Sunday, January 1, 2012

Wise words

I was struck by a sentence Jen wrote yesterday:
"… exercise is about self-care,

not about proving myself."
I don't consider myself particularly competitive. In fact, I might do better with the whole weight-loss effort if I were more into winning and rewards and beating my time/reps/miles. But it's the first part of her sentence that really got to me.

I guess I don't think of exercise as self-care at all. Brushing my teeth and hair is self-care. Showering and eating fresh, healthful foods falls into the self-care category. But exercise? That's something I feel like I have to do and I never feel like it's doing any good. Theoretically, exercise is taking care of oneself. I certainly urged my father to walk a little bit every day in order to take care of himself.

To no avail, I might add. When you live with pain and it hurts to walk, well, it's easier to let your wife take that 20-step walk to the mailbox. My mother's mother did the same thing – when her osteoporosis and osteoarthritis became too painful for her to walk across the road to the grocery, my mother and, later, my sister and I shopped for her. She stopped getting her hair done once a week. She sat in her chair and let life happen around her as she watched.

They are my fitness legacy, my father and grandmother, and each of them spent the last 10 years of their lives in pain, immobile, my grandmother on oxygen all that time and my dad using it for part of his final years. Dad began his decline when he was 70, Grandma was 80.

They ended up that way because they didn't take care of themselves.

I don't know many 60-year-old women who can walk three or four or five miles daily. And since I can and do, I guess I think I am taking care of myself. But the other legacy my father and grandmother have passed down is the propensity to gain weight. They both fought that battle most of their lives, as have I. As long as I continue to accept that this is the way it is, I'm clearly NOT taking the best care of myself that I can.

I would love for today to be the last New Year's Day I wake up, weigh myself, gasp at the number and say "NEVER AGAIN." I've said it every year for too many years. I would love for today's motivation and inspiration and drive to be as strong a month from now as it is today.

Because – no doubt about it – I'm motivated. But I need to reframe my purpose from one of LOSING THIS WEIGHT ONCE AND FOR ALL to simply caring about my health.

My children don't live close by. They're not going to do my shopping for me, or fetch my mail, or take me to the doctor.

If it is to be, it is up to me.
~ William H. Johnsen

I made some delicious little nibbles for my husband and me to enjoy last night as we watched football and then rang in the new year. (I didn't make it – it was lights out by 10:30. Again.) I took photos as I was making them and I edited those photos this morning and I had a whole post planned around bacon and cheese.

But it just didn't seem appropriate after I read Jen's wise words and started thinking about what that would say about me. Writing about mini-quiches and stuffed dates might be entertaining – and let's face it, lots of food is all about the entertainment value. But it's not quite in line with how I feel now, this morning, this first day of a brand-new year following a year I'd rather forget and seeing a number on the scale I never want to see again.

All of my efforts to lose weight have gotten me here – fat, uncomfortable, depressed, desperate. What more can I do? I guess that's what I need to figure out, right? And the sooner the better.

And so I raise a tall glass of water spiked with lime juice to you, and wish you a happy new year. May all your wishes for this year come true. Speaking strictly for me, I hope 2012 KICKS ASS!


Anonymous said...

roingleA very interesting post. My dad, who died in 2010 aged 73 was just like your dad, definitely didn't take care of himself and I think about that a lot as I try to lose weight and live a healthy life. I want to be a healthy and active pensioner (I'm 49).
I'm the anonymous comment from yesterday, forgot to sign my name.
If I have to sign in using my google account something always goes wrong and then I can't access my email.


Stephanie said...

Here's to all of us taking better care of ourselves this year! Great post, thanks for sharing.

jen said...

Hope you have a wonderful new year! It seems like you have done a lot of things right -- healthy food, self-awareness, resourcefulness. It may just be a few tweaks you need to feel better and more energetic. I'm hoping that's what it is for me, anyway.

denise said...

After 2 weeks at home with my Mom who is now using a walker and cane to get around with a bad back, bad knees, etc., I've also been thinking along similar lines the last few days. I don't want to live into old age (as my Mom's family tends to do) and be unable to get around on my own

I am hoping that keeping that thought front and center will help me get back with the program to become stronger, healthier, and more agile.

D said...

Something about seeing how our parents age (into poor health and immobility) and wanting something different for ourselves is a powerful motivator. But it doesn't seem to be a motivator that sticks for the long haul. Not for me anyway. Sometimes I wonder if it isn't motivation we need, but something else. Motivation wanes regardless of how strong we want and believe. No magic answers here, but I'm on the same journey :)

Alison said...

That one-liner is surely something to ponder about. Big time. To busy working people, self-care is an issue and they must be enlightened that we all need rest and exercise, not just to protect ourselves for the mean time but in the long run. Debbi, your post promotes great motivation and I hope you are having great healthy years! Cheers! :)