So, what are you, like, 100? What are you, like 3? – every person I meet who can’t divide by four

It’s my birthday today. British women will propose, manual watches will have an accurate date and not need to be reset to March 1, and Black History Month gets one more day, but it’s still the shortest month in the year, and I don’t think that’s very fair.

I’m 40 today. Or, in leap years, 10. Double digit doughboy. The fun thing about being born on leap year is that everyone you know, remembers your birthday. And, it’s not like I don’t get to celebrate every year, because all the sympathy of “aw, you don’t have one this year!” turns into all sorts of attention like a regular birthday anyway. My grandmother really worried about me having this birthday when I was born, but I love it. So then every four years, I get an excuse to do a big party.

But this year, leap year falls on a Wednesday. In Lent, no less. I have church tonight. Not exactly party time. I haven’t made plans for big celebrations. But in another way, I have had the biggest birthday blowout of my life.

My birthday celebration started in early 2011 and will last for many more years. It was the revelation that I would turn 40 soon that got me moving, into the world of running and triathlon, and finally addressing deeper health issues.

So, when I really think about it, a birthday is about celebrating being alive. I’ve been doing that every day. And instead of celebrating in a way that further contributes to diminishing life, (ie, cake) I have been celebrating every day I wake up and move myself. My relationships are better, my mood is better. My life is rich. It’s not just because I get out and run. In recent months I finally got myself to a support system that I have needed for over a decade now. Last night I picked up my 30 day recovery chip. Recovery from food addiction is just as real as any other addiction.

So today, I choose to let mundane things be my celebrations, because I am happy I can do them.

I already went for blood tests at my doctor, which I intentionally scheduled for today. I will have the results Friday, so we can compare to last year.

I weighed myself. 267 pounds. That’s down 18.7 from Mid-January when I started to get clean. It’s also down 93 from my lifetime “record” of 360.

I will get my drivers license renewed, and compare the picture to four years ago. Less hair, but less fat too.

I will attend weekly Bible study with my colleague group, people who have been a sounding board for me for years in my struggles with parish ministry.

I will lead church tonight, both preaching and playing guitar. I will do so with renewed passion, as recovery has been leading me into better relationships with others as I can be fully present for them, and not wallowing in self-pity and self-hatred all the time.

I may or may not take a long swim or a short run today. (If I run, my February total will top 50 miles.) If I miss a day, it’s not the end of the world, and if I get to do a workout, it will be one of many, nothing special by itself, but special that it’s a routine pat of my life now.

Friday I get to read at my daughter’s school for Dr. Suess week. I will make a big balloon Cat-in-the-Hat Hat. A lot of kids already know me, but there’s an added element this year. Last week there was an assembly on health and fitness. In front of the whole school, my daughter raised her hand and talked about her Daddy making healthy changes. “He used to be obese, but now he runs and does races and eats better.” I won’t argue with her that I’m still obese, but that’s changing fast, and the point is, she can see the changes and is proud of me enough to talk about it at school.

I have so much to be thankful for, to celebrate. I have so many people in my life who are just amazing family and friends, and who are rooting for me to be well.

With all that, why would I need to center my birthday celebration on food? I don’t need the cake. Let THEM eat cake.


3 thoughts on “Double Digit Doughboy

  1. Your truth is so touching and amazing. While reading this I got teary-eyed. I don’t know why but maybe it was your total honesty and reflection on yourself. I struggle with many of the things you have mentioned in this post and so maybe it even made me realize the reality of who I am and the changes I need to make in my own life. I am obese and short, feelings of unworthiness overwhelm me at times, and I am full of self-hatred. But I also know I am getting better… because a few weeks ago I made the discovery that I am blessed in so many ways that I need to stop looking at the negative and focus on the positive in my life. In less than 10 months I will turn the big “40” and am working on myself.

    Good Luck in your continued effort to make a better and healthier you.

    • It’s not easy. The shame, self-hatred cycle is a terrible spiral downward. There’s a fine line between seeing what needs changed and is no longer acceptable to live with…. and still valuing yourself so that you are worth the change. That’s where I found myself. The 12-step recovery process is about looking outside yourself to a higher power. Even if someone doesn’t fit or need the 12 step model, I would at least say take an honest inventory of the people who care about you in your life. Sounds like you’ve done that. Start with their energy as a source. Write me anytime.

  2. I’m so happy for you! You are brave for sharing this journey. I am using my 39th year to plan for the “40”, too. I’m working on mental health, physical health, finances and relationships.

    Thanks for being an inspiration!

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