Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
You know how they say an addict won’t give up their addiction until they are good and ready? The same is true of getting your body and your mind into shape.
I’ve tried many times to take control of my eating habits (using smaller plates, giving myself ultimatums [ultimata?] about no more second servings or dessert, doing more physical activity, and so on), and never have I lasted more than three days. I’ve just finished my eighth week of 4-5x per week workouts. Lasting eight weeks? Never before. Never!
I’ve cut out sugar in my daily habits: breakfast is oatmeal sweetened with a handful of raisins, I drink a pot of plain green tea before I can drink anything else, as a treat I’ll have a cup of decaf coffee or a cup of black tea sweetened with a little bit of Splenda or Stevia, I snack on fruit during the day.
Every two weeks, the software I’m using for workouts has you do a physical challenge. You measure your bicep, waist, hips, thigh; do a series of crunches and squats and pushups; and then you compare your progress. The weight, she’s coming off slowly — I’m down 7 pounds, which is almost a pound a week (but we had Spring Break in there, and although I have cut out sugar in my daily habits, I still will have pancakes, or dessert, from time to time). But everything feels firmer (I’ve lost inches around my waist and hips, almost an inch each from bicep and thigh), and I actually have muscle definition in my arms! My body feels different, in a fabulous way.
I named my photo diary this year “Embracing Reality”, and I did it because I felt that my 41st year was a good time for me to take a good hard look at me, and start to like myself better. I’m more conscious of my emotional volatility. I’m trying to drop the negative stewing I do about other people. I’m trying to be a better friend and sister. Most importantly, perhaps, I’m working hard at not saying such mean things to myself.
What made this time different from times before? I think it’s been the stories of four women I know (either in real life or through the Internet) who have, over the course of the past two years, taken the step of working on themselves. They did it first. I haven’t spoken to any of them about it, but I have noticed, and their experiences were the seed that has grown into a confidence in myself that internal and external change was possible.
Z started bicycling. Throughout the winter, in the summer, instead of taking the car, she’d use her bike. To meetings, to shopping, to visiting folks in town. That has caught my attention. We had no car the first four years we were married. Our bicycles were our main means of transportation — for food shopping, to get to work, and just for getting around. Of course, this was in California, land of good weather, bicycle lanes, and flat(ish) landscape. But thank you, Z, for reminding me how easy it should be to forgo cars for our daily transportation needs.
Katharine decided to make a change, and invited us all along on her journey. She’s been honest about what she needs to do, and although she hasn’t posted anything lately about the process of editing her body (thanks to the current soured economy which has kept her more than busy keeping her family afloat), her forthrightness nudged me in the right direction. Thank you, Katharine, for reminding me that changes won’t happen unless we actually go out and make them happen. (And thank you, too, for the professional mentoring you’ve always graciously supplied to this fellow freelancer.)
My sister, who you all may know from the comments as Split Sister, made some goals for herself a few years ago, and took herself seriously. She prepared for and ran in a marathon, and was training for a second when our family’s susceptibility to plantar fascitiis derailed her plans. This woman works long hours and is responsible for serious project work; she’s got two kids who need her attention, too. She’s been getting up earlier than I ever could to get her training in, and even dedicates some of her precious weekend free time to keeping in shape. Thank you Split Sister, for teaching a slacker like me what drive is, and showing me that it must come from within.
My friend E looks gorgeous, and I hope she knows it! She says she’s lost 40 pounds in the past two years, but I don’t believe she had that much extra weight on her to begin with. Despite being busy with four kids, currently ranging in age from 8 to 18, homeschooling, running her own business, networking, as well as being involved in her community and finding time to be creative for herself, she also used bicycling to make reasonable changes to herself, without the distastefulness of deprivation. Since her oldest is three years older than my oldest, she’s become my beacon of what to expect next (how does one handle teens? how exciting can my forties be?), and that has made all these transitions less stressful for me. Thank you, E, for showing me the possibilities.
For the past ten years, I have hated my body and parts of my personality, as well. Now I’m at a place where I can see the beauty in me. It’s not the physical changes, because they are still really small and I doubt anyone else sees them (you can feel firmer thighs way before you are ready for the next smaller size of jeans, I’ve realized), but I am looking at myself with more honest eyes. And I wouldn’t have gotten here without the example of all the cool people I know, those I’ve mentioned here and all the rest of you who chime in on this blog and my other online ventures.