The year is 2015 and there is a short cut for everything. You can google something in seconds it used to take a trip to a library to look up. You can read a condensed version of basically any book rather than complete your 9th grade homework assignment like they did in 1952. You can get your sports rundown in a 60 second short from one of a million various sports blogs rather than watch a game or read a paper. You don’t have to go to the bank you can take a picture of a check. You can swipe right rather than strike up a conversation with someone before you know their likes/dislikes/religious preferences/and what % compatibility they share with you. We want everything when we want it and that time is usually now. This universal truth has become evident in my life in virtually every avenue, besides the one that no rapid short cut or technology will ever be able to touch: my health. Good old fashioned-medical issues aside-bare bones daily diet and exercise-health. There aint no shortcuts for that.
Inherent factors and bad luck aside, for all intents and purposes, your health and your body are dependent on the steps you take to take care of them. If you are someone who eats well, exercises, drinks 8-10 glasses of water a day, doesn’t smoke, and abstains from more than 1-2 drinks on occasion then (theoretically) you should be doing pretty well for yourself.
In my opinion: you are also a rare breed.
When you are younger, it doesn’t seem to matter as much. My lunches were packed and my Mom made sure that I only ate fast food after my soccer game. In high school I was never fit but I never developed any issues from being slightly overweight. My body type (read: opposite of flat) prevented me from ever feeling comfortable working out and at that point the extra weight seemed like a better option than running into someone I knew at the gym. When I got to college, that began to shift. Coupled with the new found hobby of drinking most weekends and living across the street from a Taco Bell, my health began to catch up with my lack of discipline. Still, I didn’t really do anything about it until just this past year. I think most people put off making the executive decision to take their health seriously because it is so difficult to do. Especially when you’re 25 (said every mid 20-something-ever).
At this point in my life happy hours are as common as they’ve ever been. Unhealthy eating habits that formed a decade ago have slowly morphed into actual issues that lead me to be tired, lethargic, and in all honesty, depressed. My lack of working out and motivation to eat healthy had spilled into the rest of my life. I first started going to the gym most days when I lived in Portland. After a few months I felt great, and even entered into my first relationship in forever. I was on top of the world, until I was crushed by a different kind of weight.
One of the things I have accepted in my journey to be healthy is that just like anything else, it takes patience. If you go three months in a row working out more days than not, eating healthy, and being in touch with your body: that is wonderful! good for you! be proud! Rejoice when you’re on top of the world because you should. I think the easiest way for me to come to terms with the trade off is thinking of it as those days spent with my nose to the grind ‘earned’ me those days where I don’t want to do anything but watch episodes of HOUSE for the 36th time and eat Trader Joes cookie butter. Your health, like most things in life, cannot be seen in black and white. In my experience the ‘all or nothing’ approach either turns out really well, or really bad. All of the things I’ve grown to value in my life have come from cultivating their balance. Your health is no different.
These last few weeks after falling off the wagon due to [one of life’s many issues here], I made a choice to get back into good habits, but under certain conditions. Full disclosure: whenever I’ve attempted to get in shape it has also meant some destructive and irrational thoughts running through my head. Restricting calories. Diet pills. Cutting out sugar. Cutting out carbs. Cutting out ____. Working out even when I’m exhausted or feel like shit just to make a dent. Unfortunately it is really easy to go down the rabbit hole of self doubt, usually beginning with the act of comparing ourselves to others. In said year of 2015 you would have to be made of not only steel but also completely deaf to be immune to the harsh standards of beauty our society has imposed upon us, but that is a different blog post. For my list of conditions:
NO SCALES. The amount of weight you lose is not important. Seriously, it will only hinder your growth and feed into that comparison mentioned earlier. It is conscious choice to decide to abstain from this and one that is extremely hard for some people. The principle is this: being healthy is not about a certain weight or number on a label no one sees or way you look in a certain dress. Being healthy is about how you feel in said dress. Your disassociation with the number inside of said jeans and scale. If you begin your journey focusing on a number then you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment when that number shifts (as numbers often do). Those peaks and valleys in your life I mentioned earlier are never going to plateau, and neither will your weight. Start here and its a step in the right direction.
FIND AN ACTIVITY YOU ACTUALLY LIKE. Forever and ever I despised working out. I suffered though the elliptical but never actually enjoyed it, rather just the effect. Zumba? NOT for me. Boot Camp? too intense. Then I found spin. Spin changed the way I feel about going to the gym and in turn how I feel about myself. My body type that had made me feel insecure and inhibited for so long didn’t matter on top of a bike seat. I look forward to working out, and if you know me you know that phrase used to never come out of my mouth. My best friend is perhaps the most athletic woman I know and she has been trying to get me to climb, run, jump, leap, swim for as long as I can remember but I just never felt strong enough to do it. For once I think that might change. Finding spin lead me to discovering yoga. Now I have two activities I look forward to each week that don’t involve happy hour or spending money that should really just be going towards my catastrophic rent. As Bukwoski said: find what you love and let it kill you. Not like Romeo and Juliet. Take your passion and light it on fire. This time, in a good way.
BE FORGIVING. This is the most important aspect of being healthy. Our bodies are the only ones we’ve got, but they’re also the vessels that get us through the really, really bad days. To me, I feel best when I am pushing myself towards that balance without demanding myself to obtain it. We are always in flux. Some days it is easier than others. To everyone reading this (if I am to be so lucky) don’t fail to realize how much weight has already firmly placed itself upon your shoulders. Give yourself credit. Give yourself patience. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. But don’t give yourself a deadline. Life, health, relationships, careers, they all come in due time and they never stop coming. And if nothing else find solace in the words of the ever-wise Hagrid: