I Am That Girl Now

Sunday, April 17, 2005

What's bugging me

I've been taking a lot out on my Hub lately-- not out loud, but I've been informed that he can tell when I'm annoyed even when I claim I'm not. (This should not come as a surprise to me.) Problem is, I can't usually tell what I'm annoyed about.

I was thinking it out while we were on one of our big long walks yesterday, and it finally hit me: I'm really tired of doing this all by myself.

I mean, yes, I get a lot of support, and I've always felt I ought to be content with it. It's not like I'm not surrounded by people who are trying hard to do something, which is a lot different from when I got started on this. A year and a half ago, nobody I knew was eating well. In a weird way, I blazed a trail that sucked a lot of other people in after me.

My Hub is glorious on the support end of things, and he does try to a certain extent to live healthier than he used to. He cooks healthy, for the most part he eats what I eat, he relishes the challenge of long walks (as long as there's a goal), he cheers for me when I run, he admires my progress on yoga, he encourages me in my attempts to get started on strength-training. He is, on the whole, a remarkable specimen of the Supportive Husband type. I love that man like fire.

A good number of my friends are also trying to eat healthy. One friend is a vegetarian. One friend has some sort of obsession with trying to create calorie-free versions of decadent desserts-- although from what I can tell, that's pretty much the entirety of her dedication to health; she does try hard to make sure she serves healthy foods when I come over, though, bless her heart. One friend is on the WW Core Plan and is all about real food-- lean meat, whole grain, fruits and vegetables-- and actually comes the closest to making sense by my lights. Two others are on WW Flexpoints, although one of those has been on the plan nearly as long as I have and is frustrated as hell that she's not losing more weight. Another, like me, is maintaining a weight loss and trying to keep her binge eating under control. One has gone vegetarian and lost a pile of weight as a result. Another friend is just busting her butt to get to the point where she could get her family eating healthier, by taking baby steps in that direction-- currently, by getting them used to cooking at home.

Everyone's trying something, on a vast variety of levels and different methods. They all have one thing in common, though.

Not a damn one of them exercises.

Until yesterday, I didn't realize how much this was bugging me. Friday night I signed up for my second 5K race of the season and my husband started talking about "well, maybe I should run in this thing, too." Just the suggestion woke up this crazy longing in me-- I wanted someone to run with. Not every morning, really-- I relish my privacy-- but as we head into summer and it's so light and glorious out at six in the morning, I find that I'd really like to jog outside some mornings, but since I'm solo on this and we're in the city, I can't.

When I thought about it, this is something that's seriously lacking in my life. I don't have anyone else around who does this, does anything like this, who has physical activity as part of their lives.

My sister runs, and does yoga, and I love trading stories about both of those things with her, but I also feel a little odd about it because she's on a much higher level than I am on both of them. She can't be useful to me on a daily basis, either, because she's on the other side of the country from me, and we don't talk more than a few times every month. I've got another friend who's seriously into fitness, in a professional way-- she's a football player and solid as hell. But again, she lives far away and is at a much higher level than I am.

The people I talk to every day do not exercise. When I talk about what I do, there's this kind of panic that comes into their eyes, that "oh, God, is she going to try to convert me and convince me to do this shit, too?" look. They don't get it. They have a vague understanding of the place of exercise in a healthy life, and how it goes along with weight loss, but for various reasons they just can't make the time or effort.

I understand that; lord knows, I've been there. It frustrates me, though. For one thing, I can see what benefits it would have on their health; several of them wheeze going up a single flight of stairs or on walks of less than a mile, two have high blood pressure, one has high cholesterol, and as they all drift closer to 40 the risks of more health problems get a lot more intense. (I know, I know, they're all adults, but I fret.) For another thing, they're almost all concerned about their weight to some extent, from actively trying to lose weight to the others in that "well, I know I should fix this soon" phase, and obviously exercise is something that helps in that. But if I'm honest with myself, the main thing for me isn't worry about other people, it's much more selfish. It's that I don't have a buddy in this exercise thing.

It never really occurred to me how big a part of my life this stuff is, these days. It's something that I started out having to do and that now I kinda like doing. I take pride in what I've achieved, in what improvements and gains I've made, and the damnedest thing is that I don't have anyone around who really grasps how incredible this shit is. It's like talking opera around football players-- they're impressed in a "hell, I could never do that" way, but they don't get it, and it's not like they'd ever bring it up on their own because, at heart, they don't feel comfortable with it.

This frustrates me. A lot. One of my friends in particular is in that "I should exercise but OH MY GOD I'M SO BUSY" phase, and if I attempt to inform her that she doesn't have to start big, that she can start with five minutes a day, there's just silence. I suspect that she doesn't want that to be true because then she'd have to admit that the reason she doesn't do this isn't that she doesn't have time, it's that she doesn't want to. Which is fine, but I wish she'd just be honest about it and take responsibility for the choice. I'd rather have her tell me "It's just not on my list of priorities right now" than "I would, but circumstances prevent me!"

The bigger thing, though, is intelligent discussion, the support of others who do the same thing, occasional company (it does hurt that all of my exercise is such a solitary thing), trading tips and stories, challenging me, inspiring me, helping to keep me from getting stuck in ruts... the stuff you do with any group of people who enjoy and participate in the same things that you do. I don't have that. And you know, I suspect that I've been expecting, in the back of my mind, that someone else among my friends will get the exercise bug and I won't have to make the effort to meet new people (which I hate doing). But you know... again, that's me passively expecting that a situation will change into something I want.

So, fuck it. I need to branch out. I clearly need access to a community of other exercisers. I need to start doing this stuff in the company of other people. For starters, I should start going on the Monday night, Wednesday night, or Saturday morning "fun runs" sponsored and organized by a local running gear store. This is how you meet people in a similar hobby: you go do that hobby in a group setting and find the ones amongst them that you like. Yes, new people scare me, and I'd much rather do this with my husband at my side or another friend, but since I don't have that, I need to gather my courage and do this shit anyway. Starting this week. Period.

God, but this scares me. Ack ack ack ack ack.


  • This somehow reminds me of when I would still take the bike every day to go to school and work (I unfortunately had to stop when I moved 90 kms away and had to take the train instead). Some people at school would tell me "wow, you're so brave, I could neeeever do that" - and these people were wafer-thin girls, while I was pretty much overweight. I just couldn't understand, to be honest. Taking the bike was allowing me to spare the bus money and have more cash at the end of the month, plus it took me less time to go to work, as I didn't need to wait for 15 minutes on buses correspondences. In a way, I'm still convinced that this was all laziness, because except for the discomfort when the weather was rainy, I really can't see how taking the bike to go to work - any work, when it's possible, not too far, etc - would make them "waste time" (the usual reason that was given to me, too).

    Regarding doing it alone... yes, it can be so boring at times! Currently, my boyfriend is trying to go to the gym to lift weights two days per week, so I've made these "my" days for strength training too. The only danger in my opinion being that we can then get the convenient excuse of staying home when our partner(s) can't come for whatever reason... but then, if it's a type of exercise we enjoy, I guess we'll still go all the same, at least most of the time.

    By Anonymous Kery, at 1:51 PM  

  • Meg, I completely understand where you're coming from - I'm tired of doing those 5k-s and having my husband and friends meet me afterward so we can go out for brunch (damn those pancakes!). I have been thinking about meeting up with the Fleet Feet women's fun runs after work... I don't know what part of the city you're in, but maybe that's one place to meet a few new like-minded people. Here's hoping!

    By Anonymous Stenya, at 10:35 PM  

  • I know this is an old post, but I can soooo relate! I think my coworkers, friends, and family were a teensy bit relieved when I severely broke my leg last summer and can no longer get up at 5:15am to exercise. I'm now back down on their level -- at least until spring.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:07 PM  

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