Nfld. & Labrador

Downsizing: When hitting the road hurts like hell

My first attempts at a simple walk around the neighbourhood left me panting for breath and feeling nauseous, but I'm powering on, Dave Sullivan writes in his latest column on losing weight.

Dave Sullivan’s weight loss journey starts with his feet

Dave Sullivan takes a walk in St. John's, a simple act that once seemed impossible. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

I’ve never been much of a mover.

In the past couple of years, I had fallen into a rather dangerous pattern: drive to work, sit, drive home, sit some more, then sleep. All the while, eating fast food like it’s an Olympic sport.

Truth is, when you weigh 415 pounds you really have no idea where to begin.

Once, I had a woman walk up to me at a work function. She told me I ought to consider gastric bypass surgery. Insisting that the waiting list was “very manageable”

At that time, I had no idea I was that far gone. I mean, you have to be pretty far gone if people walk up to you in public and start recommending major surgery, don’t you think?

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t consider the surgery that day I stepped on the scale. But I also know that surgery would only fix the weight, not the reason FOR the weight.

When a walk felt like a marathon

It appears that the long road is the road for me, and the logical first step is literally hitting that road by foot.

Every night, my partner Caitlin and I walked around Rabbittown, a neighbourhood in the centre of St. John’s.

I needed to stop every five minutes to catch my breath. My back was screaming in pain.  After all, that's a lot of me to move around.  

Can’t be more than a couple of kilometres. But to me, on that first night, it may as well have been an ultramarathon.

I needed to stop every five minutes to catch my breath. My back was screaming in pain.

After all, that`s a lot of me to move around.  

Caitlin was worried. Hell, I was worried. When I`ve tried to lose weight before, there were always setbacks which made me give up.

But I’m still walking.

After that first excruciating stroll,  things changed — and they’re still changing.

Gone are the days of holding onto a lightpole and hacking my guts up in the middle of Suez Street.

My body is getting stronger. My legs are able to swing faster and my breath is controlled and confident.

A therapy session on both legs

A walk is like therapy to me. Slow-moving therapy, but therapy none the less.

The more I walk, the more I face myself and look my own problems in the eye.

You know, I used to make fun of shows like The Biggest Loser, Extreme Weight Loss, and the like. Because everyone seems so dramatic.

I mean, in every episode it seems like there’s another overweight dude bawling in the arms of some trainer.

But you know what? I get why that happens now.

For most food addicts, we eat to cover pain. And when your cover is lifted, you’re exposed, vulnerable.

What started as a walk around the block is turning out to be a walk through my past.

Step by step, bad memories arise, and step by step, I let them go.

It’s only since I’ve started walking that I’ve realized how much pain I’ve been carrying around in my 415-pound frame.

And all it’s taken is a few leisurely strolls around Rabbittown.

These walks are tough. It’s hard to reflect on things that hurt. But in order to truly heal, I need to own my new past.

Which is why I’m saying these things out loud, to you, now.

This is me. Owning my past. One step at a time.

About the Author

Dave Sullivan is a writer and ad creative proudly living and working in St. John's.


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