LGN 17: Mind & Body – You are not your weight

You are not your weight.

I’m a genius!  Steamed asparagus with a little bit of Old Bay, a good dose of garlic salt, Mango Chile sauce, butter … oh man.  So good.  A little shredded parmesan and this would feel like a meal.

My relatives are aging.  It’s a sad thing to say the least.  Everyone ages obviously, but you know how it is with your average American.  Ailments, illnesses and conditions brought on by overweight, bad eating habits, or smoking, complete lack of exercise.

It’s all so unnecessary and so avoidable.

Whenever I talk to someone and they’re talking about their physical ailments I want to ask them three questions:

  1. Do you exercise?
  2. How many hours of sleep do you get each night?
  3. What did you eat in the past 48 hours (to a week or month)?

Seriously.  Do you know anyone who exercises 3 to 6 times a week who has insomnia, for instance?  Constipation (not that it would come up in polite conversation)?

I’m not saying that they don’t exist.  I am saying that it’s unnatural to be sedentary.  We were made to move.  We were made to do something!

We were not put on this earth by whatever powers you do or don’t believe in to watch dysfunctional people humiliate themselves for hours on end while we sit on the couch and spread.  You know?

Click here to see all of my LGN (I want to Look Good Naked) posts.

How to Get Big

I have a friend who is tall and thin.  The kind of thin where even if you ate like a pig and didn’t exercise you wouldn’t bloat up.  You’d just get a gut or paunch and all the fat would be around your organs and in your arteries.

We were walking in Chinatown in DC one day and … well you know how that is.  A mixed bag.  But there were a few huge women.  Obese.  I saw a few today during my public transit trek/adventure.  Huge.  But with the fat deposited disproportionately around the butt, thighs and hips.  Huge.

My friend — I’m glad he didn’t see that woman today — would ask with unmasked disdain, “How do you let that happen to yourself?”

I said, “You don’t have any fat people in your family, huh.”

“Nope.”

“I do.”

I tried to answer his question.  I couldn’t.  Now I can.  How does someone get to the point where they’re carrying fifty pounds of fat between their waist and knees?  One day at a time.

If you eat 100 calories more than your body needs per day you will gain a pound of fat about every 5 weeks.

(52 wks/1 yr) * 1 lb/5wks = 10.4 lbs/yr

You will gain 10.4 pounds every year, give or take.  That’s how.  Now.  Throw a few childbirths in there and some hormone stuff plus your metabolism drastically slowing down as you’re aging and boom.  That could easily account for being 100 lbs. overweight between the time when you’re 25 years old and 35 years old.

One of the most depressing sights I’ve ever seen — and see often — is a very overweight woman drinking a fast food milkshake.  Sigh.  And/or a very overweight man at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Here’s the rub, though.  Who in the world only overeats by 100 calories?  If you aren’t paying attention to, i.e. tracking, your calories to some extent I can pretty much guarantee you that you’re at least 300-500+ calories beyond your need.  Like I wrote a few blog entries ago, there was a phase of about five years when I was eating out a lot and had no idea that I was eating between 500 and 1,000 excess calories per day.  See, it’s not because you’re bad or lazy or shiftless or weak.  But because we’re surrounded by calorie dense, addictive (intentionally so), “convenience” foodstuffs.

It’s not like you’re going through great pains to eat a crap-load of calories.  You’re not spending hours a day going from store to store to find something fattening to eat.

“Journal: Day 4.  The search for corn syrup continues.  Why is this so hard??  If only…”

We’re surrounded by it.  You have to actively avoid it.  That’s what happens when you live in our culture.  You eat too much and get fat.

UNLESS!

Unless you’re mindful of what you’re putting in to your body.  GIGO

Now you know.  You’re welcome.  No excuses.  Let’s do this thing.

Walk (Uphill)

I like the elliptical machine and the treadmill.  I just do.  I like the numbers and being able to compare one session to the next.  I’ve got a heart monitor, too, that most of the machines can read wirelessly.  That’s pure entertainment.  Yes, some days it’s drudgery to drag myself in there and do half an hour or more.  Sometimes it feels like work and it’s hard to work up the motivation.

A lot of people find the machines boring, though.  So they don’t work out at all.

Truthfully, I think that walking is the best all around exercise (once you find comfortable shoes and underwear and warm up to it).  It’s easy on the joints, it’s the most natural of motions, it’s a weight bearing exercise, you can go for a long time without falling apart.  But if you want to do anything useful for yourself you have to walk uphill.  Or up hills.  On an incline.  Walking up a steep incline will give you an equivalent workout to jogging.

You can do it anywhere, too.  It’s perfect.  It does take some time, though.  Well, if you have a few challenging inclines you can accomplish a lot in a relatively short period of time.

But you have to do something.  Move.  Get up and move.  Ain’t no parkin’ on this dance floor.

The elliptical machines are, in my opinion, the best workout bang for your buck.  You can burn some serious calories with practically no risk of injury and it still feels easy.  There’s some kind of physiological science as to why that is, but I forgot what it is.  If you want to get into shape and you don’t have time for long walks or jogs, you need to get access to an elliptical.  You need to get on it.  You need to get crankin’.

It’s something you could do every day for half an hour and easily burn enough calories to lose a pound per week if that’s your goal.

That’s not preaching.  That’s advice.

This is Preaching

It amazes me how stimulated our minds and lives are these days.  People can not just be alone with themselves and their minds.  Something has to be on or going on.  Constant radio, TV, internetting, phone conversations.  Something.  Anything but silence and stillness.

I was talking to a relative about working out and they said that they can’t do it because it’s boring.  Would you rather be bored for half an hour a few times a week or dead at 40?  Pick one.  Choose wisely.

Okay.  I do understand that some activities don’t thrill you and maybe you’ve got a hyperactive mind and anything less than constant near-psychedelic levels of stimulation feels like a slow death.  But come on.  There are podcasts, all kinds of radio, TV, video, audiobooks, music, music made especially for working out (that’s not that great but is made to provide a cadence for you to match), and actual books if you can deal with that while on a fitness machine.

In other words, we live in a culture saturated with experience made for portable devices.  There’s really not much of an excuse.  I mean, if it were a matter of excuses.  Like, if we were all on one big “Biggest Loser” show.  The only excuse for not using an exercise machine is:  I’m exercising outside.  ‘Cause that’s better, particularly if you can get an equivalent calorie burn and such.

Having been all up in your business now, let’s get down to brass tacks.

Landmark

When I took the Landmark Forum and Advanced Course, one of the biggest things I got out of it was who I am.  Well, no.  That’s not accurate.  Who I’m not.  What I’m not.  The moment my brain tripped over itself, stubbing its mental toes on a metaphorical big pointy piece of heavy oak concept furniture was when the instructor said, “You are not the voice in your head.  That’s not you.”

“What?”

“That voice in your head?  The one that’s talking/verbalizing your thoughts?  That’s not you.”

“What do you mean, that’s not me?  That’s, like, my voice.  My thoughts, my feelings…”

“That’s not you.  And if that voice in your head isn’t who you are, then who are you?”

People are always latching on to things and wearing them as an identity.  Let me give you a personal example.

I.  Am an introvert.  The definition that makes the most sense to me, and an oversimplification, is that introverts need solitude to recharge, whereas extroverts need social interaction to recharge.  I read part of a great book about introverts and how to manage your way around your work, romantic and home environments.  A lot of the points made described me to a tee even down to the section on phone “phobia”.  Introverts often have an aversion of the telephone because it rudely shatters their mental state.  There was more to it but I can’t remember.  Point is, a psychologist would easily describe me as an introvert.  And at one time, without even realizing, I embodied those attributes to the point of rebellion.

Now I realize that, yes, I am introverted — I possess those traits — but I’m not defined by that label.  I’m in no way limited by the categorization.  It’s like the difference between facts and the truth.  Yes, I’m an introvert and yet I perform music live.  Sometimes, when I’m on and not distracted by a zillion things, I’m even witty and engaging in front of an audience.  I’ve given speeches — some impromptu — and pulled them off with some dignity intact.  I get along with people for the most part and can comfortably have a conversation with people who are a world apart from my own experiences.  Heck, I blog and put my business on the internet (because I also learned that we all have much more in common than we imagined — from the most successful businessman to the widowed senior citizen to the hipster, the drug addict, the genius, the artist, the teenager).  In other words, I adapt.

Never accept a categorization as the whole.  Categories and nomenclature are helpful, necessary intellectual tools but they’re often one dimensional.  Life is not.  We are not.  We try to pretend or we believe that we are.  We instinctively try to squash concepts down to one dimension because it’s easier.  Maybe there’s a time for it.  But … don’t believe the hype.  Not even your own.

That voice in your head when you silently talk to yourself — that’s only one part of who you are.  One means of expression.  One facet.

So you may be overweight.  You may be fat.  Obese.  Morbidly obese.  But that’s not WHO you are.  Those are only adjectives describing the noun.  You are you.  That beautiful spark of energy, life, consciousness with all of your hopes, dreams, goals, and loves.

You are not stuck.

You are not trapped.

You are not overwhelmed.

You are not hopeless.

You are not done.

Your Inner Voice, Your Inner Dialogue

Maybe that voice in your head tells you things when you look in the mirror.  Things that are less than flattering.  But remember that the voice in your head, being a part of you, is full of angst and anxiety.  It doesn’t always speak the truth.  It certainly doesn’t always see the big picture.

And yet, we let it drive us.  We can change the voice by taking action.  We can begin to build new habits before our inner voice even realizes there’s change in the air.  Then eventually it gets on board.

Since this blog is about fitness and health, there’s a simplicity here.

All you have to do is move.  All you have to do is know what you consume.

I promise you that once you know what goes into your body it will affect the choices you make. Then that inner voice becomes an ally.  Your inner voice will say things like:

“Oh, that looks so good.  Oh wait.  You know what?  I had two sodas today already.  I’ll just have an iced tea with dinner and, hey, do you want to split a dessert?”

or

“I’m going to be good today.  Doing alright with the calories this week.  I’ll save this Friday for my splurge day.”

or

“Okay.  Come on.  You’ve been telling everybody that you’re working out 3 times a week.  This morning is supposed to be number three.  Let’s hop to it.”

or

“Dang. The scale hasn’t budged for at least two weeks now.  But you know what?  You are wearing that belt a notch or two tighter than two weeks ago.  And you jogged a whole mile without stopping.  Didn’t know you had it in you, did you?”

or

“Wait a minute.  Check out this nutrition chart on the wall.  How many calories does a milkshake have?  Hooooly %$@!  Still, I’m craving something sweet.  Let’s hit up the grocery store and pick up a Häagen-Dazs sorbet instead.”

You can do this.  And I need some company.  Come on.  You and me.

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