Sunday, March 20, 2011

A negative to positivity? A conundrum…..


I am using this post as a way to work through some things rolling around in my head and it is a bit of a confessional. The post is very long. If you choose to read through, I will warn you that it’s a bit of a maze and yes, that’s how my mind works. If you choose to read through, I hope it sparks something in you as much as I hope it helps me get my head straight and get going on my path.


One of the negative byproducts of chronic positivity is when you fall into the pattern of not taking a critical look at the negative behaviors in your mirror and recognizing them for what they are. It’s easy when you are always finding the positives in things to put off making changes that you need to make because you are always looking for that silver lining. I don’t know if I am so much putting them off- permanently- or if I am just making excuses but it has been going on for a very long time and the more I do it- the more I hurt myself both physically and mentally. I have created an inner struggle between the positive attitude that I have worked so very hard to cultivate and that voice inside my head that says “You can’t. You aren’t strong enough. You are weak”. It’s almost as if I take my self-flagellation and make it okay to not do the things I need to do to make a better life for myself by trying to work on self-acceptance. I think I am talking a bit in circles, which is somewhat appropriate because they all affect one another, so let us get specific and put all of my “stuff” out on the table.

Last year at this time, I had essentially quit smoking. I was using the electronic cigarettes as a substitute and a pack of “real” cigarettes could last me 10 days. And then I made the fatal error of buying several packs on my way to the airport before my annual meeting in Florida. I was not about to pay Florida prices for cigarettes and thus began my not so slow decline. For the last year I have carried my electronics and used them on occasion but I have not given up the real deal. I have all sorts of reasons “why”- many of which center on the fact that my other half smokes, my stress level, etc. One week and I eradicated all of the good I had done.

I have been a member of Weight Watchers for a year next month. This is not my first go round. My first go round I lost 25 pounds before we moved and rediscovered desserts and cooking for two. In the four years since my first go round I have not only regained but gained more. I look in the mirror and see it and I hate it. I look at photos and hate it. I cannot by any stretch of the imagination blame the program. The program works. It’s me that doesn’t. First- because I am making meals for only two of us, I have to take into consideration my ultra thin husband’s likes as well- and let’s face it- who wants, or has the money, to cook two entirely separate meals every night? Second, no matter how “good” I am during the day- evening comes and before I go to bed I am crawling out of my skin for something “desserty”. A crisp or cobbler, ice cream, chocolate, cookies the cravings differ but the net effect is the same. We also know that if I don’t get what I am truly craving- I graze until I go to bed. The first time, I worked the program to a science and I made it a lifestyle change. Then I made an even bigger lifestyle change and eradicated all the good I had done.

When I adopted Miss Harley, we made it a habit to walk once in the morning and once at night. I did it every morning- barring travel- until we adopted Auggie. Auggie is not at ALL to blame, I am merely pointing out the timeline. Our agreement when we adopted Auggie was that we would walk “the kids” together if we adopted a second dog. Mr. Ultra-thin is also Mr. Doesn’t- Exercise-On-A-Bet so I knew this would be tough enough to do in the evening and I knew that the mornings would be just me since he already went to work at 5am. Add to this that we adopted Auggie on December 27th- in the winter- and Miss Harley does not do snow or rain except under duress. It is one thing to control one dog who is fighting you- but add a second (a puppy no less) who just wants to play and I could not do it on my own. For the winter, we shoveled off the patio and the area around it to give them room to do their business in the morning and only really forced them to walk at night. Come Spring- they had a routine- and so did we. To combat this, in January, I joined the YMCA. I had put that off for over a year already with excuses of my schedule, my RA, my “ this and that” and finally bit the bullet. The first few weeks I went faithfully on my own. I didn’t join any classes but I went and used the therapy pool and the treadmill and such. Then we went on vacation and I haven’t been back since. I basically eradicated all the good I had done.

When I was using the e-cigarettes, I got my breath back. My lungs were stronger and I *almost* felt like I could start the Couch to 5k program. Having never “run” in my life- that was one heck of a goal, but after over 20 years of smoking, I felt that good. When I was working the Weight Watchers program right the first time, I could get on that scale every week and know I was doing something good for my body- and I felt so proud of the changes I was making. When I was exercising regularly- even when it was just walking Harley twice a day, I knew I was doing something that would help me reach my goals. And that felt good. Giving up cigarettes made it easier to exercise- exercise and working the Weight Watchers program made it easier to lose the weight that affects both my joints and my self-esteem yet in each case I slid back and eradicated all the progress I had made. I don’t know why I allowed the self-sabotage. I only know that I have made it easy to do so.

One thing that has been pinging around in my head all weekend as I fought the “I can’t” is the old question when I think “I am too old to _______” . The best way I ever heard to combat the “I am too old to do whatever” is to ask yourself “How old will you be if you DON’T?” I have been working and working on how to rephrase that to fit this situation. Where will I be if I don’t? I have to find the strength inside me to not only keep that in mind but to NOT find the silver lining behind backsliding. No more “but I really enjoy my nightly dessert.” No more “it’s okay to keep smoking for now, I will quit when the time is right”. No more “I am too busy, too tired, too stressed, my schedule doesn’t work” for exercise. I need to find my inner motivation. I need to make small goals and celebrate them. I need to make the changes I need to get this done once and for all. How old will I be if I don’t? How many years will I have smoked if I don’t? How much damage will I do to my body if I don’t? How often will I look in the mirror with shame if I don’t?

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