Monday, July 6, 2015

Speak the Truth

A friend said he would hold me accountable in reaching my weight goals.  He said he would publicly shame me if I didn’t reach those goals.  I agreed to this deal with the Devil because it was something I had never tried. 
I was doing okay.  For the past few weeks I was barely making my weekly goals.  Last week I reached 191, but only after depriving myself of fluids on a long run.  Not healthy.  And I wasn’t happy with seeing that number on the scale.  I don’t want to hurt myself to reach my fitness goals
And this is a fitness goal.  For me the primary goal is performance.  If I lose unnecessary weight then I’ll better enjoy running, cycling, rock climbing, sex, hiking, etc, etc.  It’s not as much about body image for me, though I can’t lie and say body image has nothing to do with it.
Quick sidebar: I was the skinny kid growing up.  I was the one that got picked on because I couldn’t fight back.  I had a bowl haircut, serial killer coke bottle glasses, frumpy clothes, and a skeletal musculature.  I had a brief window where I was a well-toned climbing bum, and then I went into full middle-aged plump out.  I’m not flabby fat, but I’m not longer that skinny kid, and I somehow missed ever being ripped.
The main thing is that I want to be fleeter of foot and faster on the bike.  I learned that I am, in fact, competitive, despite years of thinking I was not the least bit so.  I’m mainly competitive with myself.  I like PRs.  I like seeing what I can do.  But there’s a part of me that feels like I’ve missed out on winning in life.  I see the potential I had as a younger person and squandered.  I could have been a great runner or competitive cyclist.  I had a natural talent and didn’t realize it.
Now I fight the effects of twenty to thirty years of relative athletic laziness.  I’ve got a ghost army of bad habits and no good fitness base to work from…just some latent cycling conditioning. 
I will not meet my weight goal this week.  I needed to be at 189 to be on schedule and at last check I was at 196.  I’m not whining about that.  It is just what it is.
I know a few things for certain:
1) If I would focus on going to the gym and in intense general conditioning (with a focus on strengthening my core) I would see real gains.
2) If I would maintain control of my diet I would see significant progress.  The weight I have managed to lose came from weeks when I had much better control over what I was eating.
3) I do not possess the focus to be successful at #1 and #2 over a long period of time.
I appreciated that Kipp wanted to help me.  But I began dreading his responses to my weight updates.  I made herky jerky improvements from the beginning.  And I quickly realized that the agreed upon derision wasn’t effective.  It just pissed me off at him and did nothing to motivate me. 
What I’ve realized is that even amicable shaming isn’t a healthy tactic for someone who has struggled with self-confidence issues.  In me it triggers my passive-aggressive response.  It causes me to dig in my heels and rebel against whatever stressor is tormenting me.  So in turn I tend to make worse decisions about diet and exercise.
A few nights ago night I had an epiphany.  It should have been so clear to me.  The one thing I’ve always lacked is positive reinforcement; real, genuine, and meaningful positive encouragement.   
So instead of hearing: “Dude, if you don’t get it together you’re never going to climb hard” what I need to hear is “You can climb hard.”
Instead of hearing: “You have to decide if you’re going to be fat or be fit” I need to hear “You can be fit.”
I’ve always thought I didn’t need cheerleaders.  Maybe I’ve been wrong about that.  I think we all do.  I think I fail at being a cheerleader for those around me too. 
The best environment I’ve ever been in—a place where I’ve thrived—was the church we attended in Colorado.  Those people were positive and supportive like no other group I’ve been around.  Unfortunately the maelstrom of my life inhibited real growth in me while we were there.  I made progress.  I definitely stepped outside my comfort zone, but I didn’t truly reach my potential.  It was that damn job…it countered whatever good things were going on in my life and worked to keep me firmly mired.
My current job is the most positive position I’ve ever been in.  But with it come the burdens of corporate life: long commute, chained to a cubicle, industrial time, and so many other artificial expectations.  I play fast and loose with life these days.   I work hard to survive and keep myself sane.  That’s how I provide the most benefit to those who I am obligated to.
Kipp keeps saying “just speak plain truth to yourself and move on.”  As in, “I’d rather eat another piece of pizza than climb 5.13,” or “I’d rather drink this soda than run an ultra.”  It’s a good strategy.  When I have presence of mind to use that tool it works.  But I suffer from crippling impulsivity.  That is my plain truth.  I live in the moment.  It’s not by choice, it’s how my brain is wired to respond to the world.  I don’t want to be impulsive to this degree.
Focused on making the turn, not on my next meal...
I want to reach goals that take patience and effort to achieve because that shows that I am overcoming this malady I live with each day.  But I keep not overcoming it.  It takes all of my mental energy to keep it from overwhelming me.  There is usually very little mental currency left over to put toward some personal improvement or to attach to some dream rider.  And life goes on.  More days wasted as I flail to keep my head above water…
I don’t mean to wallow in this.  I’m trying to lay it out plain.  I’ve learned to cope.  For the most part I go with the flow.  I don’t fight it when I don’t have to.  It saves so much energy that way.  But the truth…the real, honest-to-God truth is that I’m not happy just keeping my head above water, but I’ve not yet learned how to thrive in my own skin.  I can survive, but this is not a level of survival I’m willing to accept.  I need to move beyond simply getting by.  I’m smarter than my wiring.  I’m better than this level of performance as a human being.
It’s not all about some arbitrary athletic goals.  The reasons I look to those goals are twofold.
1) They are quantifiable, (theoretically) obtainable, and they show me when I make progress, and
2) Movement therapy is crucial to satiating some of my demons.  I need proprioceptive stimulation to avoid needing chemical medications or some other kind of risk therapy.  It’s that simple.  Running, cycling, climbing, and other forms of bodily movement go a long way to keeping me sane and happy.

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