I've had a blog going in my head (I can't be the only person who does this, right? Reads something, experiences something, sees something, whatever, and starts mentally writing a blog that I never seem to find the time to actually sit down and write?) for a few months now... I even started writing it awhile back but it ended up being such an angry messy thing that I scrapped it as, well, too demoralizing and whiny.
But essentially, it was a rant of frustration at some of the messages I've seen going around on facebook, sparks, pinterest, and similar sites.... quotes or memes that are supposedly inspirational but make me want to stab something.
Example... I can't count the number of times I've seen the motivational phrase "the only workout I regret is the one I didn't do." And it frustrates me every time because, face it, I *have* regretted work outs. Repeatedly. I did this just recently--I tried a core workout challenge and didn't realize until I had finished that it really messed up my hip and knee (yeah, not doing that particular one again any time soon--this was last Wed. I think and my hip/knee STILL hurt. To be fair to both me and the person who posted this particular challenge, if I had realized it was going to be a problem I would have done something different and she would have been okay with that--the goal was a stronger core, not debilitating joint pain. So Kal, *please* don't feel guilty!!! Because it is in no way your fault!!! It's not even my fault, since my body didn't let me know it was a bad idea until too late.) I get it that my messed up joints are not necessarily representative... but they aren't THAT unusual on sparks, either; I can't be the only person who tried a workout and the body went "you shouldn't have done that." I wish that these inspiration memes and motivational quotes had more emphasis on things like listening to your body, and that slow and steady can let you climb mountains. One of the best motivational things I ever read was in the The Spark, where he talks about a woman who started "exercising" by just walking to her post office box and back to get her mail. From there, she started walking farther--maybe around the block, than a half, mile, etc. That small change led to bigger changes--she got stronger, fitter, and lost weight, and she did it without pushing her body to the breaking point. And that's just one example.
Then I found this blog, and it said everything I was trying to say, and it says it so very well. So I just had to share it with you.
Seriously. For example, the one about the pride? I'm proud of where I am now. I'm not where I want to be--not yet--but why should I be ashamed when I worked hard to reclaim my body and my life, worked hard to get where I am in school, worked hard to change my diet to make it healthier, etc.? And the one about anorexia/exercise anorexia... I was just talking to my husband about this the other day. He wasn't happy when I told him I had discovered that it was all too easy for me to flip that switch. Please note--I have *not* flipped this switch. I'm very careful that I *do not* flip this switch (this is one of the reasons why I think fasting diets are a very bady idea for me--though the main reason being the fact that I get physically shaky, impatient, and ill if I go too long without food). But when you are a control freak--at least when it comes to yourself, not necessarily other people--who is incredibly stubborn and doesn't get reliable hunger cues--yeah, all too easy. It's even easier when you're doing all the right things but still can't lose weight, and people who mean well keep telling you that if you only showed a little discipline you could lose that weight--I can be disciplined, right? It's all too easy to fall into a negative relationship with food and view ALL food as bad when no matter what you do, you still gained 20 pounds in one year, especially when food isn't all that appealing anyway. Thankfully, I recognized this early on--it's one of the reasons I strongly resist the term diet (at least as in "specific diet to lose weight" as opposed to "food I eat"), why I have made myself pay attention to the limits of my body, why I decided to focus on positive changes rather than deprivations (drink more tea rather than no pop, for example), etc. And I can at least say that I cannot exercise myself to anorexia because my body will break first (literally, when I first hurt my hip, I'd just fall down because it couldn't support my weight. Which can be scary when it happens on stairs and you have a backpack full of books. Thankfully, I managed to not hurt myself more than I already was). I don't want to ever experience that ever again.... so I watch my limits.
But telling me that I should push myself farther than I think I can go, that I'm not doing enough, etc.... these are not positive inspirational messages, even if they are well intended.
Instead I have made a very deliberate choice that my path will be one of moderation, flexibility, and small, gradual changes. I have focused on eating healthy foods I like (thankfully, it's not hard for me to find healthy foods I like) and active past times that I find fun, so it's not all about weight loss. This does mean that I still sometimes eat refined sugar, or fast food, or processed foods--not all the time, but sometimes. It means that I have days when my workouts are little more than my PT strength training and stretches because my body says that's all it can handle. It means I *have* to have 2 days of rest every week--which means real rest, not "light" activity--because I know my hip and knee need that extra time to recover. It means I tell myself if I go to the gym and I still don't feel up to exercising (since half the time getting to the gym is the hard part, LOL), I can come home and not feel guilty about it (and I have had days where I did just that. It only took 1 acute migraine that kicked in when I was working out to teach me that it was okay sometimes to stop).
Which is not to say that I'm against inspiration memes and stories--I love them! I collect them on pinterest, read and sometimes share them on facebook and on sparks (more so when I had more time, sadly). These are part of what keeps me going when I'm struggling. I even like the idea of strong being sexy--I want to be strong. But I've made the personal decision that I am going to focus on strong and healthy and not worry about skinny--the unhealthy excess belly fat needs to back off, but beyond that? I am okay with it. A healthy woman has about 20% body fat. I can live with a little softness. So I do not confuse strong with skinny--skinny would be nice, don't get me wrong, but I'd rather be strong and healthy than skinny.