Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I was watching "Pride and Prejudice" (the newer version) again.  Caroline asks if Elizabeth wants to take a turn about the room.  They'd been talking about accomplished young women, and Lizzie noted that "And it is a small kind of accomplishment, I suppose." (To take a turn about the room after sitting for a long time.)
To someone like Lizzie, who loves walking and walks everywhere, taking a turn around the room has got to seem silly.  To Caroline it's a ploy.  But thinking about accomplishments in general ...

For someone in really poor health, just standing up is really difficult, if not impossible.  People in really good health look down on this kind of thing all the time.  They say things like, how could someone let themselves get that bad, and so on.  This attitude provides a very handy excuse to not even try.  It's too late, there's no point, I'll never be healthy (which may be true for some--but this is where self-honesty has to be at it's best.  Is there a diagnosis, or a mental block?  Can you and your doctor work as a team to get you better, if not all the way to prime health for your age?)  If I try, I'll just look stupid.  I am healthy, I'm just big-boned.  I should be able to look any way I want, be any way I want, and people shouldn't judge me (which is true, except it shouldn't be an excuse to give up unless there's a medical reason for the situation.)  I'm truly happier this way.  (Which is great!  As long as it isn't a lie--you shouldn't be ashamed to have your picture taken or be afraid to look in the mirror, right?)  Healthy people are born that way, they're lucky.  My genes are against me.  

For the record, my genes are waaaay against me.  My grandmother has struggled against her weight all her life, and lost--she's much too heavy, although she's got low blood pressure and is still able to get around, thank goodness.  My mother has struggled against her weight all her life, and won--thanks to cooking for herself and staying active.  My paternal grandmother died of her obesity.  My father was in excellent health when he died, but he did old-school calisthenics every morning and enjoyed camping, skiing, waterskiing, and gardening.  His father is terribly overweight and a couch potato, literally waiting to die, alone.  My sister was in great shape most of her life, but then her hips began to crumble apart and she was unable to exercise.  The weight packed on.  Now, overweight and with high blood pressure, she's healing from a hip reconstruction surgery (just on one side, the other is still bad but now she can compensate) and she can't wait to get back into shape again.  She's already made huge strides in that direction.

I've struggled against my weight all my life.  When I got pregnant, the pounds ballooned and I felt what it was like to be heavy.  My doctor warned me I was gaining weight way too fast.  I flirted at the verge of gestational diabetes.  At the end of my term I was ginormous--and of course, after the baby was born, I didn't return to my pre-pregnancy weight since I put on way more than breast-feeding and looking after a newborn naturally takes away.  It's not easy for anyone, and it wasn't easy for me.  But I lost the weight again, and after being at a stable weight for many years (give or take five pounds) I'm once again working to get my weight down and my ability to do fun stuff for as long as I want up.  I don't work hard to look like Jillian Michaels.  I work hard to look like a better me.  I have the chance to improve myself every day.  I'm taking that chance today.  I plan on taking that chance again tomorrow.

It's a small sort of accomplishment to walk around the garden every non-rainy day (and some rainy ones too.)  But it's something.  It's a small sort of accomplishment to write for fifteen minutes.  All these small things can be compared to the people who run five miles every morning before work, or write eight hours, or climb Mt. Everest, and of course they come up short.  Unless you're an astronaut, comparing yourself to an astronaut and deciding you'll never reach that high serves no purpose.

There's no need to compare ourselves to anyone else in order to strive.  Strive to do something more than you already do, something important to you (as opposed to what someone has told you ought to be important--just because I'm focused on my weight right now, that doesn't mean I'm pointing at you and your weight!)  Over time, these small accomplishments build into ones we can be proud of.  One day, no, one minute at a time.


sophie said...

I find some things you need to move into a different mindset for.

I do a number of things manually that you can't afford to think how long it would take to do them if you started up a machine, or if a well-muscled guy did it, or if an assistant came along to help. Maybe it takes me five, ten times longer - but I know that if I start and keep going I'll finish. And probably finish sooner than if I'd waited for conditions to be right to do the task in a tenth of the time.
Often, that condition may be that 'x' person has offered to come along and help. And as you realise, often offers are made but not followed through.

Kami said...

I totally agree.

I have this 80' length of driveway. A half hour with a bulldozer and this area would look fabulous. I could dig up the one rose that's in the way by hand, and just scrape both sides, widening, cutting off the turf, leveling ...

Doing it by hand will take a long, long time, and a lot of that time with a mattock because there's so much gravel or gravel mix a shovel can only pierce a couple of inches at a time (and after some hard work.) I've been looking at how long it'll take, and I've been putting it off. I should just do it.

Ugh. But that's what it's going to take.

edgeofgrace said...

I've lived with and fought against low energy most of my life. Only more recently realized that that was part of why I felt different from other people. Good to realize that, to accept yourself where you are so you can get on with this whole business of going where you're going.