Sometimes I forget to be grateful for what I have. There are days when it feels like I’m in constant battle against “the grass is always greener syndrome”. Someone’s always luckier than me, prettier than me, has more money than me. Thinner than me. Hell, that’s most of the world.
I’m ashamed of how often I forget to be grateful. I’m luckier than so many others.
Remember back in the day when Oprah had her “Ah-hah!” moment and finally lost all her weight? I remember sitting in a restaurant with one of my girlfriends talk’in shit about poor Oprah. While we chomped on what was easily a day’s worth of calories, we lamented about how easy it would be lose our weight if we had Oprah’s enormous wealth.
“Yeah, if I could afford to hire someone to follow me around all day I’d hit my goal weight too,” my friend said. “She has a personal chef, a personal trainer, a personal assistant…she doesn’t have to do shit for herself.”
Our solution to the problem? Order dessert…because we poor girls, who had to work for a living and struggled so unfairly to lose weight, deserved it. We weren’t really struggling though. Well, I can only speak for me. I started all my diets on Monday back then, after a “last night on earth” eating binge on Sunday night. By Thursday night I was usually so starved and bored that I was calling for pizza delivery. For years, I did the same thing over and over again, failing every time and then whined to myself about it over a pint of mint chip while I watched The Biggest Loser.
It wasn’t until just over a year ago, when I was on the verge of lap band surgery, that I realized the bulk of my struggle was a bunch of bullshit that I was feeding myself. Well, the diet industry was feeding it to me as well – but I was the one swallowing it. Just weeks before my planned lap band surgery, I decided to experiment with a sort of imaginary lap band…and I found something unexpected: gratitude.
My imaginary lap band experiment opened my eyes. I didn’t miss all the processed crap I had been eating when I went without it. Instead, I missed the healthy foods that I enjoy cooking for myself. It surprised me quite a bit…and was the catalyst that caused me to cancel my surgery and do this on my own.
Here we are again, just over a year later, with my food demons in check…and now I’m going after exercise. Just a few weeks into the process of making exercise a consistent habit, I’m putting an enormous amount of thought into every aspect of it. Why do I hate it? What do I hate about it? How can I change that? What roadblocks are in my way? How do I get rid of them? This may seem like a lot of over thinking to some of you, but this is exactly what I did with health eating last year and it worked like a charm. Examine every rock, every stone, every pebble.
This year it’s not my healthy, delicious recipes I’m grateful for. Well, I’m still grateful for all that. With my focus on exercise this year, my relentless over thinking is making me grateful for the fact that I already have everything I need in order to move more. I hate gyms – but I’m grateful for the treadmill in my bedroom that makes gym memberships unnecessary. I’ve always had foot problems that can create issues for me, even when I was thin…but I have strong legs and no serious handicaps that keep me from exercising consistently.
And then there’s the path…
This is the entrance to a 6.10 mile long bike/walking trail in my neighborhood. I only have to walk two neighborhood streets behind my house to get here. The trail connects to other parks with other walking trails as well, providing just over 20 miles of room for me to stretch my legs. If I turn right, I’ll hit the dog park and a few other parks and trails. The bulk of the trail lies to my left. I have no idea what’s down there…but I plan to find out.
This post is the beginning of a series of blog posts I’ll be making as I discover what waits for me on the path ahead…on this trail and in my head as I try to fight some pretty serious mental demons about exercise. Four weeks into my new challenge of making exercise a consistent habit and I’m still resisting myself at every turn.
That’s fine. If that’s how my subconscious wants to play it, I can’t control it – but I can control what I do about it. So I will use the legs that I’m so grateful for to propel me down the path ahead whether my subconscious likes it or not…just like I made myself stand in the kitchen last year and actually cook instead of hitting the drive-thru. At first it was hard, but I avoided fad diets and absolute thinking. Gentle persistence turned into willingness…which turned into habit…and before I knew it my whole way of thinking about food was changed for good.
As I write this and I think about the fact that I’m going to go down this path whether I want to or not, I’m afraid. I know it isn’t real fear. There’s nothing to be afraid of down this path. (Well, at least not until spring when the bugs come back.) But, as I’ll explain in more detail later, there are mental demons at the heart of this that I haven’t confronted in over 20 years. When I think about the crap I’m going to have to claw through this year in order to change my life, last year seems like a total breeze.
It doesn’t matter in the end. It has to be done…because I want it done. I may not be particularly courageous, but I am stubborn.
And so down the path I go…