I have to say, writing is like exercise: the more you stay away from it, the harder it is to pick it up again! And while I’m on the subject of exercise:
I have been plugging along in the fitness department. I mentioned in a post (The Dreaded Topic) I wrote about 2 months ago that I embarked on a fitness regime (alright, this is weird, I just went back to that post… June 5, it is now August 5th!). So how have the last 2 months been? Let me refresh your memory of my baseline: walking upstairs to my bedroom was probably the most I exerted myself prior to taking on this challenge. I wish I could say I am exaggerating for effect. So my plan going in, for those that did not read: do something physical every day. I picked 20 minutes as my start time. I guest posted early on over at Running On Sober, so I don’t remember the specifics, but for the first probably 5 or 6 weeks I did exactly that… every single day. I started on the machine with which I was most comfortable (elliptical machine), but then I decided that going with comfort when it comes to exercise has never served me well, so I started mixing it up. Here are some examples of the progress made within 2 months:
Elliptical Start time/mileage: 20 minutes, 1.25 miles, about 100 calories, Current: 45 minutes, 4 miles, 450 calories burned
Swimming Start: 6 laps, Current: 25 laps
Stationary Bike: no stats to report, it hurt my knee, but the fact that I did it at all is something
Local Walking Start: barely a mile, small loop within my development; Current: I have built up to a 3.1 mile loop that starts in my development but extends beyond it
And, last but not least, the treadmill (or Dreadmill, as I thought of it)…
Start: probably struggled to walk a mile around 20 minutes (I did not keep track of those early stats), Currently (as of yesterday): 46 minutes, 3.1 miles, interval walking/running
Now, none of these number are going to be making headlines over at ESPN, but the point is the progress in an incredibly short period of time. There aren’t any major physical changes, but the mental ones are astounding. Here’s the biggest example: about 5 weeks into this commitment, I got an email from my unbelievably fitness-minded sister-in-law. She knows of my new commitment, and has been encouraging me all she can. She is the type to run in triathlons, half-marathons, mud runs, and other insane things, so she gets emails about local events regularly. She forwarded one onto me: a sober 5k walk/run sponsored by the Caron Foundation, and offered to walk it with me if I was interested.
Now, let’s pause and consider the information I gave you earlier: 2 months ago, ZERO exercise daily, never in my life have I been a sports-oriented person, never competed in anything physical… and now I am actually CONSIDERING this?!?!
Yes, I am. I wanted to reply no, hit the delete button, and never think about it again, but I couldn’t do it. So, first, I told my husband, who was encouraging and supportive, as always. Next, I let my recovery-and-fitness-minded blogging friends know of this recent development, and, predictably, all are strongly encouraging me to do it (Bye Bye Beer has graciously offered to walk it with me, bless her soul!). Finally, I started seeing if I could physically even do it, and to that end found local 3.1 miles loops, did treadmill workouts, in an attempt to get my time down. My commitment to myself is this (and yes, I know I will be getting yelled at by my “exercise sponsor,” as I like to think of Christy, for not just signing up): take the month of August and see what progress I can make in increasing running/decreasing walking for the 3.1 mile sessions. Since it is only August 5, I’ve got some time, I will check back in on this subject in a few weeks!
Final mental breakthrough, and then I’ll stop rambling. As it turns out, there was a promenade near the house that I stayed in last week that was flat, paved, and exactly 1.5 miles long (another sign, in my opinion!), so I did that a few times last week. Still being new to this whole outdoor running/walking gig, while at the same time being technologically handicapped when it comes to ipods, my playlists are disorganized and often interrupted with tween music. So as I’m doing the “ralk,” as I call it, on the promenade, a song keeps coming up that was popular a year or two ago with the Disney crowd, It’s called “Who Says” by Selena Gomez. I remember when my daughter listened to it a lot, and I remember thinking it a cute song, but that’s about it. Now, as I’m regularly exercising, the music is an integral part in the process, and I am listening intently to the songs. And this one is haunting me, although I don’t know why. So I’m actually running as I think to myself, “pay closer attention and figure out why this song is bothering you.” And the chorus comes on:
Who says, who says you’re not perfect?
Who says you’re not worth it?
Who says you’re the only one who’s hurting?
Trust me, that’s the price of beauty!
Who says you’re not pretty?
Who says you’re not beautiful
And, just like that, my mind talked back to the questions, and said, “You say it, and you’re the only one who says it.” And I thought of all the people in my life, and the voice is right… I am the only one saying negative things about me. Well, immediately I started to cry, and now I am running down an extremely crowded promenade with tears streaming down my face. I refused to make eye contact, but I can only imagine what the hell those people were thinking!
Even though it is the sappiest song ever, it is staying on my playlist, as a reminder that I only have one critic, and she has a proven spotty track record when it comes to making these judgments!
12 people at my meeting today, not a record, but a great number!
Maybe not quite this old…
If ever an admission of truth could lose readership, it will be this one. I have been back and forth about whether or not to tell this story, but the comical aspect of it, combined with my pride in a dubious accomplishment, makes the telling of it irresistible.
For years I have had a subscription to People magazine. This has been the source of endless ribbing by some of my “highbrow” friends (quotes are absolutely intentional, thank you very much), because I don’t follow the news very religiously (in fact, under antonym for “news junkie” you would find my picture) so the thinking is that the source of all my current events knowledge stems from this periodical. If I make the mistake of mentioning something in headline news, the comments are predictable, and endless.
Now can you see why I keep these friends around for decades?
Back to me. I developed a rule for this magazine: I will only allow myself to read it at the gym. The reason: It covers up the control panel, and there are pictures to distract my mind while I toil away. I came to think of reading the magazine as a reward, and if I was caught up on the issues, I felt good, because it meant I was exercising regularly, if there was a backlog, it motivated me to get my ass to the gym.
Enter the downward spiral of active addiction. Because I am a stubborn son of a gun, I would not allow myself to look at them unless at the gym. Unfortunately, since other obsessions occupied my time, the pile of People magazines grew as mountainous as my pile of regret and shame.
But throwing them out felt like I was giving up. Oddly, holding on to almost a year’s worth of People magazines was actually a sign of hope, and faith that I could conquer this disease, and get back to normal life (if you consider normal reading about celebs while working out).
So, as most of you know, I bottomed out, and started the process of recovery, and still the pile of People magazines grew. Throughout the year 2012, I worked my ass of in terms of recovery, but not in terms of anything physical. I took the slogan “First things first” and ran with it… straight to the La-Z-Boy. Occasionally I would take the pile, sort through it, and throw out the issues that seemed the least interesting, but still I hung on to the majority of them.
The subscription ended December 2012, and for obvious reasons I could not justify renewing it. So for the next 5 1/2 months while the pile did not grow, it certainly did not diminish in size. I moved them out of sight, but still could not bear to part with them. At one point my husband was in the drawer that housed them and said, “What the hell are you planning to do with all those back issues of People?” Of course, he was unaware of this particular insanity, so I mumbled something and the subject was dropped.
Finally, the time had come, and I signed up to kick-start my fitness over at Running On Sober. Finally, the People magazines will be put to good use!
So I picked one out of the pile, and out the door I went. As I started reading about Tom Cruise‘s idea of the perfect day being spending it with Katie Holmes, I realized a slight problem in my logic: this was old news, really, really old news.
Did I mention that I am stubborn? If I held on to these magazines for this long, by God, I am going to read them.
I watched the pile dwindle, and damned if I didn’t feel just a notch of pride each time I threw out a magazine.
Meanwhile, I got to find out the following hot-off-the-press information:
- Richard Dawson, Phyllis Diller and the guy from Beastie Boys are all dead
- Jessica Simpson had her first baby (apparently already pregnant with number 2?)
- The sit com Go On with Matthew Perry is picked to be a winner (now cancelled); the sit com The Neighbors is picked to be a loser (surprise hit)
Here’s the end of this ridiculous story, and I promise this happened exactly as I am telling it. I got down to the final old issue of People, and I put off reading it for a few days, because it felt like the end of an era. So I swam or took neighborhood walks. Finally, I went to the gym, read my last back issue, and threw it in the trashcan with a smile. I drove home, went to the mailbox, and I swear to you, this was what I found, that day:
Could I even make this stuff up?
Surviving a trip to the mall with 5 kids ranging in age from 13 (with an attitude) to 2 (also with an attitude). If mall employees were also recording miracles, it would be that we left with the building still standing!
So, I’m going to tackle a subject I really, really don’t want to… health and fitness. If you’ve been following, even in an half-hearted sort of way, this blog, you will know this has been a tumultuous relationship all my life. Issues with body-altering substances predate issues with mind-altering ones by a lot of years.
When I hit my personal bottom, I was at the lowest weight of my adult life. But, let’s face it, active addiction is not a beauty regime… I looked like shit. Not that I was paying close attention to the numbers on the scale, but, then again, the fact that I can tell you the first fact of this paragraph means it registered in some way. So, fast forward through the past 16 months, and life is exponentially, magnificently, miraculously better. So much better, in fact, then let’s have some celebratory food… you get the picture. And up the weight has gone, through the past 16 months.
At first, I was just so damned happy to even want to eat, I was actually relieved to see the scale go up. I am not a therapist, but I don’t think it takes one to see that low weight (for me, that is) and active addiction are connected in my brain. So seeing a weight with which I am familiar is now connected with sobriety.
Except that is the stupidest form of logic ever, because my low weight is still well above the ideal weight for someone my age and height!
And here’s the other part, the part that is all about how my addicted brain works… if I am choosing not to worry about my weight (which for a long time I did, in order to make recovery my focus), then why not just go whole hog and eat whatever I feel like? And if I am eating whatever I feel like, then why bother with the gym? And so on, and so on, down the spiral we go. Which, as anyone who has tried to lose weight will tell you, the further down the spiral you go, the harder it is to turn it around.
Meanwhile, all the regular bloggers that I follow are, for one reason or another, going on cleanses, giving up sugar, running marathons. And you want to tell me God does not speak directly to us?!?
So, for all sorts of reasons, health and fitness have been on my mind. And every time I try to get up the gumption to do something about it, I feel overwhelmed, and I fall right back to my normal routine, which, as you know, has been a beautiful thing for me for the past 16 months. But, still, even though I had taken no action, I really have been thinking about it, praying about it, and trying to get quiet and listen for the answer.
This weekend, something new came to me. I have no idea if it is the answer, or just a load of crap, but any action is better than the total inaction of the past few months.
I realized that part of what overwhelmed me about trying to get myself “in shape” was the magnitude of the task. I mean, I have probably 6 or 7 major things that I should change, immediately if not sooner, to live a healthy lifestyle. But every time I thought of taking on this task, it tired me out just thinking about, plus that whiney little voice in my head saying, “oh great, yet another thing we need to give up!” It was just easier to think about it “later.”
So this weekend, it occurred to me: perhaps this all-or-nothing thinking might possibly be the stumbling block? Perhaps just taking one or two of the 6 or 7, focus on them, and see how I feel, might be the starting point. And, while I’m at it, I can address the whiney little voice by doing this… take 1 or 2 items that don’t require me to “give up” something; rather, take 1 or 2 items on the list that just have me add something in, and see how it goes.
And, of course, because there are no coincidences, Christy over at Running on Sober, right at the same time I am formulating this plan, asked me to join her in a new fitness regime, which I gratefully accepted.
So, like I said, no idea if this will work or if it is just another lame-ass attempt on my part that will fall by the wayside in a few hours/days/weeks. I hope not, but my track record is not good in this department. I do know this: since the idea came, and Christy asked, I have been to the gym every day (oh, and, for the record, the second item is to drink more water).
Sorry for the long-winded post. Interestingly, this is the first time in a long time that I have to actually stop myself from writing more. I could honestly go on for a lot longer with this thought process, which tells me that I have been putting this idea off for far too long (and should warn readers that this is not the last you will read on the subject). Wish me luck!
Summoning the courage to write about a sensitive topic… my normal way of thinking would have me achieve a goal before announcing my intention, so I am scared to reverse the order, but it’s time to try something new!
Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness. -Earl of Derby
I really hate exercise. There, I said it. I hate dressing for it, fixing my hair for it, planning time in my day for it, driving to it (the gym), and even walking up to the elliptical machine. About the only part I like about the whole process is getting into my car and driving out of the gym parking lot.
But I have been hearing a lot lately about the idea of “mind, body and spirit,” and I know, in my heart, that I am sadly lacking in the body part of it. But man, just writing this post makes me sigh. Yet another stupid mind shift I need to figure out.
So I’ve been thinking about how I can apply recovery to the whole physical fitness gig. And the first thing that came to mind is the title of this post. Act as if you are into physical fitness. Another expression is “fake it ’til you make it.” So, in that regard, I got up this morning, and even though I looked longingly at my jeans and sweater, I instead dressed in gym attire. And I told my son to ask me if I went to the gym when he gets home from school. And I acknowledged to my husband that I have about an hour free in my schedule that I could fill with a trip to the gym. And I’m writing to all of you now.
Accountability. I really hope tomorrow I write with a happy update…
Believe it or not, sharing this inner turmoil is a miracle. I cannot stand talking about the gym before I actually do it, so hopefully this is the mental rearrangement I need!