True and honest fact: Sometimes I’m better at complaining about a situation than I am about actually doing something to fix or improve the situation.
It must be because complaining is easy. It takes absolutely no energy. I can do it by myself. I can do it with a friend, or a group of friends even. It requires zero motivation, no tools are required. I don’t even have to get out of bed. I can do it right there, bright and early on a Monday morning, from the cozy comfort of my bed. Bitch and moan, bitch and moan, bitch and moan.
Things I most frequently complain about:
- I never have enough time to nap/cook amazing dinners/read good books/blog/read blogs/go on dates with my husband/walk the dogs/exercise/journal/any other reasonably enjoyable thing.
- I feel fat/unhealthy/lazy/mushy/soft/squishy/not at all in any sort of shape that I would like to be in.
- The cats when they use Andrew and I as a springboard for brilliant and Olympic-worthy kitty acrobatics bright and early on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
And then I realized something. Something obvious, something that I’ve said over and over again but maybe never really, really got, something that should not have taken me 27 years to finally figure out:
Some things are fixable, changeable and do-overable.
The first thing I wanted to fix was the body image stuff. I reached a point of fed-upness with myself. I’d find myself on a Saturday, over and over and over again, with a bag of popcorn, parked in front of a Bridezilla marathon, feeling unhealthy and weighted down and gross. Then I’d get up, stare longingly into the fridge and eat something, not because I was hungry, but because food is comforting and delicious. And then I’d do ten push-ups just to make myself feel better. Then I’d feel sorry for myself because I just couldn’t get motivated or stop eating handfuls of chocolate chips. Maybe I’d get on the treadmill every few months. Maybe. Maybe I’d pop in a work-out video, get half way through and declare it useless and resign myself to never ever having the body I’ve been wanting. It was a stupid, sad and frustrating cycle, but one I couldn’t seem to get out of.
Here’s the thing: I’m not overweight. I’ve never been overweight. I’m skinny, by most standards. I’m lucky to have been blessed with good Italian genes that keep me thin. BUT: Being skinny does not equate to being healthy, and I wanted, more than anything, to be healthy. I wanted to see definition in my arms. I wanted my legs to thin down, my stomach to be flat and toned. I wanted to be fit.
So July came around and I started Jillian’s 30 Day Shred. Twitter buzz had restarted about it, as it tends to every few months or so, and it seemed like the whole of the internet was starting to see tone in their arms and I wanted in. So, to Jillian I went. And it sucked. It sucked a lot. The first few days were really, really hard. I wanted to quit. But I didn’t. I finished the Shred, started running, started keeping track of what I was eating with this handy and amazing app and then I started getting results. I bought more Jillian DVDs, yelled at the TV, cursed her to hell and back again, but I kept getting results. And I didn’t quit, even though I really wanted to.
It’s the not quitting part that’s really huge for me and maybe it’s the only reason I’m blogging about this. I quit a lot when it comes to physical challenges. I can get through stuff in the right situation, sure, but if it’s just little ole me, out in the world by myself and no one is there to see me quit – I’ll quit. It’s pretty shameful. I’m embarrassed to admit it, actually, but for a really long time I just didn’t like sweating. I didn’t like feeling hot and sticky and gross, so I’d quit, because quitting, just like complaining, is really fucking easy. I’d get frustrated when, after ten minutes of cardio, my body didn’t immediately turn into some beautiful and perfect thing.
So far, I’ve lost nine pounds. I kept going until I actually started to enjoy working out, until I got to the point where I’d feel sad if I didn’t manage to get a work out it. I didn’t really have a weight goal in mind, I just wanted to feel better. I wanted to learn to love running again, like I did when I was a kid. I wanted to like myself better. I wanted to stop pushing my husband away because I felt too uncomfortable in my own skin to have him look at me. I wanted to stop feeling sorry for myself.
It sounds so easy and trite to see it all written out here. But it’s not and it wasn’t. When Andrew and I quit smoking over two and a half years ago, I realized something about myself: If I want something to change, I have to be ready for the change. It seems silly, but it’s the way I operate. I’d attempted to quit smoking over and over and over again, but I was never really ready to be a non-smoker. I hadn’t worked out the logistics of what it meant to not be a smoker yet, so it never stuck, at least not until Andrew and I up and decided we’d had enough and threw in the towel for real, after looking at how our lives would be different as non-smokers. The same goes for working out. I wasn’t really ready to be a person who watched what I ate and who made time – no matter what – for exercise each and every day. I wanted to look different, but I wasn’t ready for a change that meant getting over my hang-ups about sweating and feeling icky, until one day, just like that, I was.
Bottom Line: Complaining solves nothing. Sweating is okay. Being ready for change is the biggest step toward actually achieving change that I can ever possibly take. Cats are assholes, but also sort of cute, which is the only reason people ever allow them into their homes.