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Is it Time to Balance the Scales?

January 21, 2010

Recently I read a blog post from my friend Kevin over at The Life of the Cubs.  Kevin’s a soccer fanatic but we

These are not MY feet by the way...

share the love for eating right and working out.  In his post, Too Obsessive!, he recently discusses the possibility that he takes his body image a bit too far. Do we really need to balance the scales?   Hmmm…this is worth some thought.

For those of us who work out and eat well, are we guilty of being obsessive as well?  We eat what others may see as “special food,” even though it’s available in most grocery stores.  We work out with “special equipment” that can be bought at most sporting goods stores OR work out in facilities that require money for membership.  We may choose to eat or drink different selections than what everyone else eats at lunch or at a party, but we’re doing it to maintain what we have worked so hard to achieve.  Is that wrong?  Is that being obsessive?

A friend of mine works at a  bank that provides a nice Wellness incentive provided you exercise for at least 25 minutes on 12 days out of each month.  His comment to me as he was reviewing his calendar recently was that 12 days seemed a lot and he wanted to be careful about going too often and getting obsessed.  I myself have been accused of being obsessed about working out from close family members as I recently completed my first round of P90X.  Is the world so unhappy with itself that it lashes out and attempts to train us that self-improvement is wrong – or am I the one out of whack and off-kilter?

Being obsessed with your body or health is a personal decision, but here is where I stand.  For too many years, we have been told by government agencies like the USDA, the FDA ,or by the labels on the box, what to eat.  We’ve eaten ourselves into a coma of complacency until one day we see ourselves in the mirror and something clicks.  At that point we dig in and start asking the hard questions like “Do I really want to look like this?”  Some fall of the bandwagon hererealizing change is too hard and they return to their ways while others push on and challenge their fate.  Those moving on seek out information, we engage in a plan, and we find success.  Unfortuantely, a few weeks or months downt the road we can end up looking like an alcoholic at the Christmas party with no plan.  We attack the appetizers as he attacks the booze.  And before you know it, our bodies are back to how they looked prior to the hard fought steps we took and we’re resigned to destiny once again.  I submit it is those who maintain their “obsession” that truly win.  It is only those who keep their eye on the goal, who truly incorporate new steps that become new habits that win on the back side.  This is not obsession.  It’s survival.

You’ll rarely hear me quote from the likes of Richard Simmons, but he is one of the first I heard who talked about food like alcohol.  For some, food is an addiction and for some it is an every day struggle to eat right and work out.  And for some, by keeping the flow of information rigid in your system is how you deal with staying on track and focused.  I know there’s a quote here to include, but I’m unable to produce it at the moment.  Suffice it to say, we become the habits we practice.  The longer we practice the habits, the more it becomes a part of us.  Then we no longer practice.  We just do it.  So it is with a healthy lifestyle – and so it is with an unhealthy lifestyle too.  It all depends on which habits you choose to practice.

So, back to obsessiveness.  Is it OK to obsess about your six-pack and what you eat?  I think that as you get to that point, a little obsessiveness may be needed to stay focused.  Aren’t we all like that when dating or working on a big project at work?  Why should health be any different?  Obsessiveness to the point of vanity IS taking it too far.  Are we in agreement we all hate those folks?  But once we have reached our goal, and taken the steps to maintain what we have accomplished, we should allow ourselves some time to breathe and place our focus on other areas.  You reach a point where you no longer have to spin that plate because it will continue to spin on its own.  Then it’s time to spin another.

This is my take on things.  What’s yours?  Are you obsessed with working out?  Is that wrong?

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2010 9:11 am

    SOOOOOO glad those aren’t your feet…LOL.
    Love this post. Balance is definitely something that is lacking on all fronts on the weightloss cycle. Making it a healthy lifestyle helps with the balance…but as we know sometimes we fall to the side a bit with some skewed thinking. For example…I thought it was the RIGHT thing, the GOOD thing, the HEALTHY thing to keep my exercise streak going….now I realise that I wasn’t actually balanced at all. But what I also know is that it IS a major part of my life, and while I can do it ‘everyday’ if something comes up, too tired, sick, I CAN take a day off without feeling like a loser. Balance. So essential in all aspects of life…trying to find mine agian.
    Thanx for this post!

    • January 21, 2010 2:08 pm

      Balance comes into play in those situations for sure. It’s tough to stop the streak, huh? At the end if the day we just have to control our health and not let it control us. Sounds odd when I put it like that but we must master our health and stay the master making health our servant. Does that sound better!

  2. Otto Voss permalink
    January 21, 2010 9:42 am

    I have been thinking about this for some time now. I think, my family and my closest friends are tired of hearing what my objectives in terms of body weights and exercises are.
    I certainly don’t share this to brag myself on the fact that I’m committed and enthusiastic about this new way of leaving, but, I think that the solution is to share wisely.
    I have decided that I will only share my insights with my loved ones only if I’m asked about my opinion. And, for my need to comment and discuss about exercise, that’s way I follow your blogs.
    I don’t ignore that I do have a necessity to communicate and talk about this topics, but I will pick the persons I start a discussion with more consciously. Like this, my closest ones won’t get tired or think that I’m obsess with healthy habits.
    That is the defition of obsession after all, right? Don’t control yourself, even in health matters.

    • January 21, 2010 2:04 pm

      Thanks for the comment. I think the reining in of comments and to who can help with appearing obsessed. Certainly when folks ask you have certainly earned the right to talk and brag.

  3. Kevin permalink
    January 21, 2010 10:43 am

    Jeff, this is a great post. My journey has been an interesting one. I definitely agree with your point, that being “obsesssive” about one’s health and wellness is fine and in fact healthy. I think I have been getting to the point lately where I’m worrying about little body image things, like how deep and refined I can make my abs look, or how can I add an inch to my biceps. In this, I have lost a little of the aura I felt in the beginning where I was feeling awesomely healthy everyday. I feel that way everyday still, it has just become the norm. As with anything that’s new and fresh, eventually it wears off a bit, I guess in my paleo-complacency I’ve let my vanity take over a bit more than I would have liked. I will never not obsess over my health if obsessing means planning your meals, eating real food, downing fish oil, and thriving! But, I am taking a step back from my own reflection for a while and focusing on things that i’ve neglected. (i.e. my life).

    It’s healthy to have an ideal image of what you want to look like, but you can’t let that consume you. The longevity of paleo as a lifestyle is much more important.

  4. January 25, 2010 1:39 pm

    I am obsessed and not afraid to admit it.

    Love this post, and quite honest was thinking of something along these lines for a blog entry as well. I have way too many friends that are just overweight, and I am sorry, I just dont buy that they’re ‘happy just the way i am’ that i hear. They tell me i’m obsessed and will turn into some anorexic or something…see? you dont even know what that means because if you did you’d know that i NEVER could be.

    • January 25, 2010 6:28 pm

      I’m with you – I don’t think anyone who is overweight is happy just the way they are. The world is a cruel place and reminds us all of our shortcomings. Aside from the cruelty, being obese limits you from many things. I’m not trying to be indelicate, but I can do way more as a healthy person than I could do a year ago or more. And I would love everyone to feel as good as I can!

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