“That’s not you anymore”

Last Thursday I mentioned to trainer J my reading that diabetics should perform at least 30 minutes of cardio per day and that I was now trying to meet that standard. His measured response of “where did you read that?” was not quite offended, more an indicator that he did not necessarily agree with it and was prepared to explain to me his reasons why. We have discussed this previously, and I knew very well his position on the subject, so I put the comment into the context I meant it: I had been trying to time the cardio routine he had created for me so I knew how much time a single set at the brisker pace required (about 20 minutes). Because it is fairly new to my List rotation, I have been paying more attention and trying to incorporate the cardio stuff into my daily time at the gym and therefore be qualified as doing 30 minutes of daily cardio.

The exchange reminds me context is important in all things. In truth I get more than the recommended daily requirement of exercise, cardio or otherwise, which J has advised me of in the past and I took to heart. However, if I can truthfully point out to other health authority figures (i.e., my docs) that I get 30 minutes of cardio daily, I feel better. I do; the goody two shoes I am requires strict honesty. The standard where I had read that advisement was a blog written a weight-lifting doctor who specializes in obesity (one J referred me to) and the American Diabetic Association newsletter. Doing a couple of sets of any of my Lists and I am golden on the heart rate issue and do not actually need to think any more about it. But that’s not the way my mind works. Now that I have it completely settled, I can put it aside. Before that, it was going to linger and fret.

This morning I was recapping my gym visit for M over my protein shake. Again in my random internet reading about diet, exercise, fitness, health, diabetes, etc. I had come across an article touting the benefits of walking 30 minutes per day. No plans to take up that as well, unless one of my friends wants to go for a social stroll, but I said something about it to M and how that advice is repeated so frequently. He then said, “that’s for people they are trying to get up and moving. That’s not you anymore.”

How true. And what an astonishing idea. I am no longer the sedentary target of such articles and advice. I am now someone who exercises daily.

I have remarked more than once that I am can be slow on the uptake, that breakthroughs happen without my notice or acknowledgement, until one day I realize I have crossed a prior barrier and it is now way behind me in the rearview mirror.

Such is the case with just about all things training, fitness, exercise. I have been working at this for several months, making small strides and forward progress. But until today it has never really occurred to me that I am now in a different slot in the chronic condition hierarchy.

In my head, though, I remain the struggling patient who cannot get her blood sugar under control, who despairs over being on more medications for diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol forever. I have nightmares about developing the more serious complications of nerve damage, blindness, heart disease … you name the serious condition and I have had bad dreams of not taking good enough care and acquiring it. Hypochondria does not suit me; I am more a denier of symptoms. In my quest to understand my options and what could happen to me if I fail to plan and execute properly, I have researched and learned all about the Very Bad Things that can befall diabetics.

It has only taken me 10 years to get this level of serious and consistent about addressing what steps I can take to help myself. I have dabbled. I have gone for long spells of daily cardio and seen some minor changes … until I stopped that unsustainable activity out of boredom or irritation that it meant so little difference in my overall health. I have gone gazelle intense on my diet until I could not face another salad or piece of chicken or cooking disaster.

I have given up far more often than I have succeeded.

So I guess my doubt about my being the target audience of such simple advice as walking 30 minutes will change my life is to be expected, even taken for granted as normal. I still see myself as that person, even though I have been consistently getting my exercise every day for awhile now and have had major breakthroughs in my diabetes treatment.

The same thing happened when we were getting out of debt. For several years we focused all our efforts in paying off our credit cards and then saving enough money to never again fall into the debt trap. It has been years since we carried a balance on a credit card or paid any interest or fees. We are on track to pay off our low-interest mortgage, our only debt, well before the 15-year term concludes.

Yet I still read A LOT of personal finance blogs and anything and everything that enters my radar on debt, getting and staying out of it. I view myself as a recovering spending addict who must stay vigilant or I will be racking up thousands of dollars in credit card debt on stuff we truly do not need. After this much time it’s unlikely to happen barring financial emergency on an epic scale. Yet it’s there in the recesses of my mind, all the time and ready for recall on a nanosecond’s notice.

I know I am developing good health and fitness habits. I know I am less likely to backslide into sedentary couch-potato status with recent wins. Yet I worry about it. In the back of my mind I am obsessing about it, perhaps just a lot more quietly. Every Monday and Thursday I am waking up in the middle of the night feeling panicked that I have overslept and missed my training appointments, only to find it’s only 2 or 3 in the morning. But I still obsessively check my phone to ensure my alarm is set and will be going off as expected and planned.

I am ridiculous about this and even a little embarrassed admitting it. But there are a lot worse things to be ridiculous about and obsessed with. These are new behaviors for me, and they feel very fragile. If I miss even one morning it is far too easy for me to miss another, then another, and before I know it I am barely caring whether I make it to my training appointments and creating excuses to cancel seems like an acceptable reality. Hyper-responsible me can justify that if I go to sleep on what it means in the bigger picture of my life.

Unfortunately, this is just the way my mind works. I have learned to understand it’s strengths and weaknesses and accept I truly cannot easily change its basic workings. And in this case, I really don’t want to change it. Obsession with good and positive exercise behaviors … just let it ride.

Because I am not that sedentary person anymore.

2 thoughts on ““That’s not you anymore”

  1. It is hard isn’t it to see who we actually are today and not who we were (or thought we were) in the past. When I go clothes shopping I wander around like a lost child because I can’t imagine how I fit in anything in the store – that I’m an imposter. I have been lucky enough to find some very helpful sales people to pull things for me so I can see I do fit. Scary in so many ways because if I am not that person I was – who am I?

    And on the exercise – we’re gym people now (how freaking weird is that?)! I was in a bad place (many times) this last week dealing with the divorce issues. And one day the mere idea of getting off the couch and going to workout seemed like an impossible hill to climb. I seriously considered texting D and saying I wasn’t feeling well and skipping. But I knew in my heart that if I did that going the next day would be even harder. So I texted D that I couldn’t talk about things and dragged myself to the gym. Did I feel better afterwards – maybe marginally – but it didn’t matter. I went because I don’t want to be who I was.

    I suspect it will take a while to get used to the new you. Certainly taking me time!

    • SAK, I’m so sorry you’re struggling right now. Just remember you’re far from alone on the journey – I know it make me feel empowered to know I can come here and talk about and sort out all my shit. We cannot feel better every day, but what I think now and what I hear – just fucking do it anyway. 🙂 I am not making light of very serious issues in your life, but what I tell myself when those moments hit is that my problems or issues or whatever it is that is making my life so awful in the moment are still going to be biting my ass once I get home from the gym. Even doing a token 1 set of something makes me feel valid and as if I am actually doing the work and giving it my best even when I know it’s only a shadow of what I’m capable of doing. Sucky stuff happens. I do not need to make the sucky stuff even suckier by skipping out on what I now KNOW must be done, which is doing my time in the damn gym. I don’t always feel better after workouts; sometimes I wonder why the hell I bother. But in truth it matters on the days I feel pretty good, when I look back and am glad I went even when I really didn’t want to get off the couch.
      But yeah, I’m having a hard time figuring out who I was when I didn’t work out. I was still me, sure, but I like me better now. I feel as if I have more control and more choices, and I am staying out of clothing stores unless absolutely necessary. I am presently on the cusp of a new, smaller size, but not quite there yet and it stresses me with a negative vibe. January will be my next check-in on that. Maybe by then I’ll have a clearer picture of who I am right now. 🙂

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