I love Saturdays. Saturday is almost always the only day of the week that I can keep completely unscheduled, except for activities of my own choosing, for most of the year. Sandwiched nicely between Friday night, which usually kicks off my weekend with a celebration or retreat of sorts, and Sunday which finds me doing any number of things required to prepare a household for the upcoming week, Saturday is the one day I can almost always call my own.
Saturday, is also that time of the week that I make certain I take some me time to check in, think about the week that just passed, and ponder the week to come. It’s become important to me, over the last couple of years to take stock of my personal internal state. These days, with my weekly weigh in and measuring, this time of reflection is becoming even more important to me. Sure, I check the numbers to see that I show continued loss or improvements, but the numbers lead to more introspection and further consideration. This personal evaluation doesn’t just stop with looking at the “what happened” during the week, but it explores the “why it happened”, which I feel is just as important for my peace of mind and for lack of a better phrase, staying grounded.
This particular Saturday morning was, as a true reflection of the week that proceeded it, disappointing. I woke late, began cleaning, forgot completely about my weigh in and measurements until after drinking two glasses of water and nibbling some food. Not that this is such a big deal but, just like all week, I was a bit off my game. I like to weigh in and measure first thing in the morning on a completely empty stomach. I did end up weighing myself and came out at one more pound lost, and 2.5 inches smaller in various places for a total of 4 pounds lost and 5.5 inches gone) thank goodness one of those places was not my chest! Even so, the numbers are glaring proof that this week, though it started out well and wasn’t a complete disaster, had it’s share of disappointments and discouragement.
When I began this fitness journey with my “Looking Good Naked” post, I knew there were going to be some difficulties. I knew, because I know myself well enough, that this wasn’t simply going to be a journey of exercise, diet and externals. I knew it wasn’t going to merely be my own personal quest for a kick ass body. I knew this was going to be a journey of internal cleansing as well. This week I began to hit some of those areas, that like the snag just under the surface of the water, tripped me up.
On a personal level, I experienced some real disappointments. These letdowns were just as mixed with positive outcomes and they were saddening to me. I simply hate it when I’m in a place of confusion and this week I was up and down with that. On the other hand, it was a bit like driving through fog: beautifully eerie, but difficult to navigate. Then suddenly, just as so often happens when driving through fog, I found myself in a place of complete clarity; no shadows, no disguised shadowy forms. What I saw in that place of clarity did not please me. It saddened me and disappointed me greatly. What it didn’t do which is a huge step up for me, is discourage me. In fact, quite the opposite. I was encouraged. But I also noticed something. When I’m unhappy, feeling tense or anxious or lost, I tend to take this unhappiness out on myself in negative ways. I need to work on dealing with disappointments differently.
I’ve been a boater and an avid water skier since my high school years. I first dated a young man whose family owned a boat and much of our summers were spent out on the lakes and reservoirs of Eastern Oregon, baking in the sun and cooling off on the glassy waters as we sailed along the water’s surface behind the boat. I eventually purchased my own boat and spent many wonderful summers pulling my children and their friends around behind it and being pulled myself, until I had to sell it when it became evident that my marriage was not going to last. In water skiing terms, there is a phrase we use when we are so tired we can’t continue to ski. We “throw the rope”. This is when the skier after a great ride simply tosses the rope and sinks into the water. Sometimes we do this because the water is just too choppy and no fun to navigate. Sometimes we do this because we are simply tired and can’t continue any further.
I realized this week, that when disappointments come my way, I throw the rope on myself emotionally. I give up. I don’t give up forever, I don’t give up drastically or dramatically, and I certainly don’t give up for long, but I do give up for a bit. I lose that bit of determination and drive, that mental edge, that I need to keep my positive forward momentum up. Discouragement is my biggest nemesis. This week, I gave up for three days. I didn’t work out, I ignored my healthy eating. I “threw the rope” on myself and my own personal goals in one area of my life because another area was disappointing, confusing or stressful to me. This is not an effective choice for me. This is what I will need to force myself to push through, even more than forcing myself to workout when I don’t want to, or eat right when I’m tempted to binge. This is the area for me where my personal determination will be challenged. I have to get better at shaking off the disappointments and the setbacks or, at least, continuing on my course in spite of them. Sometimes it is true we need to back off and take a break from things. I understand that. This throwing the rope this is a bit different. It wasn’t a break, it was a mental kind of momentary giving up. I succumbed, I think, momentarily to a sense of hopelessness.
Do you “throw the rope”? Have you ever given up on yourself, even momentarily? How do you handle the setbacks or letdowns you experience? Does it become easier or more difficult to handle if you are dealing with setback after setback or disappointment after disappointment? What strategies do you have for “sticking with it” when you most feel like it doesn’t matter or you want to give up.
While living this week wasn’t the greatest experience of them all on one hand, after reflecting on all that happened and after dealing with the internal stuff, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m in a much better place after having lived this week than I was when it started. That’s a very positive outcome. It certainly beats living a week and having learned nothing. I’m much more clear about some things that were bogging me down. I didn’t blow it so badly this week that I lost ground on my fitness goals so I don’t have that added disappointment to contend with. I stepped out and took some risks that were new for me, got involved in some activities that were different than I normally spend time on, gave up a commitment I needed to give up, and sought help and advice and received very good counsel from a dear friend that wasn’t pleasant to hear, but which I needed to hear. I reconnected with another long time friend, went on a field trip with my daughter, and had some potentially interesting business opportunities dump themselves right in my lap. I’m getting more involved in my community for some positive efforts that extend beyond my own existence and survival. While I would have loved to have done all this much earlier than now, I’ve been living in survival mode for so long, I simply wasn’t physically or emotionally available to do anything more than I was doing to keep my children fed, clothed, safe and me healthy.
Sometimes there are seasons where all you can do is survive and it has to be good enough to make it to the end of the day in whatever fashion possible. Just saying you showed up is sometimes a phenomenal success. The most encouraging and hope inspiring piece of this whole bizarre experience called my week is the realization that this season of simply being able to “show up” (which I felt stuck in) seems to be over for me. So, I’ll take the disappointments, because the joys of the lessons and insights far outweigh the sadness. I also know that nothing lasts forever and even pain and disappointment are temporary.
Today, there is sun peeking through the clouds; a cheerful reminder that summer will soon be here and that though things aren’t perfect in all areas for me, they are mostly very, very good. And…it is…Saturday.