Do oranges dream of being grapefruits and having more curves? Do grapefruits get jealous of oranges and their more toned bodies? Are lemons petite blonds of the citrus world? Where do limes fit into all of this? It’s all a question of shape.
I have been on something of a health kick these last few weeks. I exercise at lunch, mainly running, and my food intake has, well actually that’s stayed the same. The big difference is reducing my drink intake. Barring a couple of social occasions with friends, my alcohol intake has reduced to virtually nil.
The benefits are loss of weight, feeling good about myself, and no doubt my liver has stopped weeping (I’m sure I could hear it in my dreams, like the distant sob of scared and frightened child).
However, I have been here before, exercising, reducing food etc. on those occasions the benefits have been short term. It would be nice to reach a state of equilibrium where I can enjoy a glass or two of wine (it’s always at least two – who the fuck only has one glass of wine?) without worrying about my weight. Truth is though I have always slipped back into old habits, so my approach needs to be more long term than previously. I guess I am developing a diet that will last for life, rather than in terms of weeks or months.
The problem right now though is that I really have no idea what shape I’m meant to be. I have been overweight since I was about 6. It probably peaked in my late teens to early twenties before I managed to get some better control on it. I first went to a gym in my late twenties which had some impact but not long term. Bouts of massive weight gain have roughly coincided with bouts of depression. In fact, as I think about it now, I have probably spent a quarter to a third of my life depressed.
Anyhow, I depress, sorry, digress (haha see what I did there?). Body shape. I’ve never had a moment where I was happy with how I looked, so I have no frame of reference for how I will look if I get to optimum weight. Nancy, my long suffering but wise (cracking) partner, says that it’s more important how it makes me feel rather than some aesthetic consideration. Of course she’s right, but I grew up as a child of the 1980’s, the last of the Generation X. I still have these influences about ‘looking good’ (good o’le neoliberal culture). I have never – never – been satisfied or content about my appearance. I particularly dislike my chin and the slight Some days I actively avoid mirrors. It shouldn’t matter, but it’s a distracting thought that has lingered for decades.
I’ll have to get over it. Just as the exercise and diet is about setting up a habit for life, I’ll have to overcome a life long habit about I think about myself. Being healthy is going to deliver better dividend than looking healthy. Exercising that discipline of thought is something I need to fit into my routine. Chances are I might never be happy, setting myself against an ideal I can’t possibly hope to match. So I need to retrain my habit of thinking and move beyond the superficial. That’s the way forward. Be a grapefruit and be happy about it.