Monday, May 5, 2008

The Joy of Exercise and Healthy Eating(aka,The Big Lie of the Fitness Industry)

As you may have guessed from my last post and this one, I am trying to get healthy and lose "The Weight". (Hey, when something has been a part of you for this long, it deserves to be capitalized.) Now, this is not, in and of itself, unusual. In fact, my 13 year old gave me an odd look last week and said, "You do this. About once, twice a year, you do this." I was forced to agree. (My kid's a smart cookie! And observant!) But I did feel the need to try to score some parenting points pull some great life lesson out of my abject failures previous attempts by pointing out that what really mattered was that I was still trying. This fitness thing is a tough gig!

I'm not exactly complaining, mind you. I had (mostly) prepared myself for the fact that I wasn't going to lose a ton of weight in a phenomenally short period of time. I knew that. And I was okay with it. It's just that it can be a tad disheartening to have your weight seemingly fluctuate by as much as four pounds in the same day. It makes me question the validity of my scale. But then I figure, who really cares? Even the highest numbers are way lower than they used to be. And I feel the need now to see if I can do this. I've scented the challenge, and I really want it. Badly.

Oh, I know we all say that we want to be slim and healthy, yada, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah. I know myself! If I had really wanted this sooner than now, I'd have had it sooner than now. I think most people get exactly what they want, because the human will is fundamentally unbeatable. It then becomes a matter of admitting that what you have is indeed what you want. I finally did that. I gave myself permission to be fat, if that's what I needed to be. And I worked through several subconscious fears regarding what and who I would become without my friends, the fat cells, to guard and shelter me. These things allowed me to just be okay with me. And once I was okay with me, I didn't need the protection anymore. It's a marvelously empowering feeling, I gotta say. That said, I have a major problem with the "Fitness" Industry.

What I would like to see happen, is for the fitness lies, or more specifically the weight loss lies, to stop. For the first time in years I feel a little better when I exercise, instead of feeling sick to my stomach all day long. I don't care what those fitness freaks claim. When you're heavy, exercise DOES NOT make you feel better. In fact, it actually makes you feel worse. I wish they would just tell you that. Otherwise it's a huge mental blow, and you feel like you must be doing something wrong so you give up. But if you just tell people, "Look, you're gonna feel like crap for a good two months (or longer, depending on how much weight you have to lose). That's the way it is. You are going to be hungry while you relearn how to eat reasonable portion sizes. You are going to have headaches and stomachaches while your body goes through withdrawal from all the sugar, caffeine and fat you've been consuming(and from having to think so hard about something used to seem so simple, i.e. You like = you eat). You are not going to get the same kind of enjoyment from your food, because it's going to be a different kind of food. You will have to retrain yourself to enjoy the new stuff. This will take time. You are going to hurt and gasp and cry while you force your body to do things it hasn't had to do in many a moon, if ever. This is not a pleasant or fun process. It does not become pleasant or fun until you are almost done with this procees. Once you're at the maintenance stage, THAT'S when it becomes fun. Don't let anyone tell you differently. Enjoyment creeps up on you during the procees. The longer you go on, the more enjoyment you get. But fun? No."

The thing all the fitness freaks don't seem to get is that it doesn't get fun until you are where they are(and I'm reasonably sure that most of them have NEVER been where I am, so their perky reassurances are annoying and make me feel condescended to). Personally I think there should be some sort of law that states that you are not allowed to put out an exercise video or teach a class (for weight loss purposes)unless you have once been fat. And I mean FAT. More than just a 5 measly pounds fat. You have to be over 30 pounds fat. That's the law! And you have to have your before picture up in poster size where we can see it and know that you really are one of us, and that you totally understand and sympathize with why we're crying in the back corner in our jet black burka exercise wear.

News Flash! Exercising is fun. But it's a lot more fun when it doesn't feel like your femur is going to do a pile drive on your knee! Push-ups are a great esteem booster----- once you've gotten to the point where touching your chin to the floor doesn't involve parting the Red Sea of belly fat to do so, or make you ask if it matters which chin touches, or worse leave you stranded, high-centered on your belly in your living room as you rock back and forth in a vain attempt to get up again. But until you reach that nirvana of body dimensions screaming at you from every media outlet, it's all just painful and humiliating! I think there should be an equivalent to a Purple Heart for overweight people who exercise at the gym.

My whole point here is that, armed with this mighty truth, you're a whole lot more likely to stick it out. If it's what you were expecting, it's not nearly as big a deal. So, gurus, stop trying to make healthy eating and exercise sound all kinds of appealing when it just isn't, at least at the beginning. Honest forthrightness and realism from you will get a much more honest, long-standing effort from me. And I'll be a whole lot less likely to take vicious satisfaction in your cellulite along the way.


Marni Tiani Self said...

I feel you and hope that you find EXACTLY what you are looking for.

I have been on a weight quest all of my life. I got up to 293 while prego with my son. I got down to 207 while barely prego with my daughter. I have sat at 250 for some time and here I am on the challenge again. I feel you.

Melain said...

That's some seriously entertaining weight loss motivation. You should write a book.

Christie said...

I really enjoyed this - it spoke to my inner demons. Love it.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and for your hilarious comment! You crack me up.

Claudia said...

OMG! The scale thing! You are SO right! I'll weigh myself in the morning, and then maybe at night, on a whim, weigh myself again, 4 lbs plus or minus. And then, I'll weigh myself the next day and come up with a totally different number all together. It's frustrating, you're right, especially when you work you ass off in hopes of seeming some, however minuscule, results. Hang in there love, you'll do it. You've already got the right attitude, that's half the battle.

Loralee Choate said...

I hated working out when I was 280 and I still hate it at 155.

The end.