A Banner Routine

I wasn’t exactly pudgy in high school. I doubt any of my friends would have called me fat, but I doubt I was the only girl who looked in the mirror and wished they were skinnier, taller, more like the faces staring out from the magazines. I was hardly model height or weight or anything else, but looking back, I can hardly believe how hard I was on myself.  I’m sure I wasn’t alone there either.

Decades later, standards have changed, but so have I. There are now petite models, plus-size models, and, if they ever start looking for a petite, plus-sized model shaped roughly like an orange, I’ll be in serious demand. So, even though I’ve lost twenty-seven pounds since the beginning of the summer, I still have a long way to go.

I’ve been traveling a good part of that road on foot on the make-shift track I’ve formed in the tenth of a mile of grass and gravel that surrounds our house like a wavy running track. This morning, after a bad fall from grace the night before, I got up and greeted the apple tree between the house and garden thirty-two times, I glanced at the soon-to-expire inspection tag on the front of my car thirty-two times, and I said hello to my puzzled dog thirty-two times.

It was routine again after the second lap, and there’s something comforting in routine. My legs no longer feel tired on every lap. I’m not out of breath after each lap. When my music program ends on my iPod, I keep going for a few more minutes because I can. A few more songs and it’s no longer about the weight but about going the distance. It’s about making taking care of myself part of my routine. It’s the same mentality that helped me make writing a part of my routine last summer.

Anyone who’s been reading this blog since last summer knows that my posts have gone from being daily and even twice daily to weekly or semi-weekly on good weeks. I can blame some of the lapse on a little more chaotic work schedule and the kids being home from school all summer. But the reality is that at the beginning of the summer, I had to make some hard decisions about which battles I needed to fight the hardest for a while.

In the middle of May, chest pains sent me to the hospital for a stress test. It was the culmination of a winter of health neglect that coincided with a fairly serious bout with depression. The chest pain turned out to be a very bad lung infection, but it was a wakeup call. So I started walking.

Eating right takes more time than opening a box of Shake’n’Bake. Exercising takes more time than sitting down on the couch for another book. Fitting those things into my life, however, was a battle that I knew I had to fight for me.

At first I thought it was selfish and destructive. I wanted to write. I had committed to it. I needed to take care of my job and my house (in that order). But I knew I needed to take care of me. Then I stumbled on a quote by Michele Obama that, whether you love her or love to hate her, had a lot of truth in it.

She said, “You’d get up at four in the morning to get to a job. You’d get up a half hour earlier in the morning to take care of your kids, so why shouldn’t you take a little extra time to take care of yourself.” That hit me like two tons of liposucked lipids.

I get up at five in the morning to work on email or fix a file for a customer.  I spent most nights for the better part of 2 years and then 3 with an infant glued to my breast because they needed it. So why, I asked myself, wasn’t I willing to do that for myself. Now I do because I’ve come to the recognition that it’s okay for a mom to do something for herself. You are doing it for them. You’re doing it to be there for them for the long haul and to be an example, but it’s okay to do it for yourself.

Now I feel I’m starting to feel like I’m winning the battle, even if it will never end. But it’s not an uphill fight, and it’s giving me the gumption to take up the writing banner that has meant almost as much as my health. There have been spurts and fits trying to get the routine back, but the challenge now is to find a way to make those two battles one.

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