I think everyone should be happy in their own skin. I don’t judge you. I don’t want you to judge me. I am cool with that method of living. I am a big proponent of moderation. In everything. If you like something or don’t like something just moderate that “thing” so that is does not overwhelm you or create imbalance in your life and you will be fine. In addition, do not compare yourself to others in regards to size, activity, happiness, etc. as that never is a good plan since you are only seeing what others ALLOW you to see. Behind the curtain, everyone has their own challenges, vices and dilemmas that create imperfection – you just are not always privy to those things. It took me till my mid 20’s to figure this out and I have been so much happier ever since. My teens and early 20’s were filled with extremes of happiness and angst. I tested every limit. Pushed every boundary – just to see how far I could go before I fell a part or succeeded wildly. And I did. A few times. On both ends of that spectrum. Now I find that life is a lot better when you keep within moderation and the boundaries you set for yourself.
If we can all try to follow those methods I think everyone would be a lot happier. Then again – much of our economy might collapse since just about everything we do, watch, read, eat, buy, and consume somehow relates to trying to make us feel better or look better. That standard set by those who know better than us regarding what we should look like and how we should feel (insert sarcasm here) seems to have become a driver of everything people do in their daily lives. I am cognizant of that and I work hard to NOT allow that to cloud my feelings when it comes to self-image or desired standards of living. I am proud of that and I even share that message with others (kids and adults) regularly so they too can not be persuaded by society to feel poorly about their stature or success as compared to others.
I say all of this so that there is context for my next statement. I don’t want you to think that I am comparing myself to others or displeased due to societal pressures… because how I feel right now seems to contradict my beliefs up to this point in my adulthood – and that is hard. I feel almost hypercritical. And I don’t like it.
However, I just know that if I do not figure out this “situation” soon I will be 300 lbs before I am 50 years old. And I am not OK with that. Not because of some image portrayal from society, but because that would not lend itself to believing that I am balanced. That is not moderation. That is an extreme that would impact my heath, happiness, life, family and many other things. But the strange thing is that I cannot figure out what I am doing wrong. Moderation has worked up to this point. Or so I thought (but maybe it really has not, but I was just OK with it not working)…honestly, I really don’t know.
What I do know is that over the last 8 years I have gained about 6 lbs a year. And I have known it was happening. I watched each year as my “new standard” became OK. And really, until now, I was OK with it. It was fine. I was happy, healthy, able to do whatever I wanted and enjoy life without restrictions or guilt. Every once in a while I made changes here or there to moderate depending on whatever was going on at that time in my life. Most often it worked great. I would feel better, stronger, happier and then move on. If I trained for a half marathon, changed to a new dietary menu, joined a gym or a group of friends for a while on a new adventure in ________ (insert fun exercise class or method here) it was awesome. Also, if I started a new wine club, cooking method, book club or whatever I would enjoy whatever it was and have fun, until I moved on to something else. No worries. No Problems.
But now, I recently have found myself in a few different situations where I am modifying choices or decisions on things because I “can’t” or “don’t” want to do something due to my inability to do it or self-consciousness of doing it because of my (lack of) physical capabilities. This is new territory for me. I have never been afraid or ashamed to go do or try something new due to my health or ability to do something. It feels like I have crossed over to one side of an extreme. I am unbalanced and I need to regroup.
As a side note, I have never needed to be the best at something in order to do it. I guess I am just not competitive in that respect as an adult – probably because I was so competitive as a child/young person. If it is fun and I can enjoy it with family and friends then it gets green-lighted by me. No medal, podium finish or award needed. Those kind of requirements usually pushed too far outside of my “moderation method” and caused pressure and stress to creep into things that I thought were supposed to be fun. So I did not use “stellar performance” as a requirement for deciding if I wanted to participate in an activity.
However now, I literally feel as if I cannot do some things because I am SO out of whack. I am not ashamed that I will not win… I am worried that I will actually cause myself physical distress or harm. A recent group email about a fun “adventure ropes course” popped in my inbox this week and I at first am like, “Heck yea! Sounds Awesome,” BUT then as I review the details I suddenly thought, “woah, I cannot do that.” This is a very uncomfortable feeling. A little depressing. A little embarrassing. And it kinda pisses me off.
So, now I think I have to go beyond simply using “moderation” to manage my health. But I actually do not know HOW to do that. Do I have to be an extremist at my age to get results? If so that really bums me out. Also, I think I am going to pretty much suck at that because I don’t know how to deny myself something I want because it was never “that bad” of a habit to begin with. If I had a problem with overeating or lack of exercise in the past I could see how it might need to be addressed. But again, that was not me. I was pretty good at just being naturally healthy, happy and active. The whole count calories in and out everyday was never my thing and is exhausting to even think about much less DO… I just don’t think it should have to be so hard.
For example – Yes – I can keep cookies and chips in the house. I have ice cream in the freezer. They can exist in my house without me “eating all of it” in one sitting or even one or two weeks. I know how to eat certain foods in moderation – So why deny myself when I want some?!
Also, I seem to follow a similar tactic with exercise…. I like to call myself a recovering runner. Spending 15+ years competing as a runner (I ran my first 5k race at 8 years old) was enough for me. Everyone else I know is in some sort of “running or Tri craze” these days. Good for them. Have at it. I do not find joy in running anymore – so I am not going to do it. Why do something that makes me miserable. Many might say that I am not appreciating the long-term joy I will have from the benefits of running vs the short-term pain. BUT I disagree. Doing something you do not enjoy for an intangible result is NOT sustainable and is simply setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. I am not going to do that to myself. Since I was about 28 I have tried to move into a “running is fun” mentality and I just cannot do it. I spent too many years being trained and coached and forced to run – so if someone is not going to do that for me every week I can pretty much guarantee you that I am not doing it on my own (ps – cannot really afford a personal coach and chef at my house everyday btw).
Now, don’t get me wrong, I do like to do stuff. I love being outside. I LOVE gardening and yard work. I love walking on the beach. I love swimming, surfing, body-boarding, skiing and anything else water related! Now a days I sadly don’t have the access or time to do all those things but I may still go for a walk or a bike ride or a swim once or twice a week and I enjoy it immensely. However, carving out hours to exercise every day – in a gym – or with a class or even getting up early and going running or biking so I can get a few hours of exercise in?! No way… I never stick to those tactics no matter what I do or how hard I try to stay with it. I guess because I just don’t enjoy it. So where does that leave me?
It leaves me with the thought that at this rate, and if I do not figure this out soon, I am going to be 300 lbs in about 12 years. This is not good. This is a turning point in my life where I must come up with a strategy to make a more concerted effort to be healthy – but to do so in a way that fits naturally into my life and my mentality. I know that sounds like a “have your cake and eat it too request” – but – to my credit – I would only eat 1/2 a piece if you gave it to me. 🙂
Maybe you have struggled with this as well. Maybe everyone has. Maybe you will all tell me to shut up and grow up and go for a run everyday and quit eating carbs but I reject that! There has to be a better way that does not involve a self-help book, special cook book, bottle of pills or HOURS of exercise in an expensive gym. PLEASE someone tell me their methods… Maybe I can use it too so that I can get back to my happily balanced world – The one where moderation works and I am healthy and happy and able to do what I want when I want without worrying about a scale or an injury.