Monday, March 26, 2012

Health, Weight, Happiness


A seemingly intractable problem

I have been, for years now, wanting to weigh less. I'm not morbidly obese. I don't have to buy special sizes in clothing. It's nothing like that. I'm just rounder than I would like to be and heavier than what would make me feel healthy. I have only on occasion gotten this under my control and seen the scale tip in the direction I desire. Those occasions have only one thing in common: they were all times when, instead of trying to lose weight, I was focused on something else.

Here's the best example. Back in graduate school I wanted to play basketball. Not on a team but in a pickup game that met regularly. I found that there was a great pickup game right around noon each day and that coincided with my class schedule and office hours. I went down each day (every day) and played basketball for at least an hour and then went into the weight room for a bit to lift or use the Nordic Track. I wasn't focused on losing weight so much as being able to run the court, keep up with this one guy I was almost always having to guard, and being strong enough to hit an outside shot with some regularity. I think that because I was so focused on these other things, I was able to lose weight.

That last bit is crucial: It was my lack of focus on losing weight that allowed me to lose the weight. I was thinking about other things and was able to see what needed to be done. You might think that knowing that and having experienced it I would be able to replicate the experience now, but it just ain't so.

I weight 210 pounds right now and ought to weigh 190. My dream weight is 185 because that's where I've gotten to each time I've gotten into real shape. So I'm carrying at least twenty pounds of extra weight. This might sound familiar to a lot of you. I know that the weight is bad for me, that I gain weight eating food that isn't good for me, that I don't enjoy that food over any kind of long haul, and so on. I know these things, but come eight-thirty at night you will find me in the kitchen looking for the snack I want to eat while watching television.

In other words, I'm not focused on much of anything healthy right now.

I like to run. It feels good to me and I feel better after doing it. I like to run by myself and I like to run with a group. But it's not like a daily basketball game. I can easily skip a run. In fact, it takes some effort to get myself out on the road for a run. Today, after a week or two of sixties and seventies, the temperature is down in the thirties. It will be something if I get my butt out there for a run. However, if there was a daily basketball game down at the gym, I would be there every single time unless I was injured (and even then).

There is no daily basketball game that I know of, not one that works for me. Most games are played at the Y which has too high a cost for me and requires me to join a league, form a team, and be much more competitive than I want to be. I play ball at school with the kids on Friday's for two half hour sessions, but it's not the same kind of workout. Basketball isn't going to be my answer.

Running could be, but I haven't found the way to make it so. Maybe I need to work on that some more. I just know that when I'm playing basketball at the level I was in graduate school I didn't eat nearly as much. I was happier. I was at peace about many things.

Which leads me to another idea that is both helpful and troubling: maybe I'm distracted from running by unhappiness in other things. I want out of my current job but need something else to do in order to feed, house, clothe and care for my family. Unhappiness in one area is likely the culprit in other areas. Knowing this, can I find a way toward happiness and see if that search takes care of some of the pounds? After all, the search for health and all this talk of losing weight is really just code for becoming happy. Now that I'm aware of that, maybe there's a chance.

Write on.