Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Living like I have respect for myself

"I told myself I needed to eat like someone who respected himself." That's a statement that HalfMan made in a recent blog post when he was talking about his weight loss.

So true, isn't it? We don't need to eat like we're ashamed, and we don't need to eat like we have no respect for what food does in our bodies, like we have no respect for who we are and what our years of life are worth. We need to eat like we have self respect.

We also need to exercise like we have self respect.

We're hitting the time of year when it's cool enough in the mornings for those crazy fitness bootcamps to go on in the park where I run. So when I walk into the park these days, I hear fitness instructors yelling, "Come ON! Come ON! Come ON!" I see huddled groups of exercisers trying to hold themselves in push-up position, and then dropping one knee down when they can't hold it, looking around embarrassed or keeping their faces down. I see grimaces. I see bodies covered in work-out pants and long-sleeve t's, with short-sleeve t's over them. Why such coverage for a work-out? I'm out there in shorts, a sports bra, and a sports tank, and I know they have to be getting at least as steamy as I do.

Whenever I am passing one of these groups, I get this overwhelming sense of negativity. What are they thinking about my body, about this pudgy girl who's walking (if I'm warming up) or running through the park? What do the instructors think of me--that I need to have my ass worked over like these people in their boot camps?

I work on letting it go. Every single time I pass them, I doubt myself: doubt my ability to take care of myself, doubt the appeal of my appearance, doubt my methodology.

And quite frankly, I realized today, that's absurd.

I am sure there are dieters who have found bootcamps helpful. But when I see those people crouched on the ground or huffing through plyometrics while instructors blow whistles at them, I realized today that I feel it is the opposite of everything I am trying to do with my weight loss and fitness goals. I want to take care of myself. I want to nurture myself. I want to feel good in my skin and good in my life. I want to feel alive and happy and hard-working. I want to set up my life so that I am happily in my life's driver's seat, knowing I'm a competent driver.

I do not want to feel ashamed or belittled or punished. And when I'm passing the people in the bootcamp, with the instructors standing still screaming and the overweight people all in motion, I feel like that is what those overweight people are doing to themselves. They are saying that they do not have the skills, the willpower, the stamina to create a better life for themselves without being punished or controlled by someone else. They are saying, "Here, take my power, because I don't know what to do with it, and you must know better than me."

Is that really sustainable in the long run? How can we succeed at having a healthy, long life if we won't take control of our own actions within that life? If the only controls upon us are external ones of what a bootcamp instructor says during a workout or what a spouse thinks of us taking another bite? What happens is we rebel against those controls at some point. We don't show up for exercise. We sneak food. We eat a potato, and because it's not 'on the plan,' it throws us off entirely.

You have the power within you to lose this weight, to flip the magnet of your life so that instead of being repelled from what you want to be come, you stick to it. I have that power, too. It's not about making any huge sacrifices, giving up entire food groups because we can't 'manage' to eat them without going crazy or having someone force us to exercise until we are in pain. It's about a gradual approach toward taking care of ourselves, toward believing we really are smart enough and capable enough to learn to run our own lives and really, truly love ourselves. That doesn't mean we won't need guidance and inspiration from bloggers, personal trainers, friends, dietitians, or anyone else, because most of us will. But it means we need to take that information and support to empower ourselves, not give that power away.


Anonymous said...
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the veggie paparazzo said...
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the veggie paparazzo said...

It's funny how bold people can be when they are leaving you a message with no name attached.

To anon., here's the thing: it's my blog. You don't have to read it. Just don't come back; it really won't hurt me to lose you as a reader. I'm not judging anyone or saying I have all the answers, and if you read my blog further back, you'll see that. What I am saying is that long-term success in terms of both health and happiness isn't likely if you give the power to control your life to other people.

Melissa said...

You wrote: "you give the power to control your life to other people".

By suggesting that the people in the park doing bootcamp are 'giving their power to other people', you are, in fact, judging them. And to use bootcamp as a metaphor for life?

What you don't realize is that we're all in the same boat. You're no better, or more self-actualized, because you choose another path, or you're (maybe) further along the path.

I'll probably come back and read your blog - I just hope none of those bootcampers see it. The overweight community has it hard enough without judgement from 'within' the community when people are trying to better themselves.

I sincerely hope you 'do' reach your weight loss and fitness goals, but along the way, I hope The Wizard also gives you a heart for others who are trying to reach their goals on 'their' terms.

Cory said...

I guess I can see where bootcamp might work for some people, but I agree with you veggie. I couldn't do it. I would quit. Most of the people I know wouldn't do very well in that kind of environment either.
I agree with so much of what you said today, and generally do. You really bring up some great topics. Sometimes we all forget that we have to nuture ourselves like we do others. And that we are on a journey that is going to be slow and difficult. There's no reason to push yourself too far when you are exercising. Just go a bit outside your comfort zone, and keep doing that. All those little things really do add up to a healthier lifestyle, and a real life-long change.

the veggie paparazzo said...

Melissa, glad you could give your identity this time.

It seems to me if anyone is being judgmental it's you, my dear, in judging me and my intentions. I plan to post tomorrow further about the bootcamp issue if I have the time, so perhaps that will clarify.

Amusingly, if anyone is immensely empathetic to nearly all people, it's me, which any of the regular readers--and people whose blogs I read, and whom I support--would know. I'm sorry if you can't see that. I don't need any more heart from The Wizard, though, thanks.

Cory, thanks for chiming in as someone who has read my blog for a while.

Fatinah said...

what a great statement. I absolutely need to eat like someone who respects herself. As for the exercise....I think whatever it takes to get you moving. Often people who have never exercised don't know where to start and something structured is what they need. I agree with you about being yelled at though - I cringe sometimes just watching biggest loser when Jillian is on. The thing is, some people respond to that, and fell quite powerful because they are out there moving. In anycase, I enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work on your journey to feeling good in your skin. That is my dream.

Les said...

As someone who has known VP for a while (has it really been a decade and a half?), I can say that this woman has heart and empathy practically brimming from her cup. She is almost always passionate, which is not at all a bad thing. I don't always agree with her, but I love her dearly for who she is. And I don't browbeat her for things that I disagree with or don't appreciate because I care for her and respect her.

It's weird, VP, talking about you like this on your own blog. I am in transition to being able to care for myself instead of needing to hand over the care of my own body for lack of confidence and/or ability to handle it myself. I know what those boot campers are going through. And I can see your perspective as well, VP. We all walk different paths, no matter how similar they may seem. If boot camp works for them, more power to them. But I prefer your method, dear VP.

M said...

I haven't stopped by here in a long time but just came by and read this post and was impressed by how thought provoking it was. Great job, and glad to see you are sticking with the running. One of my longtime loves in life!