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Change Your Mind ... Your Ass Will Follow ...

By Rae Lewis-Thornton

May 9, 2013

This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.

The sweater I'm wearing is an extra large and the skirt is a size 4.

The sweater I'm wearing is an extra large and the skirt is a size 4.

Only so much fucking complaining you can do about something that you can change. This is some real talk right here. You don't like how someone treats you, then stop participating. For Real, For Real. A while back I was talking to this guy and I didn't like some of his behavior. I asked him to stop, but he either wasn't cable of change or he didn't give a fuck about how I felt. So you know what I did, right? Right! I sent him a quick e-mail saying just that and asked him to not bother by reaching out again.

If I had continued to talk to him under those conditions, then I was saying to him that I didn't really mean what I had asked of him, that he never bothered to do. I figured that there was no point in having yet another stupid ass conversation with him about the same topic. We had been down that path a year or so before. This was a second chance and I was so over it. There will not be a third and that's for real!

There's a lot of stuff we don't like in our life that we can change. You don't like your job environment, then start looking for a new one. You don't like how you feel when you do something, then stop it! You don't like how people make you feel, then stop giving them that chance.

There is a lot of stuff that we can change that we don't. You're tired of having high blood pressure, then get it under control, take your medication but change your damn eating habits. Put the fucking salt and fat down!

While God is in charge, God has also given us unlimited free will to make choices for our lives to live whole and healthy or destructive and foolish. God is such an awesome parent! You decide and then you live with your decision and He comforts while you are in the valley. You gotta grow up, God is letting you do that one on your own.

Now, I know that some issues are deeper than saying just do it, and require deeper work in therapy to unpack! That was my truth with shopping too darn much and men.com, looking for someone to love me. Some things require a lot of work with the right professionals. You can't be afraid or ashamed to get the help that you need to be a better you.

I will never forget that day Oprah said, once she figured out that she didn't just like potato chips, but eating was connected to her childhood sexual abuse; food had deeper issues for her and understanding that she was able to work on her weight under better conditions.

There's nothing like a mind change to change ones life. My first love Randy use to say to me all the time, "Change your mind and your ass will follow," and this is the gospel truth!

However, with other things there requires a mind change and some discipline. It's not enough to know better, you have to do the better that you know. That's being your best you.

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We don't apply discipline. We keep saying tomorrow and then tomorrow becomes today. My therapist use to remind me often that discipline is a transferable skill.

I've been whining about losing weight for a while. HIV itself combined with HIV medications causes something called lipodystrophy. It redistributes my fat from the bottom to the top; and when I gain weight it all goes to the top.

In the last two years I've been on IV medication a lot, this combined with nerve pain, I've had very little opportunity to workout and have spent more time in bed. As a result I gained 25 pounds! I've lost about 10 of those with just changing my eating habits and more movement outside the house; but for sure I have more fat pockets than hot pockets.

Now that I'm healthy give or take, I have decided to but my foot down! About two weeks ago, I said I was headed to the gym. I made it that day, but then excuses took control of my life. I decided this weekend that enough was enough and on Monday I crawled out of bed and went straight to the gym. I'm headed to the doctors this morning so we will see how the rest of the week goes. The thing is, my gym is opened 24 hours. Like so what excuse can I come up with, other then me not applying discipline to my life?

This week I have done better than two weeks ago. We are at Wednesday and I've been to the gym two of the three days so far.

The thing is, I can't fit any of my clothes and y'all know I have no money to get new ones. This has forced me to wear the same ensembles over and over again, when I have a closet full of clothes. *SMDH* I have so many St. John Knit suits that I can't fit, it's a shame and a testament to waste in my life.

I hate the way lipodystrophy makes me look and I complain about it almost everyday. I really need to do this for me.

There are other reasons why I need to hit the gym other than how lipodystrophy has reshaped my body, making me kinda depressed. When the fat is redistributed it tends to go to the back, the chin and the mid-section. Studies over and again have determined the more fat you have in your mid-section that more likely you are to have heart issues. On top of that, my HIV medication causes high cholesterol. I'm off the chart with very high cholesterol, the bad kind (LDL). Wouldn't it be a shame to live this long from HIV to have a heart attack or a stoke?

Me having a Dexa Scan.

Me having a Dexa Scan.

Then to top that off, new research is showing that HIV actually destroys a persons bone density over time. With this information my gynecologist thought that I might be at a high risk. I'm going through menopause and my mother is white. White women have more bone density issues then black women. She ordered a bone dentistry scan and -- lo and behold! -- I have already started to lose bone. Not enough to take the major drugs to treat it, but enough to be concerned about the direction that I'm going. I started a 1000 mg of calcium and she wants me to work out 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week as a preventative measure, before I start shrinking.

Lastly, on the health tip. Depression is an ongoing battle for me. I ain't this happy go-getter all the time. Living with HIV is hard! Really hard! I wouldn't wish this on my worse enemy. It has been proven that working out increases the serotonin, and who doesn't need more serotonin? Come on somebody, working out has it's benefits.

So you see, I have a lot of reasons to hit the gym and change my lifestyle. When I first developed lipodystrophy – well, to be honest – after a year of literally crying about it, I was a size 14 at the top. My waist was a size 8 and my thighs and legs a size 2. I hit the gym and changed my lifestyle.

The key is to eat healthy, minimize fat and sugar, cardio and weights. Weights are a must because the more muscle you gain the more fat you burn. Plus, I'm so small at my bottom, I need to balance it off, loose the top and build the bottom.

I was doing so well, then somewhere that just went to hell in a hand basket. I think when I started getting that drug resistant herpes, it changed my life style for sure, on and off IV meds all the time, nerve pain in my back and legs. Walking is even painful. I know that I am capable, I've done it before. I just need to be disciplined. Being healthy has to be just as important as being alive.

Soooooooo I'm saying all of this to say, some things in our life that we are unhappy about we can change. I'm so happy that God has given us free will. I know for sure that I have not been using my freewill in all areas of my life to be the best I can be.

I'm not trying to be a perfect me, I just want to be the best me! What about you? I can here Randy with that wonderful smile on his face saying as clear as day, "All you have to do darling, is change your mind and your ass will surely follow." But I've learned over the years, in order to get that ass in action, you have to add some discipline to the knowledge that you know.

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See Also
An HIVer's Guide to Metabolic Complications
What Did You Expect While You Were Expecting?
HIV/AIDS Resource Center for Women
More on Metabolic Complications in HIV-Positive Women
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Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award-winning AIDS activist who rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with AIDS in a cover story for Essence Magazine. She has lived with HIV for 27 years and AIDS for 19. Rae travels the country speaking and challenging stereotypes and myths about HIV/AIDS. She has a Master of Divinity degree and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Church History. Rae has been featured on Nightline, Dateline NBC, BET and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as in countless magazines and newspapers, including Emerge, Glamour, O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Jet, Ebony, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. She earned the coveted Emmy Award for a first-person series on living With AIDS for Chicago's CBS News.

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