"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." - Vincent Van Gogh

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Life Isn't Fair

I got my butt to the gym this morning. I just did it, didn't think twice about it. I figured that if I dare write how important exercise is in my blog, I was going to follow my own advice.

I used to work out 2 hours a day, 5 days a week. I did this for 6 months and before that I walked 3 miles a day for 1 year. I started because my blood pressure was climbing a little on the high side and I wanted to be kind to my body and live a healthy life. Initially, I was just looking for my workouts to lower my blood pressure, which it did. I even rather enjoyed my time at the gym.

As time went on, I wanted more from my workouts. I increased the intensity of them and noticed that I felt an increase in energy and health over all. I stopped worrying about strokes and heart attacks and settled into a place of health.

My only problem was that I wanted to drop some weight. I was eating right (albeit too little apparently) and exercising and yet my body showed no signs of slimming. I kept at it for a while telling myself that it would take time because I'm older and the sacrifice would pay off... but it didn't.

I started to lose conviction and found excuses not to work out. Soon I just went for zumba/yoga one day a week. Since I could still breathe and not die of a heart attack during that strenuous workout I was rather pleased.

A few days ago I started feeling my heart beat in my ears again. To me this is a sign that my blood pressure has gone above normal - not high enough for concern, but certainly a warning. The panic started again about stroke and heart attack and I found myself in the place I was before.

I started thinking about why I stopped working out in the first place. I was ticked! I was mad at my body for not going with the program. The program says you increase your exercise and eat right and you will lose weight. I still looked like the line up for The Biggest Loser program - the people who confessed to eating large amounts of fast food and potato chips every night. I do not eat like that and my body should have done right by me! Not to mention, those people DO lose weight and look great by the end of the show. My physique didn't play by my rules - it didn't play fair!

So I decided to punish my spirit's "temple" - I would show it! I told myself (this is all subconscious mind you) that if it wasn't going to give up some of that fat reserve, I would just stop working out! My body responded not with a weight loss reward or regrets, it answered with high blood pressure! Things got worse - not better.

Isn't life like that? Life isn't fair. Some people are born into wealth and have everything handed to them on a silver platter while some are born into poverty. Some people seem to have an immense amount of talent and others struggle to find something that they are good at. Some people take the easy way out in school and get a lucky break and rise to the top of companies while others work hard and never get beyond their entry level positions struggling to put bread on the table. The working poor is a real class. Some people are born with beautiful genes, perfect skin, tiny noses, skinny bodies that never gain a pound and others practically starve themselves to be a size 13. And to make matters worse, no matter how gorgeous someone is, they never really believe it about themselves wishing their hips were smaller or their hair was a different color. Added to this are early deaths and illnesses that rob people in the prime of life.

I'm currently reading a book called "The Burden of Sympathy: How families cope with Mental Illness". Mental illness in a family robs the whole family of peace and joy and leaves its members, exhausted, drained, living in chaos and without hope - for an entire lifetime!!! How is THAT fair? And worse of all, often the people are judged for not "having it all together" by others who are not experiencing the same challenges.

But Anne, I read this blog for hope and as I'm reading this I'm becoming more and more depressed. What's the answer here? Of course, there isn't one. The truth is that life is not fair. If I had the power to change that I would, but I can't! Believe me, it's not for lack of trying.

The answer here is acceptance and grace. As long as we are fighting against the unfairness, we cannot win. I'm going to repeat that.... we can't fight the system! Life is going to hand out it's cruelty as long as the world turns. We cannot change that!

The only thing we can change is our attitudes. I hate that word - don't you? When I was growing up my parents used to fling that word at me every time I had a complaint - "It's all in your attitude". I'm not going to tell you to change your attitude - that's up to you - but I am going to tell you that when we accept the truth and stop denying it or fighting it, we can at least make something better. My working out didn't give me the smaller sizes, but it did keep me from taking blood pressure medication. I'm sure it did many things under the surface that contributed to my health. In that truth, my body did reward me for my efforts.

Acceptance provides us with breathing room and an opportunity to figure out how to cope instead of using all our energy to fight the injustice. If we are able to view the problem from a different stance we may not come up with the cure but we may come up with a solution to part of the problem. Fighting something that we can't win only zaps our energy and builds resentment in us.

Sometimes acceptance brings nothing but release - a realization that we don't have to keep striving, that we can't find the answer at all and that this is just the way it is going to be. Once we can accept something, there is room for grace to minister to our hearts. We now have the chance to grieve our loss and view life from a different perspective. As we sit in that grace, we can find peace for our spirits.

There are some things that should be fought. I'm not telling you to lie down and accept everything that comes your way without a fight. I can keep fighting this weight battle with a different tactic but I can't fight the fact that my blood pressure will go up if I don't work out.

I guess it all boils down to the serenity prayer. "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen".

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