Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I get what I want, not what I need

I have been really busy this summer. As a family we have experienced a little bit of stress, but hey that is life. In my pursuit of a healthier life, I have discovered how important it is to persevere. I have found that when my day is stressful, that I can handle it better if I eat more healthy and exercise. If I give in to cravings for sugar or fatty foods, I not only pay for it on my hips but I do not really feel any better.

Why do I crave things that are not good for me? I do not know. Maybe it is just habit, maybe it is because I have always used food as a comfort. I have always eaten when I am happy, sad, lonely, bored, or to celebrate. Just about every big milestone in my life has included a special food. At holidays we eat certain foods. It just would not be Christmas without cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, chocolate covered cherries, candy canes or cookies. Thanksgiving has to include lots of different foods and eating until you cannot move! Valentines is for candy, St. Patrick's day is corned beef, 4th of July is ice cream and fried chicken. Family gatherings include special dishes that you only get at that time. I have a sister-in-law that makes the best sugar cookies, another who makes delicious rolls, my father-in-law makes a fabulous brisket, a niece who makes the greatest fluff, sister-in-laws that make mints that melt in your mouth (only for special occasions) and yet another sister-in-law who makes yummy cinnamon rolls (she even leaves out the nuts, because of our allergies. I always think that is so thoughtful that she remembers and makes that effort to make sure we can eat them). My husband loves to cook for me when I am feeling down and he is a great cook. I really could go on and on. But it is not just the food. I look at many of these times in my life with a great deal of fondness, and certain foods bring a memory with those feelings. How do you compete with that? How do I find a way to feel those feelings without the food to bring on the memory or the comfort?

You know the song "You can't always get what you want." On many occasions I have told this to my children as well as "it doesn't hurt to want." But you know what? It does hurt sometimes to want something you don't have. It is not a bad thing to hurt. It just depends on how you deal with the hurt. Pain and desire are really good motivators. I have decided to embrace the pain and the desire for something. To use it to change, not drown my sorrows. I am not settling for the next line in that song, which says--"But if you try sometimes, you might find, You get what you need."

I used to say I need to change. I thought that would be enough, but it is not enough. I had to want to change. I have realized that I am not going to get healthy just because I need to get healthy. I want to get healthy! I want to relieve stress in more healthy ways. I want to feel happiness and love beyond chocolate ice cream or a soda pop. I want to look forward to family gatherings without thinking about all the food. I want to feel the satisfaction of reaching my goals. I want to feel the pain of muscles getting fit. I love it when I feel like I have pushed myself when working out. I know that I am changing my body for the better. You know the saying "no pain, no gain". I have come to realize that no pain, no loss.

I have to be willing to make sacrifices for what I want. But sacrifice is not a bad thing. My father used to say "anything worth having is worth working for." He would have loved to hear me say this, he was right. You have to work for anything worthwhile. A person who wants a degree, has to make sacrifices. Maybe they sacrifice getting a better job because a lesser job will work with their school schedule. Or maybe they drive a clunker and live in a one room apartment so they can afford school. Parents make sacrifices in order to have and raise children. It is not an easy job, but it is so worth it. My husband and I have made sacrifices in order for me to stay home with our children. Even though it is the right choice for our family, it has not always been the easiest. So why should I expect or even want the road to a more healthy life to be easy?

Maybe I think that getting fat was easy for me. Well not thinking about what you put into your body and not exercising is easy. But why was I not thinking about those things? It certainly wasn't because I did not know what was good for me. I think I know better than just about anyone, what I should do to be healthy. But changing is not easy. Something Dr. Phil said has made me think. I do not remember exactly what he said, but the gist of it was that you do what you have to do to survive, to get through the crisis you are experiencing. Then you have to face the after effects of the choices you made during stress. Like a bad habit or health changes. In my case both. I developed a really bad habit of turning to food to deal with depression and stress. This resulted in a weight gain and an unhealthy body. It became a cycle. Because gaining weight and being unhealthy lead to depression and the depression led to being fat. So now I am learning new ways of handling depression and stress.

YES the doctors knew what they were talking about when they said eating right and exercising will help your depression and relieve stress. NO WAY! Get out of here! They cannot be right. I have spent a lot of time and energy being angry at those doctors for telling me to watch what I eat and exercise more. For just not understanding. For blaming everything on my weight. I guess I wanted them to do it for me.

I do not know what made the change in my mind. I do not know how or why it clicked for me.I am glad it happened. I know when it happened and I know that I am on the right path. I have decided enough is enough. I am doing it now. I have had my set-backs, but I have not quit. I will not quit. This is not a diet. This is a fight, a fight for my life. This is my life. It is what I do now. I make better more conscious choices about my food intake. I am not perfect, I am human. But I record what I eat, no matter how bad or good it may be for me. I weigh myself. I know how much I weigh. I do not avoid the scale. I weigh and measure my food. I know what I am eating and the calorie count. I actually think about how much food I eat and how much exercise I have done. I think about whether I have eaten too much for the amount of calories I have expended during that day. I enj0y working out. This is way weird.

Why didn't I make these connections earlier in life? How do I keep my children from making the same mistakes I have made? How do I make up for the years of setting a bad example? I do not know. I am working on that. If I show them what I can do by making healthy choices, maybe they will want to make them too. I want them to see me enjoying my new choices. This is not a bad life. Working out is not a chore that I have to do. It is something I do to keep from going insane. LOL It is something I want to do. I am a better mother when I have been able to do something for myself. These days that something is not going out for cheesecake, but going for a walk or to the gym.

I like the new me. I like feeling like I have some control over me. I like how I am handling stress in my life now. I like that I am making things happen, that things are not happening to me. My life is not necessarily any easier or harder than it has been in the past. I still have my weaknesses and my struggles. But it is how I am choosing to deal with them that has changed. I am not the sum total of what has happened to me. I am the person I am because of how I handle what happens in my life. And these days I am handling things with a little more wisdom and determination. I will succeed, because I usually get what I want.


Johnna said...

You continue to inspire me--your commitment to getting healthy and losing weight sets such a good example. That's just another good thing you are doing on this journey, reminding the rest of us that it can be done and why we should stick with it. And you always have a smile. Maybe that's your secret to making this work, more smiling. :-)

steffieguy said...

In case you didn't realize you had already run a marathon, read that blog again. Good work!