Monday, May 23, 2011
Comparison vs. Inspiration
I know you’re not supposed to compare yourself to other people. We’re all individuals, worthy in our own way, and all that.
But we all do it. I do it. I know you do it. The trick is letting the comparisons motivate you, not tear you down.
I went to elementary school with a girl named Paige. Actually we went through all twelve years of school together. But we were the closest friends in elementary school. Twenty years after graduation, I found her again. On Facebook, of course. It was fun to catch up on what paths she’d taken and where she’d ended up. She got the journalism degree that I’m now wondering if I should have gone for, instead of elementary education. It was interesting to me, to hear about her adult life history.
Then a few months ago she started posting on Facebook that she had started an exercise program. I could respect that. People our age need to stay on top of the health thing. I kept seeing her consistent efforts, displayed on my Facebook newsfeed every few days. Every time I saw one I thought to myself, “good for her!”
Then a week ago she posted an update. It went something like this - “13 weeks: 15 pounds, 13 inches, 5% less body fat. Half of those inches came off in the last four weeks!” Wow! Fifteen pounds! In the weeks that had clipped by so quickly as I watched her exercise updates. She then reported that her clothes are all falling off of her and she feels better than she has in years. Talk about inspirational.
She didn’t have a surgery. She didn’t join anything more than a gym. She just started being much more careful about her food choices and she showed up at the appointed time to exercise every day.
And she showed that it can be done. As a matter of fact, she’s still doing it. I can’t wait to see what she looks like in 13 more weeks.
And her motivation got my butt out of the office chair. Sure, life has been crazy in my world lately. For six weeks we spent every spare minute renovating and fixing up the house so we could get it on the market. I was weary from painting and running move related errands.
But then the day came when the lists stopped. Aside from some small projects, the house was done. Ready to go on the market. Cleaned out, cleaned up, and ready to go. That coincided with my last day at work. I might fill in some, in the weeks to come, but I am no longer on the schedule at work. My whole day now revolves around waiting for calls for a showing, getting the dog out of the house for showings, keeping the family organized, and keeping up with some small writing assignments.
So there is basically no excuse not to exercise anymore. I’d been doing pretty well, when it came to exercise, after the first of the year, but once the news of moving hit, it all came to a screeching halt. And boy was I feeling it. It became harder to get out of chairs. It’s not easy for amputees to stand, from a seated position, in regular life. But when muscles are not strong, it’s even harder.
The lumpy tummy returned around my middle. It is not pretty. And the only cure for it is diet and exercise. My gait began to suffer too. When my legs are not strong, my gait is not strong. I could feel my need for exercise as much as I could sense it.
So, with Paige’s inspiration pushing me, I started back. And I’m lovin’ it. I love laying on that mat and stretching my body long, reaching above my head as I feel my back muscles stretch and loosen. I love doing a set of arm or leg weights, to build more muscle and supplement my opportunities for fat burning. I love about minute seven on the bike, when I am totally warmed up and ready to hit the resistance up a notch and ride away.
I feel good afterward and it makes me want to come back again, as soon as possible. If it weren’t for the frustration of showers being a big deal with prosthetic legs (see earlier posts) I would go twice a day.
And on the topic of comparisons, I have to include this story. I was in a conversation with my favorite inspirations, my brother in law and his amazing wife, and we were discussing the Kenyans who run marathons in unbelievable times. Kurt, who just finished in 11th place overall in a marathon a few weeks ago, commented that he could never even run one mile at the pace the Kenyans run in marathons. His wife, Terry, who finished that same marathon with her husband, at her best time ever, with a sub five hour time, said, “Well, that’s nothing. I can’t run one mile at the pace you run in marathons.”
I couldn’t resist. I had to chime in. ‘Well, I can’t even run one mile. So there!”
We all have our goals, our desires, and our abilities to juggle when it comes to exercise. My marathon crazy relatives are on my mind when I hit a wall. And so is my friend Paige. I think of them, and how they’re out there, pushing through their own walls. Succeeding. And feeling great in the process.
I’m pretty sure I want to have that kind of life.