I’ve been struggling for quite a while now to get back into shape. I’d like to lose a lot of weight and get fit again. I’d like to feel good about myself again. But it’s a tough thing to do.
I spend a lot of time working at my computer. And I have done for the past 8-10 years. As time has passed, sitting in front of a computer, and combined with getting older, my body has switched from a well-conditioned machine into a wholly neglected tub of goo. It’s been gradual, but then my time doing fertility treatments and basically sitting around waiting for my ovaries to do their thing (which, we now know, they flatly refused to do. Bastards.) was sort of what kicked the whole sedentary thing into overdrive. (And made me puff up like the StayPuft Marshmallow Man. Which just added insult to injury.)
So I need to change a lot about my life and myself.
Motivation has been a challenge. I start out all right, but then after awhile I get bored or life gets in the way and I stall at whatever it is I am doing and then ultimately stop altogether. Winter makes hibernation and immobility so easy. There are things that have to get done that are “more important” than exercise.
Excuses. I have a million of them.
So I started doing these yoga classes. I downloaded them — they’re podcasts and they’re free — so I can do yoga here where nobody can see me and I can fit it into my schedule. And that’s been good, because it takes away one of my excuses. Well two, actually — I wasn’t willing to spend money on getting into shape, and these are free, and I don’t have to go anywhere to do them.
But even still it’s been hard to stay motivated. So I got to thinking.
The instructor of these classes, Chaz, drops little sayings or pearls of wisdom into his classes. And one of the things he always says started to hit home with me. He always talks about having “no ego” when doing yoga — that is, just because the person next to you can do a particular stretch or pose or whatever and you can’t, doesn’t matter. If you do what you can do, and stop comparing yourself to the next person — have no ego — you’ll still get the benefits of it.
So I began to think: am I comparing myself to others? Even though I’m all by myself?
The answer was yes. I am comparing myself to myself. And it’s been defeating.
I used to be what some might call a “high level” athlete, since I played a competitive sport at university. So I was really fit through high school and university. I worked out each day, in some shape or form, playing, practicing, doing weights, whatever. So when I think of myself as “in shape”, I think of that. I look at myself in the mirror, and just despise who I see because I am so far removed from that person.
Truth is, time and circumstance means I can never be that person. Not ever again. And yet, I was hating myself for NOT being her anymore. And so in the face of that, it was easy to just give up on exercising and trying to get into shape. It was impossible, based on those standards.
But then I started listening to Chaz and thinking about having no ego.
I started to think about doing what I can do. When I was doing a class, you’re supposed to listen to your body and do what you can do, and get some benefits from it. So I really started to think about that. Am I making some progress? Am I getting some benefit from what I am doing?
I got really excited the other day when I was able to do something in the class that I had never been able to do before. Just from sheer hard work. I was really happy. It wasn’t perfect, but it was CLOSE. And it was PROGRESS. And I was really pleased.
It was nice to feel good about exercise again, and not just because I looked in the mirror and saw a change. In fact, if I look in the mirror I see no change whatsoever. But when I do the class, I know that I can do this pose. I may not be able to do it today if I am not stretched enough or whatever, but I know that I CAN.
It just seemed like a much healthier way of approaching exercise.
I also began to think of a woman I once saw interviewed who had been hugely overweight once, with no money and two small children to look after. She started to look at things in that way as well. Do what you can do. So she parked her kids in the front yard, and started walking back and forth along the sidewalk in front of her house. She had to keep the kids in view, so she walked as far as she could, turned around, and walked back. Back and forth.
It was a very small thing. And she had to swallow her ego, because it was a little bit of walking. And she was doing it in front of the neighbourhood. But she just did it. She was up off the couch, and she could do what she could do. It was a sense of accomplishment.
And it blossomed. She did a little more and a little more. And she saw gradual change. And years and something like 150 pounds later, she was fit and happy and was being interviewed to tell everyone how she did it.
So I began to think, what small things can I do?
I remembered little things. Things I had read in magazines and stuff. I used to travel a lot for work, and one thing they always said to do while you were travelling is climb the stairs in your hotel if there was no fitness facility. And they advise people to take the stairs instead of an elevator at work in an office building. Hell, when I would go to practice, our coach had us run stairs each day.
So I put on some music, and I went up and down the stairs. Cost me nothing but a little time, and it was a hell of a workout. It was simple but it was effective. My heartrate was up. I was moving. I did it.
Another thing they always advise is to count your steps each day with a pedometer, and try to get 10,000 in per day. Well, I don’t know about that. But, BDH goes to play soccer at a big sports facility. And at this facility, I regularly see people walking around. So I checked it out, and one circuit of the facility is 550 metres. Half a kilometre.
So last night, while BDH played soccer, I put on my running shoes and my iPod and I walked for 6 km. So what if there were people around. So what if they could see me walking around and around. So were some other people. And I was moving.
So, yeah. I may never be the thin, ultra-fit person I once was. But trying to be? That’s my ego talking.
I have to learn to do what I can do. I have to learn to be a different me.