Thursday, October 23, 2008

Using a Stool to Mount

I have never been very good at hoisting myself up.

As a kid, I would try over and and over to push with my arms on the ledge of the pool and pull myself up like my friends did. In between the times when the lifeguards made us get out, my friends would work with me, coaxing me, demonstrating, pulling on me. I could never leap up. I always had to rush over to the ladder before the lifeguard would get pissed with me for still being in the water.

It was similar situation in the lake. My friend and I would spend the whole day howling and laughing and spitting water as we tried over and over again for both of us to be on the float at the same time. She would get up on it. . . and well, then came the splashing and falling and splashing. . . of me, not being able to hoist myself up on the float.

Then, there was the horse in High School PE during the gymnastic section. I couldn't vault over that damn thing. I'd run and jump on that spring board, place my hands on the top of the horse, and WHAP my knees would slam into the side of the horse, or tap the top of the horse. The teacher would have me try an extra time, slowing down the line of cellulite free, would-be gymnasts who even looked good in the one piece, zip up, bloused maroon & white gym suits. Then, she'd have me stay after they went into the locker room, trying again and again.

I really don't think she was trying to torture me, I think she just thought I was so close.

Girls would come of of the locker room already changed into their regular school clothes. They'd start singing for me. . . "Just what made that little old ant, think she could move a rubber tree plant, any one knows an ant can't move a rubber tree plant. BUT SHE HAD HI-IGH HOPES, SHE HAD HI-IGH HOPES. . ." I think they were trying to be encouraging. I never knew whether to laugh or cry.

Eventually--about a year later, I think, I did make it over the horse. . . but after a few successful, esteem-soaring jumps, I landed on the leg and badly sprained my ankle. C'est la vie.

I've never been very good at hoisting myself up emotionally either.

I don't respond well to criticism. If you want me to improve, praise me. I'll lick your floors clean if you tell me I'm doing a good job.

But if you tell me I suck. . . I'm likely to turn with my tail between my legs, lie down in a dark corner, and stay there whining and licking my wounds long after they are visible. It's not a pretty picture to share, but it's pretty accurate.

So this week, I felt like I was down. And, once again, I was not doing well at hoisting myself up. Each time I didn't do well--didn't exercise or eat quite like I wanted--just made me sink lower and give myself a reason to keep failing.

So today, I talked about it with the PhD. And I opened my eyes to a couple things about myself. (And this was good because I hadn't felt like me and the PhD hadn't been getting very deep or making much progress and what I felt most after our visits was frustrated and lonely for my last PhD--but that's another story.)

So, the most memorable, pivotal response she had for me when I said I was having a bad week was that I had to be basically a bit obsessive to follow through with my weight loss goal. Obsessively stick with it; obsessively plan; obsessively shoo away saboteurs and temptations. And that made me realize how slack I've been. In fact, I said, "sh*t, I was really hoping I could be kind of loose about this. . .!"

But she's right. I can't be loose. Because when I'm loose I have to get back on again and again. It's not so hard to stay up once you're on. But getting on and off is really hard.

So, here's how I've been loose:
  • I hadn't quite committed to a food plan. I've been using Weight Watchers points as a guide--keeping the point counter on the kitchen counter and checking things. But I haven't tracked points. Nor have I tracked calories. I need to decide what I'm doing and do it.
  • I haven't been writing down what I eat. I mean I was checking the points. . . but without writing it down, I don't know when I've reached my limit. I want to find some kind of great food tracker, like I have for my exercise. . . but I haven't been very successful at finding a widget to add to my blog. Anybody seen any?
  • I haven't been very dedicated to decisions I've set. If I set an appointment at the gym with Trainer D, then I need to just make that a closed issue. No more consideration of whether I'm going or not. Do I feel like it or not? Am I too busy at work or not? It's an appointment, it's set. No more thinking about it.
  • I hadn't set a weigh-in schedule. I was weighing. . . some. . and hoped I could be loose about it. But who am I kidding? PhD says I need to pick a day and a time and weigh and tell someone what the results are--she suggested herself as a good person to tell. (I asked her what she'd do with the info. . . all ready to tuck my tail and turn. . . )

There's more. She didn't bring up the idea of catastrophic thinking, but it came to mind. I don't have the official definition in front of me, but the idea is that you let a small that that's gone wrong allow your mind to catastrophize into all the things that could go wrong or give the small thing too much credit/attention so you have a reason not to go on.

When I was re-hashing last weekend and the week to PhD to show her how bad it had been for me, it occurred to me. . . I really hadn't been that bad! But I felt so bad about myself, I just let myself keep spiraling downward. It was an excuse to give up and stop being diligent. Ouch. Another not very pretty picture.

It's weird; it's like I'm too hard on myself and too easy on myself all at the same time. I'm too easy on myself because I have this loose approach and act like a baby who doesn't want to feel any discomfort when things get challenging. But then when I have the smallest slip, I beat the crap out of myself.

So, that gets me to thinking about a time I was successful at hoisting myself up.

It was with my B'ham trainer. He had me use that machine where you rest your knees on this bench and do pull ups. You set the weights as a counterbalance. That is, what matters is the difference between your weight and the weight you select on the machine--that difference is the weight you're pulling against. So you might set the machine's weight at 195, but if you weight 210, that's just 15 pounds that you have as resistance.

Being that I'm a big girl, my trainer would set the weight on the machine high. That machine scared the hell out of me at first, but I got where I'd humph and puff and grunt and pull myself up. After one fairly audible session when my face was likely beet red and sweaty, these two older women came up to my trainer and said, "Why do you give her so much weight! It's too heavy!"

My sweet trainer didn't explain because he was too polite to embarrass me. So his explanation to them was, "She can handle it. She's strong." I could handle it because it was all about the counterbalance!

I similarly have to find the right balance between being firm with myself and gentle with myself--perhaps in completely reversed ways than what I'm used to.

And while I'm learning. . . there's this. I was watching some weight loss program recently--it could have been the Half Their Weight show by People magazine or it could have been the Biggest Loser. Anyway, the woman being profiled had lost a lot of weight. And she said one of things that made her the happiest was that before when she rode her horse she always had to step on a box or a stool to mount. But now that she had lost weight she could get on her own horse by herself.

The message I took away, though, was that she kept riding--even when she needed an assisted lift. Without that assist, sometimes you just can't get up. And like I said, no matter how I get there, it's easier for me to stay up than get up and down. . . so my message to self? If you need help getting up--take it. Then try to stay up until you can get up and down easily on your own.


  1. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are diva! (so am I)

    Fall in love with yourself.

    Peace - Rene

  2. Thanks, Rene! I needed to hear that.


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