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When It Gets Easy

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

I've been in a weird and wonderful place for the past few weeks. But much like Alice's venture down the rabbit hole, it hasn't come without apprehension, fumbling around, and quite honestly, a deep seeded fear.

I find myself these days in that mythical place that every morbidly obese person only dreams is possible, but never expects to find. The place where all of a sudden, all of "this" just gets...well...easy.

I pack my lunches and prep my dinners, I have my running schedule, and Zumba classes and swimming nights, I'm managing at my job and not worried about what might happen if a cake shows up at the office, and I have my general plan for the week and how it's going to turn out - and most of the time, I'm not that far off. I'm LIVING! I'm living my life and nothing hurts. Nothing seems unmanageable, or insurmountable, or impossible. In fact, spring has sprung and everything is pretty damn peachy. Holy optimism, Batman!

And yet somehow I feel that just putting all that optimism and good sentiment down in writing makes me as vulnerable as a new blade of grass, ready to be crushed by a big, fat, farmer's boot. I feel like putting it out there in the world makes it possible for someone to take it away from me.

But only for a split second. Because deep down I know that no one's taking anything from me, because I'm not in a place anymore where I'm going to let them have it. I like my "easy". I've grown very fond of my "easy" and I'm getting quite comfortable in it. So to those that want to take away my "easy" I say - GO GET YOUR OWN EASY!!!

One of the major things that always held me back from losing weight and keeping it off in the past was this idea of "easy". I didn't think it was possible. And because it was so unattainable in my mind, I figured it was pointless to even try working towards it. It was too far in the distance to be seen - it could only be imagined. But that's the difference with Spark and the idea of taking baby steps. Not focusing too hard on the distant future and what it might or might not look like. For me, I know that I'm about to enter totally uncharted territory as far as my weight is concerned. But there's an ease that comes with that too because every day I live right now, I know that all I'm doing is taking it one day at a time, and that's all that matters. That's all I can control. Today is mine. Tomorrow will be mine tomorrow, and not until. And 20, 30, 50 pounds from now, I'm still going to be living - one day at a time. (And hopefully with as much ease as I've learned to enjoy these past few weeks).

It was also a shock to me to learn that exercise could also be easy - and that that's also OK! It's ok to "only run 3 miles" and then stop. That's putting in your time. You don't have to kill yourself with sweat every single day to be successful here. That's not a sustainable way of life. But that's also not the easiest fact to digest. As fat people, it is somehow drilled into our subconscious on a daily basis that the only way we are ever going to succeed in weight loss is to remove ourselves from the rest of the world, check into a ranch for 6 months, work out 8+ hours a day and eat 1200 or fewer calories to compensate for it. I'd like to say I'm living proof that that method couldn't be further from the truth. Especially if you can't afford to take a 6 month leave of absence from YOUR LIFE.

When you do it like that - check out for weeks on end to "deal with the weight" - integration back into a normal existence is often extremely unsuccessful. Your life is happening now - all of it. You can't just put certain pieces of it on hold to go deal with other more pressing issues, because what then happens is that the stuff you put on hold becomes the pressing issue. You have to live the whole thing - all at once. It isn't always pretty, but at least then the pieces all move together.

I have learned that I don't lose weight when I'm stressed about an issue with a significant other. Why? Because the weight part of my life is waiting for the relationship part of my life to catch up. I am one unit. All of my parts move together. Once I deal with the issue that's bothering me, I see a drop on the scale. And it's happened like that over and over and over again. Enough for me to know that this is now a truth with me. My psychological issues are intrinsically tied to my weight (and the gain or loss thereof). Learning to live a COMPLETE life with ease means that eventually my body will find it's own ease and will settle at a weight that is comfortable. And THAT'S a faith that I can get behind and continue to believe in.

8 weeks ago I dropped a day of running in my schedule in order to take a salsa dancing class. Calorie wise - they don't compare. I can burn up to 700 calories in one of my regular 2-5 mile runs, the salsa class burned maybe 200-300 calories if I was dancing all the time. But that salsa class was FUN. I made new friends and had a great time socializing. I also dropped 9 pounds in those 8 weeks - even without the running. I'd like to think it's because I was getting my social life in order, which is undeniably a huge component in everyone's daily existence.

Lesson learned? It's about the sweat, but not all of the time. It's also about the food and the friends and the job and the love life. It's about asserting yourself and taking what YOU want from life because when you feed yourself with what you REALLY want, you're not hungry all the time.

I'm a self-confessed, classic, overachiever. I have always defined myself by my accomplishments and how hard I had to push myself to get there. I took pride in my sacrifices. The greater the sacrifice the greater the achievement. But ultimately what I ended up sacrificing was myself. I was a person with a bunch of achievements but no real sense of who I was. I didn't have my "easy," and I certainly didn't have enough to show for all my accomplishments to fill in the missing pieces of the person that I needed to be.

It is only recently that I've learned that REFUSING to sacrifice is the bigger struggle and the tougher (and more worthwhile) accomplishment. That pulling ALL of my pieces along together, kicking and screaming and dragging them into existence, is what leads you to the "easy." Fighting the urges to kill yourself daily with strenuous exercise and lack of proper sustenance, both in actual food and meaningful personal relationships and a satisfying career, is the real challenge. Finding the "easy" is actually...really damn hard!

But it's worth it. And that's why we do it. Because it DOES exist. And you may be closer to it than you think.
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