Very delicate surgery. Stay strong my ugly child!
My car went into the shop last Monday (from a wreck I had in August — not my fault) and will be ready today. That’s meant more downtime. No work, no Crossfit, and no long errands. Just me bumming around campus.
Oh wait, I don’t bum around on campus. I’m a senior; I pop by campus for classes then hightail it out of there. So in the meantime, I’ve been cleaning my apartment, catching up on books and movies, studying, and — wtf — exercising.
Ever since I got back from Christmas vacation, I’ve had the strangest shift in perception. Things are so much clearer. I’ve been twenty times better since I went on Wellbutrin, but post holiday, I’m even happier.
Mimi History: I have despised cardio machines with a burning passion ever since freshman year of college. I guess it’s burnout, or my growing suspicion I’m a closeted ADD case. Music helps but I still don’t like it. I do love weights, but I also love being a lazy sod.
I’ll be blunt: it makes no sense, but when I was thinner, I had more motivation to maintain my physique (and improve it), because there was no vast journey ahead of me. Thus, getting back into a non-Crossfit workout routine has been haphazard. The best way for me to workout has been my Crossfit classes. However, I doubt I’ll be able to continue them when I first start working. That stuff’s expensive. So it’s been weighing on my mind.
But then I got Joker, my iPad. And suddenly cardio rocks! I can put my movies on it, including my musicals and Netflix. Suddenly, it’s my top stress buster.
Vastly more entertaining than football or Food Network (what's always playing on the gym TVs)
I actually look forward to heading down to the gym to do my workout. Still with weights, but the cardio is necessary since I can’t move around as much as I could when I was younger and had fewer obligations.
"And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy." Yup, always sounded about right to me for a long time.
But as much as I love Joker, I can’t attribute my sudden zest for ellipticals all to him.
On my way back to LA, I read Jillian Michael’s book, Unlimited. It was an unexpected Christmas present. Silly fate — finding stuff that seems to congeal everything that’s been running around my head.
Unlimited isn’t actually a weightloss book. It’s more about psychology. I don’t agree with Jillian on everything fitness and nutrition related, however, I’ve always felt a kinship with her. We were both fat kids, and both stumbled into hobbies that improved our self esteem. Mine was equestrian, hers was martial arts. I’ve spoken with Jillian a couple times before, and she’s just as passionate as she seems on TV.
Anyhow, reading Unlimited, it was like a gong rattled in my head. One of those “Ding fucking DING” moments. Thoughts that were murmurings in my mind suddenly came into resounding focus.
A few points Unlimited makes:
- Forgive — not for the good of the other person, but you
- Shame is useless and stupid
- Affirmations and gratitude are freakin’ powerful
I’m a very forgiving person. Long-term hate just doesn’t stick on me. It’s too time consuming and too pointless. Except for a strange event a few months ago.
Stopping by Starbucks, I stood in line for my drink. Then I saw someone out of the corner of my eye. It was one of my old roommates — from that traumatizing situation last year. My reaction surprised me.
Right down to the pointy ears.
I was seething. If she’d noticed me, my eyes might have shot blood at her.
That kind of reaction threw me because it’s one I just don’t have, not that long after something’s happened. My temper flares easily but it’s the flash-in-the-pan spark that recedes quickly.
After awhile I forgot about it, figuring there are some people you just stay pissed off at. Then I read Unlimited. It made me think back to people I couldn’t forgive.
I believe it’s very true that your interactions are a reflection of your inner conflicts. So when you flip a mirror around…
As silly as it sounds, I never forgave myself. When my life got bumpy — when the roommate thing happened, when my boyfriend and I broke up, and when I started sinking again into a depression — I was furious with myself for being so weak. Cue emotional eating, cue increasingly erratic behavior.
When I got to London I thought I’d magically feel better. But knowing I’d given up what I really wanted (New Zealand) for something more practical and sensible hit me way harder than it should have. Poor London, please don’t think I hated you. But cue emotional eating. Cue hating myself for gaining weight and cue again emotional eating to deal with my unhappiness.
My depression lifting was a wonderful weight leaving my shoulders. But as I’ve said before, antidepressants aren’t “happy pills.” They putter around in your neurological system and rattle things around. This ended my feeling of futility and my incessant apathetic grayness. It short-circuited my OCDness too. Yet Wellbutrin, as helpful as it is for me, is not a panancea, and nor did I ever see at as such.
I’ve been a lot happier these past few months. Yet there was still that insidious, festering anger at myself. The body responds well to acute stress, like sprinting. A short rush of self-anger can be effective: “Oh my God I can’t believe I forgot my friend’s birthday! Time to make amends!” That’s good. But lingering rage is useless. Even in biology, chronic stress leads to inflammation and a repressed immune system.
Watch Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street if you need a real-world example of why forgiveness can save you a lot of sanity.
So ends the last of my increasingly melodramatic postings on my headgames and hamster wheels. I was so very silly.
Looking back and wishing things were different is silly too. It could turn you into a pillar of salt!
When I got back to LA after Christmas, I puttered down to the gym with my iPad and had an awesome time just chilling out and watching Sherlock. I was working hard but it wasn’t a toil. I felt so friggin good afterward. Both physically and mentally.
I love Crossfit because it gives me more confidence in my physical abilities. Even if I’m not the fastest or the strongest I can get it done. But doing something on my own, with no cheerleader or encouraging coach, is something different.
Feels slightly more likely within the next year (...or year and a half)
Of course, when I say you can’t look back at the past and wish things were different, there’s no reason to never look back at all. Your past is a web, not a line, at least in my eyes. Everything connects to something else. Events are strong because of everything else surrounding them.
Being confident in myself and taking things one day at a time is close to my mindset when I started college. I’d gone from a size 14 to a 10 over the summer. Easily. I ate less and did the elliptical and weights a few days a week. In and out in an hour tops. The hardest thing was turning down a slice of pizza. So my confidence was a cannonball into the school year.
I didn’t give a fuck how much weight I had to lose. I knew I’d get it done. I took it one day at a time and remembered everything counted.
Toward the end of the school year I was burnt out and disordered. But I definitely didn’t start out that way. I pushed myself too hard, for too long, with no breaks or more than 5 hours of sleep a night. No wonder I wound up a headcase.
This time I’m smarter. I know the necessity of taking breaks and resting. I know everything counts, but that I can easily compensate or work in an indulgence. Yet an intelligent approach is only part of the equation. For me, the confidence and goals are what push me from smart planning into smart acting.
This summer I’m going to Rome and Naples. I am not going to look unhealthy and propagate the stereotype Americans are all fat and lazy. I’m graduating in May. I don’t want my college graduation photo to be as chunky as my high school one.
Yeah, not going there without a swimsuit I feel sexy in.
Another comment Jillian made in Unlimited was that one needs tangible, precise goals. On The Biggest Loser, she wails on people who say “I want to be healthy!” as for why they want to lose weight. It’s never the main reason (I’m counting “not die” and “live to see my grandkids as separate entities).
Agreed, my dear. Of course I want to be healthy. But for me, the more tangible desire is wanting a tight butt for my jeans, sleek shoulders for my tank tops, and a flat stomach that I’m happy to flaunt in a bikini. Or, as Jillian has said in a podcast, “We all just want to get laid and have sex with the lights on.” True words, dear one.
I had a real knock on the noggin in German class. I wound up sitting next to this gorgeous Russian. He was quite friendly and amused I knew about those weird and awesome Russian monarchs. A year ago I’d have felt totally confident in asking if he wanted to get coffee (or vodka, since I’m culture-sensitive). Today, hell no. I don’t delude myself. I’m charming and kind and thus people like me, but right now I’m not my hottest.
I didn’t let it get me down though. It’s basic biology. And it’s just further impetus to get serious and stop dicking around. I’m in better shape and a few pounds lighter from Crossfit, but I have a long-ass way to go, and it’s not going to get any shorter by lazing around and not putting some effort in.
That doesn’t equal “lose weight as fast as humanely possible.” For one, I’d look weird, sick, and flabby. Two, I’d shoot myself in the foot. It does mean consistency and a lack of second-guessing and quibbling over semantics.
I’ve set myself up some rewards as my weight drops and my clothes loosen. Nothing fancy. New workout clothes, new nail polish, etc. Nothing food related obviously. Jesus, I hate it when people set up binge-worthy dinners to celebrate a weight loss. Way to reinforce positive life changes.
The other thing I really took to heart in Unlimited was that affirmations are powerful. Make tangible goals, but also tell yourself your making positive changes now. Instead of thinking “Urgh I’m tired I hope I get through this workout,” think “Fuck yeah I’m going balls-to-the-walls because I’m a badass.” Or something of that nature.
Thoughts are very powerful. Using them properly can be very empowering.
I would add to that — thoughts of gratitude help a lot too. I have so much to be grateful for. I have friends and parents who love me. I’m accomplished. My classes rock. I have great hair. I have 24-hour access to a decent gym, meaning there’s no reason I can’t work out. I have an iPad so cardio is enjoyable. Just running through that list makes me happier. When I’m feeling good, I do good things.
Of course mental changes aren’t always immediate. They take work. When I think back to last year, I do get cranky. But it’s not the palpitating pissiness I’ve felt before. I sometimes do get frickin’ pissed at myself. Yet I’ve been able to gently deflect it. Fat is just stored energy, as Jillian put it. Shame over how I let myself go is pointless. It’s not like I got an STD after a crazy weekend in Cozumel. I’d be sheepish over that.
Fat loss takes commitment. There’s no getting around that. But while it’s a focus during my semester, I’m keeping occupied by other things. I’m learning how to get really good at painting my nails, something I’ve never done. I’m studying German fastidiously. I should probably be frantically looking for a job, but I’ve got a couple of months before things get serious.
And there’s no reason getting healthy and having fun should be mutually exclusive. Today, for example, Sophia and I went for a hike to the Griffith Observatory. She skipped and bounded, I slogged and huffed. Even though I’m in better shape than I was, I’m still working on cardiovascular endurance. And lugging myself up a steep hill gets tiresome. But so what? I had tons of fun just hanging out with my girlie. LA was beautiful this morning, swathed in fog and raindrops. There’s nothing wrong with being slightly uncomfortable. It’s the best way to challenge yourself.
Awesome weather! I'm not being sarcastic.
I never noticed it but Griffith Observatory looks like a fantasy book citadel.
Afterward we went to Costco, then to Bricks & Scones for scones and a study date. Usually I hate scones. Dry, crumbly, stuffy things. These were awesome! They were like muffinish biscuits. Lovely and doughy. Ok, so now I’ve tried a scone I like besides Sophia’s.
I drink too much coffee. Oh well, one thing at a time.
Last Monday, my friend Mere and I went to Cafe Gratitude. I love this place. They put so much love and care into the food. Our waitress was kind of pokey, but it was a gorgeous day and we had fun catching up.
"I Am Humble" -- brown rice and quinoa with curried lentils, yams, roasted veggies, tamarind sauce, and mint chutney. Nom.
Oh, and Jason Schwartzman was sitting behind us. Teehee. No, I would not have snapped that pic if he was facing us.
Most people are way meaner to themselves than anyone else, or in more pain or insecurity than they dish out. That includes bullies. I say most because we’ve all encountered a little sociopath on the playground. As for me, I’m harsher on myself than anyone else. There’s no gold medal for that though.
Anyhoodle, I’m moving forward from here on out. I’ve gotten what I’ve needed from the past. Now it’s time to create the future. Oh, and it’s now time to make the elliptical my bitch.