I have been presented with an opportunity to represent Ossur on a media tour in New York City next month. Although I am not sure about what I have to contribute to any discussion, I am flattered and excited about the adventure. I have suddenly been immersed in layers of insecurity, especially concerning my appearance.
As soon as I was asked to NYC, I phoned my Mom to relay the news. Instead of telling her how excited I was, or how flabbergasted I felt being chosen, I focused on the negative. I'm embarrassed to admit that I actually said, "I am going to go on such a crash diet that it will cause a 5 mile pile-up on Route 95."
My weight has been a recurring issue in my life since childhood. After my amputation, a sedentary lifestyle mixed with depression caused my weight to balloon to the "morbidly obese" category. As I regained control of my emotions I began to shed the pounds. The journey has not been easy!
Amputees have the ideal excuse for being overweight. I had only one leg after all, the perfect reason for not working up a sweat. I wasn't expected to be active because I was "disabled." I hated being an amputee, but I loved the excuse.
In addition to having a socially acceptable excuse for being sedentary, the amputee population is missing role models in popular culture. The Biggest Loser, although I enjoy the show, has yet to feature a contestant with a non-obesity related disability. With all of the "diet themed" reality shows, I have yet to see an amputee or an individual exercising in a wheelchair .
Stories of amputee athletes abound, but I am a realist. I was not a sprinter before my amputation. I certainly knew that getting a "super cool" Cheetah leg was not going to suddenly spur a love for running nor increase my abilities. For me, the athletes are impressive but their feats are so unattainable that I couldn't relate. Besides, none of the athletes I have seen on television were ever fat, but I was.
Statistics show us that approximately 31% of the population is obese. After hours of digging around on the Internet, I found a Senate report from 2007 which stated that 69% of amputees are either overweight or obese. Wow -not only are we missing a limb (or two or three) but we are fatter than everybody else too!
In preparation of my media tour I am back on the diet bandwagon. While no longer obese, I have 10 pounds I would like to shed before the middle of November. I love myself too much to go on a crash diet, so I am going to be sensible. I won't be stick thin if and when you see me on television, but I will be healthy!
So perhaps it is true that misery loves company, or maybe I am naive by thinking that maybe I can change the world. In either case, I don't want to do this alone. If popular culture won't provide the amputee community with healthy and attainable role models for weight loss, let's do it ourselves! I am hereby starting a "Biggest Loser-AmputeeMommy Edition." Anybody want to join?