Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Those things I used to do

It's been over a year since I started my healthy living campaign, and, by now, I really thought that the cravings would be gone. They're not. Even though sweet things don't taste the way I remember, I still want them.

I've been battling the urge to "go back to living normally" now that I am so close to meeting the goal that even I didn't really think was possible. I'm nearly at my best weight; not my lowest weight, not my "supermodel" weight, but the weight where I am healthy and look good; the number on the scale that I haven't seen since my mid-thirties.

Back then, and before, I was thin even though I ate very badly. I ate whatever I wanted to eat, and I ate lots of it. I had a killer metabolism fueled by youth, years of ballet classes, and a lifestyle that kept me on my feet most of the time.

I don't have those anymore; my lifestyle changed in my 30s and 40s. The years between 23 and 53 were a gradual slowing down for me; I became much less active, I put on 70 pounds (I needed 30 of them!), and I still ate like I was in my 20s most of the time. I didn't like what was happening to my body after the first 30 pounds; I tried every diet that came out, but nothing worked. The best I could do was stay even during the diet du jour; the longest I lasted was three months before giving up and going back to eating the way I wanted to eat. It was too frustrating to deprive myself and have no real results.

But then I got The Official News from my doctor: Lose the weight, get more active, or run the risk of developing diabetes and/or having a stroke. Suddenly, it wasn't just about fitting into a pretty dress for a party; it was about not being there for the party. I knew I didn't feel good; I knew I needed to do something drastic and permanent. Weight lifting and a diet based on fruit, vegetables and dried beans wasn't exactly my idea of fun, but I figured it was worth a try. If it didn't work, I could at least say I'd given it my best shot and go back to killing myself with cookies.

Well, it worked. Who knew?

And you'd think I'd be so happy with being healthy that I'd shun the evil sisters of sloth, sugars, and saturated fats; you'd think that I'd want nothing to do with them forevermore, and that I'd be doing 5K runs in my spare time, just for the fun of it. You'd be wrong, of course. Despite feeling better than I've felt in nearly 20 years, I am still drawn to curling up on the couch for an afternoon of cookies, hot chocolate, and a book. Even though I feel fabulous after my workout, I still have to force myself to get out there and get started. Sometimes I miss double creme cheeses so much that it hurts. I can't imagine giving them up forever.

And then I realized that I feel the same way about cheese that I felt about dancing when I was in my late teens and early 20s. Back then, I was taking a three-hour class five days a week, teaching dance the rest of the time, going out to dance all night long, and I couldn't imagine not dancing.

Remember those old discussions we used to have back in those days about which body part we could get along without, and which we couldn't? Most people picked eyes or ears as their most important, but for me, it was my legs. I just knew back then that if anything ever happened to me and I couldn't dance, I would just die. I really believed that I couldn't live without dancing.

So, what happened?

I got married; my subsistence pay as a dancer/instructor wasn't enough any more, and I got a "better" job. I didn't have the time for ballet lessons, and, since I wasn't dancing anymore, it went from a necessity to a luxury. For years, I still had a ballet barre at home, but gradually, gradually, it became a place to drape clothes. I don't know when I stopped using it; I don't even know when I got rid of it. All I know is that dance left my life, and other things filled it. I didn't die. Dancing became one of those things I used to do.

So now, I'm not going to eat cheese and cookies every day; that's become another thing that I used to do. I guess I'll live through that, too.


Melissa Vess said...

I am so happy for you that you have made a healthy lifestyle choice. A longer life and the ability to enjoy it is well worth giving up those sweets. I am right here beside you, doing the same thing. Each day wishing I could have some really yummy treat and forgo the workout. You should be SUPER proud of yourself.. I am!

Sally Anderson said...

There are so many of us in your shoes. Not literally of course. I never could dance! But gaining weight, going on a diet, and then gaining again is a struggle I've had my whole life. I've always said that I'm either gaining or losing. I never stay the same for very long (unless it's the too high amount). I applaud you for tackling this and succeeding and wish you many years of keeping it this way!!!

NEDbeads said...

Aw, Cynthia. You are so inspiring, in so many ways!! Your beadwork, your sense of self, your wise thinking... your ability to be firm with yourself. I envy you the last, because my willpower sucks big time. I'm so glad you are able to think things through the way you do, and come to the conclusions you do, for yourself. I am even more grateful that you share them with us. Love to you, always.