Wednesday, July 10, 2013
First off; this one is a bit more dark and a bit more personal. If you're sensitive to TMI you can give this one a miss. You've been warned.
So I'm chilling on Pinterest once more, and I'm seeing an abundance of fast result articles. You know the ones; "she lost 30lb's in a month, she's doing it RIGHT!" or "lost a dress size in a week by doing this detox diet" or the new book my 320lb friend has bought with super high hopes; "the 2 day diet." It's this idea that your goals, be they weightloss, better strength, better health or a general healthier lifestyle, can be achieved through short-term, part time work.
Now don't get me wrong; if you're already slim, fit and healthy and just need to lose that extra little bit of bloat for an event or whatever that's fine; go ahead and live on cabbage soup for a week before hand or eat nothing but vitamins and laxatives for 48 hours to clear your system, consequences be damned. But the whole point of a good and healthy lifestyle change is exactly that; it's a LIFESTYLE CHANGE. It's something you have to do 24/7/365 it's not about counting calories and restricting yourself to certain super-foods and forcing yourself to do workouts from a book for 30 minutes a day 3 times a week; it's about wanting to change and having that desire to do better always in your mind, effecting every decision. You shouldn't be forcing yourself to eat right and rewarding yourself with junk; you should WANT to eat right and HATE the junk. THAT is what will lose the weight.
A personal story now; this last week or so I've had a couple of bad days. I'm rather prone to them; days when with little or no provocation I collapse into wracking sobs, have to get my son's father to take care of him for a while, and hide in bed whilst staving off the desire to take my life. I know, I sound like an angsty teenager, and logically, even when I'm going through it, I know it's unnecessary and groundless; I don't feel that way because my life is bad enough to deserve it, I feel that way because something in my brain has mis-fired and gotten itself confused. I know that. However, whilst dealing with these feelings I wasn't interested in eating right at all. I knew what I SHOULD be eating and I forced myself to do the right things for the most part, but I just wasn't interested in it. I didn't want a slim and healthy body; I just wanted to be survive feeling like that. And if curling up on the sofa with a movie and a huge mug of chocolate was going to do that, then I was going to do that, screw the Zumba. I don't regret that; the (relatively healthy) comfort food and the time inactive gave me the chance to focus on my emotional need first and foremost, and the bad time passed, allowing me to get back to wanting the healthier physical lifestyle. But you have to want it.
That's kind of the point; if you don't want it, you'll not get it. It's like a career; if you're doing a job you hate and force yourself to go and do the minimum required amount of work to get paid at the end of each month, you'll never get a promotion or advance in that career. You have to want the promotion, the progress. You have to get up in the morning thinking "these are my goals, and this is what I will do today to make it happen" or skip out of the door thinking "yay! I get to go to work today! This is awesome!" It is NOT about finding the right short-term way to force yourself to work, it's about finding the right long term motivation that makes you WANT to work!
It's the same with healthy living. I used to think "I want to lose weight because society says I'm fat." The problem is, I'm something of an anarchistic isolationist at heart. I honestly wonder sometimes if I have something seriously wrong with me, such as psychopathy; I just don't care about most people, and honestly can't understand why we don't have death penalties and why so many people are anti-war and striving to cure cancer or end world hunger because honestly, population control needs to be more of a long-term focus for the human race. I mean, c'mon, over 100 people die worldwide every minute, half of those through poverty-related means in third world countries; can you imagine what would happen to the planet if suddenly they all had medicine, clean water, food and shelter? Wow. All I can say is I hope we crack space travel first. Don't get me wrong I love people and wish we DID live in a eutopia where we had worked out how to prevent all pain, death and suffering but I understand that it's ultimately not feasible at the moment and I would rather put my money into helping myself, my son and my immediate family and friends than I would into curing cancer because although cancer is a horrible plague on society it is necessary at the moment. But hey, that's just me being all heartless and stuff, but suffice to say if I can't create a genuine desire to help out starving African orphans and feel no response to the societal shunning that goes along with view points such as mine, I'm not going to be motivated to cut out the yummy things I enjoy 'cause that same society tells me I'm fat. I just don't care.
What I DO care about is not getting toothache so much (bye bye sugar) and not dying at 64 after 20 years of heart attacks, strokes and cancers, crippled with obesity, depression, arthritis, athsma and diabetes. That's how my nan died, and traumatic as her death was we all (her included) agreed that it was a mercy. I remember watching her laying on the bed towards the end, propped up on pillows so she could see the telly over her stomach, eating a 24 multipack of crisps and a bag of sugar free diabetic sweets a day (and nothing else) with an oxygen mask and a chemo cap on. I don't want to end my life that way. THAT is what I care about.
I also care about my son. My apathy extends to him to a degree; I often think of parents who commit suicide over the death of a child or lose the ability to function, and I don't really understand how you can respond that way. It's death, it's a part of life. It's sad, and you'll feel pain, and you'll mourn, but a healthy person should be able to move on. Is that right? Or have I gotten it the wrong way around? Should a good person be incapacitated by the loss of their child? Is it normal to want to die, or to die of a broken heart, when something like that happens to you? I don't know. But I do know I care about my little boy, I do love him; I cried when he was born and I take the time every day to make sure he knows that although I may be one of the most screwed up people to ever have a child, I love him and I would never hurt him. And above all, I want to provide him with a better role model than I had growing up. My nan and mother didn't care a whit about diet and nutrition. My dad had this idea, which he says he got from the army but I'm not convinced, that eating right and losing weight is as simple as "don't eat, stay hungry, and you'll lose weight." True to an extent, but not the healthiest advice out there. As a result, dad would often go through several months at a time of having no food in the house, meaning I had to eat at my nans house daily after school, which generally meant a microwave pizza or cheese burger since my nan couldn't cook and I didn't know how to.
I feel I have a responsibility to my son to provide him with better tools than that; to help him understand how to look after himself in case I descend into madness and can't do it anymore or succumb to my depressive moods and hit paydirt on suicide attempt #5. Sure enough, at the tender age of five, he knows the nutritional difference between peanut butter and jam/jelly, he knows that fresh fruit is better than fruit sweets, he knows that the nuts in his cereal are the good bits and that he should eat them even if he doesn't like them 'cause they're the healthiest part, he knows that the best drink in the world is water, and he knows how to make his own scrambled eggs in the microwave, how to make a PB&J sandwich, how the cardiovascular system works, how to ascertain what is happening to his body when he's doing an activity (i.e. is the muscle being stretched or worked, which muscles are you using, what's the cardio effects, etc.) and the first fledgling basics of how to monitor his health and work out what he wants to do to improve it. Right now we're learning about good fats and protein because he's naturally very, VERY active (and I mean, they're thinking he may have ADHD sort of active) and as such is extremely small and skinny for his age, so we're learning about healthy weight gain and strength training. Oh, and he diagnosed and treated dehydration in a friend a couple of days ago, accurately. So although we have a way to go I think I'm doing ok there.
Finally, I care about the things I want to do. I love bellydance, I love my partner, and I love sex. I'd love to be able to do a strip tease for him some day I feel I'm more slinky than wobbly. That's not about him; he thinks I'm gorgeous as I am. It's about me; I want to do it. I'd love to be able to work my way through the karma sutra, just to say I've done it, or be able to get some tasteful, erotic pictures of myself done professionally and not be ashamed to show them around (in the appropriate sense of the word of course). These are all things I want to do that I can't do at my current size. I also want to be able to go swimming in the sea more often. Now, I don't really care what I look like in a swimsuit; I'm a size 18 and there's always someone bigger than me at the beach/pool. However, I hate the fact that I can only wear certain swimsuits with "hidden support" because of my giant boobs. Don't get me wrong, I like having the curvy figure and all, but I'd be just as happy as a size 8 with a C cup as I am now as a size 18 with an E cup. And oh my god, if the day ever comes where I can think "ooh, that's a cute bra!" and buy it WITHOUT having to check if they have it in the big-girl sizes; I would LOVE that day. Seriously, I would marry that day and have babies with it.
Now let's go back to my friend and her 2 day diet. Don't get me wrong, it's actually not a bad book; it basically says "eat well for five days and eat REALLY well for two days." It generally advocates a healthy lifestyle 7 days a week with a little boost every so often. That's cool, I can go with that. But they have labelled it to appeal to people like her, people who don't WANT to change their lifestyles; they want a quick fix, something they can do when they feel like it and still see results. She thinks that this book will give her permission to eat junk for 5 days, and only 'diet' for the other 2. She doesn't want to change her habits, she just doesn't want to be fat anymore.
Then of course there's my personal favourite; those who tell you that you're doing it wrong. I know I do a lot of things that the majority vote is against; I weigh myself every day, I do strength training and cardio just about every day without rest days, I don't really cut anything out of my diet I just eat it in moderation, and I am a firm advocate of eggs, carbs and butter (generally going through 2 eggs, 2 slices of bread and a tablespoon of butter every morning for breakfast). However, it works for me; my "unhealthy" breakfast sets me up for a morning of productivity, activity and cardio. I am then able to ride that cardio (with the help of a home made shake for a snack) into some more productivity stuff and some strength training. I then have that lovely "I've gotten sh!t done today!" feeling which allows me to chill out for the whole afternoon and do the things I want to do, such as reading, writing, job hunting, knitting, cooking, book binding, blogging, making soaps and cosmetics...you get the idea, I like my hobbies. By 4:00 I've had a light and healthy lunch (still being kind of full from the eggs and smoothie I've been sipping all day) and have another smoothie or a snack (often pate on toast) in hand. My son is playing with his friends and I'm still riding my energy waves so I'll plug in the Zumba again or do some bellydance or yoga, or I'll play around in the kitchen making meals to be frozen for another time or given away. I often have to throw food out because I make more than I can eat; it's annoying. I just love cooking! I can run around with the kids (and even had some of the neighbourhood children doing Zumba in my living room a few times) and get stuff done, and at 8:00 when the monster is in bed I can relax, and again I can REALLY relax because I know I've had a good day. In short, it works for me. I never say it will work for everyone, and I don't say the professionals are wrong when they disagree with me; what works for me may well be different to what works for the majority. But it works for me. Don't tell me I'm doing it "wrong" when I'm getting results.
So my question to you guys is, what's your biggest motivator, and do you feel like you have achieved or will achieve your goals, or do you feel you're struggling to stay with it? Also, what's your stance on the argument that there's a right way and a wrong way to lose weight? Are all weight loss endeavors created equally, or are some better than others? Is it all down to individual differences, or are there some things that are simply facts? Let me know in your comments below :-)