“Oh twice as much ain’t twice as good
And can’t sustain like one half could.
It’s wanting more that’s gonna send me to my knees.”
John Mayer “Gravity”
Greetings Thanksgiving and your party potatoes and sweet potatoes and crescent rolls and stuffing and pumpkin pie and Cool Whip and “salads” fluffed with white stuff. Your chips and crudités served with insanely fabulous buttermilk and blue cheese dips. Your drinks and smells and family. Your knowing expectation that we’ll debate whether to play Apples to Apples or Cranium. Your magnetic pull to the table to light candles and place napkins on the lap and contemplate what truly makes us thankful. Oh…and of course, the traditional “olives in the eyes” photo.
I’ve been hearing the song “Gravity” in my head for a few weeks now. It’s ripe with comparisons to all the things I’ve been thinking about these last several weeks, and god knows too much of a good thing, any good thing, can smack us all between the eyes emotionally, or we feel it in our stomachs and muscles and promise to never do it again.
I’ve been in a year-long transition period from mega exercise to low-key exercise, and from being so spot-on plan that Mr. Clean wouldn’t find a speck of dust on my food journal to finding foods that fit more readily into my budget and more hectic lifestyle. And what I’ve found is that twice as much ain’t twice as good.
As many of you know, I didn’t start exercising until I’d lost 110 pounds. I was content to just lose weight and not move. But when I hit190 pounds, I wanted more. I wanted to use the body I’d created and do something – anything – so I began walking. Slowly at first – 1 mile, then 1.25 miles, then 1.5 miles. Then I added some speed until I was up to walking a 5K in 38 minutes. I was stoked. I was unpeeling the possibilities and it built my self-esteem like nothing had before.
From walking I went to working out regularly at the gym, adding strength training to my routine. My weight loss accelerated and before I knew it, I was at goal: 138 pounds. I believe it was exercise that brought my weight down ever further to 128, where I stayed for a few years.
I was crazy for exercise, hitting it 6 hours a week, minimum. Then the joint issues started. I tore both my rotator cuffs within two years of each other, and tore my biceps tendons and needed physical therapy. My left knee had degenerated to the point where 30 minutes on the elliptical was 29 minutes too many. I worried that I’d gain weight, not trusting the math that if I ate less due to less exercise, I’d be OK. (See “I CAN Paint!”) It turned out that twice as much exercise wasn’t twice as good, and it couldn’t sustain like one half could. Experience taught me that, not a book.
In the same spirit of song lyrics, the other day I was driving down the road and I heard Blake Shelton’s “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking.” (Click the title for the YouTube link to the video. Wish I could embed it, but YouTube wouldn’t let me.)
My journals – which I’ve kept since 6th grade – contain all I am when no one else is looking. Food, exercise, emotions…journaling is the record of me. All of me. Keeping a journal keeps me honest. It tells me who I am when I’m not “looking,” when I think I’m doing things “right” or on plan or the way I want. I know how to hold myself together like a couple of bookends, but in private, I pour a little something on the rocks and leave a path to the bathtub and cry when my heart is broken and eat chocolate when my knee hurts and call my sister or sister-in-law or my daughters when it gets to be too much, those times when no one else is looking.
I get asked regularly what got me on this path and what keeps me going. Bottom line: journaling. Writing down – without wondering who’s looking over my shoulder – what I want, how I feel, and what my goals are. Exercise, food and emotions.
So when you face Thanksgiving and all its riches and family stuff, remember you and your intentions. Write them down. Maybe give a listen to John Mayer and Blake Shelton. Twice as much ain’t twice as good, and only YOU know who you are when no one’s looking.
Congrats to Julie M who won the “Pilates For Beginners” DVD!
In the next few weeks I’ll giving away a few more DVDs PLUS my second-annual Nutrition Action Newsletter subscription. It’s a great publication, one I trust to be on the front lines in nutritional information, no matter how controversial.