Well, this past week was a tough one on the journey toward losing weight, as you could probably tell from my post about God being involved in my ice cream choice. I had an upper respiratory infection, started a new job working in surgical intensive care once again, and a bunch of other stuff happened that is not for display here, but, long story short, I did not meet my goals this week. I haven’t even weighed in, but I know I certainly did not lose weight.
And, this is typically when I quit. As soon as the first thing happens that gets in the way of my goals, my motivation drops to zero. I lose sight of things, lose confidence, and I quit. That’s what usually happens. And I thought about doing that.
But I thought again and again. I thought about my goals. I thought about what it would feel like walking back to the keyboard to write on here, quietly walking away from the topic of health, removing the link at the top of the home page, and hoping no one would notice. And maybe no one else would. But I would. I would know, every time I wrote something, that I was avoiding writing about something. I can hide anything from other people, but I can’t keep anything from myself. And feeling the restriction on writing would make me nauseated.
So, I thought about what to say on here. I thought long and hard about what the problem was with my current plan, and why it was so easy to jump off of as soon as the first sign of trouble appeared. I realized that my current plan is boring. Eat well, run some, do some yoga, get thin, hope everyone reading gives a shit. Boring. And Weight Watchers is a great plan, but the meetings part, the part that is most of the reason for buying the program, is not really for me. The last two meetings I went to I was the only male and the only person under 50. During the last one, a woman literally spent the first ten minutes wowing the rest of the group with a double-bladed knife she bought that could easily cut up a watermelon into easy-to-serve pieces. Meh. Not for me. I like the eating patterns they emphasize, but I do need group support. And I realized I have it here. But what I’ve given you thus far…boring.
Luckily, the solution came to me without trying to indulge the need to entertain. I realized that it could be entertaining afterward. I was looking at myself in the mirror and doing that thing I hope more people than I do…where you put your face up close to the mirror and make different facial expressions until you make yourself laugh…you all do that, right? Well, I made one that accidentally made me feel badass. I have not been able to recreate it since, but it involved a stern look that was complimented by my currently shaggy beard. I saw myself for a moment in the mirror and my brain clicked over into a thought I’ve never had about myself:
“You look like a viking!”
In the next second, I realized that I kinda do look like a viking. Nearly all of my heritage is Northern European. It’s an unlucky combination, as my skin’s natural state fluctuates between pale as hell and bright pink. I sunburn really easily; to the point of needing sunscreen if I take too long getting the mail. If I bend over for a bit or laugh too hard, I inevitably get asked “why are you so pink?” Naturally, I call that person a racist. Then I laugh and turn more pink. My skin is a curse.
But the rest of me is not. I look at my children who both inherited the same unfortunate skin tone, and I’ve already realized that they are strong as hell. My one-year-old can hold himself up dangling from a bar and he can climb anything he sees. My three-year-old already linebacker tackled one of the neighbor’s kids, and when we told her that we had signed her up for a ballet camp, she asked “can I wrestle at ballet camp?” My kids are tough.
So I need to be tough. I am their go-to for badassery for only a handful of years. I am their first example of what you can do with the human body.
And I can’t even do a pull-up. Yet.
This is where the decision to become a viking came in. I know I can be strong, and that’s where most of my goals reside. As far as losing weight goes, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen my weight as anything but a number to depress me. Every time I’ve actively tried to lose weight, as soon as that number doesn’t move in the direction I wanted it to go, I feel like giving up. And I thought about the end of the “weight loss” goal. I really don’t know when that is. I don’t have a particular number in mind as far as pounds before I feel better/happier/more confident.
I’ve stressed running as a part of any weight loss goal I’ve had, but that’s because I’m pretty good at it and I like it. But I also realized that that wasn’t always the case. I started running because my dad was a runner, so I thought that I had it in my genes. I wasn’t wrong; I do have running in my genes. But I wasn’t an instant runner. I started out only running for a minute at a time to every three minutes spent walking and breathing heavily. I made my running goals small until they grew and grew to the point of finishing a half marathon. And ever since, I’ve been able to pick running back up without too much trouble, even after several months of absence from the sport. Before my late twenties, running was something I couldn’t do. Now, I see myself as a runner. I made it happen. I had a goal to be able to do something, and I did it. It’s time to set a goal in the spirit of gaining something again, not losing something. I hate the scale, anyhow.
We go to playgrounds often as a family. Watching my children play on playgrounds is amazing, but it’s also a reminder: I still can’t play with everything on a playground completely. I can’t do monkey bars. I never could do monkey bars.
I want to do the monkey bars.
If I were a viking, I could do the monkey bars.
I AM A VIKING!
Then I realized that there’s a list of things I’ve never really been able to do, but I’d love to. Here’s a few of the items on that list:
- Do a pull-up
- Do a cartwheel
- Do a handstand
- Do ten push-ups
- Do five sit-ups
- Swim more than one lap at a time
- Climb a rope
The list will continue, but I’m sure you see the pattern. Why can’t I do these things? No one ever pushed me to do them. I was an introverted kid, so I drew and wrote my way through childhood. But now, in my mid-thirties, I know that I’ve run marathons after starting slowly and simply. I know that my children are watching me and looking to me to be the example of what is best. I’ve encouraged my daughter to try the monkey bars before, and I felt a little bummed when she immediately gave up and quit because I know she can do them. But I couldn’t show her how to do them. I am going to work on that. I am going to do the monkey bars. I am going to accomplish everything on the list above. This will require dedication, exercise, weight lifting, conscious eating, and focus. I can do this.
And when I dig down deep and start the work toward being the person I want to be on a physical level, the fat will go away as it will no longer be useful. The muscle will appear from underneath. But the beard and complexion will stay.
And one day, when I can do the monkey bars, pull-ups, cartwheels, handstands, push-ups and sit-ups galore, swim the English channel, and climb a rope, I will know that my children will have a good physical example to look up to.
And on that day, I will have to screw up my face really close in a mirror to see myself as anything other than a badass viking.
It’s time to put in the work and ditch the scale. I am a viking, and here’s my best “day one viking face” to compare with the “day whatever” down the road:
Let’s do this. Screw weighing in. It’s time to lift weight, not lose it.