Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Progress on goals is a balancing act

By Laura Simpson, My Life List member

Balance. Mostly what comes to mind when I hear that word is how to maintain mine when I've had a few too many margaritas. I have come to realize, however, that balance plays a critical role when it comes to achieving my goals.

Take dieting and exercise, for example, the current bane of my existence ... eh hem, I mean goal. I want to get into shape because I want to look good. I want to be in such good shape that I'm mistaken for Angelina Jolie when I hike Machu Picchu with my kids in May. I want to look so fabulous in a single-digit-sized mini-dress that I turn George Clooney's head when I jet-set off to Tuscany with one of my oldest and dearest friends in October. I want to walk on the beach in Bali wearing a cutie-patootie bikini without people wanting to jab a hot poker in their eyes upon seeing me. But there are two things that stand in the way of my accomplishing these: my mouth (or should I say my inability to close it) and my abhorrence of anything that resembles work (think exercise).

Because I'm fond of the adage, “work smart, not hard,” I initially discarded the ideas of diet and exercise, as both fall under the “hard” category. There are two reasons I don't do diets. The first is that I seriously love food. I am not one of those girls who takes two bites of her salad and declares herself full. Instead, I roll up my sleeves and ask for a bib. Eating is truly one of my greatest pleasures. Secondly, diets are just too extreme for me. I lose weight on diets—not because I'm eating healthy food, but because I'm literally starving. And as I shed those unwanted pounds, I also lose some of my sanity in the process. I fear that if I go on another diet, I'll just end up trying to stab someone with a fork over the last bite of a stale bagel because I will have starved myself senseless up until that point. See what the absence of carbs can do to a person? So diets are out.

I ruled out exercising as well. Someone like me does not handle exercise well because exercise involves sweating and I wasn't made to sweat. Also, as most of my friends know, I am coordination-challenged. Combine that my super competitive nature (I have been known to try and trounce my fellow exercisers in a competition they didn't know they entered), humiliation inevitably follows. And I'd rather staple my tongue to a table than suffer the slightest humiliation. So, in my efforts to be creative, I briefly thought of investing in a 1970s vibrating belt massager. That way, my little fat globules can be vibrated away as I simultaneously take another guilt-free bite of my crème brulee. Once I had the unfortunate occasion to see one in action, though, I thought better of it.

So as it stands, I don't want to diet. I don't want to exercise, but I still want to lose weight and look good. What a dilemma. I know from previous experience that problems of this magnitude can only be conquered with the help of girlfriends and copious amounts of alcohol (wine preferred). During one such brainstorming session, one of my friends had an epiphany ... balance. She suggested that instead of subscribing to a costly diet program, which would inevitably end badly for me and those around me, I should modify my intake. Instead of having seven epically evil but decadently delicious mochas per week, I should drop it to three. That way, I could still indulge and get my fix, but not overdo it. She then I could apply the same thinking to exercise. Wow, she's on a roll! So, rather than subjecting myself to the mind-numbing monotony of the gym every day, maybe I could go to the gym three times a week and take a brisk walk in the park with my sugar-love-muffin-of-the-moment the other four days. At this point, my mind is reeling. Brilliant.

So, there it is. So simple. Actually, it’s not simple, but it's not that hard, either. Yes, I had to change some habits. For instance, when I'm having a stressful day, my Pavlovian response is to drive to Starbucks and have them hook me up to a mocha IV. Now, instead of consuming enough calories in one sip to sustain an Ethiopian village, I eat a banana. Admittedly, a banana doesn't evoke warm and fuzzy feelings quite like the nectar of the gods does, but there is some satisfaction in knowing that it is healthier, and that I'm not limited to a diet of ex-lax and water ... I can still indulge a bit. The same is true of exercise. I learned that not all exercise is evil. And believe it or not, I actually enjoy walking (gasp!). I've even gotten to know my neighbors a few doors down. I didn't even realize that I had neighbors that far down the road. For all I knew, they were empty houses with abandoned cars.

Do I have my occasional setbacks? Of course I do, but I also have had a wee bit of success. And that tangible success is enough to keep me motivated to continue to find the balance.

Laura Simpson, a My Life List folk hero in the making, is a simple girl living a complicated life. Born and raised in New Jersey, she now resides in Idaho until she can find a way to become independently wealthy and travel the world.

1 comment:

Sue Treppenhauer said...

Laura, you are an incredible woman, with the best sense of humor. I grovel at your feet!!!