Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Difference Between Life and Time Travel

I want to talk about progress.  And backsliding.  And how that is all a part of the process.

This year, I started having significant breathing issues.  I have dealt with asthma for a long time but it seemed like it was getting worse... and changing.  It eventually became clear that I was aspirating my stomach contents when I exercised.  This explained how I could be fine for the first 40 minutes.  It explained why I could never eat or drink easily in a training setting or just before.  This explained how some of my "asthma attacks" seemed more like choking and less like wheezing.  I have had GERD since I was a kid and now it had finally come home to roost.  There is a post or twelve worth of commentary on all of the things happening to try to bring that under control.  But that is not what this post is about.  It is about the side effect of one of the medications and its effect on my life.  And what that really means in the bigger picture.

Years ago I was REALLY overweight.  I've posted about this so you may already know that.  I lost weight while I was in martial arts training through diet and exercise.  I made a lot of mistakes (that post is a different post too) but got about 70 lbs off.  Then I blew out my knee really badly and ended up having to take an enormous amount of time off and never was able to resume my sport.  I slipped into a period of low activity and gained 50 lbs back.  I felt like a failure.  I slipped.  I felt like I went backwards to that heavier place and time.

Then I found triathlon and cycling and I got active again.  When the weight began to come off, the diet followed easily.  I lost the 50 plus 25 more.  But then I started getting sick and getting hurt because I wasn't actually fueling my body correctly.  I worked with a couple dietitians and under their guidance I put about 15 lbs back on.  Then I was the fastest I had ever been.  That was a magical period where I was the right weight, gaining power, fueling my workouts, and responding to training.

But I thought I was too fat so I went on a diet.  And gained 10 more lbs.  Ummm... howzatwork?  Again, I felt like I was failing but this time I did not see myself as a failure.  That is a pretty critical difference and the beginning of a really important shift.

Then I started trying to develop myself as a sprinter and focused more on performance and forgot about the weight for a while.  My weight leveled off and I got super strong.  I valued something higher than being "skinny" and began to see the advantage in the unique way that I am made.

Then this year happened and I got sick.  And then the breathing issues started happening.  I don't know what triggered what.. I only know where it got me.  It got me on a medication that can make it really easy to gain weight.  So I did.  I'm at a weight and size that I am uncomfortable with.  And I am trying my best to avoid feeling guilty or allowing it to erode my sense of myself as an athlete.  I'm not allowing myself to feel like a failure.

I'm at a weird place in the journey.  That is all.

Fluctuations happen.  They are normal.  What isn't healthy is feeling like the sky is falling because you've had a "backslide".  Why do we look at it like that anyhow?  I haven't gone backwards.  I am heavier because of the state of my health and activity right now.  I have not gone back in time.  I am not younger.  I am not driving the car I was driving when I was 245 lbs.  I am not wearing the same clothes I was wearing when I was 190.  I have not lost life experience.  Nope.  None of that.  Fluctuations, even big ones, are a part of life.  They are not failures or a reversal of achievement (I still did that thing, even if it seems more removed now) or a trip back in time to an earlier incarnation of me.

I will not allow this.... become this...

...and especially not THIS!

This is still a part of moving forward and if I choose to go forward more conscious and disciplined with my eating, I will gain less or lose more than if I don't.  Getting active again will be an incremental process as I heal.  The only consequence of some weight gain is that I will return to racing form a little later.  Some days that matters to me enough to really fight it.  (The medication increases appetite- it's given to anorexics to help them gain weight- so it can be a little maddening sometimes.  It makes me feel really hungry, really frequently.)  Other days, I really just don't want to feel insanely hungry and it is more important to me to be comfortable than 5 lbs lighter.  It was a helpful realization that the hunger was an artifice.  I am neither starving nor am I insane.   I am just here... now... not failing... and not traveling in time.

If I want to weigh less, I know what to do.  If I want to be fast again, I know what to do.  I also know that I am not in the best position to chase down those results right now and that will also change.  Or maybe it won't and I will fall madly in love with some other way of expressing myself.  No matter what, I'll go forward to do it because life is a one way trip.

Maybe your "backslide" is weight.  Maybe it is fitness.  Maybe it is financial.  WHATEVER it is, unless you have found a way to travel through time, you did not go backwards... SO STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP!!  You are here, now, and only have your present and future actions to affect change.  You know what to do.

So if you don't have one of these....

...Or one of these...
then you probably didn't go backwards!

I'm not the weight I want to be.  I am not at the fitness I want to be.  None of these things are permanent and keeping my head in a good place is the quickest way to the state of affairs I desire.  The most important thing is realizing that all of it is a part of the journey and none of it is the only thing that matters about me.  Each day will be another step and I will travel in a particular direction.  My choices and actions will determine if they take me closer to my current goals or towards some other heading.  Look forward and look up.  It's good advice when running or on a bike and in life in general.

I will ride my bike down this road as soon as I am able.

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