Saturday, June 7, 2008

#10 Hold the Croutons Please

When I was growing up on Long Island I had a friend who took really great care of herself. I used to jokingly say that her body was a shrine and she only brought beautiful and healthy gifts to it. She ate very healthy, exercised and cared for her skin. She made sure to get enough sleep and never wanted to be around cigarette smoke because she said it was toxic to you inside and out. What is amazing about this is that she was a 15 year old girl and this was during the 80s. The only real diet out there was Weight Watchers and the only exercise guru was Jack LaLanne. I mean I'm talking before Jane Fonda and her video. My friend's parents weren't healthy eaters, nor were they exercisers. Where did this come from? And let me just say that she didn't stop doing this after a month or year. Off to college she went continuing to eat very healthy and to take care of her shrine. Even after college when I went to visit her, she went to an aerobics class one day while I decided to lay by her pool and read.

The reason I bring up my friend is to tell you something I've figured out. It seems that [sometimes] one must be a little controlling and selfish to make sure that his/her needs are taken care of. I can say with certainty that she was both of these things. Controlling what you eat may sometimes mean imposing your needs on others. If your family decides to go out for pizza and you're worried that you'll be too tempted, then either they need to change or you do. If you don't take control, you may be angry at yourself afterwards for eating more than you wanted. If you do take control than you may feel guilty for upsetting your family. If you've decided to be a vegan or vegetarian, it makes it tough for those family members who are true carnivores to get excited about going out to a restaurant of your choice. I think along with selfish comes strong willed, which I know she was too. I, on the other hand, did have and still have a hard time going out for Italian food and passing up the pizza, pasta and garlic bread for a nice chicken Caesar salad [hold the croutons, dressing on the side please]. However, I don't want my food needs to stop my family from being together and doing something we enjoy. So, selfish, controlling and strong willed are not traits in my makeup....

Sometimes exercise comes in the way of other activities that may involve friends or family. A person needs to make the decision whether or not they are going to put their exercise needs first. I can honestly say that there have been a few Saturday mornings when the family ran a little late getting to synagogue for a Bar/Bat mitzvah service because I had to get my exercise in before the day got away from me. In this instance, I can say that my kids weren't too upset and may actually have wanted me to run a few more miles. My putting myself first wasn't hurting anyone. However, you can't always get what you want and there have been many times where the day has gotten away from me and I've missed my exercise opportunity. My high school friend might have climbed on the treadmill at home or done some callisthenics after dinner, but I'm not that way. There is a window where I want, enjoy, and need to exercise. After that, it becomes work. I love to exercise so the last thing I want to do is make it work. So, selfish, strong willed and overly dedicated are not part of my makeup....

There is nothing selfish in the word selfish if what you do makes you a better person, feel better and react to situations better. There are many people I know who are overweight, under exercised and frustrated with some parts of their lives because they don't know how to put themselves first [and I don't mean all time of course]. You can't be freely good to others if you're not good and caring to yourself. This carries over to you can't nurture others well if you don't nurture yourself. Don't let the word selfish deter you from taking care of you. Once you start feeling good, the rest follows easily and quickly. So, selfish, strong willed, over-dedicated and self-nurturing may not be part of my makeup, but I have tried to adopt these traits when it comes to eating, exercising and taking care of me. I don't always put myself first, but I do try to make sure that along with my family's needs and schedules, mine doesn't get lost in the shuffle.

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