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Rebel Without a Pause! And The Perils of Naive Progressivism


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Sunday, November 03, 2013

Every day in every way I am growing better.

Good, better, best
Never let it rest
Till my good is better and my better, best.

Remember those imperatives from your own childhood too?

And how we were encouraged to internalize them? So that a 98 in math would earn the parental response, "Why not 100 next time?"

All meant to be encouraging -- and all resulting in that perpetual drive which never lets up in any area of our lives: better and better grades; more and more degrees; incessantly inventive dinner parties; leading edge home decorating and immaculate housekeeping; the newest fashion and grooming trends for the perpetually hot wife; the exemplary devoted mother; not just a "job" but the brilliant career climbing endlessly up the corporate ladder and . . . yeah. No finish line in sight.

So if losing 80 pounds and reaching 150 is good, 136 would be better? And if shrinking from size 18 to size 8 is good, size 4 would be better?

So if running 5 km three times a week is good, 10 km six days a week would be better?

Not for me. None of it. Even though I have to give up the external accolades for each new accomplishment. And the self-congratulation of the internal accolades too, of course. Those too. Because of course I've been complicit. I drank the purple Kool-Aid too (sugar free version, natch).

But now I've stopped. Because I know my precious rebel, who helped with those initial stages of achievement, who kept telling me that I was worth more . . . will ultimately rebel when there is no pause.

No let up in the relentless drive to achieve more and more. If I overload the rebel with my insistence on further progress. On continuous incremental improvement. When I lack the courage to be satisfied.

Which courage to be satisfied is not the same thing as complacency: not at all. But a recognition that maintaining a reasonable level of achievement with respect to weight and fitness requires just as much commitment (and probably even more commitment) than the commitment to reach that reasonable level in the first place.

And pushing too hard, too far -- succumbing to the imperative of na´ve progressivism -- for me has the real potential to jeopardize all of it. Which is when I fall spectacularly off the wagon. And have to start over.

Why did I lose and regain and lose and regain over and over again? For decades? Exhausting the rebel was part of it, I'm pretty sure. Plus that insatiable desire to buy into the external accolades thing. "You've lost so much weight." "You're looking great." Once size 8 is normal, once size 8 has been sustained for a decade or so . . . nobody notices.

My rebel without a pause has turned on me in the past. Will turn upon me in the future. If I don't respect the rebel. And make the highest and best use of the rebel's essential skills.

After all, my rebel continues to be fully occupied with sidestepping those social invitations that involve eating with others food that I don't want to eat. And insisting upon time to exercise even when it's inconvenient for others who would prefer to sit and eat. And a whole lot of other rebellious tasks which are absolutely required if I'm going to maintain.

My rebel demands a pause.

What I'm maintaining is not spectacular, maybe. But it is good enough.

And when I consider the alternatives, good enough has to be good enough for me.
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GRAMPIAN 1/12/2014 5:38AM

  Very true. emoticon

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MCJULIEO 11/12/2013 2:37PM

    Amen!

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EFFRAYECHILDE 11/12/2013 12:40PM

    emoticon

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LEANMEAN2 11/10/2013 6:57AM

    Thanks for sharing

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DSHONEYC 11/9/2013 7:37PM

    oops wrong spot!

Comment edited on: 11/9/2013 7:39:04 PM

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RUNNINGYOGINIRE 11/9/2013 10:10AM

  emoticon

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RENATA144 11/7/2013 1:54PM

  It's easier to lose weight when you're not stressed out.
Applaud your own accomplishments.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CHRIAMARIA1983 11/7/2013 12:10PM

    The mental perspective is a big part of weight loss. And never being satisfied is definately a mental thing. Contentment is a virtue that is often over looked.

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RIBKNIT 11/7/2013 12:09PM

    I couldn't agree more. Great blog!

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BROOKLYN_BORN 11/7/2013 7:09AM

    Another excellent blog! I'm the queen of "good enough" and I love the "pause" of maintenance.

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MISSLISA1973 11/7/2013 12:09AM

    emoticon

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JOANNHUNT 11/6/2013 11:05PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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KLONG8 11/6/2013 12:52PM

    You absolutely NAILED it with this blog! Thanks for putting into words a very basic truth!

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GABY1948 11/6/2013 12:08PM

    What an OUTSTANDING blog! I totally agree with this! emoticon

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BUSMOM27 11/6/2013 9:08AM

    emoticon

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CICELY360 11/5/2013 11:11PM

  Good blog

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NO-MAS-2013 11/5/2013 9:33PM

    Great post! I'm just starting again on a lifetime of weight loss and never being satisfied. Great timing for me to read this.

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NEWTINK 11/5/2013 4:10PM

    emoticon emoticon

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DSHONEYC 11/5/2013 2:48PM

    Your maintaining is an emoticon inspiration to me (and many others, too).

We know it is more difficult than losing the weight, plus the relentless pursuit of perfection can often undo the real achievements we should hold dear like reaching your 150 lbs goal. Thank you for speaking out. Sometimes good enough is the right answer.



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FIFTYFOUR2 11/5/2013 9:29AM

    Great post! Really got me thinking.

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SHARONCAPPS 11/5/2013 8:47AM

  Great thoughts, thanks for sharing.

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 11/5/2013 7:38AM

    Um, given the statistics, I disagree.

Maintaining IS spectacular, just like CRYSTALJEM said.

It's just that most people "out there" don't realize it.

I am beginning to see what NELLJONES means, when she says she appreciates the community here, because it's the one place where you can go, that people GET it. We understand that it takes effort to stay in one place.

And that we have to monitor ourselves on overreaching for unachievable or unsustainable goals, as you've pointed out. Life can be hard enough, without adding unrealistic expectations.

Your story reminds me of how I felt, dealing with my father, who often told me "there's always room for improvement."

He used to pay me a tiny token amount for my grades (I didn't get an allowance, so this was the only cash I ever got until I started babysitting.)

My first quarter starting freshman year in high school I brought him a report card, mostly a mix of As and Bs. And he said, "why are there Bs on here?"

So the next quarter I brought home a report card with all As and A minuses. And he said, "Why are there A minuses?"

So the next quarter I brought home a report card with only As and A+ (I was taking honors classes at the time, by the way, so this was an accomplishment) And he said, "Why aren't they ALL A+?"

At which point I lost it. Because the only teachers who hadn't given me an A+ were ones who didn't give them to ANYONE, as a matter of principle. I had earned the absolute top grades that a person in my particular classes *could* earn. It was a 4.1 GPA, as I recall.

So I told him that there was no pleasing him, tore up that report card right there to his face, dropped the pieces on the floor and left.

And from then on I kept my GPA at a 3.5 and enjoyed my life.

emoticon


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PHOENIX1949 11/5/2013 5:47AM

    emoticon emoticon
How well I recall coming in with a report card of almost all A's with the key word being almost and hearing a comment like 'you only got 5 so if you apply yourself you should get all 6.' Argh! You tapped into something deep within me. Here's to SATISFACTORY!



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BLUEJEAN99 11/5/2013 1:49AM

    emoticon

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SUNFLOWERSPUD 11/5/2013 1:02AM

  We have a saying: "The enemy of good is better." Just means that most things in life do not require perfection, and you can so ruin a good thing by trying to be perfect. Great job for you, and great advice for us all. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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_CYNDY55_ 11/5/2013 12:50AM

    emoticon
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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JUSGETTENBY42 11/4/2013 11:23PM

    emoticon

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MARYJEANSL 11/4/2013 11:14PM

  Very smart.

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ROCKYCPA 11/4/2013 9:39PM

    emoticon emoticon

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JUNEAU2010 11/4/2013 9:04PM

    emoticon

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SHANNONY84 11/4/2013 8:53PM

    Thank you for the great and home hitting blog! I needed to hear about limitations today as I cut out to much food and broke down a bit. This is defiantly a reminder that it is normal!

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TRAVELGRRL 11/4/2013 8:36PM

    I agree that most women are programmed to do more, be more, accomplish more. It often backfires in rebellion! I agree with Mandelovich that you've found the "sweet spot" and even if people in your real life take your weight maintenance for granted, we on Spark certainly don't! We know the effort and vigilance required. Well done.

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MANDELOVICH 11/4/2013 8:19PM

    I love this blog. I totally get it. It's really so important to learn when you are in the sweet spot - the weight and fitness level you can maintain for life...not pushing yourself or depriving yourself in a way that feels so extreme that it will backfire and/or make you and your loved ones miserable. And maintaining even at a slightly more moderate level also requires constant vigilance. Go Ellen!!

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DMSGLASS 11/4/2013 7:42PM

    emoticon emoticon

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KOHINOOR2 11/4/2013 6:40PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon Thanks for sharing.

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PIGGYWAY 11/4/2013 6:11PM

  THANKS GOOD INPERATION

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IAMAGEMLOVER 11/4/2013 5:23PM

    emoticon

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TKDKKC 11/4/2013 4:34PM

  What a great perspective. I love the part about the courage to be satisfied". I think I can see how this applies to other areas of my life as well.

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JANEMARIE77 11/4/2013 4:16PM

    nice wish I had read this 4 months ago from loss 10 more to loss again oh well live and learn thank you my rebel is yours

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PATRICIAANN46 11/4/2013 4:01PM

  emoticon Our healthy lifestyle has to be OUR healthy lifestyle.

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ROXYCARIN 11/4/2013 3:02PM

  emoticon

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LISA_FRAME 11/4/2013 2:38PM

  emoticon

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JSEATTLE 11/4/2013 2:20PM

  Yes I agree, we all know our limits.

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NEPTUNE1939 11/4/2013 1:38PM

    Well said

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SBARGANZ 11/4/2013 1:28PM

    Thanks for sharing!

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NONNAOF2 11/4/2013 1:27PM

  You have worked hard, now enjoy your life! :-)

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WRITERWANNAB 11/4/2013 1:10PM

    Thank you! Someone needed to say that. emoticon

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LIVELYGIRL2 11/4/2013 12:51PM

  wow, this blog deserves to be MOD. It is profound and insightful.

Yes, it akes as much guts and effort to maintain and say no to what everyone says or is doing.

You don't have to be perfect, just look and feel good. I think 8 is a very reasonable size, although I haven't seen you.

It takes strength and a bunch of effort to stay at some particular number and size. You and your doctor know what's best for you. emoticon

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KALIGIRL 11/4/2013 12:50PM

    Here's to the courage to pause and BE!

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FRABBIT 11/4/2013 12:47PM

  You are an excellent writer!


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