Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Making Excuses, Living in Lies

My doctor said to me earlier today, “Wow, it’s nice to actually be able to help someone.” He was referring to the fact that through his suggestions for diet and exercise, I was actually able to alter my body significantly over the course of a year, bringing it into the picture of perfect health – okay, maybe not perfect (I’m still in the “holy fuck!” range on the BMI chart), but I did significantly improve my health. His statement made me think about his other patients, and then I began wondering how I got here.

I’ve always been one to argue a point, and I can even convince people that what I know is wrong is right. It’s been one of the many lovely personality traits I’ve had since grade school. After ruining a semi-scripted legal skit in my 6th grade History class (because I got the “witness” to admit perjury by confusing her), my teacher told my parents I’d make a good lawyer one day.

In English class in high school, I’d always get As on my papers, because I knew how to twist things around and present them in a compelling way. If it’s believable, my teacher would say, then it will hold up out there in the real world, regardless of whether I had pulled an archetype out of my ass or not.

If this, then that is not so simple when you can find ways to introduce technicalities that invalidate the obvious. My dad use to say to me, “If you lie enough, you’ll start to believe your own lies, and you won’t know what’s real or not anymore.” He was right.

When I first started really training in derby (when we got a coaching staff who knew what they were doing and who pushed me), I gave up easy and made all types of excuses as to why I couldn’t keep up, and I believed the excuses. I fell back on the crutch of “but there’s a place for every girl in derby”, which is true to a point, but I was trying to argue against training people to actually get better, because I wanted my skill set to remain high and I didn’t want to have to really work to bring myself to where I needed to be to compete with others on our league.

In private, I hemmed and hawed and blamed my inability to keep up on my weight, and I made it into an us versus them thing, where I convinced myself the current coaching staff wanted only thin girls on the league. I continued to attend slightly over the minimum attendance requirement for practices, but I didn’t do much more about it. I didn’t supplement derby with the gym or cardio or even do strengthening exercises at home.

The only thing I had been honest with myself about during this entire period in time was the fact that I couldn’t keep up. It was a self-fulfilling prophesy, but one that was full of excuses as to why I couldn’t keep up, and none of them were entirely accurate. Somewhere along the line in my life I learned to bullshit myself. I now know I kept lying to myself and making excuses, because it was easier to face the confusion of why things wouldn’t or weren’t working or happening than to find and face the real reason these things wouldn’t or weren’t working or happening. The real reason reflected a flaw within myself I wasn’t willing to face.

I’m not sure what it was that helped me break this cycle. I know it started after the embarrassment of my performance after season two. I know I faced some realities regarding skill set, where I actually was, and where I wanted to be. I know I started preparing for season three, and I was looking good until the first shoulder injury. I think after that I was scared. Scared that the momentum I had going that enabled me to see things as they were and do something about it would sit on the sidelines with me and my sling, and I was afraid that when I returned I’d be the same reliably mediocre player that I always was. I knew I didn’t want to be that.

In a quite literal admission of what feels like guilt due to my being the author of this site, my doctor was referring to how I’d managed to lose over 10% of my body weight in the past year. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been trying to lose weight since I was 11 years old, and I’d be lying again if I didn’t tell you I feel great and am proud of myself. In a weird twist of fate, I followed the advice we all know and no one listens to: eat when you’re hungry and exercise. I didn’t count calories, I didn’t obsess over my meal plans on FitDay, and I didn’t join a crazy cult fad diet group either. I listened to my body, and it worked, whereas all previous attempts ended in excuses I had made for myself, much like the ones mentioned above.

Derby is way easier now that I’m in the low end of the “obese” range, but you know what, I’m still a big girl! In thinking about my weight loss, I’ve wondered if I’m now a sellout writing this blog. I often get paranoid about it, but I don’t think I am. Here’s my logic: I weigh 175. I was, at my highest weight, 221, so I’ve lost 40-some pounds. Think of your league’s superstar jammer. For many of us, it’s a chick like Joy Collision. Now imagine her (I assume she’s around 120) at my weight of 175 – would she be as good as she is at 120? Hell, no! But you know what, at 175 I can keep up, and sometimes – as Joy put it tonight – I’m a one-woman blocking machine. If I were to go back to 221, I wouldn’t be a one-woman blocking machine, I assure you. The point of this illustration is to show you that in all actuality, weight DOES NOT MATTER. It’s relative to YOU and not anyone else.

Weight isn’t an excuse – ladies all over the world who play derby have proved that already. Losing weight can help some, but becoming a better player takes more than that; it takes consistency, pushing your limits, building muscle, doing cardio homework, and above all honesty with yourself and determination. At least it has for me.

Shit, it’s not like I’m the best player there ever was, or the skinniest girl there ever was, but I’m proud as hell that all the hard work I’ve put into and will continue to put into my athleticism has paid off. I’ve learned to like the personal challenge of changing what my body can do, but more importantly I’ve learned to look at myself and my flaws and be okay with them. If I wasn’t okay with them, I’d still be protecting myself from my own reality that really wasn’t that bad anyhow. It was doable. Anything’s doable. You just have to know where you’re starting in order to map out where you want to go. Funny enough, I’ve found the trip itself is actually more rewarding than I ever knew it could be.

I still catch myself lying or making excuses, but when I realize it I give myself a reality check. For so long I wanted to be in the world I had made up around me – not accountable for anything. But now I want to be here, in the now, seeing what’s real and appreciating the notion that you can actually get whatever you want with nothing more than hard work and determination.


DayGlo Divine said...

I needed to read this as much as you needed to write it.

Thank you.

Axl said...

WOW! I love your perspective and your honesty! I think all derby girls could use a dose of such reality--especially the new ones. Thank you, Cindy!

Very Anonymous Mike said...

Last year, I lost 52 lbs. Your blog is a perfect example how important psychology is to everything, including losing weight. Why so many people that lose weight gain it back is that they have not changed their way of thinking.

In the past, I would eat less, or eat better, or exercise more. It wasn't until I decided "Whatever I was doing up to this point is what got me the way I am. Until I do something different, that is not going to change."

I, too, did no special diets. I just took what I know, learned some stuff on the way, including the stuff I learned from listening to my own body, and now I'm a different person.

I have a friend that was in prison. He told me that everyone in prison feels they were either framed or railroaded. What your father said was true. If you tell the lie often enough, you begin to believe it.