “Stop. Rest.” I think he was aware of my laboured breathing (or should I say puffing!) The final part of this marathon was a climb up a steep sandy beach (see picture – this shows the tide right in). Once again, I arrived at my final destination, hot, exhausted, hungry and thirsty.
I took my seat int he shade and exclaimed “I think that deserves a Kili!” (local popular beer, Kilimanjaro). No sooner were the words uttered, then one arrived on the table in front of me, uncapped – delivered by a fellow passenger.
None of my fellow passengers knew anything about my walking abilities. We were all strangers meeting for the first time – French, American, Japanese, etc. But I have no doubt from comments during the trip that they admired what I achieved that day.
I have to say though, nobody was more impressed with my performance than I was myself!
Once again, I managed to truly achieve over and above what I thought I was physically able to.
And it was well worth it.