Thursday, January 23, 2014

Team S.J.G.R. Thursday Huddle: You, Yourself, and You.

"I don't get many compliments--but I am confident. 
Used to have a complex about gettin' too complex."

~ Talib Kweli 

How we treat our bodies and what we do to maintain health is such a personal and complicated thing, isn't it? It's certainly not as simple as I used to make it when speaking to my patients early in my career:

"There's no real secret. Move more, eat less. That's the way to lose weight."

I cringe when I think of me saying those words. Not only is it smug and insensitive, it doesn't account for all of the complexities that go into weight and health and wellness. It doesn't even touch food relationships or self-esteem issues and it makes no attempt to tackle fear. It doesn't. 

So. I'm kind of glad for this whole Team S.J.G.R. It kind of feels like I'm getting a "do-over." Yeah.

Here's what I'm thinking about this morning: 

I'm wondering what will it take? Or, rather, what did it take? What has been or will be the impetus for you to really, truly put up both dukes and rage against every machine seeking to rob you of your health? Will it be losing someone you love? Will it be Jennifer Hudson singing on a Weight Watchers commercial in a pair of unforgiving white skinny jeans? Was it seeing a picture of yourself on Facebook and gasping at the sight of it? Or was it just some point where you got sick and tired of being sick and tired?

What was it? Or what will it be?

Then, on top of that, what will it take for you to keep it going? To wrestle your vices down to the ground and then hold them there for good? Will it be the faces of your kids? Might it be the big, shiny medals that they put over your head at the end of a running race? Maybe it won't be any of those things. Maybe it will just be that you like how it feels to be healthy and aren't willing to turn back to where you once were. I don't know. But that? That's one of the hardest parts. 

I liken it to going for a run. There's two hard steps in that process. The first is just getting your shoes laced and getting out the door. The second is to keep going. And, for me, the "keep going" part has always been the hardest. 


So what will it take? Well? What?

That's for you to answer. But the question is urgent like a mo-fo. It is. 

For me to really and truly begin thinking about my cardiovascular health and the fact that a heart attack could actually rob me of my precious life? No question--that took losing Deanna. Sure, my father had a heart attack and so did his father before him. But they were older. They were men. I removed myself from that. 

But heart attacks at 44 don't just happen because you're overweight. They happen when family history and multiple other factors get mixed into it. And the family history part is out of my control. So that? That made me want to work at the parts I could control. 

For me, that made a difference. 

And sure. I've liked the benefits like new friends and how I feel in my clothes. But best of all I like mentally knowing that I am fighting back. Every time I run or exercise, I feel like I am honoring my sister. And, for some people, you might think that it would be better to focus on ME and not her. But I already said that for each of us it will take something different to keep us going. Deanna is a wonderful motivator for me. I talk to her and think of her. I remember her. And then I think of all of you and how her legacy and all of this spun from her. And that keeps ME going. 

For you, it might be something else.

I also set goals. Sure, I used to set skinny jean goals -- but not any more. Now I register for races to keep myself training. I pay my good money and the cheapskate in me makes me train so that I won't waste my cash. I'm not disciplined enough to run just because so that, I've learned, helps me. 

And you know? I feel stronger. I feel leaner and meaner. That makes a difference, too. And sometimes someone will tell me that "you look good" but a lot of times they don't say anything. But that doesn't matter because I'm telling myself that. I'm saying, "You go, girl!" or I'm walking in from a run and pointing in the mirror saying, "You DID that, girlfriend!" 

Sure am.

There's this rap song I used to dig called "Brown-Skinned Lady" with this one line that I always liked:

"I don't get many compliments--but I am confident. Used to have a complex about gettin' too complex." 

Don't worry about whether or not you get compliments. Just be confident in what you are doing for yourself and your body. Ask yourself what will it take to start--or what has it taken. But especially we must find some things that will keep us going. What will be your Deanna? 

Listen. I need you here. I need you reading and thinking and living and sharing and helping me to make pieces of this world a little better. So I need you to take care of your hearts. Which means losing weight, if you have it to lose, and moving your body if you haven't been. Please, okay? I need you here. 

And I'm sure I'm not alone. 

I'm saying that just in case. Just in case, for you, that's what it will take.

Happy Thursday. The realness don't stop. Not even in 2014.


  1. Where I'm at right now in this process isn't a good thing to share here, but I did want to thank you for acknowledging that it is more than about eating less and moving more. Height, weight, heart disease, diabetes can all be called lifestyle indicators. And they are. But the genetic component is powerful and for the most part is only vaguely understood, especially when it comes to weight. I like your emphasis on being fit rather than being thin. I like that you point out that no amount of exercise is going to negate what you put in your mouth. Still, this nasty game of whack a mole has got me down.

  2. Love this and want you to know how much SJGR has helped me! 15 years ago it was a photo of myself that made me realize what had wasn't pretty! I then started running...ran a marathon and that was one of the proudest moments of my life! At that point I had lost 25 pounds but it was more than that...I felt the confidence you talk about and it is an amazing feeling and makes it all so worthwhile. When SJGR started I had made up my mind I was going to lose my last 10 pounds once and for far I have lost 5! Your posts keep me motivated and I know by this summer I will have lost the final 5....and I thank you for that! xo

  3. I love reading these posts....they keep me inspired! I like how you talk about making sure to move the body - I do not have weight to lose, in fact Dr.'s always note that I am very thin, however heart attacks run in both sides of the family. You just cant ignore the family history. Thank you for the wake up call that I need to move more for my heart...not the weight.

    I agree with the commenter above, I really admire that you talk about the fitness aspect and not just the weight. Because I definitely know from the losses in my own family, that one can still be healthy weight/thin and still be at risk for cardiovascular disease. I always wonder how stress/anxiety affects these risks...

    PS: You do keep pieces of this world a lot better. I don't comment much but I do read daily!

  4. For me, it was walking past a mirror one day and thinking, "This is not me. I'm tired of looking like this." Literally, it happened when I walked past a mirror in my house. Of course, losing our sister changed so much inside of me, and it became more about keeping my heart healthy than fitting into skinny jeans. But, I'm still all about the skinny jeans, make no mistake! LOL. And then there are little things that push me... I went to the doctor's office... I walked past an older, very overweight lady who was walking with a cane. She asked me to hold the elevator for her, which I did. It took her an entire minute to get about 5 feet. Not even kidding. She was so tired by the time she got in the elevator, and she was apologizing for taking so long. I felt sad for her. She was probably dad's age, and could barely get around. And Weds night I went to the Eagles concert at the Forum. Our seats were up a long flight of stairs which I went up and down a few times with no problem. But I watched people struggle up those stairs & I felt so sad. Especially for the young people who couldn't even make it up without stopping to catch their breath. Oh well, I'm rambling... stuff like that just makes me want to push even harder.

    xoxo, Biz


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