You Gotta Earn It

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Last night I watched Eat Pray Love. It's a beautiful movie, but not exactly "amazing," as I had expected. Beautifully shot, beautifully acted, a beautiful script, but it was predictable...and I haven't even read the book. Still, there is the beauty factor, and plenty of great lines throughout the movie to keep me interested. (I'm a writer, when a line hits the heartstrings, I feel touched...a good script can do amazing things to a movie.)

Lines like this one:
"Then I looked at around to this place, at the chaos it has endured - the way it has been adapted, burned, pillaged and found a way to build itself back up again. And I was reassured, maybe my life hasn't been so chaotic, it's just the world that is, and the real trap is getting attached to any of it. Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation."

But there was also this theme running through it about forgiving yourself and not being so hard on yourself. There's even a part where they talk about how Americans feel the need to do something in order to EARN a break. And, if just for a moment, I got defensive.

You see, I made myself earn that movie. I was nearly home last night. I had decided to skip the gym. I was giving into the me that wanted to go home and clean and watch Castle episodes and just be with my family. And then, after coming out of a quick stop at Advance, I checked the Redbox app, because I remembered it was Tuesday and time for new releases. Eat Pray Love was number one, and I've been waiting for so long to see it. I quickly reserved a copy and then this voice popped into my head...

"You know, if you really want that movie, you're going to have to earn it first."

What? Where did that come from? Even more surprising was my response:

"I know."

Really? I know I have to earn this movie? Am I kidding me? But in my head the connections I made went so fast that I simply flew past them.

1) The Redbox is right across the street from the gym.
2) I was turning back toward town, and it would be stupid not to just stop at the gym while I was there...because I no longer had the excuse that I didn't want to go back to town.
3) Wednesday's exercise is going to be iffy, at best. No time, so there's not a real chance of devoting yourself 100% to it.
4) My gym bag was right next to me in the seat.
5) I would feel awful later if I realized I wasted a night in which there was a perfect opportunity to work out.
6) Line dancing was starting in about 25 minutes...and line dancing is fun.

So I headed to the gym, I changed into my workout gear, I grabbed a towel and my water bottle, and I headed upstairs. I walked 4 laps around the track, and ran 2 before stretching before class. I felt warmed up and ready to go. And an hour later I felt wonderful! Line dancing was fun! I was lighter on my feet this time. I hopped and bounced and shook my booty with the best of them...and I had burned a good bit of calories in the process. I had earned my movie.

And then, while watching the movie I made myself earn, I'm being told how silly and wrong it is to feel the need to earn things. I kept hearing these lessons in my head coming from the screen, like this gem...

* No man will turn a naked woman away just because she has a little pudge. Living a life of restrictive diet and calorie counting is exhausting, eating to fill your heart and soul is freeing.

Truth is, I've gone backwards on Liz's quest. While she learned how to eat in a more forgiving and taste-driven manner, I lived that way for years. I was always eating whatever I wanted, as much as I wanted, whatever tasted good to me. I didn't care about my size or my jeans getting tight. And now? Now I'm feeding my body the fuel it needs. I'm learning how to use food as a tool to survive. I still enjoy it, I still want to eat great food - but my idea of great food has changed. Those cheeseburgers at McD's look nasty and greasy now, and they likely taste the same. But a bowl full of roasted vegetables in olive oil and spices is like heaven! Somehow, this change in eating whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and less processed foods, has led me to feel more connected with the universe. I, too, am having a relationship with my pizza - my whole wheat, feta cheese, spinach and mushroom pizza.

So, yes, I make myself earn it...and after thinking about the conflicting idea of that and the ideas represented in the movie, I realize that this is a step that needs to be learned as well. In the past, I didn't think I deserved anything. And now? I earn things in order to find some sort of happy balance in my soul and self-worth. I've done good by my body by working out and making a healthy dinner (whole wheat fettucine in a chicken and broccoli alfredo from SparkRecipes = yum! --- add a bit of salt and pepper though). And movies do my mind and spirit good because of the deep emotional connections I form with the words and the pictures on the screen. They keep me in touch with my emotions and fill my heart with thoughts of betterment. In my opinion, my quest and journey is about learning to earn it. And that's what I plan to continue doing.

I'm going to earn my Thanksgiving lunch favorites, like the sinful cheesy potatoes, by maintaining portion control, and starting my day right - with C25K W1D2.

If I want a sweet dessert, I will earn that by taking a walk after my meal with my family, and letting the food I've already consumed settle and digest. There is no reason I have to eat dessert immediately following the consumption of lunch or dinner. I tend to wait an hour or two now, and I drink a lot of water in between - another way for me to earn it. you have the "you gotta earn it" mentality or not?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I find myself telling myself I have to earn something as well. You have definitely found out what drives you to be motivated! Way to go!
    3859 days ago
    Let me say that I don't say I've earned food. That's a VERY dangerous path to be on. i may push myself a little if I know I'm going to have ice cream after dinner or something, but I never think a workout earns me food. What it does earn me is a non-food treat. A movie night. A relaxing evening on the couch. A little window shopping trip all by myself. It's special moments I earn, moments that fill my heart and soul. Filling my stomach has become something that needs to be done to live, not something I live to do.
    3859 days ago
    I haven't read the book nor seen the movie so I cannot comment on it at all. But I marvel at your self-discovery and assessment. I enjoy the humor you use and the concepts like "earning" it. You are a great example and a real-life hero for me because you NEVER give up. I love that and I'm grateful for that!
    3860 days ago
  • JLITT62
    The first time I read the book, I thought she was so whiny. And I still think the first part, the part about the divorce, is pretty whiny, frankly.

    But the book has slowly grown on me & I've read it several times now.

    I also liked the line about men thinking they've hit the lottery if they have a naked woman in their bed -- I don't remember it from the book, but I remember it from the movie! (And the book is better, if you ask me).

    Still, you also have to remember that that line comes from someone who is apparently a naturally thin person (I've seen her on Oprah). Easier said than done for those of us who have struggled so mightily with their weight for years.

    I try not to feel I have to earn my food. That I have to do a certain amount of exercise for it -- I think that's very unbalanced thinking, altho I am still guilty of it at times. Instead, I try to just balance out eating well and exercising right -- and enjoying myself. Cause what's the point if you're not happy?

    Happy Thanksgiving!
    3860 days ago
    I love this blog! now that I'm fully back in my weightloss groove YES I make myself earn something. OR if I eat it w/out earning it, I have to sort of pay myself back later (aka post-work exercise or pre-bed crunches or something.)

    I love Eat, Pray, Love (ummm hello my dream life!) but I've done the eat part myself when i lived in italy last year and in 2008. That is precisely why I'm fat. I like that she lives like the Italians (eating w/out abandon, living to eat, WINE) and then cleanses herself and eats nutritiously. We are doing just that. We have done the "eat" thing, and now we're taking her 2nd journey- health, body mindfulness, weightloss. For me the 3rd step is more about loving myself, cause I think thats always the hardest part.

    You are such an inspiration, E. I hope you have a GREAT thanksgiving today!!!!
    3860 days ago
    Working and training hard = Earning lots ! As a Mom, a wife, working full-time and all the others hats we wear my gym or workout time is all MINE. I went to see the movie, before finishing reading the book both awesome....did prefer the book though. Great blog !
    3860 days ago
  • JEREMY723
    I enjoyed reading your observations about the film. Can tell you're an English major grad! (I'm married to one, lol) The author's next book, Committed, is way different. Have a great holiday!
    3860 days ago
    I used to, but not any more. Now, if I want something I have it. I don't make things taboo. However, I did earn my iPod, and I'm thankful about that.

    I think you are amazing. I loved Eat Pray Love. It helped me challenge my thinking and I also chose to hold onto that quote, Ruin is the road to transformation. Genius.

    You run your C25K W1D2 tomorrow, and I'll be right along side you freezing my ass off outside.
    3860 days ago
    I struggle with this earn vs enjoy thing a ton-- I call it balance.. I mean, for me the word balance is some elusive ideal, yet it's my total key to being happy and healthy. Yes, earning is fine, but going overboard is easy... even on the earning...for me. I think it's about balance.

    I love this blog, because you are so onto something.
    3860 days ago
    I'm not saying it's exactly the opposite, but I felt like I needed to defend my new lifestyle choice. Of course, the book is probably a little different, so the feeling it gives may be different as well. *shrug* Just the way I felt. It wasn't so much about the type of food she was eating, just her eating it without abandon, and not worrying about calorie counts and such.
    3860 days ago

    Comment edited on: 11/24/2010 2:44:33 PM
    It's funny you brought up this movie - I haven't seen it yet, but I have a copy of the book for my plane read on the way to Germany. Even though I haven't experienced the joy that is "Eat, Pray, Love" yet, I think it's interesting that you interpreted it the way you did. Maybe my opinion will change after reading it, but I think her relationship with that yummy Italian food is EXACTLY what you're doing now, and what I'm doing too. It's learning to not be attracted to and want that gross, greasy fast food, and really LOVING those whole foods, prepared with heart and soul from scratch and not out of a box. Eating for the soul to me is the same thing as eating for fuel. You're fueling your body with the things it needs to survive, and damn if I'm not going to LOVE my whole wheat spinach & feta pizza for sure!

    Also - in terms of the "earning" things, I think you might deem what you're doing "earning it" - but what if it's just a real, serious, life-style change? You went to the gym last night because you knew you wouldn't have a chance later and you really LIKE line dancing. That's amazing! And it sounds like you had fun while you were there. So if you used that to earn the movie - I guess that's fair, but I don't think you really needed to earn anything - you would have found a way to sit on the couch and watch the movie anyway if you REALLY didn't want to go to the gym, and I think you may have even chosen to go to the gym without the movie... But the fact is - you DID go to the gym, and whether it was for a dangling carrot or not, that's still major impressive!

    Looking forward to reading the book - but I don't think it's going to be the opposite of what I'm doing here - I'm looking forward to it being EXACTLY what I'm doing here. All a matter of interpretation :)
    3860 days ago
  • no profile photo CD8301081
    3861 days ago
    I love this blog today!BTW I read the book and it was fantastic, I still need to check out the movie!

    I do feel like I need to earn things, maybe it is the American culture but if it make those specific things more enjoyable and rewarding than why not? Especially if it's doing something better for our health.

    Enjoy your Thanksgiving!
    3861 days ago
    Girl, you are SO inspiring! You just never quit, and you dont make excuses! I wish I had just half your drive, seriously. Love reading your blogs. And, you made me want to see that movie, when I was convinced it wasn't my taste. $1.08? Yes please!
    3861 days ago
    It is so much the earning of things or that we don't feel we're deserving of them? I will agree that Americans tend to overwork and punish themselves, but perhaps that's our common Puritan heritage? Anyhoo, I LOVE this blog and I'm glad that you're making positive connections between work and reward. You are doing so great!
    3861 days ago
    I do have an "earn it" attitude but like you the "it" I'm earning is something that either fuels my body in a super tasty yet responsible way, or feeds my mind/soul/heart/interactions with others.

    Growing up in developing nations I got to see first hand how many struggle for things we don't think twice about (where's your water coming from? no phone, heck no electricity! no food stores - gotta grow it yourself). I think we, as Americans, have lost that connection to building/creating things for ourselves hence we make artificial "earn it" scenarios.

    Hey - if "earning it" gets us in touch with some of the finer things in life like being connected and living life full out - I say "do it"!

    Great blog!
    3861 days ago
    AHHH!!! I had posted a reply and LOST IT!!!!!!

    I can't even remember what I posted now besides the fact that I absolutley LOVE this blog.

    I see no problems with earning something. It can push you to finish the very thing you might otherwise not.

    Happy Thanksgiving!!! Thanks for posting this!
    3861 days ago
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