Monday, June 1, 2009

Letting Go of the Balloon

Have you seen that movie "Groundhog Day," when Bill Murray wakes up to the same day over and over, forced to endure the same annoying scenarios and bad decisions until he finally starts changing his ways and gets it right? By the end of the movie, a snarky, arrogant, pushy guy ends up being...a snarky, arrogant, pushy guy with a little more self-awareness. Well, I feel like I am in my own personal Groundhog Day because pretty much every morning I have to remind myself of the same thing: form follows function.

Form follows function. Form follows function. Get it, write it down, tattoo it on your arm because its just how it is.

Yeah, we've been here before. It was a couple of months ago when I first had the epiphany that it was more important to me that I could actually perform tasks rather than just look like I can. Meaning, its one thing to have great legs but quite another to clear three hurdles at lightening speed. But letting go of the aesthetic rewards of nutrition and exercise is easier said than done. After all, it's summer. I'm going to the beach in two weeks. I have a two-piece bathing suit. I am earnestly fighting the urge to stop eating carbs. So it was not the best time for Captain Awesome to confide that he thinks I should eat more. More carbs.

Yeah, we've been here before, too. I did the whole, "I'm going to eat more," thing and had my big awakening, which lasted for a few months before little by little, I started shaving calories here and there until I found myself back in my comfort zone of barely eating but trying to push the entire planet up a hill. I know how nutrition works; I know I need to fuel the fire. But as a woman with more than a fair share of food-angst, knowing and doing are two completely different things.

I work out a lot. I train hard and train specifically for the challenges I want to achieve. For me, going to the gym is about more than fitting into my skinny jeans; it is about building the skills and strength that I need to be able to run that obstacle course. It's about function, not form.

But it is so so so hard to let go of form. It is so hard to release my hold on that balloon and let it float away, hoping that someday I'll get another chance to hold it. I'm not getting any younger, and at some point I have another pregnancy in my future. And I am just shallow enough to mourn the fire I have stoked since, well, as long as I can remember: attaining physical perfection.

I've never achieved it, and I never will. At least, not in my eyes. And I am trying to be mature enough to realize that physical appearances are temporary and, often, deceiving. But man, it's hard. It is really hard to shift focus away from the aesthetic and towards the functional. It's really hard to train every day knowing that I might never "see" myself in a body that reflects the power beneath its skin.

But it feels amazing to do a one-armed pull-up*, tummy pooch and all.

I want to get over it. I want to be able to not care if I have a tummy pooch or if my legs look fat. I'm a few steps closer, but I'm still looking over my shoulder at that balloon floating away into the distance. Hopefully over the next few months, I can stop looking back and start moving more confidently towards something more permanent.

And start carrying a needle to pop balloons in my way.

*On the assist; I'm not that strong! :)


EDP said...

Boy, can I relate to this. I keep trying to tell myself that it's more important to be able to kick the stationary bike's ass (I can) than to be a single-digit dress size (I'm not). But as someone who has yet to be weight of her dreams, I have a tough time focusing on health over looks. It's quite an interesting journey, isn't it?

Michael said...

Wow Heather-wait until you are 56. I feel your pain. I know I can never look like I did when I was your age-but I am in probably better physical shape now than I was. The body starts to lose elasticity and all the weight lifting does not help. I just have to satisfy myself knowing I can do more crunches now than when I was 35-even though I still have belly issues. But when I consider I have diabetes, two bad knees, etc. I feel pretty good. And the last time I was under 200 lbs before now was an ill conceived relationship with phen-phen. My wife is a good example of someone who kept at it, and now at 52, she is down to a size 6 (she had been a 10-12 for many years and I loved her either way). It took her a long time to lose her weight from her 2nd pregnancy-but she hung in there.
I know you will do the same-you may never achieve perfection in your own eyes-but there are many who do and will envy the way you look and the shape you are in.

Anonymous said...

You are so gorgeous. I envy your legs and your arms (That's all of you I've seen). Your function obviously kicks wild monkey butt, but you don't give your form the credit it deserves.

The (not so) Reluctant Athlete said...

ROFL! Wow, whoever you are, Anonymous, I owe you a drink. :)