Monday, August 15, 2011

Slapped by Self-love

This is going to be another blog post about getting in shape, so skip it if you're already sick of this health stuff.

I recently read that push-ups and sit-ups are not the best thing for guys who what to lose weight and get back in shape - apparently all those workout routines I did in college might be great for building muscle, but they're no so good for shedding the donut around my middle.


The recommended advice is to get moving: walking, jogging or swimming. And to eat a well balanced diet that doesn't include daily portions of leftover goodies like fresh baked sticky buns. Serious weight loss involves packing my fridge with veggies and piling my plate with dark, leafy greens. If I want to rediscover a six-pack and loose what could become dreaded moobs, I can't be scarfing down every delicious comfort food I'm obsessed with making.

All day today, while working remotely at my day-job, I felt sad: a self-centered, self-absorbed, wishful-thinking kind of sad. I wanted my old body back and I wanted that skinny college-guy-in-mirror back. I could feel the hopelessness of it all as I entered my meals into the Livestrong phone app. I could see the impossibility as I crossed paths with mirrors. Even my face looked fat! I could hear it inside my head, over and over against the background of the day-job: why bother why bother why bother why bother?

Work ended and I grabbed my green workout mat and began to stretch, still sniffling inside with abject self-pity. I was bent over, desperately trying to touch the floor without looking at the doubled-over donut of pudge at my waist, when the whole love thing slapped me. I should love ME. Not the me I want to become or the me I used to be, but the me I am right now. The 29-year-old, 5'8", 178.6 lb ME.

I should love me enough to stop piling on hatful criticism of my mirror's reflection. I should love me enough to encourage my self-control with positive thoughts and energy. I should love me enough to see the potential instead of showcasing the shortcomings. I should love me - because if I can love me, I can stop focusing on everything about me that I want to change or fix and re-focus that energy on loving someone else.

I'm not talking about patting myself on the back or muttering positive chants or admiring my own narcissistic reflection in a still pool of water - I'm talking about real self-love that motivates to action. Real self-love reminds me I am worth loving. Real self-love reinforces self-discipline and self-respect. It nudges me to keep trying and encourages me to get back up. It doesn't care about that blasted mirror or those gawking spectators at the beach or the judgmental checkout clerk at that snooty grocery store. Real self-love, loves.
 
Anyway, back to my revelation on the mat. Lightbulb! I didn't need to beat myself up over my weight for my self-image. Lightbulb! I could focus on the workout and positive self-improvement. Suddenly all that pressure to achieve some artificial standard seemed to lift. I could choose to enjoy the workout. And that's what I did - I ramped up the workout and stopped thinking about all the sets and reps I used to power-through in college.

Tomorrow the bf and I are starting a new morning walk routine: because an article I read says I should move more, because I need to get out of the apartment more frequently, and because this whole self-love thing lets me get past my own self-defeat. I'm still going to track my meals and post updates but not because I'm pudgy but because I love myself enough to take this self-improvement thing seriously.

This week's exercise target:
  • 30 minute brisk walk Tuesday, Thursday and Friday
  • Daily workout of 3 sets:
    • 5 x plank (hold each plank 15 seconds)
    • 15 x sit-ups
    • 15 x push-ups
    • 15 x bridge (hold each bridge 5 seconds)
    • 20 x squats
    • 20 x calf-raises


4 comments:

  1. As I started this post, I was going to be all like, "He needs HAES!" but then you basically arrived at it on your own.

    I spend a lot of my young life feeling bad about being fat, and doing some pretty unhealthy things to try to make myself not fat (eating 800 calories a day plus cigarettes and whiskey = NOT HEALTHY). Then, finally, I was like, "This is stupid. I'm not wasting my time on this anymore." Plus I looked into it: science has proven that there's no reliable way to make fat adults thin over time - 95% of adult weight loss is not sustainable over 5 years or more. It's just hard facts: obese adults almost certainly cannot become thin - that's not how human bodies work.

    Luckily, fat adults can be healthy! We can have good cholesterol numbers, good blood sugar numbers, good blood pressure numbers, we can be strong, fit, and flexible. We can exercise in ways that we enjoy, eat whole healthy foods, and just generally treat our bodies well.

    Now, I'm not saying I do any of that shit. My last blood workup two years ago revealed that I've so far been blessed: good numbers without trying, except for a slightly elevated "bad" cholesterol number. Doc said it was nothing really to worry about. I do try to eat pretty healthily, though I know that I eat worse when I get stressed, because I eat more lazily. And dude, exercise - look, I fucking hate exercise. I KNOW, I KNOW, it's good for my heart and my brain, and I should do it. Maybe some day.

    BUT THE POINT IS: health isn't about a number on the scale or a size in your paints waistband, it's about exercising and eating well. And anyone can do that - in fact, the U.S. government recommends it, it's called "Health At Every Size," and in any event, the gov't also recommends that nobody, obese or not, lose more than 10% of their body weight. Dude, if I lost 10% of my body weight, I'd still be fat. And that's cool.

    So weight loss shouldn't be the goal; health, achieved through healthy diet and joyful movement, should be. Luckily and smartly, I see that you reached that conclusion on your own, though. ;)

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  2. You summed-up in a short comment what it took me a whole blog post to ramble randomly about. Nice. :)

    My problem over the past 6, 12, 18 months has been a real lack of health leading to muscle weakness, weight gain, and self-defeat. So yeah, getting back to self-love should be goal, not losing my 25 lbs. Or whatever.

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  3. I often think to myself, "I should do some stuff." I often wish I were the sort of person who enjoyed exercise - like, I hear some people actually really like to run. Can you imagine?

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  4. Trying to get a fresh burst of motivation. Thanks for this.

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