There comes a point in our lives when we find it nearly impossible to miss the fact that we are getting older. Perhaps it is the fact that our children are graduating, getting married, or having children of their own. Maybe our eyesight is making it impossible to read things close up, or our ears to hear exactly what is being said.
And we think to ourselves..."what is up with this?"
When I was a child, I wanted to grow up. When I was a teenager, I couldn't wait to figure out what I would do, who I would marry, and where I would live. I spent so much time looking forward to whatever the next goal was, that I completely moved through my teens, twenties and thirties at warp speed. Those pictures that I didn't take of myself because I didn't like the way I looked...are lost opportunities. The ones that my grandmother and mother forced me to take are treasures now. I wish that there was additional evidence of my younger self. But when you are self-conscious and young...you think that everyone is more perfect than you are. So you get behind the camera instead of in front of it. You tell yourself that happiness will begin once you lose weight, get to travel, or get a promotion at work.
If you are young and are reading this...know that this hamster wheel is all a big crock. Quit running, exit the wheel, and live your life. Oh! And let the family take lots of pictures. Lots of pictures. You'll be glad that you did one day.
Last night, I went back to the gym with the intention of getting on the treadmill and listening to Foo Fighters for 30 minutes while trying to avoid hyperventilating. I had been building up my endurance to 20 minutes and was going to go for the gusto of 30 minutes instead. Never mind that I was suffering from allergies, had moved offices all day, and was not in the proper frame of mind. I fought myself to get to that parking lot, and forced myself out of the car. I walked in the door...just in time for the step aerobics class.
In case you are not familiar with the concept of a step aerobics class, let me give you a basic primer. The concept is that you are to travel up and down the step (which can be adjusted by placing little risers underneath) doing different dance moves to music. There is normally someone who is in shape leading the class and shouting out encouragements such as "good job" or "stay at it" that keep you from passing out after 20 minutes of said activity.
So, last night, I hop into the class...my first in about a year...and I somehow will my legs to obey. Imagine strapping on some ankle weights and trying to walk. Difficult, yes? Okay, now imagine strapping on twenty ankle weights, and this is what my lower body was experiencing last night. Spastic does not begin to cover it.
My "football run" looked more like a MeeMaw on a walker, but you know what? I did it. I survived the class, and I didn't quit. I did draw the line at hanging off the exercise ball and doing side crunches during the "abs" workout part because I was afraid I'd slip off and wouldn't be able to get back up. Other than that...I did it. I would have stayed for the yoga class, but the last time I did that, I ended up in the emergency room the following morning...so...I'm not that brave yet. I know that it was a coincidence, but I still haven't forgotten.
I have learned that I have a long way to go. But instead of hiding out and acting like the weight will magically disappear or refusing to be photographed, attend reunions, or go to social occasions, I'm going to try to embrace it as I shrink back to somewhere in the normal range. I mean...I'm certainly not growing younger each day...and I'd like to see this stage of my life documented as well. One day, I'll look back at my skin with a tinge of envy. I'll remember hair that I could let remain blonde. Because it is all a matter of perspective.
So, if you are not happy with the way you look right now...allow people to photograph you anyway. One day, you will be thinking how wonderful you looked at this stage in your life. Or even if you don't...you'll know what was...and it will be okay.
I hope that I make my goal of being able to look nice by next July. I have no magic number in my head. I'm going for "the best that I can do" and leaving it at that. Whatever happens...it will not be for lack of trying...and it has been awhile since I felt like I had my mindset right. In the meantime, if you want to laugh hysterically, please feel free to join me anytime for aerobics. I'd be laughing at me if I wasn't focused so hard on trying to breathe.
The truth is...everything is a matter of perspective. My daughter sees a girl being mean to her by trying to latch onto every young man she is interested in...and she thinks that there is something wrong with HER. Nope. I had to explain to her the concepts of insecurity and jealousy and how some little girls only feel better about themselves by knocking other girls down. A young mother sees herself as out of shape and not the girl she was. Although she knows that she has been blessed, she cannot forget the size on the jeans in the closet. Then someone explains to her that the beauty she has is still evident...and she begins to embrace her new shape as that of a woman...and mother.
Sometimes the perspective works in reverse...such as a mother who competes with her daughters for attention in a "cougar-like" fashion, or feels that repeat surgeries are required to fix, replace or repair what the ebb and flow of time has caused to be. I'm not a big fan of these, but I'm also not a fan of getting new boobs for graduation. But that's just me. I think that you need to be satisfied with the basic framework and do what you need to do to enhance...but not replace...what God gave you to work with in the first place.
I hope that the next few weeks will eventually become easier...that the hunger will stay under control and the exercise will be steady and eventually not only tolerable...but actually fun. Life is a journey...and I'd just like to travel a little lighter. My spirits are already that way. Later!