This evolved as I was writing my training session recap into a 2-part post. Part 1 is all about leg day, and this part 2 is epiphany-based venting sparked from conversation with trainer J this morning, an email from friend J last night, and general interaction with M all the time.
Last night I got a long email from friend J. He’s been out of touch with me much of the week, excepting only the days I reached out with exercise-related questions in order to not bother trainer J on his vacation. But his email was also about various things going on in my life and extended relationships and that I think about, have been thinking about with regard to my own better healthy journey. It just reminds me why he and I remain such close friends after so many years.
I am slowly, surely getting physically stronger as the weeks pass. I no longer freak out about going down in weight moved to and fro, no longer feel like an abysmal failure because I cannot seem to utilize the same weights I did a few days prior. What I have learned and accepted as my reality is that I’m trying my best the vast majority of the time and that there are other circumstances keeping me from 100% focused performance each and every morning. Having jobs, husband, and life outside of exercise is going to have an impact upon my efforts and I need not apologize to myself for not being as productive on the List of the day as I was the last time the current List of the day came up in rotation. Consistency is my biggest success, and getting up, going to the gym, trying and sometimes struggling mightily is just part of the happy life I am pursuing right now.
In his email, friend J was talking about being a mentor, how observing my progress from the sidelines makes him realize different things about himself and his own life and relationship with health and fitness. Friend J is in very good shape, eats clean probably 90% of the time, and has had zero health problems. Being mid-40s now (just buried another birthday last week), he is paying a lot more attention to his annual physical and what it all means in the bigger picture. For him, right now, it means the course he has been pursuing is working out well. That makes me very happy to hear; I love knowing my friends are in good health and caring for themselves adequately.
He has been sort of exploring informal mentoring, what it is like to be that to and for someone outside of work. Because we are practically siblings after all these years, my own recent frustrations with long-time friendships and the struggles we are presently enduring to find common ground indirectly impacts him. Through the years friend J has met my family and close friends on various occasions and has as strong an understanding of that dynamic as M. They both tend to want to “fix” things for me when they perceive that I am being treated poorly. It is truly nothing new; biggest difference is that this year the gloves came off and claws came out. And I am skilled enough in such cat fights with this motley crew to take care of myself.
I have now been working with trainer J for over a year. I have made progress and am a lot more competent in the gym. I am using bigger, heavier weights. I am better at a lot of stuff that was so very hard at first. Most importantly, I have such an amazingly improved outlook and confidence going forward.
But I am not a born-again gym zealot, preaching to my family and my friends about how they too should get on the bandwagon and follow me down this particular health and wellness pathway. I talk about it a lot here on the blog and to a lesser degree in real life, because let’s face it – anything we prioritize to perform routinely for a couple of hours every day has some face of work assigned to it and is going to come up frequently in conversation. Just because I have always worked at jobs does not mean I believe everyone should have that priority if their circumstances allow other choices, like staying at home to raise children.
When I think about my better health quest, I think primarily about the better health part of it. No more insulin. No more diabetes medications, period. Nothing for blood pressure or cholesterol. Still have to take Vitamin D and I choose to get a B12 shots each week; I am still using hormone matching creams and just started taking the very lowest (1 mg) dose of melatonin every day to bring that up to normal levels and not to help me sleep. According to my Fitbit, I sleep very soundly within very few instances of restless sleep over the course of a night.
Over the course of the last year, I have come to like the way I feel inside my own skin, about my own body. There are parts of body that I am kind of crazy about right now – shoulders and upper arms with the emerging faint creases and definition, forearms because they look nice, wrists because they seem normal size and shape once more. Weight is weight and it goes up, down, all around, but for the most part it is slowly and steadily decreasing. While I am rarely bursting into tears of frustration over exercise anymore, I believe it is only because my understanding has expanded and it’s less that I can’t do something so much as mind is still learning, absorbing, processing, and that understanding will come with practice and patience.
Until this morning when I was thinking over recent unsatisfactory conversations I could not put my finger on precisely what seems to be the struggle with these long-time friends. Yes, I get frustrated with the whining about their lives and health problems. Yes, I understand all too well how hard lifestyle change is to make and make it stick. Yes, I know going from couch potato to being at any level of gym competency is nearly impossible. And yes, I grow very weary of hearing “I can’t ….” when I am living proof that anyone who is not physically impaired or disabled – and many who probably are – damn well can make strides toward feeling better.
What no one ever hears from me and should never infer is that I feel superior for being this far away from where they are right now. Because I don’t. A big factor that motivates me to keep at it is the thought of how slippery and easy that slope into not exercising and reveling in the taste and emotional zing I get from consuming junk food.
I have had to work damn hard to get here and it has not been easy. I have whined and complained plenty along the way, and many times I have had to force myself to stick with it.
I am not looking upon my friends or anyone else with pity and showering them with motivational platitudes to try and make the reality seem more fairy tale happy ending and me appear better quality of character and ability for being here while they are there.
I truly want everyone around me to be happy and healthy, to feel successful in their lives. That they are unhappy, that they have anxiety and fear, I can and do completely understand those feelings.
What remains this big, huge mystery is how trying to hold me back, drag me back or make me feel badly about stepping up and moving ahead with improving my health makes life better for them. There is a lot of unhappiness and dissatisfaction in the world; I am quite sure there are others willing to listen if they feel the need to complain about their unwillingness or inability to change course.
I feel sad that a few long friendships are in a rocky spot right now. However, I maintain it is not because I am not still eating shitloads of crap food or sitting on the couch with an insulin needle at the ready. My judgment muscle is only flexing in response to their increased lamentations about dying younger or being incapable of hiking or walking far or finding cute clothes in your present dress size and being unwilling to even try a different way that could change much of that for each of them. My judgment muscle is twitching and contracting because the passive-aggressive digs about how I am now the one leaving them behind and consorting with the gym bunny class.
Gym bunny class, huh? Too funny. I don’t think I even know anyone who I would perceive as a gym bunny.
M is a retired champion ultra marathon runner who still runs 20 miles daily and will be turning 60 in January. M took a header off a curb and brushed off my concerns and ran/walked the 10 miles home. Most of M’s close friends are active runners as well. Why are you not giving me shit about being married to someone who is tough and fit like this?
We are not superior and do not manifest or talk up our own accomplishments or talk down our friends who are depressed or sad, out of shape, or hating on exercise. M has been married to that woman who hates exercise for a lot longer than he has been married to me under the influence of regular, consistent exercise. If M talks up anything it’s gratitude that I have found my niche and sticking with it.
Thing is it’s getting out of hand. I get depression manifests in somewhat predictable ways, but their issues with me are unrealistic and impractical. I am not going to stop my exercise, not going to quit training with J, not going to persist in trying to break the final barriers in better eating. In short, I set aside the couch potato diabetic in favor of a healthy, happier woman emerging these days.
I do not understand why ladies who have known me since our teens would not be happier that I am pursuing better health. And in so many ways I am glad I cannot fathom or understand it.
Part of me feels as if I have enabled these unhealthy feelings and relationship dynamics through years of my own codependent, insecure behaviors. However, my genuine affection for the ladies involved is real, and their escalating and poor attitudes and behaviors toward me is extremely hurtful. Admittedly we are at an impasse, and it truly breaks my heart.
And all this realization was triggered by trainer J innocently remarking upon my frustration with those in my tribe who are whining yet unwilling, not yet ready to take steps to change. Yes, it can be very frustrating – a feeling he’s probably more familiar with than I am. For the most part I am not judgmental. However, if you want permission to whine continuously you need to be prepared for the sympathy to evaporate and the hard truths to be spoke out loud.
The worst part of all this is that both M and friend J are getting protective hackles raised and wanting to step up and speak their minds in my defense. M gets the ringside seat – he was home when my entire posse was over last week – and of course he and friend J gossip like little old ladies.
I purchased my next block of J training this morning and it’s off my list of things to think about until next year. Funny how comfort and joy comes from spending my accumulated chunk of training cash, bringing color and pizzaz to my world and overall outlook. So no plans to stop, no worries about regressing, no thoughts of falling off the training wagon and sliding back into the diabetes. My yellow brick road goes forward, and I am so much better, feel more interesting, and actually more compassionate than I was before getting started and ultimately falling madly in love with exercise.
Because really, life began to change and improve when I crossed that invisible line between dreading my daily sweat fest and embracing it as the part of my life that makes for very good days and everything else make sense.
Old friends I love and adore, but I cannot go back to where I was, who I was to make them feel more comfortable or as if nothing within me has changed.
Because let’s be completely honest: from my perspective, everything has changed and everything is different now. While they see me as different in negative ways, I see me as a much more interesting and better human being in the truly beautiful ways that are meaningful to me.
And maybe that’s the most poignant point in all this – our viewpoints have split in opposing directions. But I am committed to not turning back or looking over my shoulder with regret. My old friends may stand still if they must, but I like the momentum and have no plans to slow down or stop. My yellow brick road is calling out for me, and the way it spools out into infinity right before my very eyes is impossible to resist. Onward we go; let the learning continue.
End of vent. I feel so much better now.