A Healthy Challenge: Accountability

I’m only a few words into this post and I can already tell it’s going to be one of the hardest I’ve ever written. In the past few months my sister’s had an emergency C-section, my brother’s been diagnosed with cancer, I’ve graduated from law school and at that graduation my grandmother had a stroke that sent her to the hospital where I sat with her until she died 10 days later.

But this post is about none of that.

I’ve made a name for myself as being open, honest and forthright as a writer. I’ve disclosed intimate details of my life on sites read by millions, so why then has it taken me weeks to simply write this introduction?

Over the past few months, no one has blamed me for my sister’s early delivery, my brother’s cancer, or my grandmother’s stroke and death. No one has blamed me for the anxiety I’ve had over graduating law school or even for the bad grades I got my last semester. No one has blamed me for the deep, hard depression in which I’ve fallen because of the stress of so many awful things happening to my family at once. No one has even blamed me for not wanting to leave the house except to fly home to visit family.

But people have blamed me for my weight gain. When I went home for my grandmother’s funeral, two family members and a close friend commented on my weight gain, one stating that I did not look like a bike rider, one stating that she was concerned for my health and the other cautioning me against eating through my grief. All of them had prepared at least one of the fattening dishes thrust upon my family during our mourning.

Worst than all of that, however, is the personal blame. How did I let myself go from 4 days a week at the gym and 50 mile bike rides on the weekend to atrophied sore muscles that ached from holding up my rather rotund rear? Why did I allow myself to indulge in cancer cupcakes, stroke strudel and funeral fried doughnuts? Where had all my strength gone?

This morning, when I finally got the courage up to face the scale, I weighed in at 225 pounds, the most I’ve ever weighed. Even as I write that number, I want to erase it, delete it from my computer’s memory – delete it from my memory.

Today I went to the gym for the first time in – gawd has it really been 4 months. What used to be an easy warm-up for me five months ago was an intense work-out for me today. That’s because five months ago I was riding 50 miles on my bike each weekend, training for a 500 mile charity ride. Five months ago, my legs were pure muscle and my ass, well it wasn’t “Buns of Steel” but it sure was the nicest ass I’ve ever had. Five months ago I was happy and healthy.

But then I got sick. Then my sister got sick. Then my brother got sick. Then my grandmother got sick. Surrounded by so much sickness, it’s hard to stay healthy. How was I supposed to exercise when I could barely breathe? Sure, a bike ride still sounded swell, but between hospital visits, flights home and funerals, who has time?

A slippery slope presented itself to me and I slid down it willingly, happy to have at least one thing in my life I didn’t have to worry about anymore: my diet. My sister, her two babies – one a premature newborn, the other younger than two – her dog, her cat and I all laid together in bed for a week, waiting for the results of my brother’s surgery – the second of many – watching movies and eating the two dozen cupcakes my loving cousins sent us. They were right, they would make us feel a lot better. So would the burritos, the cheesy potato casseroles, the milk shakes, the chile relleños, the bread pudding, the prime rib and the cinnamon rolls, all of which were lovingly brought to our house by family members and friends.

For five months I forgot about heart health and focused on heart comfort. I remembered only how much I loved movies, forgetting how much I loved listening to audiobooks while running. As much as those days of laying in bed eating cupcakes and watching movies were amazing – and oh my gawd were they amazing – comfort food has a horrible way of making my life less comfortable and soon my plethora of food and lack of movement was doing more harm than good.

Now that my grandmother’s funeral has come and gone, my sister and her baby are both recovered and my brother is in the beginning phases of remission, I am able to take a moment to breathe, cry for what I’ve lost in the past months and become accountable for what I’ve gained, all 20 pounds of it.

As I’ve taken on my Healthy Challenge, I’ve realized just how important accountability is. I can forgive others – and myself – for the food and body image issues I have and accept it’s time to change my unhealthy habits, but if I’m not accountable for my health then I’m doomed to fail in my goal to be healthy.

It is for that reason that I am posting, here on my blog for all to see, judge and discuss, my progress along this Healthy Challenge. Every two weeks I’ll update you on how it’s all going, making me accountable to myself and my readers for actually making the changes I want in my life. While I have no issue with  posting a picture of me wearing only my bra and undies (I do look adorable after all), the idea of putting these numbers up bi-monthly makes me sweat and want to cry.

Why is it that I have no shame over my body but so much shame over my weight? That’s a question I’m unable to answer at this time, but I hope, through a bit of patience, a lot of self-examination and maybe an occasional therapy session, I’m able to figure it out. When I do, be sure that I’ll share it with you all. Until then, I’m going to take care of myself and my heart the right way: through a healthy diet and daily movement. And the occasional comfort of chocolate ice cream.

This is the physical me as of August 23, 2011 (because it took me another week after writing this to get the guts up to post it):

Check out my "Defying Gravity" article on this adorable bra.

  • Weight: 225
  • Chest, Waist, Hips Measurements: 48, 40, 50 (feel free to use these to buy me adorable clothing)
  • Dress size: 18
  • Resting Heart Rate: 82 bpm
  • BMI: 34.4
  • # of sit-ups I can do: 20 (to be fair, I did these on a full stomach, so may be actually higher number)
  • # of push-ups I can do: 0
  • Amount of time I can jog without having to stop for air: 2 minutes


About Queerie Bradshaw

Lauren Marie Fleming is a writer, speaker and motivator known for her intimate, informative and often hilarious look at sex, relationships and body-image. Lauren runs the critically-acclaimed QueerieBradshaw.com blog, writes for major news sources including VICE, Nerve, Huffington Post and Curve, and is the author of her memoir Losing It: My Life as a Sex Blogger. In 2013, Lauren founded Frisky Feminist Press (FriskyFeminist.com) as a way to enhance conversations about sexuality through educational guides, online classes and entertaining publications. A law school graduate, Lauren has spoken all over the United States and is internationally recognized for her dynamic, engaging style. In everything she does, Lauren’s goal is to educate, remove stigmas and encourage people to achieve their desires.
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13 Responses to A Healthy Challenge: Accountability

  1. Mrs. Wonder says:

    You’ve been through a lot in the last few months, I’m glad everything is going better so you can again focus on yourself! I wish you good thoughts on your new journey with yourself.

  2. A. Mae says:

    I am glad that your days are looking brighter after all you have gone through! You ever need a work out buddy, let me know 🙂

  3. Michelle Wyse says:

    Stay strong! I’m having to hold myself accountable now, too. Hard times have a tendency to zap our strength, but we know we are strong women at our cores. Thank you for writing this and for being an inspiration.

  4. Beto says:

    it happens ok goodluck! what happened with the toys?

  5. Kristen says:

    I’m curious how you decided on these particular metrics for your challenge. Why did you select these out of the many you could have used? 🙂

    • Well, I used my weight because I’ve always rejected weight as a standard by which to be judged, so I thought I’d embrace it and see if we could be better friends after that. I picked my measurements and dress size because 1. I like cute clothes and 2. they’re a good way to measure (literally) progress of toning up. Heart rate and BMI are good to know for health reasons and the rest are just things I want to be able to do, like sit-ups and push-ups and run without being out of breath.

      What would your metrics be?

      • Kristen says:

        I think this are all good metrics, though the BMI gets a lot of flak in certain circles. 🙂

        You might consider a measuring tape at certain key body points. A lot of time inches drop off as you add muscle, which would indicate you’re tinier even when the SCALE isn’t moving.

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