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Vanity pounds

Saturday, November 16, 2013

In the last year and a half I've been through a ton of stress. We had a death in the family, then we moved to a new area, then I lost my job. I quit smoking about a year and a half ago. I turned 40 during the past year, and I may have started pre-menopause. I know it's early, and I'm self-diagnosing, but I've got hot flashes all the time now.

In my professional life, I'm trying to start a small business, trying to find a full-time job, trying to be a student so that I can be current and marketable in my industry, trying to increase my income so that I can get my mother-in-law out of my spare room and into her own apartment. AND of course, raising a child.

In other words, my mind and stress level have been pushed to the limit repeatedly. I'm busy. 
I've got to-do lists that are pages long. 

Pre-menopause is suppose to cause weight gain, and after the age of 40 a woman's metabolism slows. AND, I quit smoking. These are all contributors, I realize this. When I quit, I said to myself "I'm going to be smart, and I'm going to keep my weight where it is. I WON'T gain the weight many smokers do when they quit".

And guess what? I did anyway. I gained 15 pounds. But why, with everything going on, am I so focused on these 15 pounds? They are a weight on my shoulders, not only on my belly.

Why do I spend so much of my energy focused on something that really matters to no one but me? When I get out of bed, I think about what to eat for breakfast, and not in a "oh, I need to fuel my body way" but in a "What is the largest amount of nutrients and proteins I can fit into the smallest amount of calories?" way. I obsess.

When I get dressed I think about what is going to hide my extra pounds and be flattering. During my day I read articles about different diets, I join in debates about carb/no carb lifestyles. I think about where and when to exercise, read healthy recipes about what to make for dinner. 

Don't get me wrong, exercise is important like eating healthy is. They make me feel good and will hopefully lengthen my lifespan. I don't intend to stop either one of those things, but I will stop being so vain. Because that's what it is. Vanity. Doesn't the word have a negative connotation to it?

I'm healthy. My triglycerides, cholesterol, etc are perfect. My body works as it should. My family loves me as I am, so do I, really. It's all just vanity.

I need to shift my priorities. I'm going to start by making an effort to recognize when these thoughts invade my day and re-focus them. It'll be like meditation. Focus on the candle, when your mind drifts (because it will), bring it back to the candle. The exercise is in bringing your mind back to where you want it to be, over and over, until it becomes second nature. 

And I don't want my mind to be in my belly fat. It doesn't belong there.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I hear you! In my world "obsessing" over diet and exercise is at times a very welcome distraction from more distressing thoughts, but I'm certainly aware it can easily take up more than its fair share of brain-capacity.. At times I probably would have been wiser to invest my time and energy in more productive projects or in projects more meaningful to me..

    Oh well, here is to hoping me both can get our mind from submerging into our belly-fat and to find that healthy middle-ground.
    1676 days ago
    You might benefit more from finding ways to reduce the stress than from finding ways to reduce the weight. Based on experience (I'm a few years ahead of you with perimenopause) the symptoms you have started to experience *may* lessen in severity as your stress goes down. Put most of your energy into accomplishing the thing that will reduce your stress the most, and give the rest a lick and a promise to get back to it later.

    Congratulations on quitting smoking, and not using your current stress level as an excuse to live a less healthy life. Give yourself credit for everything you HAVE accomplished. And you still have time to work on the rest of your goals. Rome wasn't built in a day! (You know I just had to say that because you live in Italy, right?)
    1676 days ago
  • CHARITY1973
    I get where you are coming from. I only realised how self centred it was to thing about myself in these ways a fairly short time ago. And that didn't stop the thinking but it reminded me of the low value these thoughts actually have in getting the life I want. You seem to have come to a similar place.

    On my run today I was wondering how I will juggle adding more goals come February. I need to do some work/retraining as well and I know I struggle to balance the whole slew of jobs we humans need to do each day. You listed most of them above.

    I am luckier than you right now in that I don't have the pressure or stress. Finances are good. MIL lives a whole island away. Mother is in another hemisphere ;-). But the juggling act is a delicate balance and from past experience I know that there is only a minimal amount of time left in a day to indulge my vanity.

    Which leads to my favorite quote on this topic. "You can have everything you want. You just can't have it all at once."

    And pat yourself on the back for stopping smoking emoticon !
    1676 days ago
    I'm with you here, to a point. I agree that we shouldn't obsess totally, and I see that you have a thousand other things to think about, but I don't think there's anything wrong with your healthy lifestyle consuming a fair number of your thoughts. It's much healthier than absent-mindedly munching or sitting around watching TV!

    I hope you can find a good balance. For me, this is kind of my full-time job right now, and I don't have half the stressors you do!

    One thing I do think is important is to stop seeking out some "magic" plan that will give you "magic" results (i.e. "new diets.") Keep striving to make the healthiest choices possible. Not for vanity but because your kids deserve a mom who is there for them for a long time. It's awesome that you're in good health (woot) but continuing to choose whole foods over processed crap and to move your body as much as you can--even if these things consume a somewhat inordinate amount of your brain space-- is worth it for you and your family. This is your life; you can live it worrying about dropping a pound or you can live it knowing you are doing the best for yourself that you can.

    Maybe time to defenestrate the scale ;) emoticon
    1677 days ago
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