The Dead Pool (Health)


Image by Vidmir Raic from Pixabay

If you’re a writer or someone else who spends most of your day sedentary, you know the importance of doing SOMETHING everyday to keep yourself active. Exercise is a four-letter word, I know, but I’ve touched on how you can use regular activity as a way to recharge your creative mind. And, honestly, is it THAT bad to move around for 20-30 minutes a day? Endorphins are your friends. More importantly, they’re the friends of your imagination.

Six days out of the week, I do that crucial SOMETHING. While I wait for my Ortho doc to clear me, it’s nothing exciting and dramatic (you’re talking to someone used to kickboxing), but it’s exercise nonetheless. And I feel better for the routine. My little imagination brain cells click away, my worker synapses calm down and get more productive, and I feel like a human being again (or, you know, as close to one as I’m likely to get).

And then I make the mistake of stepping on the scale.

Who invented that idiotic torture device?! (I’m honestly tempted to blame it on a man because I swear their the only ones who benefit from the damn things) Four weeks of barre (five times a week) and yoga (once a week). Four weeks in which my hip’s stopped hurting, my balance (you can read that as “lack thereof”) has improved, I’ve finally been able to do a real push-up, and I’ve upped my weights from 1 to 2 pounds and considered going to 3 pounds. And the goddamn scale sits there taunting me?!

If it weren’t for the fact my fiance’ uses it for his telemedicine calls, that thing would have been chucked into the nearest trash compactor. (Or set on fire – whichever I felt was more destructive) I’ve certainly cursed at it, gripped it tight in my fingers and contemplated throwing it across the room, and made numerous threats at the little digital window. And then my shoulders slump, I slink past the mirror without glancing up, and I wonder why I’m bothering with the routine in the first place. (Oh, right – because it’s healthy)

Scales are the epitome of evil.

For those who know me well, you’re aware of my long history with body issues. Which is why I advocate IGNORING the scale if you want to check in on your health progress. It’s pointless and degrading, and it WILL make you feel like a worthless human being. Honestly, I think every scale comes issued with a gremlin that waits for you to walk in, gauging your mood so it can tweak the number to make you feel as wretched as possible. (And males are immune to goblins, apparently)

I hate that scale to the ends of the Universe and back again…about fifty times. It makes me feel worse than I do on a normal basis. It’s tempting to throw in the towel and park myself at the computer permanently. I mean, I’m a writer – I have more imagination than the average person anyway. Who needs endorphins? Plenty of people survive without exercise all the time. It’s a tempting path to follow.

Not the right path, just a comfortable one.

Instead, I’ve forced myself to measure this “success” in a different way. Screw the numbers (I’m a writer, not a mathematician). But I just rambled off an entire list of things I HAVE accomplished that didn’t involve numbers. My physical therapists are impressed and delighted that I walk in with a pain score of 0 each time. I’ve hit and surpassed the benchmarks they set up for me (and it’s definitely not from doing the assigned stretches…which I’m still not doing).

I wobble here and there on my ankles, but I’m also not using a death grip on my “barre” anymore. I even make the attempts at lifting my hand and sometimes succeed. Hell, I don’t even need the arm support for one of my stretches at PT because of my improved balance.

I’ve done push-ups on my knees since grade school. For the first time, I don’t drop down. I’m not claiming they’re the most elegant push-ups in the world, but I’m up on my toes. No, I can’t stay up on my toes when we have to lift one leg, but I’m proud I can do even that much. It’s more than I could manage four weeks ago.

And, yeah, single-digit weights sound small (even to me). Except the program doesn’t want you to go above 5 pounds. And when I boldly tried to start at 2 pounds in the beginning, I couldn’t do it. Having to drag myself down to 1-pounders was embarrassing. Being able to work myself back up has felt good. It reminds me that I’m human and regaining strength.

Not numbers, but success all the same.

If you’re battling that goblin, walk away from it. Look for some other way of “measuring” what you’re doing. Think of it like submissions: do you count the number of rejections or the number of times you’ve submitted your work to the world? You choose the more positive association. It’s healthier, and it makes you feel better. (Crazy, right?)

I still want to dismantle that scale (piece by tiny piece). It still makes me feel an inch tall when I dare to set a TOE on it. But shifting focus away from the thing that makes me feel bad to what makes me feel BETTER helps. We’re writers – we know how to shift focus. And we know how to turn a negative into a positive.

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