|FITNESS TRUTHS I'VE LEARNED|
PART ONE: THE BEGINNING
If dieting most of one's life qualifies one as an expert on the subject, well then, call me an expert! My adventure in self loathing started in eighth grade when I went on my first DIET. Adding up 1200 calories a day was advanced math for me. I learned to love Tab (remember THAT low calorie bug spray called a drink?) and to hate my hips. It was a love and hate that grew....or maybe I grew to love to hate things about my body. My legs were NEVER thin enough, my weight could NEVER go down enough (did I mention that I only weighed 107 pounds as a freshman in HS and STILL thought I was too big), and when I did the daily comparisons to EVERY other female I knew, I NEVER felt I measured up to their good looks or figures.
You'd think that this frame of mind would be a bad habit that I'd outgrow like nailbiting or nose picking (don't scrunch up your face like that, you KNOW you were a nose picker at one time just like the rest of us!!). But, instead of outgrowing this mental self mutilation, I seemed to cultivate it. The heavier and unattractiver (word creating here) I believed I was, the more I ate. Which, not so ironically just made me heavier! When I joined the Army, I started doing real physical activity for the first time in my life. It was difficult for the first couple of years, but I persevered and actually started really enjoying exercise and especially running. But it was still not enough. In my mind, I still wasn't thin enough. I decided to go on Slimfast to see if I could reach my goal of getting below 125 lbs. I decided to try Slimfast. I drank a Slimfast for breakfast, lunch and had a Lean Cuisine and bagel for dinner. On top of that, I upped my workouts: PT 3 times a week and taught or took aerobics a few times a week. I was devoted to the regime for 2 weeks! I got down to 117 lbs in my entire uniform (boots included). Surely, I was now content. Guess again!
"Well!", my mind raced, "If I can get to 117, I bet I could get to 115!" And with that....... Welcome Serene to Never Enough Airlines! Please be seated and keep your seatbelt fastened. Water and a refreshment selection of frustration, self condemnation and digital scales will be served when we reach cruising altitude." If I could get into a 7, how about a 5?! It just wouldn't stop! I COULDN'T STOP!
I'll skip enumerating the next couple of decades. Suffice it to say that with the birth of my four kids and all the changes that brought to my physical appearance AND hormones, I was building some serious frequent flyer miles on Never Enough Air! Unfortunately, they're only useable on select destinations such as "Your-still-fatsburg" and "Why-don't-your-legs-look-like-hersville" and the ever entertaining vacation destination "Tomorrow-I'm-REALLY-getting-serious-about-my-diet City". Again, enter one diet after another and all the while I'm working at either Jenny Craig, Nutri System or Inches Away. Nothing like being around even MORE women who are frustrated with how they look to encourage me to push through my dissatisfaction to severe angst!
Finally, with the illness and death of my mother 5 1/2 years ago, I woke up a bit out of my self flagellation fog. Here I was hand wringing over every morsel I put in my mouth and my sweet, YOUNG (56 years)mother was so ill and weak she looked like a concentration camp survivor. It was painful to see and it put my whole self involved weight obsession into perspective. She can't even eat, can't even keep food down and I'm worried about how many calories are in something! Can't you just see how ludicrous that is?! I could! And so finally I just said, "ENOUGH!" Over the next couple of years, there were some stressful events that happened in my life and I turned to exercise to turn OFF my brain....to metaphorically RUN or EXHAUST the hurt out of me. Working out was therapy. Therapy I very much needed. Over the past few years, that ol' dragon of "not good enough" still wants to rear it's head every now and then. Just when I think I've finally reached a point where I'm comfortable with my body and I don't have to be thinner, smaller or anything other than me, something will trigger that "Maybe I need to diet" button and I'll have to talk myself off the ledge.
Today, I'm in overall better shape than I've probably ever been. I eat healthy 80 - 85% time and slowly learning how to make that 90 - 95% of the time. As I write this, I know I'm qualified to share some things I've learned about fitness through my own personal experience AND working in the diet and fitness industry off and on for 20+ years. They're simple things. It's not rocket science after all, and much of it is just common sense. But what I've found is that how we view our bodies is not a cerebral reaction but rather a very emotional one. It's time, no it's actually PAST time to stop viewing our bodies as our personal nemeses. My body is not my enemy. It's the container that houses the very essence of who and what I am in my physical form. There IS a way to take care of it that has NOTHING to do with whipping it into shape or forcing it to behave a certain way. Hopefully with this series, you and your body can become friends!