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.