Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Conversations With Myself

I lost five pounds!
But then I gained seven back last week.

I watched The Biggest Loser last night (hey, does anybody know why they didn't show Shay's up-to-date stuff last week and only Daniel's? Did she go off the deep-end or something?) and I realized something that I hate, hate, hate:
"Do it for you!"
I mean, yeah. In retrospect and now-a-days-spect, taking the time to take care of yourself is pretty good advice. We really should do nice things for ourselves like showering, eating, and wearing clothing that isn't made of palm fronds. But I think there may be a little too much going on with the "do it for you" crap that keeps circulating.

This morning, I thought "Wow, Alison Wonderland (who is seriously one of my favorite people and one of my heroes to boot) and I have started this exercise dealio so long ago, and I have exercised about 5 times. Total. I'm a failure!" and then I had this conversation with myself (because I often have conversations with myself, thank you very much):

Self: You need to take better care of yourself!
Me: How?
Self: You need to exercise every week-day morning.
Me: That's easy for you to say.
Self: What do you mean?
Me: I don't have TIME to exercise. I don't. Unless I want to force my husband to nurse the baby so I can go running 5 miles each morning (which would be awesome, to be honest...not the husband nursing the baby, but the running 5 miles!).
Self: Do it another time.
Me: When? Every moment of my day is swarming with little children and responsibilities that I can't even seem to keep caught up with --not to mention that when the kids are finally in bed all I want to do is crash and burn myself.
Self: Well, maybe exercise isn't working --but what about other things?
Me: Like what?
Self: Shopping for clothes that fit and aren't falling apart? You know, that you haven't shopped for yourself in about 2 years.
Me: Has it been 2 years? Really?
Self: Yes.
Me: But I don't have money for that. We have debt. I can't justify buying myself something pretty or nice while I worry about buying the kids shoes that fit.
Self: Then why do you keep doing fun stuff that costs money, you hypocrite!?
Me: Like what?
Self: Eating at Bombay House (your decision, remember?). Flying to San Francisco. Turning on the fireplace instead of wearing a sweater.
Me: Oh, yeah.
Self: Okay, well, if those things don't work, why don't you just shower every day? That would be a nice change.
Me: Don't I know it.
Self: Well?
Me: You're kidding, right? Showering everyday? Like the baby would let me. Or the 2 year-old.
Self: So, you're basically resigned to not take care of yourself? Is that it?
Me: No --I just don't see the point.
Self: What do you mean?
Me: Why does it matter? Where is the law written that one cannot possibly be happy if they don't exercise every day? Where does it say that if one doesn't shower each day, or buy new clothes every few months, or spend money, or do super-nice-chocolaty things for themselves on a regular basis that they will end up lonely and depressed? I'm tired of being told that I have to be all self-indulgent in order to make it through my life. Or my day.
Self: Yeah, well, you're just taking it the wrong way. It's not about being selfish. It's about taking care of yourself so you don't end up in a puddle of wallowing despair. Your kids need you to be happy.
Me: And why can't I be happy with B.O.? Hmmmm?
Self: Yeah. Uh...
Me: Touche. Point taken.
Self: I'm not saying you have to be completely selfish and ignore the kids and the house in order to get your mani/pedi that you can't afford --just do something for yourself every once in a while.
Me: Like showering?
Self: Like showering. But even more? Like exercising. Eating right.
Me: I know.
Self: Remember how it felt when you lost those 40 pounds in 2008?
Me: Yeah.
Self: Remember how it felt when you ran that 5K?
Me: Yeah.
Self: And how you were running 4 miles each day? And the weight training?
Me: Yes! I do! And whenever I watch The Biggest Loser all I can think about is how awesome it felt to do all that. But then I think about how I don't know how or when or where to start because I feel so overwhelmed with all I have to do. I'm feeling the crisis crushing down on me on every side and to be quite frank, the claustrophobia of it all is killing me.
Self: Well, you have a lot to worry about. Without making the list, your time is really scarce.
Me: Exactly.
Self: But you've got to figure it out. Maybe see it from a different point of view? Maybe start a new routine? Change expectations? Get some help?
Me: That's the rub. I have no idea where to start. It's that trapped feeling.
Self: I hear ya. Oh, how I hear ya.

So, dear reader, if you are not now completely freaked out about the fact that Cheryl does, in fact, talk to herself in such detail (hey, I may be happy, but I'm still crazy, right?!?), lay it on me. It's your turn for advice. I'm actually ASKING for it!

In the comments below, help me out:
1. Have you ever had to change your life's routine to accommodate a new way of living? (vague, I know)
2. How did you do it?
3. Where did you start?
4. What elements did you include and/or exclude?
5. What was your biggest support through it all?
6. And do you think it's okay to just let things go for a while until things get easier, or are you on the side that says you should seize the day now and make the changes while you can?

14 comments:

Alison Wonderland said...

1. Regularly.
2. Just did it.
3. I decided. I'm not much for making decisions but once they're made, they're made.
4. Wha?
5. I think having someone to account to, be it a teacher, a friend, husband, whoever, is actually really motivating.
6. Yes and yes. You can only do what you can do but at the same time there are always small changes we can make. I think the best way to do it is in bite size chunks. You also have to make it a priority. You have to decide that this change is more important than the laundry or whatever.

Cardalls said...

Okay so first of all taking care of your basic needs like showering is NOT selfish. Neither is keeping yourself healthy. Maybe you can't run 5 miles a day right now, (the whole time and season thing)but I know when I get out and take the kiddos on a walk in the stroller or get up before them and walk for 20 minutes it makes a huge difference in my psyche. I don't think it's an all or nothing thing. I agree that there is too much selfishness and entitlement stuff. But that's not what you are talking about and you do need to take care of your health and basic hygiene :)

Amanda D said...

Cheryl, your #4 and #5 will be fine if you put #5 in the crib and #4 in front of PBS for 30 minutes so you can shower, get dressed and dab on some perfume. Even if #5 cries - it doesn't hurt him to cry. Even if #4 stands at the bathroom and knocks the whole time, if you ignore it, he'll get bored and stop so you can shower in peace.

I think the way to incorporate exercise is to find a way to include the kids (go for a walk, get a kid's yoga DVD from the library and do it together, go swimming, etc) or get up and do it early. I'm in no way an expert at this - I'm in week 3 (or 4?) of getting up at 5:15 to meet with the ladies at church to exercise. EVERY morning I argue with myself about getting up but knowing that they are there gets me out of bed. And really, I haven't been that much more tired during the day. I'm not staying up late reading, but other than that, I'm fine.

Most importantly, though, remember this will pass. The stress will get easier, the baby will grow. The kids will need you less. Hug your kids and read some stories and worry about the dishes another time. :)

evitafjord said...

Well, I'm floating in that same boat, so I'm going to watch the answers. I did lose 40 in 2006 - and then had baby #5 - and now those 40 are back with friends, but I don't know how I did it back then except that my MIL was living with us and it is so much easier to eat healthy when you're eating in front of your MIL most of the time.

And here's my theory. It's okay to talk to yourself, as long as you know that you're talking to yourself and you don't think there's someone else there talking back (unless there is, of course).

evitafjord said...

Oh, I do have a method for showering (2 even!!) - throw them in the shower with me (or in the bouncer or carseat or whatever next to the shower if they are really little - the exersaucer stayed in the bathroom for months last year) OR let him watch Blue's Clues on my bed, which is within hearing distance of the shower.

Rebekah said...

Who says you have to leave the house to exercise???? Crunches, butt-ups, throw-downs, push-ups (the girly kind for me), lunges, squats, side-to-sides, and leg lifts!!!!!! I got tired of freaking out about not running 4 miles everyday bc of a jam packed minute-by-minute school schedule and then I was like, "Hey! Instead of making excuses, get down for 10 minutes and do some hard core strength training stuff." And guess what?! I was sore the next day (I'm still sore). So, it works! And I automatically feel better and my arms and stomach are looking more toned. :) That's happy. Running is AWESOME! But if you can't, get on the floor when your kids are in bed and sweat for 10 or 15 minutes (something tells me you already know this). YOU CAN DO IT!

SHELLS BELLS! said...

I don't think it's easy to make changes so it's important to take each day at a time and cut yourself some slack once in awhile. Ultimately we do what we value the most and it appears you value your family and that's great. Don't forget to take care of yourself, whether it's taking a shower or reading, blogging, or exercising for however long you may have. You can do it.

Rebekah V. said...

I am a big picture kind of girl. I have to have some kind of an outline or program. I can't make changes until I see how they fit in the larger scheme. so when I start complaining about my lack of time and somebody (anybody) ticks of a list of solutions I get flooded fast. so I like to take real stock of my resources, usually out loud to my husband while he writes it down and then I actually know what kind of change is realistic and what things I really can cut out. Like a few weeks ago I realized that I was priveliging computer time over personal devotional time so that was a change I felt I could make. Just put the timer on for a half an hour and when the scriptures were read then I could turn on the computer. I have to say that there have been times when I really didn't have the resources of time, energy, focus or discipline to make the changes but I could honestly say that because I had really taken stock of my situation. so I didn't have to feel bad. I just had to cope until I had more resources. One last thought. I always try to make structural changes so I don't have to rely too much on my will power or my (very variable) mood. So if I am watching too much tv I cut the cable. If I eat junk I stop bringing the junk in the house. If I decide to run in the very early morning I make sure there is someone waiting outside in the cold for me so I have to get there. But you really have to be sure you have the resources. Maybe one day we could be neighbors. I think that would be nice.

bythelbs said...

I think your conversation with yourself is longer than our last phone conversation. Awesome.

I have nothing for you. Exercising is not my specialty. But I will support you. Go exercise! You can do it! Go take a shower! You can do it!

Julie said...

I have no advice because I don't know anything.

But I did enjoy your personal conversation very much indeed...so thanks for that. :)

Never A True Aggie said...

First, easy for me to say, but I decided to not take things so seriously. It is just not worth it. Now, showering...I am not saying that I don't let a day go here and there, but I do notice that I feel better on days that I shower and get ready early. But, my advice is to buy a new hat that you can slap on if you have to go out and either have unwashed hair or a wet head.

Right now when I shower, I am putting him in his bouncy, smack in the middle of the bathroom. Works for both of us. For #4, you could always have him play with shaving cream on the counter. It is pretty easy to clean up in the bathroom.

Weight loss...UgH! I need to do it too. It has been far too long and this prego belly is not going away by itself. I am going to try something new. Lately, the baby has been waking at 6:30 AM! So, instead of trying to lull him back to sleep, I am trying to get used to getting up early so I can then exercise. I figure, getting up is half the battle. If I can do it between 6:30 and 7:00 AM, I think I can do it.

Good luck. It is not easy being a mom. That is why sometimes you just have to chuck it all and do what you need to do, whether that is raid the Halloween candy stash or buy yourself a new shirt...

Michelle said...

Read Weakness is not Sin and then call me. That's my advice. :) (Borrow my copy.)

Heather O. said...

A lesson I'm constantly relearning is that I can always re-commit. I used to be in awesome shape, and then got pregnant, bed rest, baby, no sleep, and suddenly I'm a marshmallow. It's depressing to lose something like being in shape--something that you have to work so hard to gain that is lost so quickly.

But then, suddenly, I had time again. My baby was older, I was getting more sleep, showering was something that happened (well, pretty much) every day, and I thought, "Hey, it's time again." And then you re-commit, and suddenly you're back to where you are. I've learned that life goes in cycles, and then I've relearned it, and relearned it again.

Also, GET A BUDDY. I can't tell you what a motivator it is when you know somebody else is up and waiting for you. That's the only thing, and I mean the ONLY thing that gets me exercising in the morning.

One more thing--I totally second the idea that exercise, if that's your goal, can happen anywhere. I felt so stale and so gross when my daughter was so small, and getting out the door was hard. I got in the habit of doing little things that sound lame, but made me feel better. REALLY lame stuff, like doing 15 calf lifts in the shower while washing my hair. I would work up to 20, then 30, etc, etc. Then, before I would get dressed, I'd sneak in 5 squats, or something, just standing in the closet. Sometimes, when I really felt depressed, I would just randomly do 10 jumping jacks in the kitchen. I was so out of shape it only took 10 to get me out of breath!

Sometimes I think we women approach things with an all or nothing attitude--I can't put on my work-out clothes and hit the gym, so I can't exercise. My mantra with my tiny little work outs was always SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING. It wasn't much, I'll admit, but it got me through the times when regular exercise just wasn't in the cards.

Heather O. said...

A lesson I'm constantly relearning is that I can always re-commit. I used to be in awesome shape, and then got pregnant, bed rest, baby, no sleep, and suddenly I'm a marshmallow. It's depressing to lose something like being in shape--something that you have to work so hard to gain that is lost so quickly.

But then, suddenly, I had time again. My baby was older, I was getting more sleep, showering was something that happened (well, pretty much) every day, and I thought, "Hey, it's time again." And then you re-commit, and suddenly you're back to where you are. I've learned that life goes in cycles, and then I've relearned it, and relearned it again.

Also, GET A BUDDY. I can't tell you what a motivator it is when you know somebody else is up and waiting for you. That's the only thing, and I mean the ONLY thing that gets me exercising in the morning.

One more thing--I totally second the idea that exercise, if that's your goal, can happen anywhere. I felt so stale and so gross when my daughter was so small, and getting out the door was hard. I got in the habit of doing little things that sound lame, but made me feel better. REALLY lame stuff, like doing 15 calf lifts in the shower while washing my hair. I would work up to 20, then 30, etc, etc. Then, before I would get dressed, I'd sneak in 5 squats, or something, just standing in the closet. Sometimes, when I really felt depressed, I would just randomly do 10 jumping jacks in the kitchen. I was so out of shape it only took 10 to get me out of breath!

Sometimes I think we women approach things with an all or nothing attitude--I can't put on my work-out clothes and hit the gym, so I can't exercise. My mantra with my tiny little work outs was always SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING. It wasn't much, I'll admit, but it got me through the times when regular exercise just wasn't in the cards.

Sorry for like the longest comment ever. Exercise is just something on my mind a lot these days ;)