Emotional health

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Harder Than It Has To Be

Sadly, I’ve also started to notice another type. I don’t have a nickname for them, because it hurts too much to watch, but it’s clear they want to lose weight, get in shape, do something that’s different than what they’ve been doing up to now. They’re the ones torturing themselves.

The first guy like this I saw was jogging on a hot day. Large in stature, he was sweating and wheezing so much I consciously tried to remember my CPR training after coming across him. It was beautiful outside, but warm, and most everyone carried water bottles and had on light clothing. Except for this man. He was wearing a rubber tracksuit, the kind that wrestlers wear when they need to sweat away extra pounds before a meet. He looked hot and miserable, not to mention like he was about to drop dead. But anyone looking at him could not mistake the look of steely determination in his eyes, as he jogged past mercilessly. I hate myself this way, he seemed to communicate in a glance, and I am going to change or die.

Of course we never saw him again. Probably the next morning he woke up with terrible shin splints or worse, simply the memory of being miserable. And of course, who would return for more of that?

There are others you see, similarly: jogging or walking fast, faster than seems comfortable for them. They too have the same look in their eyes, the grim resignation to move mind over matter and overcome the laws of gravity. And while they sometimes come back to my favorite track once or twice, they rarely, if ever, become regulars. Who can blame them?

It’s a shame, really. Because it’s beautiful out there, on the local suburban track. Walking at a comfortable pace regularly — even three days a week for 10 minutes or more — can bring huge, monumental changes to one’s life and health. And I wonder, in how many areas of all of our lives are we wearing that rubber suit — hurling ourselves around the track, hoping to push through the disgust and fatigue to achieve some personal goal that we could achieve … if we just calmed down and did a little at a time?

Making it harder than it has to be feels good sometimes. It feels like we’ve done something. Made a huge step in the right direction. Little changes —walking 10 minutes a day, for example, or ordering the baked chicken instead of the fried, or practicing smiling every day at 3 people you’d like to meet — doesn’t feel like anything, sometimes. Cue the marching band’s entrance, or the Rocky theme blaring over your car speakers, for that? But in the end, those are the changes that last, aren’t they? Because change — whether it’s weight loss, or getting yourself into a good romantic relationship, or simply learning how to be kind to yourself — takes time and daily moderate effort. Not punishment. Not torture. And not a rubber tracksuit. Thank goodness.

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