Vanity & Health (with Pressure Cookers and Balloons, too)

In my last post I wondered whether doing healthy things for the sake of weight loss was different from doing healthy things for the sake of health.  I guess I should say that I KNOW it’s different – but I wonder what kind of a difference it is.  In the comments Dan pointed out that I should just do healthy things because they’re healthy, and whether or not I lose weight should be incidental.  And of course, he’s right.


To be perfectly honest, I won’t do healthy things just for my health.  I haven’t totally figured that one out yet, but I lean toward the explanation that the behaviors I use to hide are still useful to me: the drinking and the bingeing serve a purpose that I don’t really think I’ll let go of without some outside motivation.  Dying of cancer or heart disease or liver cirrhosis seems far away in the future somewhere.  I KNOW that’s ass-backward, but there it is.  In my head I’m still 16 and invincible. 

On the other hand, the idea of losing weight?  Of looking good (by society’s standards) in my clothes?  THAT motivates me.  I will get off my ass, go to the gym (well, the park – I hate the gym), watch what I eat, stop abusing my body with various substances, etc.  I want to see the muscles in my arms from the Hundred Pushup Challenge.  I miss the lines made by my quadriceps and calves. 

Now I know there’s a balance in there: I know that I could/should eat better, exercise, get enough rest, all those things JUST BECAUSE THEY’RE GOOD FOR ME AND WILL MAKE ME FEEL BETTER.  But at night, I could just sit down with some ice cream or a glass (or 3) of wine, I don’t care about how I’ll feel tomorrow.  I just want all the voices in my head: the “shoulds,” the perfectionists, the listing of what I did wrong today and how it all starts over again tomorrow – I just want those voices to SHUT THE HELL UP.  I want them quiet more than I want to feel good tomorrow.

But most of the time I don’t want them quiet more than I want to see the scale go down.

I wonder, though: coming from a disordered background, having been exposed to the Intuitive Eating module, can I split the difference?  Is it even possible?  I know a lot of people who would say no, but I’m not sure “no” is an acceptable answer for me right now.  The 2 options I’ve got aren’t good: sacrifice my mental health on the altar of the diet gods, or sacrifice my physical health on the altar of “accepting” myself – put in quotes because if I’m abusing my body, I haven’t accepted it, don’t love it, etc.  There’s a disconnect there. 

Aaaaanyway.  I’ve got some ideas about how I want to proceed, but I’m keeping them close to the vest for now.  I’ve learned that I am a little like a pressure cooker when I’m embarking on new endeavors.  If I talk about them too soon, it’s like opening the oven on a souffle: the air rushes out of it, and it deflates, like a balloon.  But when I keep it to myself for a while, the pressure in the cooker builds on itself and I’m much more likely to complete and/or stick with something.  How’s that for a bunch of mixed metaphors?  LOL  I usually need a couple of weeks to prove to myself that I really CAN do it.  That’s why I didn’t mention the Pushup challenge until yesterday.  Talking about things too soon makes me feel pressured to finish them, and then my inner 7-year-old gets all, “YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!!!” and I quit.  But if I do it for myself, and don’t talk about it, then no one is being the “boss of me” – not even in my head, LOL. 

The next couple of weeks should be interesting.  😉


6 responses to “Vanity & Health (with Pressure Cookers and Balloons, too)

  1. so many thoughts.

    youre not alone in this at all: Dying of cancer or heart disease or liver cirrhosis seems far away in the future somewhere

    as it took me till 36 to have that CLICK and it still would NOT have without my daughter. I still think Im 16 …feel as though Im 16 but have the constant cloud of GUILT 🙂 that anything I do which mighcould make me depart this earth early doesnt only impact ME now.



    that’s the reason you will never see me shelling out money for a personal trainer. Im a rebel 🙂
    it’s not worth 50.00 an hour for me to scream I DONT HAVE TO DO ONE MORE REP! I DONT WANNA!


  2. What an honest post!

    I think vanity can serve as a great motivator when health goals seem too far away. It’s only when they’re at cross purposes when it’s a problem–i.e. “pregorexics” or folks who abuse diet pills etc.

  3. Marste, dearest, you write my thoughts rather often, you know?!

    I’m so not motivated by my health, I’m sorry I wish I was, but if well being was my only concern then I’d stop eating the Ben and Jerry’s after my tummy feels like it might explode, wouldn’t I. sigh.

  4. It must be age. I am entirely motivated my health. but I’m older than all of you. I’ve been struggling with anxiety and depression.. and at my lowest moments, I catch myself in a mirror and see my mother’s face when she was alive but demented. (she began showing signs of Alzheimers when she was only 2 years older than I am now).

    My doctor says I have choices. I can choose to live and move toward health, or I can to remain unchanged and, like my mother, slip into a “living death.”

    I’m trying to run toward health with almost every breath.

  5. Miz, I’ve heard others with kids say the same thing: that once they realized that their life isn’t entirely THEIRS anymore, they were more motivated to stay healthy on a day-to-day basis.

    Crabby, I hear you. My problem is that I tend to swing like a pendulum between bingeing and starving. (I plead guilty to having abused diet pills in the past.)

    Cara, EXACTLY. Sometimes I just can’t handle the Crazy Bitch, and if I can stuff her down with Ben & Jerry’s, I will.

    Deb, that makes sense. My grandmother passed away from Alzheimer’s last year, and I imagine if I were in your shoes I’d be more concerned. At this point it seems far enough away to not be . . . I don’t want to say it’s not as scary, but it’s not as immediate. If that makes sense.

  6. Just found your blog via DAN (hi, Dan!)…
    My “inner 7-year-old”..! You have one too! That was nice to read. I know everyone’s inner kids are different ages and stages…mine is 7 and she will. not. go. to. the. gym.
    unless I approach her a certain way.
    * ; )

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