Thursday, September 11, 2008

Progress ...

My e-pal Stacy writes a top-notch blog (which I won't link to without her permission, because she recently went "stealth" and far be it from me to become the portal through which icky folks find her again). We've never met face to face but I feel like she's a dear friend because her writing is so real, so forthright, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious.

Yesterday, she wrote about her success with a new eating and exercise plan. She's been plagued with body-image issues and digestive-tract ailments for years, but she's finally struck on the thing that's working for her.

The thing, though, I found most interesting about her post was her self-professed difficulty in expressing her happiness with her success because societally, we view a positive body image as arrogance.

Seems to me that we as a society view positivity in general as arrogance. We're expected to attain ridiculous levels of near-perfection, but God forbid we talk about how we got there or be proud of our accomplishments. Why? Because that will make the people who choose to stay on the couch feel bad? I dunno. Maybe.

But her post made me think about a recent conversation with my friend Lenore. I popped into her store wearing my workout clothes (my visit to her store was pre-workout; I wasn't stinking up the place) and she mentioned that I was looking great.

And my immediate, almost involuntary response was, "Well, I should be looking even better." Sigh. Beth, Beth, Beth. Just accept the damn compliment already. But no. I kept going with my self-critique, telling her how I'm coming up on a year with Brandon and how I really need to up my cardio because he's doing a very good job of sculpting my muscles but I need to burn off the layer of fat that's preventing the world from seeing my toned awesomeness. And how I haven't been rigorous with my eating and I've probably gained and lost a pound or two over and over but if I had been "good," how I'd probably be 20 pounds lighter now. And how when I think about all the money that I've spent on training and then thing about the bills I could have paid off with that money ...

Geez, I'm annoying myself just reading all that negativity. Crap.

So I'm very grateful that I have Lenore in my life, because Lenore wiped out all my lamenting with this simple thought: "Beth, you've stuck with going to the gym for a year."

Well, would you look at that! A different perspective!

Yes, I have, dammit! I've stuck with going to a gym, three days a week, for nearly a year. I'm not one of those people who sign up for the gym in a fit of New Year's resolutioning and then never go. I'm not one of those people who spends a week's pay on lots of cute gym clothes and springy shoes and then quits going to the gym after two weeks.

So, yes, I've been paying a trainer for a nearly a year, but if that's what it's taken to get me to the gym, so be it. I know myself well enough to know that if I'm accountable only to myself, more often than not I will take a pass on the effort. But once the pump is primed, so to speak, I'm more apt to make myself move.

My mom comes over every morning (except Sundays and Mondays and if the weather in inclement) so we can walk. She's very good about walking. She used to go every morning, by herself, just get up and lace up and go.

And when she'd be out there, working up a sweat, I'd still be in bed. One day, she mentioned that she walked past my house sometimes and I said, "Well, hell, ring my doorbell and I'll go with you."

And thus our almost-daily walking date was born. Knowing that she's going to be at my door at 6 a.m. makes me get out of bed when the alarm goes off.

But here's the breakthrough: She doesn't come by on Mondays because she has another early-morning commitment. So when my alarm went off on Monday, I thought, "It's Monday. Mom won't be coming over." But I got up anyway. And then thought, "But I don't have to walk." But I got dressed. And then I thought, "But I don't have to walk." But I put on my shoes. And then I thought, "But I don't have to walk."

And then a voice in my head said, "Beth. You're up. You're dressed. You have your shoes on. You have to at least leave the house. You can turn around whenever you want, but you have to at least walk out the door."

So I did.

And I put in 2.5 miles.

Later that day, at the gym, Brandon asked me if I took pictures of myself before I started with him.

I did, I told him. And then asked, "Why?"

He told me that he wants to create a brochure to sell his services and he's asking some clients for photos.

"OK," I said, bending over and straightening up, holding 10-pound dumbbells in each hand, working on my lower back. "But I don't think I'm enough of an 'After' yet."

"Oh," he said, "I'm pretty sure I remember what you looked like when we started. You've made a lot of progress."

Really? I came home and took a picture of myself and uploaded it into my computer and compared it with the picture I took on October 1, 2007, and sure enough: I have made a lot of progress.

And then immediately thought, "Yeah, but I ..." but then I stopped myself.

As I tell my friends, about a multitude of situations, "So long as the overall trend is toward progress ... ." Whether it's losing weight or getting over a relationship or finding a job, so long as the overall trend is toward progress, you're doing well.

I think the universe laughs at our self-imposed timetables. Sure, it's good to have goals, but how many of us set goals that are realistic? How many of us vow to "never" do something again, only to do it again in two days?

One of the other blogs I read recently posed the idea of micro-goals. Instead of saying, "I'm going to go to the gym every day this week and I will work out for at least an hour each day," commit to "Today, I'll exercise for 15 minutes" instead. I love that approach. It's so realistic.

Success is made slowly, most of the time. "Overnight success" is mostly a myth.

Slacking off will happen. Some days, I just want to lie on the couch.

And that's OK. As long as I get up tomorrow.

And not just to get a snack.


Blogger Mercurie said...

I agree we tend to think of any positivity as arrogance. I mean, it is considered arrogant if one says he is intelligent, even if he is. Granted, no one like someone who brags all the time, but there is nothing wrong with pride in one's achievements! I say if someone has long X amount of pounds, then they have a right to be proud!

12:26 PM  

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