Since I’ve never really tried to pigeonhole this blog, I’m not going to qualify this post at all – I’m just gonna jump in.
2012 so far has provided a lot of challenges for me in almost every area of my life – my family and relationship thankfully being somewhat exempt from that trend. However, I spent the first few months of this year going up against some pretty major challenges with both my job and my health. Since my health keeps me on my feet and my job keeps me in cute shoes for those feet (etc), both of these obstacles have required a ton of energy, more than a little stress and a boatload of determination to navigate.
I use the word “navigate” pretty intentionally, because part of what I’ve had to come to terms with in the past few months is that life is not ever about being “done.” Too often in the past, my focus has been on a point somewhere in the distance where I can finally, blissfully, stop. Stop running. Stop writing this paper. Stop working on this project. Stop dreading that particular meeting/phone call/doctor’s appointment/whatever.
You guys know this feeling, right? I’m not alone. At least, I don’t think I am.
And so, the issue at hand appears to be this: I am at a point in my life where those endpoints are much fewer and farther between. I’m also at a point in my life where much of my focus needs to be re-shifted to now – committing to excellence, hard work, and dedication each day – rather than my previous trend of big energy pushes devoted to an ultimate resting point.
My workouts have been a really big eye-opener in this sense. There have been many points in my life where the gym has either been a distraction or a chore; seldom have I been in a routine (or lack thereof) that existed just to be a healthy part of my life, period. And while working out was definitely initially intended to function as a distraction back in the bowels of winter when all was dark and being outdoors was a lot less appealing, it’s become this (very slow) amazing transformation in the way I look at each day. And the biggest realization there is that even when I attain some mythical body fat percentage, even when I CAN finish my run without walking, I won’t be “done.” In some ways, I will be just getting started.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could just reach a goal weight, and then not feel like we HAD to do anything to stay there? Shouldn’t abstaining from midnight grilled cheeses and running an extra mile here or there somehow get logged as extra “points” in the future that we can draw from like 6 months down the road when we feel like being sedentary for like…a year or something?
Nope. Not the way it works. So this, my friends, is my big epiphany: being a grownup is not about being done. It’s about continuing to do the right things, consistently (at best), until you die.
The flip side of that is that you don’t always have to be perfect – part of being on a continuum is having the chance to raise your average, so to speak. Having an “off day” is not the rule – it’s the exception, and exceptions are totally allowed. Note to self: crappy days happen, so get over it.
Is all of that seriously depressing?
I actually kind of don’t think so. I think it’s mostly just a mental shift for me, as someone who has always thrived on closed-loop responsibilities and finishing points – it’s about walking in the middle of my run instead of stopping altogether. Slowing down is totally fine, but those rest points are just not going to happen very often. As my college friends and I have lamented so much the past few years, there’s no more winter break. Sigh.
So, that’s it. These are my grownup thoughts. What say you, fellow grownups? Is maintenance the name of the game? Tell us your secrets!
3 thoughts on “Zen, and the Art of Life/Body Maintenance.”
You’ve landed dead on it. It’s about shifting lifestyle as you get older and realize what you and your body needs. It’s been 4 years since I realized this, when I weighed 303 lbs. I weigh 250 now, can bike 175 miles over 2 days, can actually do a pull-up, and I’m comfortable with my food choices. That took a long time to figure out: how to make a life change, not a temporary one.
So congratulations for learning the lesson!
While it is still not totally clear to me that I’m a grown up (I feel like I waver between, “definitely yes” and “uh nevermind maybe not”) I think getting comfortable with life pacing is really essential. It definitely makes me feel calm to think about things as a continuum with ups and downs along the way rather than a series of individual hurdles to be won or lost. Nice post!
Tess, believe it or not, the lyrics to this song actually changed my life many years ago: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/c/carly+simon/anticipation_20027226.html. Specifically “[I’m gonna} stay right here, ’cause these are the good old days.” It made my realize that it isn’t about the arrival, it’s about the journey.