Adjustment without Improvement

I have less than one year before my 35th birthday. I have promised myself that when I turn 35 I will be in the best shape of my life. This week I’ve given the phrase “the best shape of my life” a second thought.

There was time when I thought being in shape meant being able to fit into any size 4 on the rack. I quickly learned that, for me, that was really called being anorexic. Then, I decided that being in shape meant maintaining a size 6, and throwing up my french fries and double cheeseburger and shake if I happened to slip up to an 8. That was really called being bulimic, despite the benefits of gaining amazing control of my gag reflex. Being in shape was about a number: my weight, my jeans size, how many miles I could run in a week, how many times I could run the stairs in the stadium, how many laps I swam. I was/am no athlete. I was what Debbie calls skinny fat. I was a petite woman who ate like my heart was my worst enemy and I was duty bound to kill it with fast food, sugary sweets and the absence of all things that grow from the ground, except for when I’d go through one of my health nut cycles.

Over the years I have had periods of extreme conscientiousness about what I eat. Like most things with me, my enthusiasm about eating better has ebbed and flowed. I’m about to turn 35. I’m out of wiggle room. The choices I make about what I do to my body now will make or break how I grow old. I prefer to do so gracefully without preventable diseases. I have to make changes now.

I started reading Toni Morrison’s, The Bluest Eye, this week. I was only a few pages in when I came upon this sentence.

I learned much later to worship her, just as I learned to delight in cleanliness, knowing, even as I learned, that the change was adjustment without improvement.

The context of that statement isn’t as important as the italicized phrase. Those six words hit me like a ton of bricks. It struck me as antithetical to all I hope to be accomplishing along this journey of personal growth. I’ve made changes in my life. Many, many changes at many different times. I am smack in the middle of one of the most significant seasons of change I’ve ever experienced, even more significant than the time period that birthed this blog. I don’t want to look back at this time as a period of adjustment without improvement. I want to be better. I want to be a better friend, a better daughter, a better sister, cousin, niece, aunt and granddaughter. I want to be a better employee, a better citizen, a better companion, student, coworker. I want to be a better stranger. I want to be a better me. Different is not good enough. I want to be better.

When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, I’ve made adjustments many times. I will make many more. But I’ve begun to make improvements. It’s time for me to start eating like an adult. I have a great independent organic market less than 2 miles from my house. I have no excuses. I walked up and down the aisles this evening amazed by how many choices their are for eating well. I’ve decided that my grocery list will be comprised of items from two lists. The SuperFoods list is the priority. The World’s Healthiest Foods list will round out the rest. Now, since I’m about improvement and not just adjustment here, I’ve tried it out for over a week. I haven’t starved to death. I’ve eaten foods I love. I’ve eaten often (seems like all day long) to boost my metabolism. I’ve felt better than I have in a long time. I’ve dropped 5 pounds, just like that. And I haven’t worked out once. Yet. I even went to Happy Hour last night and ordered an avocado and tomato salad and quinoa tabbouleh (and 2 blood orange margaritas). I never missed a chip or buffalo wing. It was lovely, I tell you.

I was in Whole Foods with Katrice last week and, as you may have read on her blog (which I won’t link because there are nut cases among us), and we ran into Dick Gregory. I was doing my first big shopping spree from the Super Foods list, and I took this as a prophetic endorsement that I am somehow on the right track (why? because I’m corny like that!) I was tickled to see him, and while I am not going raw foodist (yet), he still inspired me to do better than I’ve been doing.

I’ll probably continue the discussion of how this whole change is going on Fine Tuning, my pathetic chronicle of my weight loss efforts. But it was important enough today, for me to mention it here. I’m done adjusting for the sake of adjusting. It’s time to get better, healthier.

Today when I think of being in shape I think of the whole person. Not just what I eat or if I work out. There’s so much more to fitness. The mind, body and spirit are connected and interdependent. And as much as I’ve chosen to rid my body of unnecessary hormones, preservatives and toxins, I’m diligently plugging away at those things that clutter and preoccupy my mind and weigh upon my spirit. You’ll hear about more of it here. Even if it gets political and politically incorrect.

Stay tuned.

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12 thoughts on “Adjustment without Improvement

  1. I think that being in shape has nothing to do with skinniness, but how you treat your body.

    This was a great post!!!!

  2. Makes a difference in how you view life and life change. Many people do hings for a moment adn don’t fullt commit. I had a trainer tell me that your body will start to crave the good and not hte bad if you treat it right. It just wants fries because that’s what it’s been given and trained to like.

    I need to revamp too. My eating habits suck being in the car half the day. It’s easier to drive and eat fries than a salad.

    You’ll get there. Determination and Perseverence.

  3. You are definitely on the right track! You have not only adjusted your thinking about fitness and who you want to be, but improved it.

    It’s absolutely true that if you eat the right foods, you will never feel hungry or deprived. Your tastes actually change so that it gets easier in time.

    And another bonus besides losing weight is that you are feeding your brain better, too, so it will go the distance with you as you age.

    A really big good on you for doing this, Lex!!

  4. @ Debbie

    Thank you, ma’am. And I totally agree.

    @ ~m~

    I don’t know how I got by without reading this one. I think it will haunt me as well.

    @ Kyla

    You’re right about fully committing. I’ve had to reconsider that all this week. If I’m trying this whole food lifestyle just to drop some pounds, there’s no point. It’s a momentary adjustment, I’ll go back to eating whatever I feel like eating and I’ll be right back where I started. I’m out of time for those kinds of adjustments. The only way this is going to work is for me to decide that this is how I’m going to treat my body from here on out.

    I need support in that decision, so today I ordered the book The World’s Healthiest Foods. I have been glued to the web page for 2 days. Honestly, when people say “such and such” is good for you, it really hasn’t meant much. When I started reading about all these different foods I am amazed and so motivated. I hope it continues. It’s been a great week!

    @ Heart

    Thank you so much. And you are so right(of course you are!) about all you said in the 2nd paragraph. I find myself just not wanting to go anywhere near the bad stuff.

    I have read so much about how different foods affect dementia and similar illnesses. I wondered if you knew about them. But then I thought, of course she does. Heart knows everything.

  5. You’re on the right track. For me, it’s not about the numbers. It’s about my health, which has deteriorated significantly in the last five years. And I’m only 33.

    This subject grieves me. It highlights how undisciplined I am. I do great when I am home and “un-busy.” I fail miserably when life gets hectic. Two months ago, I felt great. Today, I feel old and raggedy again. Everything aches and my insomnia is back.

    I’m being a bad caretaker of my temple.

  6. I was especially struck by your comment, “I want to be a better stranger.” Wow.

    And you have to promise me that you won’t become a “raw foodist”. I think that’s way too limiting (in my humble opinion, of course!) for your happiness & sanity. Going out for wings once in a while won’t hurt, yanno. 🙂

    Besides, that sounds good. I think I know what’s for dinner now.

    The “adjustment without improvement” quote is indeed profound. That is something, in the general sense, I need to be mindful of as well.

  7. @ Katrice

    I know what you mean about it all going to pot when you’re busy. I’m contemplating how I’m going to handle traveling this week. When I’m in town it’s easy to buy enough fresh produce and cook enough whole food dishes to take for lunch and not have to worry about dinner during the week, but it’s harder to find a bowl of lentils on the road, ya know? I can always eat salads, but they get boring after a while. Hopefully there will be a farmer’s market somewhere near my hotel and I can just buy what I need there.

    It’s sobering to watch bad things happen to your body when you know that what’s happening is in your power to control. That’s my motivation right now.

    @ Andy

    I took pause as I wrote that sentence. I really do want to be a better stranger. It’s easy to be good to the people you love. I aim higher.

    The raw foodist comment was tongue in cheek. I have no desire to go that far, besides I’m not even sure I buy all the hype about it. Dick Gregory looked hungry. LOL.

    And it’s not that I won’t ever eat those foods again, they just won’t be a part of my regular diet. At the moment I don’t want them. I don’t have a taste for them. When I crave a cheeseburger, maybe I’ll have it. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. But right now it’s not even on the radar.

    I haven’t had meat since June 10th, or chicken since June 17th. I just don’t want it. It’s crazy, but I don’t. I had no intention of giving up meat at all, it’s just how things are rolling at the moment.

    I’ve had sushi twice. I do crave fish now and then.

    Don’t worry, Sugar. You’ll still have someone to cook for…and something to hold on to! 😉

  8. I’m trying to put those two words together “adjustment” and “improvement”. I tend to think any adjustment is improvement.

    It’s interesting ~ how we weigh and measure things.

    I agree with the others that being in shape has nothing to do with skinniness. It has to do with how you feel.

  9. @ Chani

    Let’s say I’m sleeping next to a snorer, I may sleep with my pillow over my heard to adjust to the situation, but it’s hardly an improvement.

    Or, I might be the child of an alcoholic parent. I may make adjustments to cope with their behavior and try to hold things together, but the adjustments are definitely not improvement.

    I’m glad you stopped by. I don’t know how I strayed from reading you. I’m back on track now. And THAT adjustment is absolutely improvement.;)

  10. I want to enter 35 knowing that I no longer let life “happen” to me. I make conscious decisions(good and bad) which lead me to where I am. But it has to be about MY choices and coming to terms with them.

    I think if you enter 35 feeling like you are your own woman who has made her own choices and you are satisfied with who you are but still open to improvement…then life is good.

  11. @ Let’s Pretend

    Life is good.

    I think the great realization of my thirties has been that I have choices about so many things. I choose happiness or misery, health or poverty. I choose who is in my life and how their actions affect me. I choose to be the best person I can be. (This is starting to sound like an India song.) I choose whether or not to let others’ opinions of me influence my decisions. So much lies in the power of our choices. I choose to be a good person, to care for others, to laugh my ass off, to enjoy my life.

    I don’t always choose well, and I live with the consequences of those choices. But it is an amazing power that we should all learn to harness.

    Good luck in your quest.

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