Being better

I am a big fan of taking responsibility for my choices and actions, and I suppose I have similar expectations from those I associate with. We are human, though, prone to making mistakes, ignoring sound advice, choosing things that may or will ultimately harm us. It’s hard to watch and to read about others doing things I know they shouldn’t, hard to allow that free agency to learn from the consequences of their actions. But I cannot control anyone other than myself, and trying to do that, my friends, is more than a full-time job.

Over the course of the week I have had en email exchange with my endocrinologist about what I have been doing to get my blood sugar under better control. After a few years of treating me, he knows the last 6 months have been the best trending down pattern he has seen ever seen for me. He was curious as to what has changed. I told him it came down to these few things:

  • I have hired a personal trainer. After a semi-slow start following his directions, I am now at the gym early every morning for about 90 minutes of exercise.
  • I attend a yoga class a couple of times per week and try each and every pose every class.
  • I strive to eat 3 meals per day or every 5 hours. I cut back significantly on carbs and sugar. Eliminating or severely limiting carbs and sugar was a tried and true recipe for failure, so I went for cuts and reductions wherever possible.

In in a nutshell, I began implementing his suggestions to alter my lifestyle. The 30 minutes of walking everyday was not doing much to improve my overall health, but I did try it. My conclusion is that it would have had a greater impact if I weighed 400 lbs. or could barely walk in the first place. I also tried it while eating A LOT of carbs every single meal, snacking between meals, and sneaking most days of the week. My unwillingness to follow his advice lead to more medication to control my escalating numbers. I never blamed him for my poor control, yet I was also not ready to take the steps to care for myself.

If asked directly I was a factory of excuses. I was too busy. I had too much stress in my life. I was too sad/happy/angry/some other random emotion. I was not ready. I did not care about my health. The meds were not working for me. And on and on and on. It was so silly and so pathetic, yet that is truly where my head resided. That was then, this is now; I am doing better at taking care of myself.

I accept and acknowledge that I have a lot of luxuries built into these changes in lifestyle. Gym and yoga studio memberships and a personal trainer are not insigificant expenses. The flexibility in my work schedule to spend 90 minutes at the gym every single morning is not available to everyone. Good food, a husband who prepares meals and shoulders a lot of the domestic workload is not to be taken for granted. Having M, the super supportive and encouraging husband and partner, is priceless for me.

But at the end of the day, I am the one who has to do the work. J can push me and show me and teach me from here to eternity, but if I am not showing up at the gym and practicing the routines he prepares and presents each week I am not going to get better or improve anything. That is completely on me, and I would never dream of blaming him for my lack of progress. Having a yoga membership is pointless if I do not attend class and at least try the postures. M is always encouraging and supportive of my smallest efforts and tends to temper his disappointment when I fall down and refuse to get back up.

In some ways I feel as if I have been sitting around waiting to die. Everyone has a different vision of what it is to live, and for awhile it seemed mine included dying young. Perhaps I will get discouraged and slide back into bad habits, but I have to hope not.

I understand depression and how confining it becomes for so many. I feel such sympathy, particularly since it has hit home with C and her floundering to find a space to thrive. Now she has a job she truly loves and a predictible schedule, and I am seeing lights in her eyes that have been dimmer for a number of years. She chatters to me about bringing her shoes to walk from the train to the office, then walk at lunchtime, and then going to the gym a few evenings each week. I am not sure if it’s the job, the new therapist she has been assigned to, or the adjustments in the medications she has been taking, but I see her being energetic and AWAKE in the activities she is pursuing. I love, Love, LOVE that she is achieving balance and is so much happier in her life and times. While things have never been truly terrible or horrible for her, the contrast between then and now is stark in its powerful, positive vibe. I could not be happier to see such a terrific change in outlook and attitude.

While she was dwelling in the gray, though, I could do little for her. I was concerned for her, but I refused to worry; she is an adult, making her own choices, and I cannot and should not push my thoughts and ideas of self-improvement upon her. I remain concerned about her – because she is my daughter, and I love her to the moon and stars and back – and I am enjoying this new bright happiness. I can offer advice when asked,  and sometimes when not asked, but it’s pointless to be offended if she or anyone else chooses a different path. She owns her choices, does not bitch and moan about things within her control or try to classify them as beyond her control. Having children, particularly this child, has taught me a lot about accepting my own limitations after raising adults.

I wish I could help or save everyone I cross paths with, but I know full well how unrealistic that is as even a whimsical thought. And each of us has our own triggers, our own tipping points when it comes to motivation. Hopefully I am a good listener when needed. Hopefully I am capable of practicing compassion as necessary. Hopefully I have ideas to offer to resolve big and little problems. And hopefully those who seek me out as a friend or family member understand that I care, even when I must limit or terminate our relationship because it hurts or angers me too much to watch and to listen.

Saving myself first seemed a terribly selfish, self-centered concept for the longest time. Then I grew up a little more and realized that trying to save others was my way of avoiding looking too closely at myself. My mirror is still rather selective; there are areas of my life I still cannot willingly open or face head-on. So I still do not always get personal responsibility right 100% right 100% of the time, but I am much better in the here and now.

2 thoughts on “Being better

  1. I’m a big believer in small steps. Small steps are enough to change the routine that was bad for you. As the small steps become an integral part of your normal routine, you will know when you are ready to add another small step. Too often we believe (or are pressured) to go whole hog from the get go. Almost invariably this leads to failure, and worse, we end up heading backwards. Congratulations on your very real success!

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