Critical voices

Last week I got what I call a nastygram, an anonymous postcard telling me I should give up. That mean-hearted individual wanted his or her insult to sting, and sting it did, though I puzzled over why.

“Come on. You’ve way, way worn out ‘I Losing It.’ Besides, you’re not,” this nameless person wrote. “You’ve sacrificed some semblance of journalism for your own headline.”

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As to the sacrificing journalism, this is a personal column, not a news story; having said that, I’ve worked hard to keep it honest, and relevant. Anyway, I have confidence in my ability to write a personal column while remaining a serious journalist.

No, the part that stung was, “Besides, you’re not.” The implication being, of course, that I am not losing weight. Ironic given that after staying off the scale for six weeks, I saw a 3-pound drop—at last.

I mulled it over for a week, recognizing that the author of the nastygram had gotten my goat, but really not grasping why. Then it hit me: It sounded just like my own critical inner voice, the one I’ve worked so hard to quell. Or if not quell, then at least to redirect, repurpose, redraw, redefine.

I used to spend a whole lot of time saying things exactly like that to myself: Why bother? You’ve blown it. Quit writing the column, quit working out, quit posting on Facebook all the damn time about it. Go ahead and get fat, get old, die young from something preventable. Go team. Eat all the cake you want.

Oh, that inner voice of mine was mean and never bit back her acid tongue, and it truly has been a blessed relief to leave that constant barrage of negative self-talk behind.

But the truth is that the timing of the nastygram was also part of why it got to me. I’ve been in the worst slump ever and am only now barely starting to crawl out of it. So that unsigned postcard had the emotional power of sounding like the truth.

But the actual truth is that I am losing it, (in both senses of the phrase, ha) and that I’ve once again gone back to my plan of finding exercise that I think is fun. I went to the rock climbing gym last Friday for ladies night and had a great time working out with my grandson, my daughter and son-in-law, and a teenager I know. We had a blast! Well, I’ll speak for myself. I had a great time, as always.

Even though I did not prepare my lunches for the week on Sunday, I made up for lost time Monday, and got the job done. I eat more nutritious food when it comes out of my own kitchen, and it costs a lot less, too.

I did some crazy dancing with my grandsons. I’m getting back to the basics.

Do I wish I was doing more right now? Yes, I really do, and I don’t understand my slump. I don’t get why things that seemed easy a month ago feel so much more difficult now.

But somehow, I have to not worry about that, and simply act. Build the baby steps onto the baby steps and start all over from the beginning if that’s what it takes. I must be stubbornly determined to take care of myself, the same way I would care for a child. My health is important and deserves my attention and my best effort.

I no longer let the critical voice in my head have free rein in my thought processes, but she does sneak in around the corners sometimes.

It’s easy for me to spend a lot of time thinking I have to figure everything out before I can take action. But the reality is that action is what is required, and not only that, I don’t have to figure it out because I already have a plan. So I’ll celebrate my baby steps, and continue to document my journey from couch potato to an active lifestyle, even when it is uncomfortable and embarrassing to do so. I will persevere, even when I feel like giving up, and even if somebody else thinks I should give up. So thank you, author of the nastygram, for giving me inspiration to keep going another week.

In the end this will come down to my commitment to myself, and how seriously I take that. It’s easy to quit, the easiest thing in the world, in fact, to just let the progress slip away, and to revert to that person who did just enough self-care to stay out of the hospital while my health takes a long, slow slide.

Screw that. This is the rest of my life we are talking about.

How do you deal with critical voices in getting fit? You can contact me at 505-286-1212 or leota@lobo.net, or join the conversation in my Facebook group, “I’m Losing It!” I’d love to hear from you.

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