Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sometimes I Don't

My last post gave the impression that I loved working out and went cheerfully and willingly every time. I don't. Sometimes I have to absolutely force myself to go, to keep on driving past the exit to my house and head to the gym after work. I tell myself, just go. You don't have to like it, but just go. Go inside. See if you can handle that. Then see if you can handle changing your clothes. Then see if you can get on a machine. Go for ten minutes. See if you can do ten minutes more. And by then I'm pretty much in my routine and just do the best I can.

It took me a long time to learn the lesson that I don't always have to like doing something to just do it. I guess I was such a stubborn, willful child that my parents just kind of let me off easy. They rarely pushed me to do anything once I'd said I didn't want to do it - so I had short spells of piano lessons, dance, Brownies... and promptly quit when they conflicted with things like my "Growing Pains" watching. I quit high school physics after one week, and later learned I'd scored the highest grade in the class on our first test. I quit French class after one semester in college because I tested out of the requirement and didn't like the teacher.

The biggest regret of my life is not going to study abroad when I had the opportunity in college. I was simply scared. I'd never been out of the country before and just didn't think I could handle being on my own so far away from the familiar. I think, no, I know, that if I'd gone I'd have emerged a stronger, more confident young woman. I don't dwell too much on the what-ifs, though. Who knows how my going would have affected my subsequent decisions - would I have moved back home after school? Would I be a librarian? Most importantly, would I have met and married the person I call my soul mate, my dear husband?

You can't change the past, you can only learn from it and try not to make the same mistake twice. I know I'm maturing in part because I push myself harder now. A late bloomer, that's what I call myself. So I file away these life experiences under the label When-I-Have-Kids. I want to be sure to tell them these things: most of the time life isn't easy, and you don't always get what you want, and it won't kill you to be uncomfortable or scared. It's just a feeling, and it will go away. Sometimes the things you're most frightened of will end up being the experiences of which you'll be most proud.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What I Tell Myself When I Work Out

I've been gaining and losing the same four pounds for about 6 months now, which is pretty frustrating. But until I manage to stop myself from eating Nutella straight from the jar, and icing off of stale red velvet cake, and any other sweet thing I can find at night, I guess I'll continue to get the same results.

The positive thing is, I'm cardiovascularly fitter than I've ever been before. If my Turbo Kick class was offered at times that better suited my work schedule, I'd take it more than once a week. I am in love with that class. It's fun, challenging, empowering. Every time I work my ass off, literally dripping with sweat, I swear that I'll quit sabotaging myself with food.

My food issues are something I am still working out, obviously. In the meantime, I remind myself that I go to the gym for reasons other than weight. I go because it's time for me. I go because it's time to decompress. I go because it's better than therapy, or drugs, or alcohol. I go because I feel lighter, sexier, stronger, saner.

I talk to myself on the machines. Doesn't everyone? Not aloud, of course. I don't want to be that woman. But while I glide and run and pedal and lift, I tell myself things. Here's a list:

You can DO this.
You're strong.
You're stronger than you think you are.
You're pure energy.
Just one more hill.
Just five more minutes.
You're awesome.
You rock.
Drop your shoulders.
Tighten your core.
Good posture.
You can DO this. (I repeat this one because I say it a lot.)

I wish I talked to myself with such positive affirmations all the time! I've come a long way, though, through the years. I am mostly happy with myself, something I would have felt hard to believe if you'd told me when I was 17, or 21, or 25. I've been hearing a phrase a lot lately, from different sources: You gotta do the work. I believe it, sister! I'm doing it. I'm gonna keep on doing it until I get there.

Monday, August 16, 2010

EAT popcorn, PRAY the movie's good, end up crying all day because you LOVED it.

I saw "Eat, Pray, Love" yesterday. It met all of my lofty expectations. I adored the book, and was so thrilled that Julia Roberts was involved. She really threw herself into this movie, with joy and gusto. She really "got" it. I left the theater teary-eyed and raw, in a dewy haze of love for the world. I was spiritually moved and wanted pasta - STAT.

The character of Ketut, the sweetest old toothless medicine man you'll ever see on screen, says to Liz (Julia Roberts) near the end of the film, "Sometimes you need to lose your balance in love to find your balance in life." Something like that. It hits Liz hard and she runs to the lovely, sweet man she nearly pushed away out of fear. It struck me similarly, like a gong going off in my brain - DING! - TRUTH! Sometimes I feel like parts of myself are so intertwined with my husband that I don't know where he ends and I begin. It's not terribly liberated to admit something like that. But that's precisely what brings my joy and balance in life. What I lose of myself, I gain back from his wellspring, and together we are both whole. Love is both changeable and constant, chaotic yet serene. I give of myself and open myself to vulnerability, and in return I am strengthened and supported.

I don't see many movies at the theater - too expensive. The ones I do see are special treats. They are an escape and a visceral experience. I like the anticipation, the immersion, the darkness. I came away from this one with a silly smile on my face, like I knew a secret. It reminded me that really, I do know what life's all about - love. I'm given to grand statements of hyperbole, but as I told Eric yesterday, everything else is pretty much bullshit.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Why I (Try to) Meditate

When I finish meditating, I stop hesitating. I just go about doing things, not thinking about them but doing them. I practice with the help of a few CDs, guided meditations, which sometimes feels like cheating. But it works. It quiets my runaway mind, enables me to clear the slate. I so often am paralyzed by indecision. I so often defer to my husband or my friends - "What do you want to do?" I so often agonize over the smallest choices - do I work out first or go to Walmart? Logically I know it doesn't matter which option I pick, but my fearful, anxious brain is convinced otherwise. So I sit and stew and feel floopy.

Floopy is a word I picked up from Phoebe on "Friends." She waved her hands around her head when she said it, and so do I. It means my brain is all topsy-turvy and I'm overwhelmed by options. I truly do think it's a manifestation of my A.D.D. When I tell my husband that I feel floopy he says, "Okay, let's take a deep breath. You're okay." He knows I need reassurance and I need to hit pause.

I manage to meditate once a week, twice on a good week. I'd meditate every day if I could get myself out of bed 20 minutes earlier. But I love sleep; I never really feel like I've gotten enough. It remains a goal, though - maybe I can meditate 20 minutes a night instead of watching TV?

It's really hard to make yourself sit still. I know plenty of people who say they "can't" meditate. I say if I can do it, anyone can! It just takes a little bit of time, maybe a guided CD to help settle down, and a quiet space. For me, meditation refreshes, soothes, and propels me into action. It's one of the best things I do for myself.