Wednesday, March 24, 2010
There is an old proverb that goes something like this:
“The way you see the world is the way you see yourself. “
When I am on top of the world nothing can bother me. Things that might get under my skin on a bad day roll right off my back. On those days I can do anything and be anything I want to be.
When I am in the doldrums, nothing or no one is right. The smallest slight, the tiniest altercation can send us into a tailspin. “Get out of my way,” We snap at the world.
It’s never our fault is it? It’s never how we look at things?
Christa is a fitness instructor at my gym. We don’t care for each other. I can’t tell you what she really thinks of me because most of her conversation with me is delivered in one word, with a straight face. I mean how could someone not adore me? I mean as wonderful as I am and all? And, hey, it’s never my fault that she doesn’t talk to me.
Anytime she walks past me I grunt a “hello” that is delivered with a slight curl of my upper lip. If I have a question or need some help I will walk to the other end of the gym to find another fitness instructor. I will do anything not to deal with her.
Yesterday was my walking day and because it was raining a bit I walked around the gym track. Christa was working out. As I made my laps I would look at her and I started to wonder why she made my blood boil?
When I see a young, healthy, person who is in good shape and vibrant I automatically compare myself to them and I see myself as lacking or falling short. In a word I am jealous. Why can’t I be like that? Why do they have something I don’t have? So I do what’s normal, I don’t like them.
Christa made me stop and think that I do that with a lot of people. I measure them and then I measure myself. When I see where someone may have an edge on me right now instead of finding out their secret I simply get frustrated and find all kinds of reasons not to like them.
Then I get frustrated. What do I do when I get frustrated, I eat. I drown my sorrows in a greasy pizza or a cream filled cake. I curse the fates.
It’s not a contest. It’s not about who does more, who loses quicker, who has more friends. It’s about looking in the mirror and seeing a very wonderful person. It’s looking at Christa and being happy for her that she does the good things she does. When I can do that then I am able to give back to myself. When I can give back to myself then I am more open to give to others.
Don’t ever fool yourself, the “old you” is lurking somewhere in the background just waiting for the right moment to regain control. Don’t’ let it!!
Health is more than diet and exercise, its digging deep and finding those types of behaviors that are holding us back. I have a whole laundry list and I am crossing them off one at a time. Every day I become less and less afraid of dealing with them. It’s why in their infinite wisdom The Spark Team set this format up the way they did. It’s here for us to support each other and not be afraid.
I won’t see Christa until the weekend. When I do she gets a sincere hello and a smile. Poor Christa, she’s about to get a new friend.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I am learning that true health isn’t just measured by gazing down at your belly. Like the stock market, the rise and fall of your stomach may be one of many indicators, but it’s not the end all and be all. I think that’s why diets fail and I think that’s why there are so many of them.
I drove past a work site yesterday and saw that familiar sign “Under Construction.” As I drove down the road I began to think how much that applied to me and my life. When you look at a building going up it’s not a pretty sight. A mass of steel or concrete just sort of juts up in the air, standing there and if it could talk it might say “Okay, what do I do now?”
There is no landscaping around a construction site. Lots of mud and dirt and smelly stuff. Trash lying all over the place. But if you look closely, there is a lot of activity going on inside of it. You see people walking in and out of the structure carrying wood and electrical equipment and all kinds of stuff like that. We never really notice how the building is changing until one day we see that “Open For Business” sign. Then we smile and we remark what a lovely structure it is.
That’s me!!! Under Construction!!! Maybe not too much to look at on the outside right now but all kinds of activity going on underneath. I am working on my goals. I am planning my future. I am starting to realize there is so much more to me being healthy than charting food and sweating.
I am dealing with some feelings and emotions honestly. I get scared about failing. I worry about not having enough time to just sit down and vegetate. I used to deal with that by eating and stressing. I used to handle my problems by popping the top on a can of Pringles and letting television take me away. I think about a lot of things and I am learning to laugh at some of the goofy ideas I have had in the past about what health entailed.
I am learning to love me just as I am and if I never lost another pound or inch that I would be valuable and lovable just the way I am because I serve a real purpose on this planet.
I am under construction.
I am much more active. Not just exercise but simply moving and uhm, well discovering life. I am learning that some days I do have some limitations and that living with those limitations is all part of my growth.
Like the building I drove past, every day I am bit stronger a bit more able to brave the elements. I may not drop a pants size this month but my perception of myself is growing and the confidence I gain from that is like all the steel girders in that building.
We are under construction.
What about you? Are you stressing a bit when demon scale laughs at you because there may not be any movement in the right direction?
Is that how we gauge overall health? What about the “bit of the divine” that is in all of us? What about that soul within you that is so special and so, so YOU that it makes my world a better place for me to live and grow in.
So I challenge you my dear friend to look inside of you this day and find one thing in there that’s helping make you building so much stronger. Then tomorrow add another.
Then someday everyone will drive by the finished product and go “Ooooooo” and “Ahhhhhhh.”
Monday, March 22, 2010
I saw a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a long time this weekend. Funerals usually do that to you. I hadn’t seen one of my brother-in-laws since his mother’s funeral and that was almost ten years ago. People read a death notice, see a name and come to the funeral home to show support and to rekindle relationships. It can be a very bittersweet sort of experience.
Most people I talked to commented on my appearance. The usual “Gee you look good.” Or “What are you doing?” or “How much weight have you lost?” While I didn’t think a funeral home was the place to spread the Spark, I basically told them “diet and exercise.” The reaction I got from most of those people went something like this:
They would lean over, grasp my arm and whisper “You know, it’s ok if you let go this weekend. No one would blame you.” One well intentioned person suggested to me that eating was an integral part of the grieving process and I should just go ahead and drown my sorrows, so to speak.
There was a lot of food there. Friday night at the funeral home there were all sorts of meat trays and cheese balls and cookies and coffee cakes, stuff like that. After the wake everyone “went out to eat.” Try convincing forty people that eating at ten o’clock at night isn’t the best thing in the world for you. Saturday was more of the same.
It was a real challenge for me. I had to pick my way through a minefield of dietary disaster and my emotions ran the gamut. I’d get angry that I just couldn’t dig in to a plate of frosted brownies. I would feel a bit of frustration when I looked on a menu and didn’t see much that would support my commitment to being healthy.
I made it though. I stayed within my calorie levels and when we got home Sunday once I unpacked I headed for the gym. I made it for four reasons.
First, I refused to accept excuses for my behavior. Those well intentioned folks who tried to put a burrito in my hands may not be emotional eaters. I am. If I ate the burrito I’d be in rehab for a month. No one controls my thought process but me. That happens because every single day I feel better about myself, my health improves and so I become much stronger. One thing feeds off the other and so I develop this resolve that keeps me from doing things that will slow down or stop my progress.
Think for a moment about a strong belief you have, whether it be religious, social, or political, one that you hold very dear. If you walked into a room full of people who felt the exact opposite of the way you did, would you change your mind about that belief that was part of your core being just because a group of people wanted you to do so?
My journey towards health has become one of my core beliefs. I do what is necessary for me to remain healthy and get healthier. Any other behavior would suggest that I don’t believe I am worth the effort. It would strike right at the core of my self image. It would mean I was a fraud, saying one thing and doing another.
Second, I have a plan. (Thank you Spark Team for that!!) The consistency of my diet and my exercise made it easier for me to navigate the mine field. I believe it’s why we click on the tabs marked nutrition and fitness three or four times a day. It’s a habit and it’s a good habit to develop. When it was time for breakfast I automatically knew there would be some sort of whole grain and fresh fruit involved and “BTW, John, you don’t have to eat until you are full.” Lunch and dinner had chicken or turkey and veggies involved in them. I didn’t get the cardio in but my granddaughter and I took a few walks. At the wake Friday night I didn’t hang around in the “food room.”
Without the plan I would have not had any real direction and then come Sunday afternoon I would have been despondent because I would have wrecked the ship.
Third, I am learning not to take myself seriously. I am not going to become the food police. I am not going to tell people to get that “away from me.”
My granddaughter is four. She and her mom baked some oatmeal cookies for the wake. She was very proud that she got to help and showed me the tray of cookies when we were walking around. I was sitting down later and she brought me a cookie. She reached her hand out and smiled. One of my loving daughters said “Pappy can’t have that!!! He’s on a diet.” She got that look four year olds get.
“Pappy,” I replied. “Can do anything he wants.” I smiled at her and took the cookie. She sat down next to me and told me step by step how she and mom baked the cookies. Then she waited till I tasted it. I told her it was the best oatmeal cookie I had ever eaten; she smiled, hugged me and ran off to feed her cookies to another person.
I have come to believe that if you do not bend once and a while you are going to snap like dry kindling and then all you worked towards goes in the toilet.
Loving yourself is supposed to provide pleasure not pain. If I really believe I am changing the way I live and am not on a diet, then I know I don’t have to reach my goal weight tomorrow. If I became the kind of person who other people didn’t want to be around because I was always preaching, I wouldn’t have a support system.
It brings me to my final point and that is you guys. I felt each of you was right there with me. I felt the prayers; the love and the support and that in itself helped me so much this weekend. Again, thank you so very much.
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