October 31 wasn’t always a day for kids to do all the things we tell them not to do regarding candy and strangers. Before the modern sanitized version of trick-or-treat evolved, October 31st was, for the Western Church, the eve of All Saints’ Day, which was called All Hallows’ Eve. The history of the intertwining of Christian and other religions in Europe makes for good debate and discussion, but October 31 took on a new meaning in 1517. That was the day Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Though many factors came into play, like all historical movements, the spark event is considered to be this day. For that reason, Lutherans and many Protestants celebrate October 31 as Reformation Day.
It is on a day like this that it’s appropriate to look back on what has worked, and also take a good honest hard assessment of what needs to be reformed, for the sake of the future. Revolution, renewal, and rebirth don’t always mean the complete tearing down of what went before. In the case of the Christian Reformation, Lutherans for example, did not abandon everything that was part of the Holy Catholic Church. They kept what was believed to be central.
As I look back on the last several months, I realize pretty quickly that there is some serious reform needed. I’ve been at this for nearly a year, yet there is almost no change in my physique. That comes as a surprise to many people when I tell them, but it’s absolutely true. This is not a delusion of my mind, like an anorexic girl looking in the mirror and seeing fat. From December 2010 to now, my weight is down no more than 8 pounds. That’s just an objective fact. Lots of people like to pull out the horsecrap line “oh but you’re building muscle!” No I’m not. That takes serious hardcore lifting, which I am not doing. There is no such thing as converting muscle to fat. You can burn one and build the other, but doing both simultaneously is something even the most talented, focused, dedicated, hardworking body builders struggle to do simultaneously.
But you look different! I hear that from a lot of people. And that may be true, but not over the last year. If you go back to when I topped 360 (I stopped weighing myself when I saw that number) well then yeah, you can see a definite difference. But from the time I got moving with running, there’s really no discernible change. For further objective evidence from those who keep trying to tell me I must be losing weight from somewhere, I have been measuring my waist, chest, and midsection. Not only have those inches not gone down, my waist is up 1/2 an inch from March.
It’s not a mystery as to why this is the case. After only a couple of months of dedicated logging of food, I dropped that habit. It was around the time I discovered that some quick energy before a long swim was helpful. That’s true, but I allowed that to establish a mindset that was way too forgiving in the diet. Over the last months, I’ve slacked more and more, and I am back to a set of eating habits that is all too familiar, and extremely destructive.
It’s time for Reformation. In a big way. Now, I’m not feeling terribly desperate, as the honest look over the last year has a lot to celebrate. I’m moving. That was the initial focus. I’ve been reaching endurance goals. I’m amazed at what plans I am able to reasonably make for 2012. I am no longer trapped in a barely moving shell. I feel a lot better. I have a lot to be happy about. But it’s time to admit that I’ve allowed a total disregard for the most central part of my problem: eating. That wasn’t going to change overnight, I know. But it wasn’t going to change without serious attention, commitment and discipline. The first year of this project has been all about adding regular exercise, with endurance “racing” as a means to an end.
That has been successful. I’ve arrived at a point where I get out regularly, and now that the last few days have been off, I feel it, and notice it. I don’t like it. I’ve made running a habit to where I miss it when I don’t. That gives me hope that while I’m in a rut, I’m not done by any means.
It also means that when I set out with a clear plan, I can succeed. I have not been clear, or planned, about the dietary problems. It’s not that I lack knowledge. I can make a list of what I’m eaten and it looks like a perfect diet. But then I complete the list, and it’s ridiculous. Just because Meg made salmon and wild rice for dinner on Saturday, doesn’t mean that I’m proud of the whole of what I ate Saturday.
Like the Reformation itself, big changes take pain. I’m confident that I can do it, but I haven’t committed yet. I’ve cleaned off the dust and rust and gotten started with the movement. But just barely. The possibilities available to me are barely touched. I had to overcome the fear of even trying, and I believe I have. OK so now what?
Now what is back to square one. Addicts fall off the wagon when they fool themselves into thinking they have it beat, and lose focus. That’s what I’ve done again and again. I’ve even said so on this blog many times, going back as far as March. I feel stupid and embarrassed to read my own words and realize how these things have not changed at all. Some things definitely have changed, and the optimist in me says that those were necessary changes to get going first, before I attacked the harder stuff. OK, maybe that’s true. But the hard stuff is the deeper more foundational stuff, and it’s going to be what makes the difference between life and death.
That hard foundational level seems to be, according to most people who know about this, emotional. I think of it more as compulsion with me. I don’t want to discount the reality of the emotional aspect, but that’s the one thing I’ve seen great improvement in over the last year. There have been setbacks and blips, but overall, I am in a much better place. My new efforts could only begin when I found myself in a better place to begin with. I’m willing to delve as deep as I need to, but I think addiction and compulsion are definitely at play here. As I look at the great progress of 2011, without any change in body due to my eating, it does cross my mind many times that I should consider a gastric bypass. Even so, that’s no easy solution, and a person can re-stretch through eating within a short time.
I don’t know what the next months will look like, and I’m not depressed about this lack of change. I’m motivated by what has changed already, and I want to focus on the next step to put a total health picture together. I may need to think more on the 12 step model, where a person can be sober 20 years and still need meetings. I doubt food issues are ever going to be totally a non-issue for me, and pretending I had it beat over the last year have kept my wheels spinning.
I started the running pursuit with the idea that I could train to lose weight. Now I want to lose weight to train. I have crazy goals and ideas, that I won’t get done still topping 275. I think this is a good shift in attitude.