Five Minute Friday: Out of Focus

I’m linking up with Lisa-Jo’s Five Minute Friday, and I couldn’t have picked a better word to lead me to some important realizations. This week’s word: focus.

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I am terribly nearsighted. Yesterday I had my yearly eye exam and had to wait a few minutes, without my contacts in, in the exam room before the doctor came to examine my eyes. The letters on the wall were a complete blur, but when I held my phone up, everything was in perfect focus. If I hadn’t seen the fuzzy letters on the wall, I wouldn’t even know by looking at my phone that anything was wrong. As far as I could tell close up, my vision was perfect. 
But like so many things in life, my vision is far from perfect. The same goes for my focus. After my post on Tuesday, I’ve done a lot of thinking, and I think the realization I’ve come to is that I’m incredibly self-absorbed. It’s no surprise that I am tired of thinking about weight loss and food because both of those things? They’re all about me.
If you look in the Bible, you won’t find any verses that talk about spending all of your time thinking about yourself. You won’t find any that exhort the reader to spend countless hours devoted to personal neuroses. What you will find are verses that urge followers of Christ (of which I am one, though ever so poor an example) to be joyful always, to pray continually, to give thanks in all circumstances, to think of others as higher than themselves, to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, to love their neighbors as themselves. I look in God’s love letter to me and am reminded to count everything as loss except the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. When I think on these things, when I live a life that radiates these truths, what room is left over for thoughts of me? None whatsoever. And that is just how it should be.
What I am coming to realize is that my view of Christ has become blurry because my view of myself remains in constant focus.
Turns out I am nearsighted in more ways than one.

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I invite you to join in the challenge of writing for just five minutes this Friday. Who knows what will come of it?

The Importance of Accountability

This morning I did NOT want to run. When the alarm went off at 7:30, I promptly shut it off and stayed in bed, relishing the soft sheets and cold air. Then hubby, dear sweet hubby, came in and pulled off aforementioned soft sheets and made me get up. How cruel is he? 🙂 But he knew I had planned on running this morning, and he knew I would regret it if I didn’t, so he did his part to get me out of the bed. And then after I had eaten breakfast and was STILL lounging around in my workout clothes, he pulled me up out of the chair and wouldn’t leave me alone until I started heading for the door.

That, my friends, is what accountability can do. Had I been by myself, had I not shared my goals with my husband, there’s a very good chance I would have given myself a free pass on exercise for the day. But instead I ended up going outside in the unseasonably cool and non-humid weather, and I ran 4 miles and walked 1.2!

I think it is so important to let others in on your goals, whether they’re weight-related or otherwise. My husband has been my greatest accountability partner in many areas beside weight loss, and he continually motivates me to be a better person. And not only has my husband been a source of encouragement and motivation, but writing this blog has done the same. I was initially hesitant about sharing all of the dirty details of my weight problem and attempts to lose weight, but I am so glad I did because being transparent has kept me honest and on track on days when I didn’t feel like it. Blogging about an exercise plan or a fitness goal helps ensure that I will actually attempt to meet those goals, and knowing that I’ll have to own up to a day of bad eating or laziness causes me to think twice about those acts. Yes, I still have imperfect days, but I think had I kept my weight loss goals to myself, I would have a whole lot more of those imperfect days.

So the surest way to guarantee that you will work at losing weight or running a 5k or learning a new skill or being consistent with Bible reading is to tell people about it. Make it public. Encourage your friends and family to ask you about your endeavors regularly. Find someone else who has a similar goal and ask them to join you in your pursuit. Start a blog about it. The more you announce your goals, the more you’ll intentionally pursue them.

It worked for me, anyway. 🙂

Looking Back to Move Forward

Though this blog is only a little over two years old, I have actually been a blogger for over four years. Most of my early blogging was done on Xanga, and even when I decided that I preferred Blogger to Xanga, I posted entries in both places for a long time before finally posting solely to this site. Even now, I haven’t had the heart to delete my Xanga because it was so foundational for me and contains many important memories and connections to people, so I have been in the process of shifting all of my old Xanga posts from there to here. This will take quite some time, as in the early days of blogging I would often post multiple times a day (usually very silly things, to be honest), and my blogging in general was much more frequent than it is now. You’ll notice the archives on here increasing as I continue to add posts, and I wanted to share with you a few snippets I came across today as I was adding posts from 2005.

One of my earliest posts, in February of 2005, in which I blog about trying to be healthy:

Being healthy is stinkin’ hard! Especially when you don’t like eating healthy food. The only veggies I like are broccoli, corn, carrots, and potatoes, and I can only take so much of those. Did you know that the FDA recommends 3-4 servings of veggies a DAY? Who are they kidding?? Who eats that many veggies, except animals? Does anyone reading this post, b/c if you do, I wanna hear about it. Now, if they considered french fries veggies, I’d be in good shape! And really, they should, b/c french fries are potatoes, right? Absolutely!

Haha, I don’t think that particular experiment in healthy living lasted long.

One from the end of March 2005, in which I blog about frustrating shopping trips and ice cream:

The human mind is a funny thing; I went shopping this weekend and was depressed by how fat I looked in everything I tried on. But instead of going out and exercising, what did I do? I went and got some ice cream. Even as I was paying for the ice cream, part of me was screaming, “What are you doing? This is the very thing that’s made you fat, and here you are getting more?! Stop it!” But I can’t. And then I feel guilty and apathetic, but nothing changes. I’m still me, and that’s what I have to live with, only sometimes I’d just rather not.

Just reading that makes me sad for how I felt back then.

A post from July 2005 in which I blog about the spiritual aspect of weight issues after yet another unsuccessful shopping trip:

I struggle with being angry at God because it seems like so many other people can eat whatever they want and not really have to worry about gaining weight, whereas I look at food and it immediately latches onto my thighs. But I know that’s wrong. I just read in Isaiah that I have no right to quarrel with my Maker. He certainly knows what He’s doing. I just hate my body sometimes. A lot of the time, actually. I hate how I always feel like the fattest person in the room; I hate feeling dread whenever I simply walk past a bathing suit display; I hate having to constantly think about what I’m eating is causing me to gain. Most of all, I think I hate how I’m too lazy to change it, and how that must displease my Lord. Jesus, help me help myself.

So much about these entries seems foreign to me now, and yet so much of it still rings very true. I am no longer drowning in self-pity about my weight but am actively working to change myself for the better, but I still fight a constant battle with food and laziness and longing. I think I always will. But I know that I am the better for having struggled, and I am glad that I can look back on these entries and see how far I’ve come instead of realizing that nothing has changed.

Where were you four years ago? Are you proud of the person you’ve become?

Skinny=Happy?

I have said before that if I am expecting weight loss to make me deliriously happy, I am setting myself up for failure. Most days I am fully aware of and accept that fact, but some days I fall into the trap of thinking, “If I could just be a size 10 everything would be perfect.” Of course that kind of thinking is a total lie because losing weight doesn’t make all of life’s problems go away, and yet how can we escape that kind of thinking when the world around us constantly lauds people for their beautiful physical appearance?

I have thought about this a lot recently as I have looked back to where I was before I started trying to lose weight last January. I have read many weight loss stories in which the people telling them say varying versions of “My life was miserable, I was miserable, and I just wanted to be thin!” They paint a picture of their “fat” life as being one of unhappiness and despair and their new “skinny” life as one of rainbows and sunshine. And while I definitely think that losing weight has made me feel more confident and happier to a certain extent, I also can’t say that my “fat” life was one of misery and unhappiness. Yes, I had my difficulties, especially during grad school, but those difficulties weren’t caused by my obesity; they were caused by my insecurities about my intelligence and personality. To look back on my life before I started losing weight and just see a miserable fat person is to see the past incorrectly. You see, while some things about my life have changed, like the fact that I now love cardio (who knew??) and eat better foods and focus more on my physical health, a lot of things about my life have not changed, like my faith in Jesus, my love for my husband, my relationships with dear friends, my love of books. Yes, losing weight has made it easier to find clothes and has allowed me to feel better about my outward appearance and I do get a little thrill when I see a lower number on the scale, but if I am neglecting my relationships or neglecting the cultivation of my inward appearance, what am I really gaining?

However, just because I know I am the same person now in a lot of ways doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with how I used to look then. The hardest thing is looking at pictures of my wedding. I see myself in those pictures and have thought more than once, “Why didn’t I lose the weight then? Then I could be proud of how I look!” But then I stop myself because I realize that the person in those pictures is glowing with happiness, with love. The person in those pictures is thrilled to be marrying the love of her life. And that person is still here today. Sure, it would have been wonderful if I could have worn a size 10 or 12 wedding gown, but just because I didn’t doesn’t mean I should look on that day with regret. So I choose the alternative. I choose gratitude. I am grateful for the life I have lived, both past and present, for I know that all of it has made me who I am, and at the end of the day, the number on the scale or on the waistband of a pair of pants means little when compared to a life lived to the fullest.