The doctor told me that while I carry my weight well and I am not too far “out of shape” per se, my blood pressure, cholesterol, and all sorts of things, not the least of which is anxiety caused both by certain situations and blood pressure medicine, would all drastically improve if I lost weight; and he said I don’t need to lose all that much weight anyway, about fifteen pounds. Here’s the crazy thing: not only did I already know that before I went to see him last week, I used to literally be an expert in weight loss, nutrition, and exercise. So why do I find myself here, now, like this?
Yeah, the plethora of people who ask that question of themselves every single day puts me in the company of millions.
It is the Great Battle: The Mind vs. Outside Forces (hereon called The OF—I’ve been watching Supergirl).
The mind in its pure state has everything it needs, at least for me, to succeed in the tasks set forth. I know what foods to eat and what not to; when to eat them, when I’m hungry and when I am simply thirsty; when to exercise, how, how much, and how to focus those exercises to get the most benefit from the least efforts for maximum efficiency. Good. And for those who don’t have that information, it is easily obtainable. Done.
The OF, however, are acid, are kryptonite, they know my weaknesses, and they know my Achilles Heel. The bp medicine screws with my moods, the doctor told me; yes, but I know they screw with my moods so I should ignore those feelings and just follow the schedule, plan my days around that. But OF are tricky; they twist and bend to find new ways to undermine our will power. Their wheelhouse includes malaise, unexplained tiredness, indefinable stress from bills and work and loved ones and unloved ones. The OF use time and memory as a weapon. They use distractions—it as the OF, in fact, that are responsible for eliminating the line between work and home, bringing into our homes tablets then laptops then iPhones then Apple watches, bringing them into our bedrooms and bathrooms and on vacation so that the traditional workweek simply evaporated, and now we are expected to be accessed by anyone anytime. That time used to be ours, separated by two highways, a parking lot, and an elevator. It all crashed in on our rooves and trapped us in some fluid office building. As a result, our previous ability to shift gears from responsibility to others to caring for ourselves has been shattered now by those dangerous shadows, the grey areas of our minds, and suddenly it is hard to focus on one thing when something else is hovering just outside our consciousness, waiting to pounce on our motivation and what scraps of self-discipline we managed to salvage. Yeah, gone.
The point, and I did have one some time ago, is that we need to learn to shut out the OF and accept, completely celebrate, that we already know what we need to do and how to do it, if we just allow ourselves to box out that OF point guard trying to score on our weak side.
For my own part, it used to be easy to separate those worlds when I was standing in the sand, ankle deep in the bay, watching gulls dive for oysters. Of course, but the OF is bleeding into that world too; you know it is true. You can tell by the way you stare out but don’t see anything, feel the water flow and ebb at the ankles but stop noticing it, your mind drifting to some unfinished report, that bill, that message and text and
So nature is not always the escape I hope it can be. No. All escape starts in the mind. Easy.
Not so much when we create those OF ourselves through worry and guilt and panic and depression. Sure, layoffs and cutbacks and funding all play on their team, but step one is to understand they don’t represent who you are and what you need to do.
(Geez what a pretentious load of crap that sounds like…time to pull a Barack-toned summary)
Look, when I worked for Richard Simmons, we used to tell people they had two choices, always just two. Though it might seem like a thousand troubles have piled on our backs, weighing us down, what we do with them comes down to two choices—the key thought there being “choices.” We can accept that weight, walk around with it, even wade into the water with it, splice it into our day’s routine and braid it into our sleep at night, keeping us always slightly awake. Or: We can put it down, step back, and say, “Today I may not do much, but I will do what I can toward my goals without being pushed back any further. Today I will take care of this. Tomorrow may not work out. But that is tomorrow. Today I’m on offense.”
Then repeat the next day.
And the next.
Until eventually I lose fifteen more pounds.