March 16, 2011

Who's Your Dragon?

Several friends and I have been discussing our issues with the scale of late. Some of my friends are looking to lose a few pounds; some are maintaining just fine; and some are looking to lose more than a few. But we all have this one thing in common: we are measuring ourselves with this scale. This thing. An inanimate object that depending on the number that we see, seems to determine our mood for the day – or worse, our self worth.

I am guilty of this big time.

Funny thing is, during my heaviest days, I didn’t even own a scale. When I first joined Weight Watchers, I only weighed in at my weekly meetings. It really has been only since being *under* my goal weight that I have weighed myself as much as I do (sometimes every day). And I admit to keeping an index card with my weekly weight since Sept.

Over the last several weeks, that number has been going up.

I don’t know what has me more frustrated, the fact that during marathon training, I’ve gained weight, or the fact that I still let the scale and that fact, that gain, frustrates me! I’m frustrated that I am frustrated!

Get out of that cycle! I’m not a cyclist.

I’m a runner.

Anyway, all this scale talk had me thinking. A lot.

It had me thinking about this idea of my number, my “happy weight” and where I am in training, in eating; where I am emotionally and even spiritually. When I was in my heavier days, I thought that I would be better if I were thinner. And now that I am thinner are things better? Thinner just gets replaced with wanting other things….wanting more time, to run faster, less stress, bigger house, more money…. The definition of insatiable – or is it driven?

My present has its problems, sure, but frankly, some of my “problems” I would have LOVED to have had a year ago. Can you imagine what 210 lb me would have said to 147lb me if she hear me bitching about gaining during marathon training??? She would have slapped the shiznit out of me!

The reality of my life (an all of ever changing lives) is that it is different than it was a 10 years ago, 1 year ago, 1 month ago. And it will be different again in 1 month, 1 year, 10 years. So am I going to let my circumstances or the scale or some other external factor or measurement dictate how I feel about myself? Hellsno.

I just want to be.


There is a long way between where I am to “just be”.

So I work.

In my self-help feelings of late, I headed down to the basement (literally....or...) to dig up some books. One of the books I pulled out of the basement is called The Hero Within by Carol S. Pearson. My mom gave me a signed & dedicate copy about 10 years ago. But I never read it. Maybe I wasn't ready for it yet.

One of the first lines that hit me was this:

"To make deep personal change, is to develop a 'new paradigm, a new self, one that is more effectively aligned with today’s realities.'"

Today’s reality is different than yesterday’s. And there are so many realities of today.  World-wide ones. Japan. Our own country, state, city, families. Personal ones.The new normal, or even the new, new normal.

For me, once I KNOW "something" - that "something" isn't necessarily going to change, but my relationship to it will. Around our house, we say, “the news is the news” something I picked up from years in project management. The news doesn’t change, but my relationship to it and what I do with it can change.  For example, reading Michael Pollan and knowing how my food is produced changed my relationship with food..  I CAN’T do anything about it unless I KNOW about it.

And vice versa, if I don’t TELL someone about something, they will never have the opportunity to do anything about it either. (Yeah, you can’t resent someone for washing a sweater if you never told them it was dry clean only. Not that I have ever done that.)

So going back to the idea of wanting more – insatiable vs. driven – I guess that too comes down to attitude.

By wanting to be faster, be better, be healthier, work harder, is my attitude one based on wanting more because what I have isn’t enough? Or is it because I am grateful for what I have? Meaning, to NOT do more when I know I am capable of being better at (fill in the blank), would be a disservice to me and my family.

To just be (better) IS appreciating life around me. That is the attitude I will practice.


Ok, last thing for today.

As I do this work, as I make personal changes, one thing, one MAJOR thing that I know I causes struggle with these kind of reflections, is I don’t always take full ownership of my actions. Excuses start to flood my thought process. Or the “buts” take over. Or I try to explain away feelings like, when I was a kid…blah blah blah. Or I can’t because…whatever the excuse.

And lo and behold, I read this:

“As we deprogram ourselves from outmoded habits and traditions, however, the temptation is to see ourselves as victims, not heroes, especially if we have a conscious or unconscious sense of entitlement. If we did not come from a healthy family, if there are few jobs in our field, or if we fear we will not surpass our parents’ prosperity level, we than can become demoralized. It is important to remember that heroes of myth and legend hardly ever have perfect parents or perfect lives. Think, for instance of Oedipus, left to die as an infant on the hillside, or Oliver Twist, growing up in a cruel orphanage. Even Jesus of Nazareth was born, humbly, in a manger.”

Holy scrap, (my new favorite Transformers swear word).

Victim + entitlement.  This is so true. I think about all these times where life wasn’t “fair”….How many times have I been angry because something happened to someone I love that wasn’t “fair” or they or I had been "wronged"?  Often.  Too often. All those feelings of anger, are they just an unconscious sense of entitlement?

I am going to have to think about that for awhile.

For now, let me get back to the scale and the habitual weighing in and the desire to deprogram oneself in doing so. Because this IS about taking action.

My friends and I have helped each other on this one. One of my friends gave up the scale for Lent. And we are supporting her in the ways that we can - giving up scales, feelings toward scales, giving up other technologies and even just talking about it and sharing what we read.

Here is one more quote I liked from The Hero Within: 

“The very nature of heroism requires us to face the dragon, not sit around and complain that the dragons exist and someone should do something about them. “ 

After reading I had to imagine my bathroom closet with this yellow glow and smoke pouring out from the bottom only to open it up and see this DRAGON sitting upon this white inanimate object with digital numbers blinking. Only instead of my 144 that I want to see - I see the calculator trick where you put in 7734 and then turn it upside down. 

Then I fall down into a fit of giggles thinking about it.

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea. And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called honah lee....


Delane said...

I have never made it through a training season without gaining 5 lbs. I really need to rethink this as I start my pre 18 week training this week.

Ugh the scale, useful device, torture device.

Elizabeth Sweeny said...

I would submit that it's possible that you've "gained weight" because you're increasing muscle -- and muscle is denser than fat, so you an increasingly higher muscle:fat ratio (which is good for you!) may mean a higher number on the scale (which is not inherently a bad thing!).

Just Jo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Just Jo said...

What a wonderful reflection! I've been thinking about these same things myself lately. I'm training for a marathon (a real, full 26.2 marathon!) at the end of April. I hear myself complaining that I'm gaining weight, I don't run very fast, it takes all my time, etc. Then I read this: "Can you imagine what 210lb me would have said to 147lb me if she hear me bitching about gaining during marathon training???"

I need to remember why I am CHOOSING to run a marathon on my birthday. It's because that is the best gift I could ever receive and it's one that only I can give myself. To go from a person who struggled with week one of C25K to be a person who is running a marathon is downright amazing. I have become my own hero but am too busy wallowing in an imagined layer of fat to even realize it.

This year for Lent I gave up counting points. At first I said this jokingly, but the more I thought about it, the more freeing it became. I can get so focused on points, and numbers and scales and failures. By giving up counting points, I'm giving myself the freedom to enjoy food and learn to be responsible with this great luxury of food. I will always be aware of my weight, but I do not always want to count points. This is a step to living my life in a way that will last.

Thank you for this blog, for your thoughts and for entertaining my musings. Good luck with your training!!

revmolly said...

Christy, this post is sooo great. I really needed to hear it. I am right now as heavy as I've ever been (except for pregnancy/postpartum), after being as light as I ever was in my adult life during chemo. I hate the way my pants fit, but I actually *don't* feel heavy! Just...happy! And I keep telling myself to relax and go with it for now, it's just part of the ride this year! thanks for ministering to me.