I got a wonderful bunch of comments on my latest blog post about my laziness, lack of work-out motivation, and the fitness journey I've had.
Sasha, the Breakup Coach, left me a great, brain squeezing question. I'd expect nothing less from her brilliant ass, 'cause she's a psychologist. I love this. Blogging is like free therapy.
Here is the comment she left me:
Thanks for another wonderfully honest and thought-provoking post.I also got a whopper of a comment from my buddy Christy in Seattle:
Asking yourself "why can't I get motivated?" is kind of a dead end question guaranteed to make you frustrated. I'm really curious as to what "fitness" actually means to you. It means so many different things to different people. How do you define it for yourself?
I read this post with mixed emotions. You are so beautiful and seem to have a really positive spirit. If you are otherwise healthy (unlike me, who has high blood pressure and scoliosis and a family history of diabetes and near-constant illnesses for two years) then does a little extra weight really matter?
If it's self-discipline that you're craving, great. I'm sure there are many small changes you could make to get a little more active. Being active will benefit your body, your mind, and your spirit in a myriad ways ... but there are so many fun ways to exercise! Sex and dancing are two of my favorites ... with walking and Pilates catching up quickly.
At some point, I think all of us who are on the diet train should ask ourselves -- what are our weight-loss goals? If there are none besides "looking good" or "fitting into cute clothes" is that an adequate motivation truly to change our lives and the way we eat ... forever? Or, will that diet train turn into a rollercoaster, careering out of control, our self-esteem crashing with each little rise in weight?
I'd love to be in a size 6 again. When I started this diet, that was my goal.
Then I wondered ... why?
I mean, what's so great about a size six really? Sure, I loved the shape that I was in as a size 6 ... but even at an 8 and a 10, I kicked butt at cardio. I hiked and roamed just about any old where I wanted. My body was a good body, able to answer the demands I put on it with energy to spare.
Is size six okay, but every thing above it not okay? What about if you or I got into a size 8 or 10 or, yes, even a 12 and maintained it forever? Would we be happy with that (assuming, again, we were otherwise healthy)?
I'm not trying to tell you that you shouldn't lose weight. That's a personal decision that everyone has to make for herself. I'm here to support you in any way I can. Sometimes, though, the best support can come from a reality check.
Be kind to yourself. You've already come a long way on this journey. It's okay that you're not perfect! You'd be pretty freaking dull if you were.
SO, wow! It's clear that THIS should be the blog topic for the day. Let's see if I can answer these questions honestly and concisely. (Ha-ha! Good luck to me.)
What does "Fitness" mean to me?
I hear that word and I think of someone with a low body fat percentage, who can run a mile in 7 minutes. Someone who can lift a good amount of weights. Someone who is flexible, with kick butt muscle tone, who likes to participate in sports. Someone who maybe likes to go rock climbing or skiing or can run a marathon. Triathlon people. And honestly? I've never had any of those goals. Now, actually, that's SORT of a lie, 'cause I wouldn't mind being super flexible, but that's purely for non-working-out reasons. I also wanted to be able to run a 5K.
But here's the thing. I think each time I decide I'm gonna start working out hard core, or I'm going to train for a 5K, or I'm going to start to lift weights, it's false excitement. Or temporary excitement. I watched Tara from The Biggest Loser last season and was SO inspired because of how athletic she was. The clip of her running her ass off on that treadmill with Jillian holding a band around her waist made me so jealous. But I realized yesterday that it's the same kind of jealousy I feel when I watch Diana Krall play the piano, or Chris Angel perform magic, or Cate Blanchett deliver a moving performance in a film. I am the most jealous person on the planet. I would love to have all these talents and abilities. But it doesn't mean I'm going to start taking piano lessons again, studying magic and practicing my slight of hand skills, or sign up for classes at the local theater.
I really think with the working out thing, that's what it comes down to. I'd feel like a badass if I was "fit" like those folks, but I don't have the motivation to work for it.
In general terms, as Christy pointed out, I'm relatively healthy. I can walk up a flight of stairs or jog across the street without feeling winded now. I don't have pain in my knees or ankles because of weight. I don't have diabetes or any other weight related illnesses. I do have pretty decent strength in my legs and arms, and I think a lot of that has to do with being a photographer and lugging/hauling/lifting all my gear. But I am around 32% body fat (I'd guess.) I don't have good flexibility. I couldn't run an entire 5K, in fact I don't think I could run one mile without walking for part of it.
So, in regards to Christy's thoughtful comments... it's just in my head. There's nothing wrong with being a size 12. In fact, there is nothing wrong with being any size, as long as you're happy in that size. For me personally, getting into those size 12 jeans was a huge accomplishment, and I did a freakin' happy dance because of it. But, it's not my goal. Hitting a size 12 is not enough. Why is that? I don't know, exactly. Perhaps it has to do with the ridiculous amount of perfectionism I inherited from my Dad. I know I've been there before, and I NEED to get there again. It's something inside me that will claw and scratch and elbow its way around until it's satiated.
Being smaller makes me feel better about myself. It makes my sex life better. It makes me more likely to go out and be social. I feel better in virtually every facet of my life. And yes, part of it is absolutely about the clothes, I'm not going to lie to you. It's about attention ('cause it should be obvious that I'm an attention whore at this point. Plus I'm a Leo.) I want men, women, people to notice me, and it's not because I need to get a date. It's because it feels really good to be whistled at, looked at with admiration, jealously, whatever. It's so superficial, I know. But it FEELS good to me. It makes me feel like a million bucks. I want the people in my past who overlooked me to go, "Damn!" when they see me next. I want my ex boyfriends to kick themselves when they see me and fantasize about me from then on. (Yes I know, they should know what they lost because of WHO I am, but come on. These are MEN we're talking about here. They'll see my hot ass in a pair of hot jeans and think, "HOT.")
I take full, unabashed ownership of the sad, sad fact that I care absolutely, completely and obsessively about what people think when they look at me.
I think everyone has different motivations. I personally am very motivated by the way my stomach looks in a form fitting dress. Sometimes I don't keep that in my mind when I'm eating Ritz Crackers with cheddar cheese slices (my favorite snack, ever... it is to me what chips and dip are to Monica.)... But I don't know that any motivator actually holds over you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If it does, that's some pretty damn awesome motivation.
It's clear that I've been on the diet rollercoaster for the better half of my adulthood. And some before that too. I need to remember that it's not something I want to go through again, and that it's not healthy either. It's my ultimate goal to get to my desired weight, and maintain. Plus or minus five pounds, that's cool. I just need to remember that I change. My pants stay the same size, and I'd like to stay in them.
And I'd like to end this absurdly long blog post with my horoscope from today:
Friday, Oct 23rd, 2009 -- There is a wide gulf between how you feel now and what you are willing to do. In fact, your actions may say one thing while common sense says something else. Nevertheless, your emotions might prevail today in a skirmish between your head and your heart. Remember, logic can be used to answer a question, but not to share what's in your heart.