A House Divided

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Today I have a guest post from one of my internet buddies, Kellie Hart Davis.  For those who aren’t familiar with Kellie, she’s a natural figure competitor, fitness writer, avid meat eater, has the mouth of a sailor, and lover of all things lifting heavy.

In a lot of ways, she’s the female equivalent of me – except she looks way better in a bikini, and she’s less obsessed with Jedis.

She’s pretty smart, and definitely has a way with words.

To that end, I’ll let her take over from here.  Enjoy!  And please, feel free to share your comments below.

A House Divided

Tony’s blog post titled “Don’t You Think You Look Tiny? A Psychological Look Into the Female Brain (Sorta)” really hit a cord, compelling me to share my own internal battle.

Note from TG:  for those who missed it, click HERE to check out the original blog post.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the external factors of an improved lifestyle—the improved physique, the rounded muscles, the hot ass– that we completely forget what’s going on inside. We also forget how close to home these issues hit until we are forced to deal with them head on.

This meditation stemmed from a series of events in my life. Sadly, I think many will be all-too familiar to some of you.

Every conversation with my mother about her health hinges on a variety of independent clauses strategically placed at the end of her sentences. Each “but” is an excuse explaining away why she refuses to take any action that will lead toward a healthier, more vibrant life.

This past weekend, before we said our good-byes on the phone, she hung her health excuse on, “but no one understands how hard it is to stop eating all of those foods.” Those foods– referring to the ones that are slowly killing her.

Nine years ago, at age 45, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. After a mastectomy and a bout of chemo that laid her on a deathbed (she was allergic to the meds), she vehemently stamped blame on her diet and lifestyle. There is no history of breast cancer in her family, but she does have a history of choosing a poor diet, leading a stressful life, and neglecting to exercise.

I was convinced by this proclamation that things would change. She turned around to head down the road leading toward greater wellness. But those were just words and she never followed through with actions. That road less traveled had not a single one of her footprints in which she could securely press her heels. It lacked familiarity and reassurance. She opted out of the journey and turned back down the path that led her to cancer in the first place.

Things hit rock bottom this past year due to the recession. Her weight skyrocketed and her health became so poor that even without insurance she was forced to undergo medical testing. An explanation was needed because she had never felt worse. I had the explanation that no doctor would ever give her. He would only root out the symptoms and bandage those for a while. But she didn’t want to hear my lecture.

The results revealed issues with her heart, gall bladder, and liver. When asked, ”Did the cancer come back?” She replied, “I don’t care to know.”

Now in her mid-fifties, my mother admits that she would rather let herself go completely than do anything about it. That very notion forced my fist against the wall. I held my breath waiting for it all to make sense, but it was pointless to suffocate in my own thoughts.

What gets me most is that she’s not the only one. My father has high blood pressure; my uncle went through two triple bypass surgeries. Both my paternal grandparents died of stroke related to heart disease. My maternal grandmother has been on medication for high blood pressure and cholesterol for as long as I can remember, and she is very active.

Both sides of my family have severe depression. My maternal grandfather barely functions when in states of mania. Just this past week my sister-in-law had several polyps removed from her colon. She’s in her thirties.

Why is it so much easier to become a statistic than to beat the odds? Why has beating the odds been reduced to not succumbing to non-communicable disease? As far as I can tell, the odds aren’t stacked against you when avoiding a lifestyle conducive to poor health.

 

Disease isn’t a part of aging; it’s a force of habit. It’s the inability to take action by putting your quality of life before indulgence, idleness, and insecurity. I can say this with such passion and fervor because I’ve heard every excuse in the book from those I love most. The pain from watching their health decline penetrates my bones so forcefully that I suffer acute paralysis– especially when realizing how weak my voice is against the team of medical experts that spit out incomprehensible advice.

I’ve been called extreme, obsessive, and consumed in regards to nutrition and fitness. There I stood–cornered against the wall where both sides of my familial fence meet– being told to live a little.

I don’t want to live a little. I want to live to the fullest.

I want to wake up every day with the energy of an eight-year old kid. I want my doctor to question why I even get check-ups because I’m in such great health. I want to live agelessly, knowing I’m doing everything in my power to avoid becoming a statistic.

I’d listen to her if I were you

I want that for everyone I love, but I come across as preachy and invasive.

Beauty and strength are only the surface.  The real reason to rub against the grain– to lead this unorthodox lifestyle– is all about what goes on inside.

To nourish your vital organs, to nurture mental health. To secure the joy in your future, as not to wait on death’s doorstep, riddled with pill bottles and uncured illness.

The question remains, “What are we fighting for?” When will two sides meet and collectively agree that we must take our health in our own hands? Eating a diet rich in whole foods and exercising is the only proven practical prevention and treatment for virtually every man-made illness in this country.

Call me extreme, obsessed, and consumed, but I refuse to sign my own death certification.

I find it appropriate to end this manifest with my own independent clause…

…”But, no one understands how easy it is to avoid non-communicable disease.”

Author Byline:

Kellie Davis holds a Bachelor’s degree from Florida Gulf Coast University, competes as a natural figure athlete, and works as a professional writer.  She has penned content for personal trainers, strength and conditioning experts, sports supplement companies, online fitness magazine sites, and fitness facilities. Davis is the co-author of Bret Contreras’s female strength training manual titled Strong Curves, which is due to hit stores in the summer of 2012. Follow her at www.motherfitness.com.

 

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