Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cognitive dissonance sucks and so does my bathroom scale

Cognitive dissonance is that icky feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously. It sucks and it’s stupid but it occurs with all of us. If it was a figurative wall, it would have a permanent indentation of my head on politics, family, and most recently weight loss. Example, I’m a smart, able person who should be able to lose weight if I try. If I don’t try, I won’t be successful. But if I follow “the rules” I will be. 8 months ago Eric and I made a conscious decision to change our lifestyle. It wasn’t a diet – it was a lifestyle choice. I decided that no matter what I’ve wanted to do in life I’ve been able to achieve simply by working hard.

Wanted an amazing partner and spouse? Married him.
Wanted to go to a top-notch university? Graduated in 4 years.
Wanted to travel to Australia? Worked hard for scholarships, got there.
Wanted a Masters degree? Worked hard, and while literally working, got it.
Wanted a beautiful home? Got it.
Wanted a beautiful, healthy family? Got it.
Wanted that job? Got it.
Wanted to feel less anxious financially? Saved up, got it.
Wanted to be a size 12 (shit I’d settle for an 18)….er….

I was never afraid of hard work or sacrifice before, why should being fat for 20 years be a hurdle I couldn’t get over? Genetics schmetics. Hardwork, discipline, willpower, sheer will, and a good support system I should be successful. Joined the gym, got the family on board, read articles, have a STFU buddy, a personal trainer, a friend who's in with me (someday we're gonna be so HOT )...should have all the tools ready, right?

March 2010: 261 (God, putting that out there for all you to see…)
October 2010: 251.3
November 2010: 254

Apologies to those reading who don’t enjoy the rainbow of language I employ but g*d dammit, m*therf*cker. No one should start a Friday morning at 5:40am like this.

I cut my caloric intake to 1300-1500 per day, put in 5 total hours of kick-ass time in the gym sweating, I haven’t seen my kids for more than an hour any day this week and I GAIN??????? So the scale sucks and the only reason it wasn’t on the front lawn at 6:02am in a million pieces and torched is because it cost about $40 and Eric still had to weigh in.

So I’m trying to focus less on the ONE negative (which I’m wont to do about 90% of the time) and focus on the many positives. I don’t see any real change in my appearance, but then again, I flee from mirrors. Behavior and life style have changed, but how?

In March, I hated the gym and found every excuse not to go. Now, I feel weird, not guilty but weird or off, if I don’t go.
In March, I literally couldn’t do the elliptical for more than 30sec. It was painful. Now, I can do 35 minutes with the level from 5-17.
In March, I could barely curl 5lb weights in my hands for 10 reps. Now, I do 12lb weights for 10 reps THREE TIMES.
In March, I wouldn’t dare anyone see me in spandex. Now, I don’t care what I look like at the gym, I’m not there for you, I’m there for me.
In March, I couldn’t run an entire lap around the gym at about 5mph. Now, I’m at a lap and a half.
In March, I couldn’t bear the sauna at all. Now, I look forward to the stretch and sweat.
In March, I would look for the closest parking spot. Now, I try to figure how many steps I can get in to the door.
In March, I’d never ever had signed up for a boot camp – ARE YOU NUTS????? Now, I can’t wait until 9am Saturday mornings and I’ll be the one in the front row, in front of the psycho with a whistle.
In March, I was a 40DDD. Now, I’m a 38DD.
In March, the size 24 pants fit. Now, the size 20 pants fit.
In March, I had never signed up for a 5K (that wasn’t a fundraising walk and I wasn’t 12). Now, I finished the Turkey Trot before Thanksgiving in under 45 minutes.
In March, I never stopped at the fish counter at the grocery store. Now, I can’t wait for the salmon, tilapia, or scallops to go on sale and sometimes, I even splurge.
In March, fast food was a given on at least 2 days a week. Now, maybe once a month.
In March, I drank 4 cans of diet soda a day. Now, only 1.
In March, I never ate breakfast. Now, every day.
In March, I struggled to get in my water. Now, 3quarts by lunch is a given.
In March, I didn’t make me a priority. Now, I recognize that trying to eat better and every moment at the gym is for ME.
In March, we'll let's just say I won't list the measurements. Now, down 14 total inches.
I’m trying and maybe that’s my success. I wanted to be under 200 by my 33rd birthday. I don’t think that’s going to happen. My husband’s success is nothing against me and I need to work on that. Maybe this 3lbs is just sheer jealousy!

I’m trying and maybe that’s my success.
I have to unlearn about 15 years of bad behaviors and it’s only been 7 months. I have to unlearn about 30 years of negative self-image and self-loathing in my head. I think I need a therapist for that – not a personal trainer! I can’t hold myself above a standard that I’ll never reach – a standard I’ve never and WILL never hold anyone else to. Pathological negativity and self-loathing will not lead to success. Maybe if I remember these GAINS I’ve made in behavior, I won’t only see the GAINS I’ve seen on the scale and the rest will flow.

Here’s hoping.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Regional Rudeness

An innocent click on Facebook is all it takes, these days, to start either a near riot or a virtual argument.

I "became a fan" of "I'm a New Yorker so rudeness comes naturally to me." Now being a NYer, specifically someone from "downstate" (Long Island or one of the 5 borroughs) is a badge of courage when you're west of the Hudson River. It makes you kind of cool in other's eyes, or so it seems. It also makes you automatically rude. Kind of like how being an American abroad makes you automatically egotistical and rude. I like to tell people we're not necessarily rude, we just don't have time for bullshit. And when it's your bullshit I don't have time for, I may come across as rude.

So my mother (native NYer) and friend (native OHan) begin a series of back and forth messages commenting on my joining this "group." My mother is convinced the rudest people are found in Ohio. In her defense, she hasn't traveled that much and I don't think rudeness is necessarily confined by State lines. My friend who has visited NY (Buffalo) twice mentioned how rude/dangerous NY drivers were. My lame attempts at humor to dissipate the tense conversation backfired (there was a reference to the Cleveland Browns that probably didnt' go over too well with the OH friend).

Granted, when my mother comes to visit in Ohio, and soon when she moves here to live, it sometimes seems like they're gunning for her. Granted, she sees more Walmart and second-hand stores when she visits than say museums and restaurants, and I think the location of the rudeness has more to do than the region. But this exchange by two women that are probably more alike than they think though they're as opposite politically as possible, got me thinking (and blogging now) about regional rudeness. Is it just relative?

I first moved to Ohio to go to college in 1996. What I think a lot of people thought of NY they've learned from the movies like Taxi Driver, Tootsie, Big. To understand a place and its people, you need to LIVE there, not visit. I was even guilty of this knee-jerk reaction. My first approach to Columbus airport I looked out the window and commented to my Dad, "This (pointing outside) is a skyline??" But I chose the Midwest specifically over my 2nd choice which was too close (4hrs) to NYC. I wanted to live in the Midwest to concentrate on studies, not cultural opportunities (read: clubs). Classmates explained to me why I might be construed as rude - I didn't smile or nod to strangers, sit near people I didn't know, make small chat with the person in front of me at the bookstore even though I didn't know them. These are things, I told them, that are considered agression in NYC. I once saw my dad and uncle get a guy's face on the Subway because they think he looked at me and smiled. Someone comes near you in a checkout line, you think they're taking your purse. It's not that something like that happens in NYC any more often than downtown Columbus, but it's just the street smart, always-on-the-defensive type of reaction to the world that I was taught from a very young age.

So maybe perceived rudeness is just a different way of seeing things. I'm not talking about rudeness when you shove me out of the way to get in front of me. That's just wrong, no matter where I or you are from. I CONSTANTLY complain about Central Ohio drivers - great generalization huh? In general, Central Ohio drivers do not use their signalling device, do not check blind spots when changing lanes or pulling out of parking spots, do not yield to right of way, and I've NEVER seen so many people go through red lights to make a turn. And NYers are pretty damned impatient - so if someone were to go through lights, I'm fairly certain I would have seen my fair share before 1996. Perhaps it's just the way they were taught how to drive here. Kind of like a generational pull towards bad driving. Just the same NYers are considered aggressive drivers. I'll admit it, I want to get where I'm going and get out of my way. It's due to impatience, not necessarily aggression. But if I want to go 70 in the left lane and you're in front of me doing 60, the unwritten rules of the road are for you to move over, right? So my tailgating might be seen as aggressive.

What's rude in one region is considered normal in another. Besides, how many times do we think to ourselves or get to work thinking how nice drivers were? Or how kind the person who held the door open for you as you left the bank was? We tend to simply focus or realize the negative. It's human - we look for what is different in our environments. We seek out those that are breaking the social norms. Without that tendancy, social norms would not be maintained, we wouldn't know how to act.

I hardly think an answer of "it's relative" or "it's evolutionarily sound to point out how others are doing wrong" would have sufficed on the Facebook thread. So I simply deleted it and hope mom and friend will just let it go. And the next time at 6:05am on I-670 in Columbus, Ohio I'll try to see the good with the sometimes bad.