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Choose Your Easy

There’s a poster that’s been making the rounds on Facebook, Pinterest and various blogs. It shows the back of a fit, muscular young woman wearing a sports bra and a pink boxing glove. It says:

Losing weight is hard.
Maintaining weight is hard.
Staying fat is hard.
Choose your hard. 

I have a visceral, negative reaction every time I see it. I recognize that when I have a visceral, negative reaction, it’s serves me well to understand why. I need to know why.

So here’s what I figured out:

It comes from years of hearing things like, “Life’s a bitch and then you die” and “Life is hard. Suck it up.” It’s one of those words that doesn’t work for me.

It also comes from my belief that having a healthy body (which, for some, means losing weight, maintaining that loss, and being physically fit) shouldn’t be hard – it should come easily and naturally. If it’s not coming easily and naturally then figuring out why – while sometimes hard – is totally worth it.

It also comes from my belief that having a healthy body goes hand-in-hand with having a healthy mind and spirit.

And for that, I am willing to deal with shorter-term, periodic episodes of “hard” because it is worth longer-term “easy.” The “choose your hard” poster, on the other hand, pretty much says it’s going to be hard forever and invokes fear in me.

Another blogger who remains anonymous recently wrote about her journey as being analogous to an archeological dig. She wrote: “Food/fat have always been ‘the parts I can see’. They are one component of many, many components. Most of the time they have been the easiest parts (for me) because they are pure science – numbers, balance, meal times, portions. The food/fat have been almost a relief (to me). The other components are much harder (for me) to see and therefore require so much more effort. The food/fat might be brushing off the sand, and the rest of it is the archaeological dig. But I do think we have to brush off the sand, get past the food/fat, to begin the real work.”

In response, I wrote, “For me, the deep dig has been the easy part…and brushing off the sand has been hard. Both parts of the process are needed and necessary. I have tended to operate based on the belief that doing the deep work will make the surface work easier, because I really didn’t want it to be hard. In fact, I believe that taking care of oneself should be something that one WANTS to do and that it should come easily. It never did for me, although I’ve had glimpses of it. I am having a glimpse of it now.”

So I “choose” to reframe it as choosing my easy.

Some more food for thought:

In Our Bulimic Society, Annabel Adam asks: What does a “healthful environment” look like? Should we be building a society that teaches that “health” is based predominantly on body size and accessed via restriction and prohibition? Or, should we be teaching that our health is much more than what our bodies look like; that it’s not accessed by restricting one particular indulgence; that, instead, it’s about being empowered to make the right choices for yourself.

THAT’S what I’m talking about! Make sure you read the rest of her post…she’s been hitting it out of the park lately!

“Only when we’re brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ~ Brené Brown

“I believe that by being the best and most healed version of ourselves we can truly make a difference in the world. I’m not an activist or politician, and I’m not able to have any direct impact on the areas of the world where help is needed. But what I can do is make a difference in the small pocket of the world I call home.” ~ Susannah Conway

Do you choose easy or hard? Why?

25 Comments

  • Posted June 15, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    While I’ve never seen the ad (or maybe I have and it’s not yet popped out at me) I think I get the statement. All of it is work. Hard work. Staying fat was hard work for my body and mind. To function emotionally was even harder because of the years of depression and anxiety. Losing the weight was hard work on my body and mind. Having to “relearn” the idea of staying present and understanding that this was something I not only deserved but also wanted to prove that if I can so can (insert random person)…

    Maintaining is very hard work (again on my body and mind). Not relying on the depression for excuses to eat. Not relying on the calorie counting as an excuse not to eat. Trusting that the maintaining will stay if I choose to stay (in the moment, active, loving of myself)…

    It’s in all of that emotional/physical hard work that “life” work has become easier. One without the other would not be possible.

    • KCLAnderson
      Posted June 15, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      Yes!! And you are a bright shining example of this!

  • Posted June 15, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    I really like this, for a lot of reasons.

    First of all, I really do get the spirit behind the poster, and in a very certain way, I can appreciate it.

    But at the same time, it also invokes a part of me that reminds me of the saying, “Always choose the devil you know.” And the devil I know is being obese.

    I’m not making that choice, and I can’t, deep down, believe that it will remain hard.

    And then there’s another part of me, where if I have an easy week and I still lose weight, I literally feel like I somehow cheated, and to me, that’s just illogical thinking.

    • KCLAnderson
      Posted June 15, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

      What does an easy week look like for you?

      For me, an easy week is one in which I don’t have to control food and food doesn’t control me. I don’t binge or overeat for emotional reasons. I get some work done, I play some, I spend quality time with my husband. My workouts are fun and challenging and my body doesn’t hurt too much.

      • Posted June 15, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

        My easy week is largely the same as yours. If I have an easy week, I don’t feel deprived. I enjoy the food I’m eating.

        Somewhere deep inside, I’m conditioned to believe if it isn’t hard, then I’m not doing it right. And I logically know that is not true.

  • Posted June 15, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm… nice twist on the ‘hard’ idea.
    I’ve tended to think of life and certain things as hard… but I’d prefer to think of them as easy, so will be thinking about that switch.

    This reminds me of something I once read about the fact that too often people declare a war… on fat/terror/drugs/etc. And wars mean fighting and pain and causalities. No one really wins a war… both sides suffer. So instead of declaring wars on whatever problem there is, we should come up with a plan to solve the problem.

    • KCLAnderson
      Posted June 15, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

      EXACTLY Janet…I feel the very same way about “the war on…”

  • Posted June 15, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Great post as always! I don’t mind that first quote – I have seen it for a few years now or maybe a couple – I lose track of time in my old age & hormones! ;-) It is all hard to me YET I know that. It was hard when I was heavy & it was hard to lose weight & yes it was & still is hard to maintain but I understand that for me. We all take to different words & things that motivate us.

    I also so agree with the whole focus on body size & the focus should be on empowerment! Many nice bodies by society’s or should I say media terms to me are too skinny or no muscle or just not my thing. Many people that are not “the ideal” look great AND exude amazing happiness & confidence & yes empowerment!

    I have muscles & have for years – many don’t like as much as I have on women yet I choose this for me & it is hard but it is me…. I guess I chose my hard because it really has never been easy but that is OK for me because it is worth it to me…

    • KCLAnderson
      Posted June 15, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      You definitely exude confidence and empowerment Jody…on all levels!

  • Posted June 15, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed ALL of this but especially the Annabel Adam’s quote. It’s exactly what I’ve been *trying* to convince a few people of for years–success (and a fair amount of joy) is in the DOING, not necessarily in the results. Thank you, Karen!

    • KCLAnderson
      Posted June 15, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      Thank YOU Cammy! :-)

  • Janis
    Posted June 15, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    This is one where I think we differ. I don’t think “hard” means “life sucks,” just that things take work — and if you want to do the work, it’s fun. Accomplishing anything takes work. I write music and make things, and if you want to play an instrument as an example, it will never be effortless. Ever. It will always be work. The thing that makes the difference is whether it’s work you enjoy or not.

    I think of it the way the old Greeks used to define happiness: the exercise of vital powers along lines of excellence in a life affording them scope. I’ve never seen a better definition. You have to want something, aim for it, work hard at it, and live a life that gives you a fair shot. Staying in a state of misery is hard because you’re letting your vital powers atrophy. Getting up and working is hard because you’re sweating. But they are not at all the same “hard.” One is life, the other is death. And if you hate sweat more than you hate letting your vital powers shrivel, that’s a problem.

    Effortlessness is boring. There are things you may be better at, things that come more quickly to you … but often those things are not things that are effortless for you but instead that you hunger for deeply enough that you will put forth the effort with love, without being prompted. In that vein, “hard” means “get up and run,” but because you love it, not because someone is behind you with a whip.

    • KCLAnderson
      Posted June 15, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      Logically, I agree with you…on a visceral level (which I am trying to understand better), there is something that stops me cold. I also very much agree with the idea that one can be passionate about trying hard and working towards something rewarding. I love working out with kettlebells and challenging myself…and yes, sweating. I. LOVE. IT. But there are other aspects of life that I want to come more easily, for example, my relationship with food.

      • Janis
        Posted June 15, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

        It’s just another instance, like the word “acceptance,” where we use different words to conceptualize the same things. I get where you’re coming from, definitely. There are certain things, basic functions, that you don’t want to have to expend serious effort on, so that you can put that effort to more rewarding things that aren’t just mechanical tasks required to keep a body alive.

  • Posted June 15, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    I’m a bit over the ‘fitspiration’ stuff myself. Honestly – the language is always so aggressive. I’m not opposed to some fist-pumping but it just seems to be so pervasive at the moment.

    I’m not sure if it was you who (some time ago) talked about the way we talk about ‘battling’ our weight – talking of weightloss as a ‘fight’, a ‘war’, a ‘battle’. Such negative language and so antagonistic.

    Is it any wonder that our bodies become our enemies?
    Deb

    • KCLAnderson
      Posted June 15, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      Yes…that was me LOL

  • Posted June 16, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Oh, this makes me literally sigh out loud. I read that same quote when I first started blogging and it struck me differently. Because for me, maintaining was and continues to be “hard.” I would love to someday have this all be second nature to me. To be “easy.” I’m not sure that will ever happen for me. But maybe:)

    • KCLAnderson
      Posted June 16, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      Maybe is good :-)

  • Posted June 16, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    I love this. I participate in a weight management website/community and so often I hear the words “I’m not giving up the fight” or similar. For years I voiced the same words and maintenance was always a struggle.

    I don’t necessarily think it’s supposed to be easy, but it sure as hell shouldn’t be a war. Before Bush (W) invaded Iraq so many years ago there were bumper stickers and signs everywhere – a dove with an olive branch and the words “War is not the answer” I agreed with that then and now agree with in terms of weight management.

    I think acceptance is the answer. If you don’t accept there will be certain things that need to be done (or avoided) on a regular basis, you’ll have war within yourself. If you don’t accept that you may need to identify the reasons behind the false hungers, you’ll likely have war within yourself.

    When I first started thinking about losing weight and using the Optifast program to do it, I put up every roadblock I possibly could: I can’t afford it, I can’t get there without missing too much work, my doctor won’t like it, my therapist won’t like. Emory had a payment plan and an evening class. 2 roadblocks removed. My doctor thought it was a fantastic idea. My therapist did too. I realized my thinking was the main roadblock.

    And I think telling ourselves something is hard repeatedly is the same thing as throwing up a roadblock. And when I started doing that a few years ago, I started throwing up every single roadblock imaginable to justify my lack of intentional movement. I’m now, with acceptance and kindness, removing them. Maybe that should be a mantra – kind acceptance.

    And I’ve rambled far too much. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

    • KCLAnderson
      Posted June 16, 2012 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      Excellent comment…thank you Maura! I am thinking I need to dig up my “World Peace Diet” post :-)

  • Posted June 16, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    I love the quotes at the bottom. Finding just the right moment to explore the dark is tricky.

    Staying fat is hard? What a bunch of horse manure. Societally? Sure. But in that context? Double pfft. Jackassery.

    • KCLAnderson
      Posted June 17, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      I love the way you talk. Er, write :-)

  • Posted June 16, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    This post gives me food for thought. I think I have chosen easy and hard at different times in my life. I keep on telling myself that working on the root issues will shift the surface issues and I believe that to be mostly true. Love the quote!

    • KCLAnderson
      Posted June 17, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      I’m still noodling on it and am going to write more about it soon! I like the idea of making easy and hard a both/and proposition!

  • Posted June 18, 2012 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    Yes, I like the both/and proposition here. The truth, for me, is that I have to move out of my comfort zone to achieve my goals. That means that it will be hard for a while. However, I think after a while the comfort zone itself moves and things become a little easier, by which time we’re ready to tackle the next task.

    I don’t like the “fighting” and “war” words either. I want what I do to be congruent to who I am – even an expression of who I am. Having someone shout abuse at me at “bootcamp” will probably never do it, but sign me up for a dance class or lace up my walking shoes, load my iPod with great music and point me towards the horizon and I will be happy AND accomplish what I want to do.

    Change is hard, but when it becomes the new normal, it should be effortless (with awareness, of course). If it isn’t, where we are may not be aligned to who we are.

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