the joys of subjective measurement…

i’m talking about working out. you know, exercise. apparently the bug is going around.

when it first came out, oh i think around the beginning of summer or some predictable time like that, i honestly balked at it. i think i’ve said that before around here. i didn’t do that because i don’t like exercise, though. i’m pretty active (well… as active as one can REALLY be when it’s 12 or fewer degrees outside and there is a little druid that needs to be leveled). i like to do things, go for walks, bike rides, and play hockey (coming soon, as in once the outdoor rinks are ready). what i balked at with all the exercise talk going around was the obsession with losing weight. i mean, it’s bad enough that thinness is shoved down our throats every second of every day, and believe me, i have my fair share of time feeling self-conscious and huge and a little too squishy and what have you, but i wasn’t sure if i could handle also hearing it on blogs. i just can’t get behind the ‘need to be thin!’ mantra.

let me just clarify. i’m not overweight (well… maybe according to the new height/weight/BMI chart thingies i am, but seriously, i’m not). i’ve been about 160/165 for the past 5 years (ps. i’m 5’8″). heck, maybe even more. it pretty much doesn’t matter what i do, i stay the same weight. i can exercise more, eat less, blah blah blah, nothing really happens with the weight. if i stop eating for 3 weeks, then i drop a lot, but i’m trying to not make a habit of THAT kind of weight loss.

anyway (i feel like i’m being rambly and not quite all here, i apologize if it’s coming off that way). basically, i kind of have a thing against objective measures of progress (i.e. weight loss, SEEING changes in body appearance, etc.) because i so rarely see them. i MIGHT drop about 5 pounds for 2 days and then it’s back to where it was. and the suspense/drama (did i ACTUALLY drop any weight this time??) is something i can DEFINITELY live without. i don’t want to begin to revolve my life around eating less, exercising more, thinking about it, dreaming about it, talking about it, whatever. i want to be able to live my life and maybe even work toward being fit and healthy at the same time. i do like to know that some progress is being made, though. when i was running over the summer and fall, my progress was watching my minutes per mile drop (AMAZING!!!). then school started and it started getting colder and colder and then we went down to only one car and pretty soon i’m working out at the school wellness center. so this limits me to treadmills (puke) or running 14 laps/mile (demoralizing) or elliptical machines (yawn). i don’t do well on exercise equipment. partly because it’s so boring and partly because i’m a purist – no tv, no music, just the sound of my feet on the pavement and whatever other ambient noise is out there. doesn’t really happen in the gym – there are too many distractions in there (though watching a saved by the bell while on the elliptical wasn’t horrible, but that’s probably just because it was saved by the bell). the distraction of other people (like those super tiny girls who make me feel terrible about myself), tv (only 6 tvs in the little workout area PLUS one on EACH machine, seriously???), the sounds of machines running, beeps, vacuum cleaners and whatever else the staff is doing, trying to stay ON the treadmill and not weave too much to one side or the other, keeping my feet in the elliptical foot thing because for whatever reason, my feet are always right at the front, even if i consciously try to keep them in the back or at least toward the middle, and just all sorts of other things going on while i’m there. now, i’m there at 7 am so there aren’t a WHOLE lot of other people there, which is a benefit. i’d die trying to work out over lunch or something. yuck.

so as i watched times go down and FELT better running and all that, i decided that i’d try to see how this losing weight thing might work. and after staying the exact same weight for 3 weeks, i gave up. WAY too demoralizing and it put my brain in a place that i honestly don’t need it to be. i started to obsess. i thought about it all the time, i really started seeing all these areas of my body that i don’t like, that need to change, places where weight should drop, thinking that my clothes weren’t fitting me right, and just generally feeling like garbage about myself all the time. not healthy.

so one day, i asked james. is this working? are you seeing a difference? are you seeing something that i’m not seeing?

you know what he said?

he sees the changes. he OUTLINED the changes. he told me exactly what’s been changing that he’s been seeing, and while he thinks i’m drop-dead gorgeous, ‘i-can-haz-plz?’ all the time, he likes the changes that he’s seeing. in that moment, something occurred to me.

i don’t NEED a scale to tell me anything. i don’t NEED a tape measure to tell me anything. i have exactly what i need right here, in my apartment, telling me exactly what i need to hear. this kind of measurement that takes into account subtle things, that sees the shifting, that sees the changes in energy and whatever else. i don’t have to let my scale and my clothes tell the story because so often, they create lies. they create the illusion of needing to be just a little smaller, just a little lighter. just a little more and then you’ll be happy. then you’ll feel beautiful. then you’ll have achieved something that you can be proud of. i cannot and i will not let these lies define me and how i should look. i honestly can only let the person who already sees me as beautiful tell me how i should look.

now, yeah, i still see things i’d like to change, i still see things i don’t like, but i know that all i have to do is ask and i get a run down of the TRUTH. i have someone defying the lies with me, sometimes defying the lies for me, especially on those days where i’m just not feeling it. i have help, i just have to remember that. i have strength that isn’t my own to rely on. even on the days i don’t necessarily believe him, i don’t contradict him. i just listen. i try to believe. if nothing else, it’s a challenge for the lie to live up to. this lie is fighting against two people, not just one. one who already mostly believes the lie anyway. i may not be super thin, i may be ‘overweight’, but that does not mean that i am not beautiful. it’s hard to remember that beauty is way beyond skin deep. looks have nothing to do with beauty. it’s the person behind the looks. it’s the attitude, the personality, it’s who they are that makes them beautiful. i have to remember that WHO i am makes me beautiful, not what i ‘look like’. it’s a concept that is hard to internalize sometimes. a lot of the time. the mirror so often lies, telling me that what stares back at me determines so much.

i love working out. i love running. i love feeling better. i just know that i can’t rely on a scale and a mirror to tell me that i’m being successful. i have to rely on something, someone, else. someone who will not feed the lies.

how about you? who do you believe?