Sunday, June 11, 2006

Just Do It

Incrementally, things are turning around.

Stop right there...

I cannot begin with the word “incrementally.” Pedant!

Coffee. Coffee is a good way to begin.

Hmmm, coffee. This, then, is how the piece begins...

I have been vegetarian for a little over five months now, and while I seem to be perfectly healthy, I still need to make some adjustments to my eating habits. Firstly, I need to eat regularly. I have a bad habit of letting meals go by. I try to eat some sort of breakfast, but it usually ends up being the famous deli standby, Two Eggs on a Roll. I used to get Two Eggs and Cheese on a Roll, but the cheese they use has rennet, and I am doing my best to avoid foods prepared with the slaughtered remains of animals.

The vegetarian kick started when my sweetheart, Rosie, posted an anti-meat blog with links to various sites. One of those sites has pictures of animals in various states of savage treatment at the hands of human slaughterers, and that did the trick for me. I had been in denial about what exactly I was enjoying when I had my bacon, and as someone who professes to love pigs (ones that are alive) because they are smart and cute and the genetic cousins of people, I was horrified that I was eating these creatures.

It was the start of Lent, and I realized that I had already gone a few days prior without eating any meat, so I gave up all meat for lent (no, I am not Catholic, but it was a good excuse to practice some self-deprivation) and I have not eaten any animal bits since. Along with the standard large hoofed critters, I do not eat fish or chicken or shrimp or grasshoppers. A week or two past, Rosie posted something about rennet in cheese, something I had never heard of until then, and so now I grinding the gears in my head to reorient my tastes away from cheeses with rennet. This will be more difficult than quitting meats as I LOVE CHEESE.

Before I went veggie, I had the occasional street vendor polish sausage or cheeseburger in a diner. These days, the thought of those foods makes me ill. When I saw what they do to chickens, I realized that there probably is not an animal on this planet that humans treat well if it will eventually end up in our bellies. There’s all this noise made about humane treatment of animals at the slaughterhouse, but what about how they’re treated during the lead up to their death? And since when did “humane” come to mean what it means? Humans never treat any living thing with respect or concern. We are savage vicious cowards. Look to the other animals for “humane.” Cats in the wild kill with mercy by tearing out the throat of its prey, severing blood supply and nerves for an instant and quiet death.

I should stop here with the amateur rant against the “animals = food” world. The point I was intending to make was that, since I have gone veggie, I have lost even more weight than I wanted to, and with my poor eating habits, my weight is as low as it has been since college. I have been a slender wisp of a boy my whole life, but skinny is one thing, and then there’s “what the fuck, man, eat a few pies before you disappear completely” thin, and I am heading in that direction if I don’t get serious about my diet and attitude toward eating.

Sometimes I blow through mealtime because I simply cannot be bothered to eat. Whether it comes from having fucked up priorities or some screwed up deep-seated feelings that I don’t deserve food when I am hungry, this has to change. I am almost forty-four years out of the womb and it’s about time I behave like someone who has outlasted most refrigerators. (I use the fridge as a mile marker for longevity...I’ll explain another day.) Sometimes I feel that what I am doing is SOOOOOOO critical that I cannot possibly stop for food...hell, the world may hang in the balance.

I have a very fast metabolism (is it fast, or high?); this adds to the problem. I burn through calories like nobody’s business. So isn’t it about time I take this into consideration and make the adjustments necessary to keep my body running happy and healthy? You would think so. But I think part of the problem is that I do not, deep in my belly, believe that I deserve to be happy. In my heart I do, in my head I do, but somewhere deep in the DNA, there is a line of code that tells me, “You suck. Suffer some more, Asswipe!”

Well, fuck that. My heart and head are two votes, while my belly has but the one, so majority rules, and I will tell that little bastard to feck off. This is not even about being “happy.” This is about treating myself well.

Yesterday was a good day in light of all this. I woke early and took care of some things around my place. I had a good breakfast and after a fashion, went to the gym and worked my legs hard--a lot of weight, a small number of reps, and no cardio. I came home and slammed a load of protein and creatine, and I had a good day. The goal is to build my legs in strength and size to a point that I am satisfied with health of my knees. I want to run, and with my legs as they are now, I cannot because my right knee has problems and needs more support from the musculature surrounding it. (Also, when the hell am I going to remember that exercise is a powerful antidepressant?)

I FINALLY got in to see a doctor for a physical and got a clean bill of health. I also got a prescription for Wellbutrin. I had been avoiding the whole “mental health” issue for far too long. I have been on the drug for about a month now, and I do notice a difference. This is my second go around with psychiatric drugs. About four years ago I was diagnosed as manic-depressive, and while I think that the diagnosis is probably accurate, I didn’t help my cause back then by lying about the amount of alcohol I took in and about the other drugs I might have been abusing.

This led to a rough stretch for me. The worse I behaved, the higher the doctors upped my dosages of the drugs they gave me for the manic-d, and I started losing serious control of my head. That’s all in the past, thank goodness, yet it has caused me to be wary of taking drugs of any sort. Of course, and this is key, I am an alcoholic/addict and I went sober 26 November 2003, so my aversion to pills comes from my concern of falling back into the trap of believing that cramming stuff into my mouth can fix things. (Mightn't that also include food? Hmmm, I haven't considered this before.)

I think I am over that, sort of. I think I am starting to finally understand that I am responsible for my behavior. Just because I have certain “issues” doesn’t mean I can use them as excuses or explanations for my behavior. I am responsible for my behavior, and I can decide who I want to be. How I behave is completely under my control. Sure, it might be a small challenge to find workarounds for whatever is not quite right in my brain chemistry, but so the fuck what? People face challenges every day, and you don’t hear them whining and making excuses. JUST DEAL WITH IT AND MOVE ALONG.

I am writing again. This is a very good sign that I might be feeling a little better. Ultimately, I need to write because that is what I want to do. It requires discipline to write regularly. There are other areas that require discipline, such as grocery shopping and eating regular nutritious meals and processing the mail when it comes in get the point. It’s fair to say that I am not the most disciplined person in the world.

So get disciplined then. I hate to use a corporate slogan to make my point, but you have to give the Nike people some credit for coming up with one of the most effective and resonant hooks since advertising began. I suppose you have to give the credit to their advertising agency, but that’s for someone else to sort out; I am getting sidetracked. You know the slogan. Maybe I should have it tattooed on my forearm.

Just do it.

Quit my belly-aching and excuse-making and just fucking do it. Get off my lazy ass and get done the things that have to be done. Plan the work and work the plan. I read that somewhere. It makes sense.

I have reached a point in my life where it no longer matters if I like myself. It’s time to get over myself. (God damn, haven’t I heard that in one form or another for the last thirty years? Have I been this so egregiously self-centered, self-absorbed? Yes.) It no longer matters if it’s difficult or hard to move my intransigent psyche. Others carry massive boulders and complain not. They just do it. So while I recoil at adopting a corporate slogan as my motto, it certainly sums up the gist of what I need to tell myself to get my ass in gear.

Before I go, I need to stress that I wouldn't be thinking along these lines if Rosie hadn't come into my life. If I finally pull my head out of my arse, it's because of the motivation she has provided. (Besides, she can't fist me if my head's lodged up there. But that's another story for another day.)

I have gone on for more than I had intended to with this piece, so it’s time to shut it down and get to the business of laundry and housecleaning and bill paying. If you have actually read this entire piece, thanks for your time. But really, shouldn’t you be off doing something else? (Oh, wait, you’re not me...)


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