I like the so-so-yellow Lance Armstrong bracelet. I like the idea of wearing a thing you can see every day, something always within your peripheral vision that serves as a reminder to you to think and care about something that matters to you. The rings many of us wear when we marry serve that purpose. Symbols of constancy and commitment. It’s an old idea and a familiar one.
I have a bracelet. My husband bought it for me after I lost my weight, regained my health, and just before my first road race. I never take it off. I wasn’t given this bracelet as a memento. I was given it because I loved it, because I was so thrilled, when the artist put it on my wrist, that it actually fit, that the bracelet looked pretty and my wrist pretty good. I hadn’t been able to wear bracelets for years, since beyond memory. My wrists were as large as most people’s ankles. I actually started to wear anklets on my wrists, but anklets kind of look like anklets.
I got the idea from a friend of mine who had a habit of dating women who were attracted to his looks but abhorred his personality. They set to work immediately to change him, wanting him less poetic, more prosperous. He would date them, dance for them, jump through their hoops, and then disintegrate when they gave up on him, leaving him in the most gutting ways. In one case she left him in, I think, North Dakota, taking his car, his money, his ego, and his pride. He meandered home, hitchhiking the whole way, and arrived on my doorstep hungry and chastened. He bought himself what appeared to be a large, silver wedding ring, very handsome, and began to wear it. He could see his own reflection in this ring, so when he met another woman like that last one, he would look himself in the eye in the sheen of this ring and remind himself that he deserved better.
The bracelet has come to serve as an emblem for me. It consists of a string of flattened Celtic knots I wear on my left wrist. When I see it, I am reminded of my work to restore my health, of the twists and turns, the doubling back and the progress. When I see it, I don’t think in metaphors, I just see it, smile inwardly, and sometimes put down the cookie or note whether I’ve exercised today and how much.
My bracelet, aside from being pretty and looking pretty good on me, reminds me to treat myself well. And by well, you know what I mean. Being good to myself now means getting my exercise no matter how stressed I am. It means getting my veggies no matter how inconvenient that may seem. It means waiting for real food rather than settling for fast. Going for the organic and fresh when the treated and packaged is so much cheaper.
I like the idea of a token, a symbol. It could be an item you keep in your pocket with your change, where you’ll lay your hands on it a few times a day. It could be a message you’ve taped to the underside of your watch, a special thread around your wrist. It could be a large, shiny ring.
It’s not an oinking pig on your refrigerator. You are not a pig. It’s not an insulting joke on the cookie jar. (I bet you don’t really laugh). Choose something that never insults you, but always reflects your taste and celebrates your choice to take good care of yourself. Make it something you wear out of respect for yourself, not out of shame. You don’t have to tell anyone what your symbol is or stands for. This is just for you.
But when you begin to wear or carry it, let it remind you gently and firmly that you deserve better health. And you are worthy of the time and effort you’ll need to reach it. Let it encourage your commitment and celebrate it. Don’t leave your good health behind in a run-down hotel in North Dakota, you know? You deserve better than that.