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Gaining Health – A Commentary by Jephie Bernard


I’m a whopping 4 feet, 11 inches and 3 quarters tall.

And jokes about my height are a regular part of my day, from my brothers teasing me  when I try to reach something on the top shelf or the Checker’s drive-through Cashier who laughed for five minutes because I was so close to the steering wheel…

Nowadays, my height is no joke, at least not when you see my Body Mass Index or BMI. It’s is a formula based on height  – mine, short – and weight – mine, too much. Over 30 BMI is obese. My BMI 50 .

More distressingly  I recently learned that I’m now one of more than 86-million people in the United States who are considered pre-diabetic – I don’t yet have Type II diabetes, but if I don’t make some major changes, I’ll likely end up there, I’ve got to do something about it. But it’s hard. Losing weight is hard for everyone. But for me, there are the ghosts.

My first real attempt to lose weight was when I was a freshman in college – eight years ago?. I created my own workout; ate healthier, and jogged – every day, 6am. I lost fifty pounds.

And then, on a regular Saturday morning, I got a text,  “Gary died.” He’d been in a car accident. He was 18.

Gary and I had been friends since preschool. It was the first time someone close to me had died. And suddenly all my work to lose weight seemed pointless. I stopped working out – or even going to class. I took a leave of absence that semester.

I gained the weight back.

Four years later, I tried to lose weight again. Again, I joined a gym and went through the motions – but this time it was more fun – all thanks to Jessica – she went with me, teased me, taught me how to dance Bachata. And it worked, I lost seventy pounds. I felt and looked great.

But, then, another text… Did you hear about Jessica?… She died. A car accident. She may have fallen asleep at the wheel. And pretty soon, I gained all the weight back. Again.

Life seemed so unfair  –  I gave up. I felt guilty and responsible. Nothing made sense to me. To cope, I ate and slept and ate, sweets mostly. I couldn’t even walk through the doors at the gym.

Now, I have to try again.Losing weight is as hard as it ever was, plus, now, it’s scary.Not just because it’s daunting. But also, my friends. What if something bad happens. Am I cursed? Were they?

It’s on my mind when I’m at the nutritionist, showing off my eating healthy all week. I’m doing it.  She takes my blood pressure and weight, while I try to convince her and me that I’m doing everything I can.

And doing it means I’ve changed my mindset. I know that reaching for my goals can’t be taken away by another tragedy. Not this time. So, It’s not just about my health, I”m telling my loved ones, stay safe out there, I have some work to do. Wish me luck.

BACK ANNOUNCE:  Jephie Bernard recorded this while on a standing treadmill. And you can cheer her weight loss on at @Jephieisamazing.

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