I was running the other evening and started thinking about a conversation I had shared earlier with someone to whom I am very close, a person who wants to take care of me in a way I have never known. I took note of my grey exercise skort and my different shade of grey jersey, and realized I was ridiculously poorly dressed for the dusky conditions, and not being as cautious as I had promised to be. Damn. I need to pay better attention.
|image from: lh5.googleusercontent.com|
Our discussion had been, as it often was, about writing and people and people who wrote, and who reads what people write. We talked about sickness, and the consistent thread of exercise and healthy eating often tying together those who had been physically challenged, yet had recovered. “Survivors” is a dramatic word, ruined by reality television, but it perfectly describes people who, following serious illness, had begun to experience their bodies, and more than likely their minds and hearts, in new ways. “Survivor.” Serve I. I get it – I need to pay better attention. I was asked if there had been a moment of clarity for me to become more physically fit? Was it a conscious decision? A resolution?
No, it wasn’t, it was gradual, almost imperceptible. Kind of like that cancerous piece of shit which had taken hold of my thyroid, and later, my parotid gland. Stealth. I experienced a shift in what I was interested in eating, an expansion of my appetite for exercise. I was more selective about what I ate to maximize my enjoyment – I have no interest in food that doesn’t nurture me, regardless of how “good” it tastes. Fruits, veggies and grains became more appealing and I felt great. I became more patient about preparing my meals and investing the time necessary to obtain quality food. I was worth the effort. I became more dedicated to a regular exercise schedule. Working out became a nonnegotiable priority.
Exercise and healthy eating require one to pay attention to their body and to be seriously committed to getting stronger. It takes time. I will always wonder if I got cancer because it was a message to pay closer attention to my own body. A body which has been challenged with an illness such as cancer, I think, can teach a person to take ownership of their body with healthy habits. For me, getting fit was a direct, albeit initially subconscious, response to feeling as if I was not in control of my body.
I’m in a very new place in my life these days. New, however, doesn’t feel the slightest bit scary, which is very unusual for me. I’m paying attention to every moment, patiently waiting for what comes next while loving this exact moment in time.