I have a compulsive, neurotic, massive Golden Retriever named Jake. Jake is 12 years old, arthritic, almost completely gray, going deaf, and he follows me everywhere, especially when he thinks I’m going to the kitchen for food. Jake lays in every doorway I need to walk through and bolts up and down every step I need to go up or down. I’ve learned to pause and let him pass and to step over him with giant steps, lest he rear his head and trip me up.
This is Jake sleeping squeezed between my bed, nightstand and desk chair after a thunderstorm a few nights ago. He assumes, as he has since he was a pup, that by sleeping as close as he can to me, he will be safe.
They say the things we find most annoying or irritating about other people are the things we find most annoying about ourselves, only we either don’t see those things in ourselves, or if we do, we don’t think we’re “as bad.”
The older Jake gets, the more Jake personifies many of the things I find annoying about myself, particularly as it pertains to my weight issues. I’m often compulsive, neurotic, afraid of “storms,” and move too quickly, both metaphorically and literally. I sometimes form an opinion too quickly after studying some new health research, or hop on the latest exercise bandwagon, or dismiss differing opinions about weight maintenance without exploring their merits (in other words, I’m Miss Know-It-All).
As I live each day perched precariously on the maintenance high wire, I wonder if I’ll ever develop a balanced, almost non-thinking approach to food and exercise. Will my food and exercise planning become second nature or even natural?
Some days I feel like I’m trying to turn a frog into a prince or water into wine. My “nature” is to eat whatever and move whenever. Even as I type this, I’m debating whether to go to the gym or just stay home and write. I know I’ll eventually convince myself to go to the gym, that my writing will be here when I get back, but why does it so often have to be such a thought-filled process?
I want to be like my petunias, cosmos, straw flowers, clematis and lilies. They were pounded by three inches of rain last week and yet when the sun came out, they dried off, perked up and even multiplied. They didn’t think about it, plan it, convince themselves it was best. They just kept on doing what nature told them to do.
But flowers (nor to any great extent, Jake) aren’t “blessed” with consciousness. Their only choice is to grow to the best of their biological ability based on environmental impacts. My “nature” can be molded because I have the choice to learn and grow or to not learn and not grow. I can eat willy-nilly and weigh 300 pounds again or I can plan and make good choices and go to the gym and remain the same weight as I am now. You’d think I’d want to stay the same, but to be honest, I often hear the phrase, “What’s an extra five pounds?” whispered in my head. I think, ‘ Oh, what’s one chocolate chip cookie? ’ or ‘ I’ll be good the rest of the week if I eat this baked potato loaded with butter and sour cream ’ or ‘ I’ll hit the gym really hard tomorrow. ’
Tomorrow, rest of the week, just one ….all phrases that are part of my “nature,” part of my consciousness, part of what I face day in and day out as I maintain my weight. Just like Jake, who finds comfort in being close to me, I want to find comfort in my own ability to find a balance so that I stop passing over so often into the compulsive and worried side of maintenance.