You know how everyone says that hitting midlife is so awesome for women because we stop caring what anyone else thinks and can finally be who we are, without striving to live up to some weird made up standard “out there?”
Well all of that may be true but, as always, I gotta flip that shit over and look at the underbelly, because I’ve got an issue.
The truth is that while I am happy to stop torturing myself over the fact that I suck at thank-you notes and drink straight out of the milk carton (sorry), some of those old self-imposed external expectations worked pretty well, and I miss them.
Take, for one, staying in shape.
Fifteen years ago, I used to go to the gym regularly and I felt great! It was just a part of my every day, a healthy habit. But make no mistake, it was fueled by the mirror and the x-boyfriend and the stupid asshole size whatever-it-was that I thought I needed to be.
All of that is gone, and I am thrilled.
But what motivates me now? If it’s no longer the fear of not measuring up, then what? Of course I want to be healthy as I age, to be there for my kids and husband, to feel strong.
I get it.
But in the face of a night out with girlfriends and plate of garlic fries, let’s just say they those goals get a little bit fuzzy around the edges.
Garlic fries are so yummy, you guys.
And fifty year old me has been a good girl for long enough.
But just recently, I stumbled into a strategy* that totally works for me, and because this blog is all about helping the world, I will let you in on the secret now.
By utilizing the energy of my largely untapped and renewable resource, anger, I feel like maybe I’ve figured out the secret to bringing about positive change in my life, or at least getting some shit done.
Here’s an example: Yesterday, I knew I should go to the gym. (One thing I will never discuss at length here is exercise. 1. Because there are lots of people who do that and know what they’re talking about, and 2. Because zzzzzzzz…..) Anyway, I knew I should go, but I just didn’t want to.
Like I seriously didn’t want to.
I was pissed that I had to take time out of my busy life of doing things that I can’t explain right now but that are very important (not), VERY important (no, seriously not), and the nagging awareness I had that, at my age, it is more important than ever to stay active just served to make me feel more resentful, and therefor more likely to drink all the wine.
Hold up for a sec —
Before any of you leave comments suggesting I simply find an activity I enjoy, like salsa dancing or whatever, let me say that I’m a grown-ass woman. I lived through Jazzercise and Tae Bo and that dumb kind of walking where you wag your ass around, and it all sucks. But I want to be healthy, so I’m committed to figuring it out. (If the tone of this post is not to your liking, I totally get it. Feel free to skip the rest and go do your Prancersize.)
Anyway, yesterday, for some reason, I did not do what I usually do, which is try to make myself want to exercise. Instead, I let myself be pissed at a glaring flaw in the otherwise perfect human machine, which is that you have to drag it off the couch and make it sweat and breathe hard if you want it to work right. And even if you somehow managed to do that today, you just have to wake up tomorrow and do it all again!
Intelligent design? I think not.
So I did what I so often do, I vented a little on Facebook:
“Damn you bastard gym! I’m mad I have go to you and sweat in you and smell your stinky smell and listen to your bad pop music and to your grunting hairy guys! I give you thirty minutes. That’s all you get of my precious day.”
Just admitting how I really feel about the whole exercise thing gave me a boost.
This is bullshit, I thought, pulling on my Target sports bra. What a total pain in the ass, I mused, as I closed my locker next to a naked water aerobics lady who seemed perfectly happy being there.
Oh, I kid.
Anyway, before I knew it, I’d done thirty minutes of something that felt like exercise and was free to go! Changing in the locker room, right next to the same lady from before (why does that always happen?), I realized that a good chunk of the negative shit I have around going to the gym is really just me fighting my nature.
It turns out, I don’t have to want to exercise, or go to the gynecologist, or stand and chat with my elderly Republican neighbor with the hair weave who is just a really lonely guy, to do it.
I and I do want to do it. Or at least, I want to have done it.
Feeling bad about the fact that you feel bad, only makes you feel worse. (There’s some Buddhism in there somewhere, but I can’t exactly find it.)
So, thus concludes the probably one and only fitness tip you’ll ever get from me. Also, I’m not giving up the fries.
(*This might not work for you, especially if you’re a nice person.)