It’s so weird what triggers these blog posts. Just watched a video of a young competitor who had a bad rebound after her last competition. Read a bunch of comments that just reminded me that sometimes people get hyperfocused on things that don’t matter in the big picture – or at least they don’t matter to me as much. Maybe it’s because I’ve got more miles on me.
I started this life-transformation thing because I knew, really deep down KNEW, that I was on a fast train to an early death. I had to slow that train the heck down! There is no stopping it – death is inevitable. But I love this life and want to be here as long as possible. Posted a link on the LMS Facebook page to a life expectancy calculator. I would never have done it before because I knew the news wouldn’t be good. But now, it’s kind of fun. I’m starting to plan my 103rd birthday party.
When I was in high school, I lived on a farm. I used to go for walks by myself on sunny days. On those walks I distinctly remember being frustrated that I only had two small eyes and couldn’t take in everything around me at the same time. I resented that I had to turn my head to see things and lose sight of the other things. Especially the sky. I wanted to have one giant eyeball on top of my head. I wanted to see everything at the same time.
I still feel like that. Especially when I’m driving home. We live in the foothills of a mountain, and there is a spot 0n my drive home where I come into a valley where the mountain is on my left, sunset behind it (if I’m lucky enough to be driving home that early), and on the right is a wide open expanse with beautiful high dessert landscape and more mountains in the distance. If there are clouds, they are almost always doing something breathtaking because they are coming over the mountain on the left. At sunset, it looks like paint stokes of oranges, pinks, on the blue sky canvas. Sorry – no picture because I’m driving on a freeway when I experience this. Sunrise going in the opposite direction is equally impressive. That sunrise always fills me with hope and gratitude.
I understand that this is primarily a fitness blog. So what’s with all of this sunrise/sunset stuff? This is why I value my health so much. This is why I lift. This is why I eat how I eat now. I feel connected to my life now. I hated feeling depressed and anxious almost 24/7. These days, I have my moments when I’m wound up about something, but they are moments. OK, maybe an hour or two. But hardly ever are entire days/weeks/months lost to feeling hopeless. I used to lay down at night, feel the weight of me on my heart, and feel afraid to fall asleep because I might not wake up. Looking back and comparing how felt and what I thought about then, to how I feel and what I think about now, I know that my state of mind is dictated by my state of health. Because I didn’t feel good, I used to work to attach outside reasons to that feeling and I would react to any stressor. I looked for those stressors to explain how I felt. Now, I feel good. So when I’m anxious about something now, there is probably a real situation that needs my attention. (Assuming I’m not having a cortisol response. An update on that – I quit doing cardio. Boom. Fixed. I will do HIIT – eventually. Been dealing with the same flu bug everyone else on the planet seems to have caught.)
Rambling – sorry. It happens. But I will try to get to the point…
I’ve lost and gained weight several times in my life, starting when I was in high school. I didn’t gain weight back this time because something fundamental changed when I was hooked up to machines in an emergency room in March 2009. I suppose that was my personal “It’s a Wonderful Life” moment. I was shown what was coming. It was a fork in the road with two paths to choose. One was familiar and I could see the whole path. I knew where that one would end. The other was foggy. I didn’t know what would happen if I chose that path. I didn’t know where I would go.
It was fear that made me choose the foggy path. That path has become clearer because I invested, researched, and did the work. I watched the scale and I watched the mirror. I hit walls. I screwed up. But I didn’t quit. Quitting would be like walking back to the fork in the road and taking the clear path, the shorter path, the easier path.
Oooo – let’s do something scary. I’ve never thought about where I would be now had I not changed everything. In 2009, I was gaining weight at a rate of about 15-20 pounds a year and was already on high blood pressure meds. My heaviest weight was 198 pounds and it was climbing. I had one ER visit for a possible cardiac event, that they diagnosed an anxiety attack, but they kept me there for four hours. The nice female doctor was very direct about how it was an anxiety issue this time. Had I taken the shorter path, today I would probably weigh well into the 200’s and have a body run down and at risk for a major cardiac event, if I hadn’t already had one. That path is always there waiting for me.
The foggy path led to a magical place for me. The gym. The iron. I was so intimidated by that place, but I just pushed forward. I’ve been discouraged or disappointed with something every single week since June 2009. But I’ve also done something new every single week that I couldn’t do the week before.
The path is still a little foggy. The next few months are going to be extremely challenging. I have a a demanding teaching schedule this semester. I am working with clients. But my own training and nutrition will not be compromised. Period. I’ll keep pushing. Doing anything else is walking back to the fork and choosing the short path.
Did you notice that I never once mentioned being preoccupied with what I look like or my size? If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, I would hope my motivations are clear. I want to enjoy good health and I want to lift. I want to compete as a bodybuilder. I have been fascinated with bodybuilding for decades. When I compete, I am concerned with appearance, but it’s bodybuilding. That’s the sculpture, artistic part. It’s fun for me. But my point is that if there is anyone following my journey who is concerned about being a specific size or weight, and that is a priority before your long term health, please consider this – if focusing on your appearance hasn’t worked for you to make a permanent change in your lifestyle in the past, it’s not your motivator. Change your focus. Look for your own fork in the road and chose your foggy path.