It is in these moments that you have to decide how badly you want it. When it would be easy, so very very easy, to give yourself any excuse to give up and quit. To stop fighting. To concede defeat.
I'm at such a point, myself. Where life is testing me, seeming to throw one thing after another after another in the way. I want to lay down my sword and rest. But there are no guards at the door, no defense line left. And the enemy is attacking.
My enemy is Control. Well, a lack of control over myself or the changes happening around me, to be specific. When I have a say in the decision, whether the change is positive or negative, I find it easier to deal with than when I have no control at all. It's not always about change or choices, it's just life happening and stuff you need to deal with, and it all comes at once. And when it's one thing, I can usually take it in stride. Two things? I get stressed, but it's not visible. (Exercise often helps). Three? I get tense, you can tell, but I cope. When it feels like too many things changing, or too much is out of control, when life bombards me with capital-T "TOO MUCH" from every direction, so that there's no safe place, no sanctuary - then I start to revert back to old habits. The ones which were in lieu of healthy coping mechanisms. Binge eating. Drinking to relax. Sleeping as avoidance technique. Shutting down completely. Playing the victim, rolling over, and letting the enemy run me through instead of fighting, my old habits made me the expendable character with no name who died in the first scene. Mixing my cultural references, I was the Star Trek Red Shirt in my own life.
I don't want to play the victim.
I want to be the hero in my own story.
It's why I talk so much about strength, and use imagery of warriors, fighters, superheroes and ninjas. The bad-asses of storytelling. This journey often feels like a fight, an ongoing war, where you win some battles, and some you lose, but you hope to come out stronger and victorious in the end. Physical strength grows emotional strength. And that new-found mental strength has gotten me through a lot in the last few years.
how the weight loss battle usually feels
how the weight loss battle feels under tension,
When I have regular classes I attend at the Y, and all my personal training sessions booked, and life at work and at home is under enough control that I take the time to plan meals and write down what I'm eating in my food journal, it's much easier to deal with all the other little things that crop up. As more got piled on my plate recently (figuratively, not literally), it was the food journal that was the first thing to go. Some sleep was forfeited, as more obligations piled on. But, no matter what's been going on at work or in my personal life, I've been able keep my workout schedule as a priority. My big rocks. Now? I may be in a position where it's not possible to make all the classes I've grown fond of, or to make it to classes at all. (The short version is an aging parent with a broken arm/shoulder, and I'm not sure how much assistance she will need over the next 6 weeks, and that's just one of the last straws on top of a very large pile that has been building).
I have to ask myself how badly do I want this, the health and strength?
This is life's test. I've been metaphorically squatting with a bar on my shoulders for quite some time, weight added bit by bit. There's a fine line between when the weight is too much and your knees buckle and the whole thing crashes down on you ... or you summon all the strength you have and you push from your heels to lift that weight and get a personal best. I have no way of knowing when I'll break, and when it's making me stronger.
Kinda feels like the breaking point is coming. Maybe it already has.
But what I mean by being challenged is that this is where I put my money where my mouth is. Will I still workout when it's not easy, when it's late at night and past all the classes, when nobody is around and there's no motivation, no accountability, no personal trainer planning a program? Can I really do it on my own? Will I let a lot of legitimate reasons become excuses, or will I find a way to keep my health a priority? Can I stop the spiral of emotional eating and keep to clean, whole foods (no sugar! no chemicals! no processed crap!), even when under pressure? (The Ghrelin Gremlins are part of my enemy's army, and they seem to be multiplying).
This perhaps sounds melodramatic, and maybe half the problem is that I see fitness and weight loss as a fight in the first place. My goal is to make it so much a part of my lifestyle that it's just a natural habit that I don't even think about. I was almost there. I think that regardless of how much stress you're under in life on a regular basis, there always comes a period when it gets to be too much. (Knowing that everyone goes through it doesn't necessarily help when you're in the thick of it, but it keeps things in perspective). And the rational part of my brain accepts the oxygen mask on the airplane analogy, that you have to take care of yourself first in order to take care of others. Still, it feels so selfish. It's pretty hard to justify putting yourself first when so much else is needed of you.
I don't know what the answer is. Parents everywhere face this problem daily. I have been pretty lucky, spoiled even, to have had the luxury of making exercise a priority and fitting it into my schedule easily. And, despite reverting back to emotional eating lately, I haven't had the additional hurdle of having to accommodate other people's nutrition or eating habits.
Yet, the war rages on around me.
It's a war for control.
No matter what form the enemy at the door takes, I have to remember that the only weapon I've ever truly had has been my response to it. I can't control when people get sick (myself included). I can't control when training gets cancelled. I can't control when the landlord needs entry or when they decide to do (unwanted) renovations. I can't control changes at work. I can't control what is needed to be done. I can't even control my emotional response to it all (the tears will come, unbidden, at the worst possible time; so does the beet-red blushing). The only thing I can control are my actions. My response is my weapon.
Time to sharpen the sword and get ready.
This hero has to defend herself.