Pain Responsibly, My Friend


One of my bodybuilding friends recently shared details about a 'cheat' meal he had indulged in that had included fries. I told him that I would have been thrilled just to smell his breath after that meal and while I haven't had the desire to cheat-eat lately, a part of me was extremely envious that men can handle the occasional diet slip-up much easier than women. As my mind began to do a full-tilt towards all the injustices women are subjected to, I got a phone call that snapped me back to reality in a nano-second, replete with utter dread and a racing pulse: the caller ID displayed my mother's husband's name. They never call me; this could only be bad news. Gist of the call-my mother has severe Alzheimer's and cannot be left alone (as in AT ALL, EVER), her husband is the only caregiver, and now concerned about his own expiration date. I asked if there were arrangements made for her care and after a few moments of painful silence, the word NO hit me like a freight train. Without hesitation, I said "I'll be there."

This is the woman that bore me, gave birth to me and loved me-until she hated my father. Then that hatred penetrated every part of what was once a happy family. After enduring more verbal and physical abuse than I could deal with, I ultimately ran away from home. For most of my life, this woman has been my number one fear-in front of being buried alive! And here I was, committing myself to her 24/7 care, ready to uproot my life and move across the United States to be there for her. I haven't even seen her in the last 22 years...

The reality of the promise I'd just made didn't hit me until later that night, and by the way-thank you, Mother Nature, for helping to set the mood: no rain in weeks and now you provide a deluge! I had to stop and get a few groceries and with no rain gear, my shoes were soaked thoroughly after my mad dash through the parking lot so that every numb step I took was accompanied with squish-sqoosh, and the pants I was wearing pucker something ridiculous when wet, making it appear that I had huge warts covering my entire lower half. Catching my forlorn reflection while passing a mirror, I thought I'd happily trade that look for all those fat dimples I've so valiantly fought to lose. The look was total shock and fear. What have I done? I just gave up my life! I went into full panic mode.

When I got back to my hotel, it was almost impossible to focus. Every little part of my routine in preparing for the next day of trade show escaped me. I gave up and started to put away the groceries I'd purchased: fat-free plain yogurt, ginger root, vegan burritos and a new sports bra. I felt dizzy. How was it that this was all that I'd purchased? I mean, I was dealing with a situation that would have sent me from focused to binge fest in less than 60 seconds! Six months of slow transformation just delivered its first true reward: all the compliments in the world don't compare to being in control of what goes in your mouth. But beyond that was the fact that I had walked through an entire store, taking my time looking at things but not once looking-or thinking about-what junk food I would use to cover up what I was feeling. I dealt with it head-on and at the time, it just meant that I had to feel it and not run for cover and hide under an Oreo. So yes-pain responsibly.

Today, a woman that has come to my shows over the last 4 years said "Wow-you've lost a lot of weight-what's your secret?" My reply that I just stopped eating the wrong things fell flat. Everyone thinks there's a secret, some special trick or magic pill. After she left, I realized my response to her wasn't entirely accurate. It's really that I stopped thinking the wrong way. Believe me, I wish it could be a process like giving blood, where I could just give a transfusion of my changed attitude and you could get that attitude injection without having to do all the hard work. We want what we want, we want it now, and everyone's looking for the quick solution. THERE ISN'T ONE. If you want to be successful, you have to do the work. What has helped me succeed this time is that I decided to give myself plenty of time, and while I knew it would be difficult at times, I wanted it to be about lasting change, not primarily losing weight. I just wanted to stop binge eating in response to every crisis (most of them are manufactured which provides an excuse for bad behavior-honor your inner truth and see if you do this as well).

It's said that angst and tragedy are necessary for an artist to achieve greatness. I've imagined myself a sculptor (bodybuilding) though the art is the mind and thoughts are the sculptor's tools. Somewhere, that artistry within you sits dormant, patiently waiting to flourish-all it takes is the right nourishment and patience. Start with your mind and the physical will follow!


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