Skinny Daily Post

Invincible.

Here’s what it comes down to. You have the cards you’re dealt. Things like the limitations of your particular body, your real (rather than your imagined) responsibilities — the care of your children, parents, partners, spouse. The community of your birth.

And then you have choices. You can choose your work, choose your entertainment, choose your neighborhood, your community, choose your interests and education, choose your spiritual path, choose which services you’ll offer your community. You will choose which food you’ll eat, and choose your form of exercise, too. Sometimes your choices take awhile to achieve, some will be plain out of reach, other choices are easier.

But the choices you make usually present a good picture of your priorities. If you choose another non-profit organization to run, or another church benefit to manage, or another TV show to watch or social get-together to attend over exercise, you’ve clearly placed a higher priority on community action and your social life than on the care of your body. That’s not a bad thing. It isn’t stupid. It’s not a good thing. It doesn’t make you a better person. It’s just a choice you have made about how you will live your own life.

So far, we’re allowed to choose. To date, we’ve protected our right to choose. We call that right freedom. We call the system that protects it democracy. Right? Sure.

When people ask me how they can possibly fit eating well and exercising into a modern life, I say: Choose. Decide what is important. Pick. You are free to design your life. It’s astonishing to me how few people consider eliminating some of their commitments in favor of exercise. It just doesn’t occur to them that they can quit a club or organization or pass on a commitment or see a little less of their friends in order to have the time to exercise or the time to sleep. Is overcommitment a virtue? Since when? So many of us get stuck on the question of how to fit exercise into our already over-booked lives, instead of imagining how our lives would be different if we prioritized good health over other things.

I abhor the phrase “personal responsibility” when talking about the care of our bodies. It’s a punitive phrase. It suggests that choosing not to care for our bodies is irresponsible, when in fact sometimes caring for our bodies does take a back seat to other priorities. Sometimes your kid is sick, and you need to be with her. Sometimes the neighbor’s house is flooded, and you need to help out. Sometimes you’re working against a deadline, you’re having a stroke of genius, and it’s more important to finish the work, the thought, than to cut out for a jog. Sometimes you really would rather read on the couch with a cat on your lap.

Is it a stupid choice to eat a Big Mac? No. You have the right to know what is in anything you eat before you choose to eat it. But then it’s your choice. If the contents don’t bother you, then you eating it shouldn’t bother me. (Okay, it probably does anyway, but it shouldn’t.)

You will choose whether to educate yourself about nutrition. You will choose whether to demand reliable information from food vendors, too. You will decide if you want to demand different practices from the people who supply our food. You will choose whether to watch or be supported by food advertising. How much of it you will let your children watch. You will choose whether you will understand or experience the benefits of exercise.

You will make your own choices, you adult, you. You will make and remake choices that make sense to you and for your particular life and body at any particular time. We should resist every temptation to moralize or judge ourselves or one another on the basis of fitness or health. These are personal choices.

I chose to be fat once. I choose to mind my health now. I wasn’t an irresponsible idiot then. I am no wiser or more responsible now. I just decided what was right for me.

16 thoughts on “Choose

  1. Dana says:

    I need to keep repeating that phrase Overcommittment is not a virtue. That means that being busy does not make me a better person. That means that the world will not fall apart if I make the conscious *choice* to exercise instead of cleaning, meeting, working, studying, schmoozing, organizing, caring, and worrying.

  2. JuJu says:

    Here, Here, Dana. On the other hand, it’s easy to care and worry on a treadmill. You know, if you’re into multi-tasking. But it’s better if you don’t, I suppose.

  3. Quinn says:

    Once again JuJu has so much more eloquently said (written?) what I’ve been trying to tell people (including myself) for years. We’re all adults. We get to choose how we live our lives. We just need to understand that while actions have consequences, inaction has consequences, too.

  4. TurtleMom says:

    I found this site through 3FatChicks and I have to say–wonderful!

    Everything is a choice. You have a right to choose–and suffer the consequences (good or bad).

    Well said, JuJu!

  5. ladymisstree says:

    Here, here. My husband sometimes questions me when I go for a walk rather than doing something else. But I tell him the same answer, I have chosen to make my health my priority. After all, if a report is delivered half an hour late, the sky won’t fall down, but if I keep treating my body the way I used to, it might!

    (I’ll get back to you on the water question later, another health crisis erupted over the last couple of days and I’ve not had a chance to ask my doctor about it.)

  6. jonquil says:

    Other people’s “personal” health choices do affect me in many ways, though. All the relatives who smoked themselves to death, for instance. And the cost and effective delivery of health care, for another. As something like 70 million Boomers begin to enter retirement, the real cost of the Big Mac and couch potato lifestyle will have to be paid. As always, the personal is political.

  7. Sarah says:

    JuJu, this just so resonated with me, for a lot of reasons. I’ve said for a while now, “Show me your choices and I’ll tell you your priorities.” In my blog, http://www.journeytobabeland.blogspot.com, I linked this article and wrote a little more on my feelings about one aspect of choice in weight loss — but you captured so much that’s important to recognize about personal choices to lose or not to lose.

    If wishes are words, then choice is action. I’ve said this before also, “When it comes to weight loss, you get what you’ve earned, not what you’ve prayed for.”

  8. JuJu says:

    Welcome, TurtleMom. Lady Miss, I’m sorry. Please be well. Sarah, thanks, and everybody please check out the divine Sarah’s wonderful blog.

    Jonquil, you raise an important point. Sure, obesity is going to cost us a lot as the baby boomers age. Have you seen the figures for Boomer Alzheimers? Parkinsons? More expensive than the current GNP by some estimates. We have built a toxic environment that feeds all three of these conditions. I think rather than bludgeon people or building a new form of hate for choosing to eat what’s in front of them, the political work here is to help educate people, raise awareness so that they demand better food, air, water for themselves and their kids. ??

  9. JuJu says:

    Whoops! Reality check: I am that boomer. I just wrote that as if I were talking about total strangers… Hah.

    J.

  10. jappy says:

    I like your mind! Realizing we really do have & make choices keeps the emotionalizm out of it. It is what it is: a choice. Helps us look at ourselves clearer. And that helps us make better choices in the end.

    Thanks, again!

  11. Jonquil says:

    There is plenty of “awareness” out there, and yet people continue to abuse their minds and bodies in myriad ways. Surrounded by healthier choices, even people who “know better” choose to abuse themselves, in the grip of habits they can’t or won’t break.

    But maybe if they thought a little more about the consequences of their actions, the material and psychic cost to everyone around them, they might have just that little bit of extra push to put down that Krispy Kreme or that cigarette. Or the bottle or the needle.

    This is not about hate, but it’s also not about giving people blanket permission to engage in self-destruction, because individual actions affect the happiness of all. Maybe people can’t think of these things in abstract political terms, so I’ll make it personal.

    If my relatives had put down the chicken-fried steak, heeding their doctors’ advice, they might not have died so young of diabetes and heart disease. My brothers and I might still have aunts, uncles, grandparents. My mother, a registered nurse and chain smoker, was fully aware of the consequences of her habit. She might have quit. Instead, she made her children orphans.

    Millions of people choose self-destructive paths like these every day. They know better, because we argue with them, we yell and plead and beg them, on our knees. But they do it anyway. Then they get sick, and then they die.

    We loved them, now they are dead. Their choice. Why couldn’t they love us enough to stay alive?

  12. JuJu says:

    Yes, Jonquil. I see. And I’m sorry for your loss.

  13. Tracy says:

    Jonquil,

    With all due respect, their decisions really don’t have anything to do with you and everything to do with themselves. Guilting people with any form of “if you loved me” is not going to do any good.

    As ladymisstree said, “…I have chosen to make my health my priority.” emphasis on the word “my”.

    Your relatives made another choice their priority. As someone who is in recovery, the success of my recovery is dependent on whether or not I view my life as priority.

  14. Quinn says:

    No man is an island, entire of itself
    every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main
    if a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,
    as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were
    any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind
    and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls
    it tolls for thee.

    — John Donne

  15. Marie says:

    Trouble is..we aren’t perfect, we are all human, with plenty of flaws.

    I think what happens is its day to day, one little thing and another little thing that add up to something bad in the long run. One donut isn’t going to kill anyone. But have one for lunch and dinner every day, its bound to have some some ill effect and could be called self-destructive. When you are down, stressed, frustrated, tired (or any of the zillions of reasons other than the physical that so many of us eat too much, smoke, or spend too much even..) its real easy to think of that immediate gratification a “just one cookie” (or a cigarette) will bring, rather than the long term ill effect it may have. And the one cookies add up.

    With something like smoking or even drinking you can totally quit..though I understand its very very difficult, at least you know when you have broken that habit. But you can’t quit food you have to eat. You can try to eat better, eliminate certain thigns, but what is enough, when have you achieved it? If you eat a weeks worth of veggies anf fish then you have a whopper are you still self-destructive?

    Jonquil, I have similar trouble with my mom, who has the beginnings of emphysema and other issues, yet I’m pretty sure still smokes. It drives me nuts, but its ultimately her decision and her body not mine. We’ve all tried time and again to get her to quit, it worries me a lot, she knows its bad, but just can’t seem to shake it. All our bugging has achieved is made her feel she’s got to hide it from us so now she sneaks them. I really hope she quits, but I can’t make her, and I love her, and I know her doing this is an issue with herself and not me. It stinks.

    As it gets harder for her to do things, I’d rather have our time together be fun and enjoyable and someday be good memories, rather than have her avoiding me, and it being a constant battle about cigarettes. I know how I feel around my lecturing “food police” friends..sure doesn’t make me want to eat differently, just makes me want to avoid eating around them, sometiems avoid them all together. Oddly enough I eat better when they aren’t around. Hmm…

  16. Havajan says:

    I am new in the forum but already excited of it.
    It contains a lot of things, really usefull for all of us. But a lot of my time I spend on Online Pokerand dont know how to stop it…My wife very angry.. 😦

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: