The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

A Long, Strange Trip pt. 4

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I turn 40 in two days, and the most remarkable thing that has happened to me this year is that at the stroke of midnight, I suddenly had the motivation to drop weight. I dropped 10 pounds by the end of January. By the middle of February, I was tightening my belt by a notch. One morning, the scale at the gym read 206. I didn’t believe it, so I weighed myself in the nurse’s office at school. Fully dressed, shoes off, the scale reported 207. I still didn’t believe it.

The thing was that I wasn’t dieting. Not in the least. But I did stop eating all the time. And I was eating all the time, not just when I was hungry. I was fixing meals when I didn’t need to eat. I was stopping at the gas station for a candy bar on the way home from work (which I still do sometimes…). I was snacking on candy or other sweets after and between meals. Someone would bring brownies to work, and I would eat 4. I’d work on writing at Panera for an afternoon, and not only have a full Panera meal, but end with one or two of their big-ass cookies. I was still exercising, so that kept me from totally ballooning, but even my exercise wasn’t enough.

I think, too, that I have always fallen back on nostalgia; specifically, the summer of 2000, when I turned 30. It was a transcendent summer; one that began with me fresh out of an altar-bound relationship. I had to work hard to meet people and make new friends. I did that by spending countless hours at the pool and playing sand volleyball. I never paid attention to when I was eating and preparing meals. If I was hungry, I ate. I was getting so much exercise that my weight dropped to the low 190s. I felt great. I looked trim and athletic.

But there was a downside: I started thinking that I could do that every summer. Pretty soon, I started putting off changes in my eating habits until the summer, which meant I was eating as a way to manage stress (mostly job-related). When summer did roll around, watching my diet was the last thing on my mind. I was too busy running around doing whatever whenever with whomever. I would indulge my appetite with impunity, thinking that I was still 30 and getting 10-15 hours of exercise in the sand or the pool or on the road when I ran.

But it wasn’t a matter of just saying “enough” when 2010 dawned. I have willpower, but not that much. I had to get my mind straight about a number of things, which took a great deal of cognitive energy. I have a goal: I want to feel normal. I’ve hung a lot of weight on that goal, so it’s important to achieve. I’m know, too, that when I feel normal, most everything falls in line nicely after that.

So I was pursuing the feeling of normalcy rather aggressively last fall and early winter, and made a lot of progress. I stopped putting my nutrition and body concerns off until next summer, and things clicked. I didn’t eat or snack compulsively or anything. If I was hungry, I ate. If I wasn’t, I didn’t.

So much hinges on that feeling of normalcy. I feel it when I’m exercising frequently and effectively, writing consistently (quality seldom matters), in frequent contact with my family and closest friends, finding time to watch movies and read books, and monitoring my finances enough to live comfortably and enjoy life. It’s a delicate balance, and it can get thrown off easily. But I have struck the balance and continue to strike it frequently. Some might call it Zen. I call it normalcy, and it helped rid me of the chronic back spasms I’ve had since 1999.

I don’t know what all this has to do with turning 40. Or maybe I do… I started this off by talking about how my peers are taking life more seriously now that the shadow of the age is descending. Maybe I needed to experience the palpable sensations of the darkness before I fully understood how to live life.

There’s a lot of uncertainty to this whole thing, and I don’t think that’s exclusive to my age.

Written by seeker70

June 29, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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