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‘WOMB TO TOMB’ – Will Your Body Save or Kill You in a Catastrophe? (C)

By Lauralyn Bellamy, MA, MDiv, certified Dreamcoach® 

Between televised remembrances, late- breaking news videos and movies re-running on cable – in the last 4 weeks I’ve had an opportunity to see the shocking power of hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and terrorism test people’s strength, stamina and courage in the face of sudden threats and predicted catastrophes.

I continue to be haunted by the aerial footage of New Orleans after Katrina submerged the city to its residential rooftops, seeing people so huge they were trapped in their attics as they frantically tried to smash a wider opening through their windows, or punch a hole in their roofs; people who’s skeleton structure could not support the volume of flesh it carried and were immobilized – unable to wade to safety.

Documentaries and movies of 9-11 show the physical challenge most people faced in racing down over 60 flights of stairs in hopes of getting out of the World Trade Center before fire and smoke killed them (no one could then imagine the towers totally collapsing), or crawling through the rubble of the Pentagon.

To champion the cause of living in a strong, physically fit, normal-sized body grows out of my passionate concern that people have a fighting chance to save themselves and those they love in the event of an emergency. I am just as appalled by and concerned for the anorexic "size 0" runway models in their 5-inch spindly heeled shoes.

I’m talking in engineering terms here about the size of your skeleton and its "structural integrity." Given its height and bone condition, what is the optimal maximum load it is designed to carry actively (the dynamic load) and support passively (dead weight)?

Years ago, my car spun out on gravel on the curve of a steep mountain road and skidded off the edge. It was "caught" be a few trees. As I released my seatbelt, I had to stand on the passenger window; from the waist up, I emerged through the drivers window, as if on parade! I did not have the upper body strength to lift myself out of that window, but I was at least able to fit through it. The EMT’s did the heavy lifting. Back then I was "merely" obese. Had it happened 3 years later, I wouldn’t have fitted through the window.

I began working out with weights and resistance training 3x weekly with a trainer after my 3-week post-op exam, in March 2003. I still work out with a trainer, 2x weekly, and on my own 2-3X weekly, in addition to the cardio worksouts – 5+ weekly. Why?

First, I love feeling strong.

Secondly, it gives me a sense of security and confidence to know that I can not only rise to unexpected physical challenges, I can reach out and help others, too.

Third, it makes flying bearable. As a motivational speaker, workshop leader and EMBODY SUCCESS! spokesperson and coach, I do a lot of business travel. I can tell you from firsthand experience that the new planes Delta and AirTran are using nowadays have very narrow aisles, very narrow seats and very little legroom. Yet, by maintaining my goal weight, I am able to sit with space between my hips and the armrests; and the tray table comes all the way down, so I don’t worry about beverages and food sliding away from me (as they did when the tray rested on my stomach). 

But most importantly, I can fit in the bathrooms of these newest planes! This past Spring I first flew AirTran’s latest pride and joy. When I opened the bathroom door, I was facing a wall not 28 in. in front of me. The toilet was jammed in this tube off to my left. I was able to enter, turn around, pull the door closed and lock it, and do my business. Had it been the day before my WLS, I would have had to back into the doorway, hope I could close the door toward me and shuffle back toward the toilet. There are mordibly obese people who will be unable to fit inside those bathrooms!

Please hear me: I am not talking in terms of some superficial judgment of what is beautiful or ugly. I am asking you to assess whether your body is strong enough, fit enough and light enough to partner you through any unexpected challenge or threat to your safety and well-being. I’m talking in terms of reasonable limits. I wouldn’t pass muster by firefighter or army boot camp tests. But I can lift or push up my body using only my arms; I can walk miles and climb up and down many flights of stairs; I can "fork lift" my 80-lb. greyhound and carry her to a vehicle in an emergency. As you consider whether or not to use WLS to treat your morbid obesity; or, if you’ve had it, gotten caught up in the numbers game of dieting without "moving" an inch or breaking a sweat, I invite you to look upon your body in a new way – as a full partner in the quality of your life.

You can live in a body that is your passport to freedom, adventure and making your dreams come true! Or, you can mark off the days in a solitary tomb of your own flesh, afraid of the world around you and vulnerable to every exceptional threat – from the weather, disease or human cruelty – life carelessly hurls your way.

It’s not enough to be an attractive dress or pant size! To be fully alive, commit to supporting and caring for your strong, fit body. Then, whatever you dream of doing with the rest of your life, you’ll be able to Embody Success! (C)


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