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!
There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect. -Ronald Reagan
I have written frequently about the idea of perspective, and how things are as bad or as good as you believe them to be. Someone might look at my last 293 days of sobriety and think, “big deal,” whereas someone who has been trying and failing to get sober might think 293 days is a lifetime.
So when I look at other areas of my life, I try to put the same grateful, positive spin that I do on my recovery… every day is a miracle, and every accomplishment is a milestone.
Try as I might, that old thinking does come creeping back, and it is hard to fight. For example, I have started an AA meeting, today was the 4th time I have held it. The first week I had three attendees, second week, 7 attendees, third week, 5 attendees, and this morning, back to 3 attendees. YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!!! (quote from Planes, Trains and Automobiles). Don’t get me wrong, this is still my favorite meeting of the week, I have left each time with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude, and the small numbers make for some really meaningful exchanges. But to show my results to almost anyone else on the planet, it looks like I am, if not failing, then certainly not succeeding.
Same general concept with this blog. I have been writing for 8 months now, and my “numbers” have certainly grown, but when I compare my blog to some of the others I follow, then I have to wonder… what am I failing to do?
So, to combat these insecure feelings, I have to rely on my newly formed instincts… for the meeting, while I feel like I’ve done a decent job getting the word out there, I just have to keep trying, and keep marketing. I am working on getting it listed on websites and our local AA directory. Most important, I have to remember what I learned at the first meeting 293 days ago, which is that TIME stands for This I Must Earn.
For the blog, I have asked myself what it is I see happening with others that I do not see happening for myself. In reality, it comes down to something so ridiculous, I am embarrassed even writing it down… I have yet to see my own blog listed on others’ “blog rolls.” So, the next logical question, who do I have listed? Answer: no one, because I have never taken the time to develop that particular table of contents. So, in the spirit of evolution, I have spent (I kid you not) two hours of my lifetime figuring out how to do it, and I now have a “blogs I follow” section on my front page. Seriously, it took me 10 minutes just to figure out how to even view my own blog! I also attempted to upgrade my “Gravatar” to include a picture, who even knows if that actually worked. Here is the point: if I want to break through the plateau, I have to keep moving in a direction. If it doesn’t work, at least I am moving!
You know how when you decide to go on a diet, and you try to plan your life out so as not to be around tempting foods? You throw all the junk out of your house, buy healthy foods, and avoid your favorite unhealthy places to eat? And then that inevitable event comes up that you can’t get out of, or your office throws a birthday party for a co-worker, and you find yourself surrounded by temptation. You find yourself resentful of the event, jealous of those around you who can enjoy the tempting food, and wondering why you have to find yourself in that situation in the first place.
Well, anyone taking early recovery seriously employs the same types of strategies in order to get and stay sober/clean, only the consequences of failure are far more devastating that of a failed diet. We in recovery are taught early on to stay away from people, places and things that we associate with our alcohol/drug use.
For the past 82 days, I have done just that, and it has brought me immense relief. But just as the dieter cannot eliminate food from his or her life, so too must the recovering addict deal with tempting situations at some point. I had hoped for myself that the time would come later in my recovery, when I had solid time behind me, but life doesn’t always work out the way I would like.
So I had my first encounter with a person, place or thing today. And it was hard. And it was upsetting. But guess what I found out?
1. I have the most amazing network of support that will be there for me at the drop of a hat.
2. That I am stronger than I think I am.
3. I have my first real experience involving temptation behind me, and I got through it.
And in a few hours, I will have 83 days!