I’ve been struggling with something for a while. I think it’s rather common with … well, with humans, I guess.
I’m sitting here trying to lose a bunch of weight, build muscle, endurance, all this “get fit” stuff. It’s hard. Really hard. But it’s not the actual workouts, or the meal plan (trying to avoid the word “diet”) changes or any of that.
There’s something deep down inside, fundamental, that is resisting my work to change… me.
See, I’ve never been an athlete. Never been a fitness buff. I played a few years of Little League baseball, but wasn’t really any good at it. I tried track for part of one season, and quit. A few years ago I took up triathlon, did a few, and fell off the wagon. And I’ve enjoyed hiking, backpacking and the outdoors for decades. But I never was an athletic, fit person. Those were all things that I did or tried, but that were never part of my core, internal self.
I’m looking at myself and realizing that the internal picture I have of myself is… who I am. Physically weak, somewhat overweight, slow, awkward, easily tired, and unsure of myself in the physical world. And that internal self-image is fighting tooth and nail to preserve itself as my reality. THIS is what is hard about what I am trying to do. I’m not (just) trying to change a number on a scale or a glucose meter or a stopwatch. I’m trying to fundamentally re-shape my whole image of who I am.
I really don’t think I’m going to have this licked until that image-change process is complete. Until then, as now, when I go for a run, I have this feeling that I’m pretending at something, that I’m not really a runner. When I do my body-weight exercises or lift weights, I feel like I’m doing something wrong, that I’m not really strong. When I pass up the donuts and ice cream, I’m not really a healthy eater. And when I go play some volleyball or enter a race, there’s that voice… I’m not really an athlete…
I suppose it’s like having a new pair of shoes. When you first put them on, they feel uncomfortable, foreign, like they’re someone else’s shoes. But over time, they break in and mold to your feet, and after a while they’re almost like part of your own feet. I know in my head (or at least I hope!) that if I can just keep going long enough with the new habits I’m starting, while envisioning the new me I’m molding, they too — like the new shoes — will break in, mold to me, and change that old inner vision of myself to something new and better. And that new self-image will then really be me.
Until then, my outer, physical self will keep reverting to match the inner image, and I will be stuck where I am.