My brilliant friend AD has been blogging for quite some time, and I just love her insights. I especially enjoy her Tango Lesson series (at her most humble, I’ve noted, because the dance requires women to relinquish control; a difficult instruction to follow these days). Her honest account of learning this difficult dance, coupled with an encounter with a broken-hearted friend yesterday, made me want to share a couple of truths of my own. To state the obvious, life is hard. I’ve never known the easy way out of anything. But if you’re prepared for the challenge, maybe it’ll make the journey easier. Knowing you survived is the ultimate reward.
On losing weight
Though some people can get away with murder when it comes to fitness, most of us are on a slow decline. As for me, when I turned 24, my lovely curves officially became dynamic. They would grow and jiggle based on how well I took care of myself, and every year, they honed their ability to disobey me. My solution was to make sure I biked a lot during spring, summer and autumn. But when I turned 29, that wasn’t enough. So finally, at age 31, I joined a gym.
Here’s an awful truth about it: I don’t really eat junk food. I don’t eat loads of meat. I’m a veggie freak. In fact, salad is a huge part of my daily routine (not to mention my favourite food). Sure, I love a bowl of chips every now and then, and I like me some chocolate, but I’ve always been able to do these things in moderation. I never take in large portions. So what happened? Metabolism, I guess. I spent most of my 20s getting away with not doing anything to maintain my physical fitness, and by the time the party was over, so was my tolerance level. I’m hardly a whale (and I wasn’t to begin with), but I’d certainly put on a few, and I needed the weight to go away to feel better about myself.
Here’s the really terrible truth about staying healthy and fit: you have to work your ass off. I went to the gym, got a trainer (only on a casual basis; they’re super expensive but well worth the consultation) and got on a custom-made program. He made some nutritional recommendations, nothing that I couldn’t easily insert into my diet (a little more fruit, for example). Put those things together and you get results. But it’s sooooooooooooooo hard! Motivating myself to go to the gym is a pain in the butt. I always feel great when I go, but getting there is the trick. I can talk myself out of it veeeeeeeery easily. Still, if I don’t go, I don’t get results, and I feel super guilty. I’ve felt this more often than I’d like to admit.
The good news is that I’ve persuaded myself to go enough times to see the difference it’s made. But the truth about weight loss is this: you don’t get there without hard work. It takes discipline over anything else. And discipline is prompted by will. If you don’t want it, it won’t happen. That’s that. I wish there was an easy fix, but there isn’t. Changing the way you eat will certainly make a difference (especially if you make sustainable, healthy choices), but you’ll only see a real difference with a workout.
Some people I know find it easier to insert the workout detail into their lives if they join a class. If that’s what you have to do, do it. It’s fun, and it will make a difference. Then, once you’re used to exercising and you want to increase the intensity of your routine, you’ll know what to do. I really believe in easing yourself into a new lifestyle, and this has worked for many people. Join a dance class if you like: it’s great exercise. In fact, it’s the only thing my mother does now, and she’s in fabulous shape. Do what you have to do, but remember to do it, and often. And work on tricks to convince yourself to go to the class or the gym. That’s the hardest part.
This one’s simpler and harder all at once. On an immediate level, break-ups are harder than going to the gym. On a long-term level, they’re easier. That’s because the intensity of the broken-heartedness fades away with time, but you have to keep working out no matter what.
The bad news about break-ups is that they hurt…a lot…for a good while after they happen. There’s no escaping that. How long it’ll hurt is hard to tell.
Here’s the wonderful truth about break-ups: they always get easier to deal with in time. How much time depends on you, but I’ve noticed that when asked, most people seem to know their post-break-up rhythm very well. I think the trick is knowing how to deal with each stage, depending on what you go through. For my part, I just do what my mind tells me. The last time I went through a break-up, I went through a phase where I needed to be around people to forget what was happening. Then, I accepted that it had happened, and needed to be sad about it, so I secluded myself and watched a bunch of “Olivia” movies for a bit of time. Then, I needed to feel beautiful again so I rebounded with a guy or two. The phases aren’t always in that order, but upon reflection, that’s pretty much what happens each time.
What works for me is treating each phase with what it needs most. Treat sadness with solitude; treat denial with dinner parties; treat low self-esteem with libertine living. Feel what you feel, and feel it through. Don’t resist your phases. That’s what makes it go away. For me, anyhow.
When I was in university, I took a course on documentary films. In the first class, we discussed what’s truth and what’s real, and how no matter what it is, that changes when a camera is thrown into the mix. It’s still non-fiction, but the “reality” and and the “truth” of the matter are immediately altered. A girl in the class interjected and said, “I guess Baudelaire was right when he said ‘there’s no such thing as truth, only perception.'” The professor immediately jumped in, saying, “that’s not right! I have truths, and I’m not imagining them.” She immediately shut the hell up (good call on her part), but I love how the professor put it. Maybe my truth is my perception, but that doesn’t make it untrue.