For a season of my childhood, we received food from the government. Black and white label five-pound containers of peanut butter. And cheese. I’m sure we got more, but the snapshots of those two items are clear in my mind. At times, we had our own garden and a local farmer would be kind enough to wrap up in butcher paper whatever animal he slaughtered and we’d freeze pounds and pounds of it. Every Tuesday I had a piano lesson and it was a celebration. We had to drive in to town anyway, so after my piano lesson waited a What-A-Burger kid’s meal and Dunkin’ Donuts donut holes for the next morning.
Overall, my parents did a reasonably fine job of creating healthy children. We were rarely sick, we were extremely active (what else is there to do in west Texas but ride your bike hours on end chasing imaginary drug dealers?) I played basketball until I blew out my knee and when I’d get angry, I’d run a one-mile stretch between our house and an elementary school. I was never overweight…until I moved out on my own.
In my early twenties, I added a good thirty to forty pounds to my 5’6″ frame. Some people say I carried it well and they couldn’t notice. I look at the few pictures I have from that time and reply that I carried most of that weight in my face. If you read my old blog in those days, it was a weekly weigh-in…and over the course of nine-months, I lost it.
But then I got diagnosed with a heart condition that prevented me from getting my heart rate over 120, and exercise was out of the picture. I was slim, but I wasn’t in shape.
Long story short, someone dared me to find a new doctor and get my heart “fixed” – even though I was told it couldn’t be. If it was fixed, I’d have to ride a bike across the country with the Ride:Well Tour. Well, my unfixable heart was fixed and between 2009-2010, I logged close to 5,000 miles on a bicycle.
I worked out all the time…until…boom. The heart condition returned.
Two years went by and I’d try to exercise, to force myself to push beyond my 240+ bpm heart rate (don’t ever try that). I returned to my doctor and had another surgery on my heart in July 2012. As far as we know, it’s still fixed. Hopefully it will stay that way.
I set a goal at the beginning of the year to run 300 miles in 2013. I believe I’m at 60. I did really well in the beginning (don’t we all?) and then didn’t regularly exercise for, like, I don’t know. Six months?
My weight is creeping back up into what I consider to be my “danger zone” and I find myself demotivated instead of motivated to do something about it.
Something about be a perfectionist…
My friend Dawn is amazing. She lost over 130 pounds in a year by exercising and eating right. Size 22 to size 2. Just like that. No magic pills, no fad diets. Just hard work and self-control. Our society lacks those so much, People Magazine picked up the story because it’s so inspiring.
My texts to Dawn lately:
I feel like crap.
Why do I want to sleep all the time?
I can’t stop eating cookies.
And the big one last week…I think I’m medicating my anxiety with food.
Dawn always graciously replies to make little changes. Tim and I have. We started juicing (again for me – the first time for him). Tim is gluten-intolerant, so I’ve cut out gluten as well (and I feel amazing!) We don’t buy very much processed food…almost everything we eat is fresh (and when we can, organic and local). This week, we’re taking out all meat but healthy fish.
I tried to go for a run last week and was disappointed that after a mile of intervals, I was done. I used to be able to run four miles just six months ago!
“What do I do? What can I commit?” I texted Dawn in frustration.
Go easy on yourself…even if it’s simply a goal of moving everyday. You don’t need to be hardcore! Commit to taking, at least, a three-mile walk five days/week…at least you’re moving…and your body can learn to crave it.
It’s hard when I see her flipping tractor tires to accept that, but I know she’s right.
As a maximizer…as a perfectionist…as an all-or-nothing…I have to admit…
It’s okay to start small.
No, really. It’s okay.
Following Dawn’s advice and some extra encouragement from my husband, I only hit snooze once and I put on my new Reeboks with the hot pink laces and some good music and went for a 2.5 mile walk. I even ran a few times. And when I couldn’t run anymore, I stopped and continued walking.
I got home, Tim made some kale/carrot/apple juice, I made some healthy scrambled eggs (and coffee…), and I feel good.
I still feel frustrated that I’m not flipping tractor tires yet, but if I can commit to even just getting moving five times a week…which I can do even when I travel…it’s progress.
Maybe it’s not healthy eating or exercise for you. Maybe it’s a ministry goal or something you want to do in your marriage or with your kids. Maybe it’s signing up for online dating or asking your friends to set you up. Maybe it’s reaching out to start a Bible study or a girls’ night. Maybe it’s reading your Bible every day.
The time you spend in whatever you’re doing will add up over time.
Skipping a day here and there doesn’t seem like a big deal until six months have passed and you realize you haven’t knocked off one mile (but you’ve slept in an extra cumulative 72 hours during those six months…shudder).
It’s okay to start small.
Will you start with me?