I got fat.

Damn it. Well, sort of. Not in shape is really what I mean. A little more round the middle than I would like. I actually like my body. I like the curves and my shape. But, I am out of shape. Crap! What next? I must run. Half of my family runs and so can I, right?

Oh no, I can’t. Everything hurts. I have tried. Running, yuck. Even walking fast. Running again. I must eat healthy, eat clean too. Eating clean is the next new thing—right? But what does that mean?

Okay, so I am a little overweight. I am closer to 50 than 40. Women are beautiful in all shapes and sizes. For me, it is not about being a size 2 or 4—or 6. It’s about wellness. I realized I needed to get serious after my last physical when reports came back with elevated cholesterol and blood pressure levels  It is not about weight—or the perfect body—it is now about life and death.

Heart disease runs in my family. Yesterday, I attended the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women event in Kearney, Nebraska. It is the world’s largest network of women standing together to save women’s lives from heart disease. I am attending and taking the next steps to get healthy—not skinny-minnie. Just healthy.

This is a lifestyle change for me. I have decided intentionally to move forward in a positive healthy fashion. Baby steps. The first is researching food as I mentioned above. Eating clean. My days usually start with eggs or oatmeal. A good breakfast is a good foundation.

My biggest challenge is eating healthy while traveling with my job. I go at a pretty fast pace during the course of the week and grab crap for snacks. I now pack healthy snacks and loaded my work fridge with string cheese, yogurt and carrot sticks. I work with all guys and I claimed half our mini fridge for the healthy eating habit. I get funny looks. In our highly caffeinated, super charged IT world, Mountain Dew reigns supreme in our office fridge. Not anymore boys, welcome to eating clean. Move over Dew. Again funny looks.

The next step for me is joining an exercise class and having an accountability partner. Step one in admitting I have a problem with both diet and exercise – talk about it in front of other ladies. They are wonderful and supportive. And we are all different. 

The class is a part of my church and it is called “Made to Crave.” Based on a book by Lysa TurKeurst. I love the book—and the class. I am three weeks in and I won’t miss if possible. It is about what we really crave and about bringing God in the everyday health routine.

It made sense to me. I pray every day. Thankful prayers, prayers for those who are sick, prayers for those who are hurting and for my loved ones. Why not pray over my food? 

We meet one night a week. We talk Bible and then we sweat.

I left my quiet little cul-de-sac in Kearney one night and my neighbor said, “Hey, where you going tonight?” 

Me…(smirk) said, “I’m going to pray my fat away.” 

Silence. A little giggle from my neighbor. She didn’t quite know how to respond. I bet she was thinking, “I think Renae has finally lost her mind.”

I have a ways to go and I have a lot of encouragement. Positive, wonderful women surrounding me in all shapes and sizes. Inspiring stories. And an encouraging husband. Thank God for that.

My daughter is an inspiration to me in many ways as is my runner son. But my daughter eats clean, exercises and wants to be a dietitian someday. Good, a dietitian in the family to get this going in the right direction. This is what I need.

Although, she is straight to the point like her dad, I complained to her about my chocolate habit one day and I received this response “all excuses.”  Okay then, schooled by the 17-year old. No sympathies there. Boom.

Kudos to the women who work all day, raise families and have mastered the art of taking care of themselves first. You are my role models, my inspiration. I pray for everyone who struggles with weight and weight related illnesses. It is a struggle, but God loves you where you are at.

It is not too late for this (ahem) almost 50 year old. I can do this.

No more wondering why the metabolism slows down after 40 and why I cannot eat everything I want and not exercise. Long gone are the days. Pray for me.

Renae Zimmer

My name is Renae Riddle Zimmer. I was born in Iowa and raised in Nebraska. I am a Midwest girl. I married my high school sweetheart, Dave Zimmer and raised two awesome kids. Nolan, 21 and Kamryn, 17. As we approach our empty nest years—we reflect a lot on our life—our kids—and being a part of the “sandwich” generation as well. Taking care of teenagers and aging parents. All the joys and difficulties that are ahead. We are solid in our faith—solid in our family and we love each other, support each other. I work a corporate job and travel. My husband is an educator and coach. We love to cook, garden, landscape, watch sports and enjoy our kids activities. We follow up college-age son as he runs cross country and track for Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, Mo. And support our daughter as she is in the last year of high school . Where did the time go?