Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Mother Unload: "But I want to enjoy my life!"

I had several possible Mother Unload posts in mind, but staring down the barrel of the two barium-sulfate smoothies I'll be drinking tomorrow morning made my choice for me.

Pharmacist says "Drink them cold. Drink them fast. Use a straw."

The last time I made big strides in changing my lifestyle/eating better/exercising, someone told me they could never do what I was doing because, "I want to enjoy my life!" To her, enjoying life meant allowing herself to eat whatever she craved and not worrying about the calorie counts, carbs, fat, or chemicals. The restrictions I'd placed on my eating and the obligation I'd added to my life to exercise daily seemed to her to be too restrictive, too harsh, or at least, they didn't leave room for a happy, enjoyable existence.

She had a point. Junk food tastes good. It's sweet and creamy and smooth and crunchy and salty and savory and made to order.  And fast!  So fast! You don't have to do much of anything to eat junk food. It's just there, waiting for you, in all its junky deliciousness. (Gas station nachos with banana peppers? Yes, please!)

Exercise is annoying. You sweat. Your face gets red. You have to schedule it just right or else you're stuck taking a second shower (and having to do your hair again...gah). It's hard and can hurt and makes you sore the next day. It can be boring and monotonous and can feel pointless when you plateau. Sometimes, you look completely ridiculous doing it. (This is why I don't do Zumba in groups. No one needs to see me flail like that.)

So, yeah, I absolutely agree that there is enjoyment inherent in eating whatever you want and avoiding exercise.

Do you know what isn't enjoyable in an enjoyable life like that?

- Worrying that you won't fit on an amusement park ride and will be asked to get off. (It hasn't happened yet, but who needs the stress?)

- Sitting out every active game at family events because you know you can't keep up with fitter family members. (I'd never heard of Ultimate Frisbee until I met my in-laws. If I played, they'd have to rename it Freakishly Pitiful Frisbee.)

- Leaving early when walking to a store or doctor's office so you can hide in the bathroom and stop huffing and puffing before you have to actually talk to anyone. (And flushing the toilet repeatedly so people can't hear your shame. Sorry, environment...)

- Joint pain associated with the added strain of extra weight. (If my knees could talk, they'd say, "GYAAAAAAHHHHHHH! What the heck, Sarah?!)

- Shopping for clothes. (So many tears.)

- Seeing the worry on your doctor's face when the fatty liver disease you reversed 2 years ago has come back and is worse. (Don't fire me, Dr. Shelby. Remember, I make you laugh.)

Being sick isn't enjoyable, and while not every overweight person is unhealthy, a lot of overweight people are.

I am sick.

I can tell you without hesitation that there isn't a food I've enjoyed in the last two years that is worth this. No delectable piece of cheesecake is worth the intermittent discomfort/pain I feel on my right side, the elevated liver enzymes showing up in my blood work, or the ominous looking spots that show up on an ultrasound of my liver. No $2 serving of gas station nachos is worth the $1300 we'll be paying (after insurance) for the CT scan I'm having tomorrow. Nothing is worth the non-alcoholic cirrhosis I'll develop if we don't fix this now.

If you're avoiding healthy eating and exercise because you want to "enjoy life," learn from my fail. Let me be your cautionary tale. Let me be your After School Special for the day. Hurting your body has consequences, and they're not enjoyable.

Also, if the healthy food you're eating isn't enjoyable, you're doing it wrong. 2011 taught me there is a WORLD of delicious and healthy food out there, and there are at least 8 trillion blogs devoted to teaching people how to prepare it.  It also taught me that the more you eat healthy foods, the more you begin to enjoy them and crave them and the less you want the junk food you used to crave. (You'll never stop craving cheesecake, though. That would be stupid.)

If the exercise you're doing isn't enjoyable, try something else. Find something that you like and do that, even if you look stupid. In high school, I got my coach to agree to letting me skip the mile instead of run it (like a little girl in a classic Disney movie...skipping along with my friend Gina and singing "Tra-la-la-la-la-la!" the whole time). I looked like a first class idiot, but I came in under the required time and got full credit (and exercise). On days I don't run on my treadmill, I'm in my room, dancing around like a crazy person while I watch something funny on Hulu.

I don't have much else. If you want to send some energy my way as I try to heal my overworked liver (again), I wouldn't kick you out of my blog readership. If you've done the barium-sulfate smoothie thing and have some tips for getting it/keeping it down, I'd welcome them. If you want to be my "looking like an idiot exercise buddy," come over and flail with me!

I think laughing at someone else would be really...enjoyable.

(I completely forgot to mention that I'm down 20 pounds since I had my wisdom teeth out 7 or so weeks ago. Hey, everyone! I've lost 20 pounds! Send me brownies!  No, wait...don't do that...)


Jenn Peterson said...

Congrats on losing 20 lbs!

TulsaT said...

Thank you for your honesty. You took the words out of my mouth and inspired me to make some changes.