Hot Tubbing With a Frog
Do you remember the science experiment with the frog and hot water? How if you put a frog in boiling water, he’ll hop out? But if you put the frog in cold water and heat the water gradually, he’ll remain until, alas, it is too late! The boiling water will kill him.
The experiment illustrates two points: First, conditions that would be intolerable if confronted in their entirety can be accommodated when introduced incrementally. I would not, for example, voluntarily carry around a 60-pound sack of bricks. Yet I had no problem acquiring a pound or two a year until I reached 182 pounds.
Second, in accommodating small changes, we passively participate in our own demise. At the time I decided to get fit, I was prompted by embarrassment and shame at my appearance. In retrospect, however, I wonder if a primitive instinct for survival was whispering in my ear that if I didn’t shape up, I wouldn’t have a future.
Whatever my reasons, before being lulled into total unconsciousness and while I still could, I jumped out of the slowly heating water and began my fitness program.
Make Changes While You Still Can
Debbie Wagner, coordinator of the Wellness Center for Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, encourages individuals “to make changes while you still can. By the time you decide to change, the window of opportunity may be closed or at least closing. For example, back or joint problems from years of carrying around extra weight make exercise painful. Increased pain leads to a more sedentary lifestyle that leads to more weight gain.”
She adds, “Although the effects aren’t noticed on a single day, lack of exercise and increased weight contributes to heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Rather, the damage silently accumulates over time until past decisions create irreversible medical problems.”
In my “BC” period (“Before Conditioning”), I loved anything round and greasy! Losing weight meant I’d have to go without. Exercise was a burden on top of an already heavy workload.
Silly me! I had it backwards. Deprivation isn’t giving up that chocolate sundae before retiring. It’s giving up a walk because of joint pain or lack of energy. Deprivation isn’t going without sausage pizza and beer. It’s going without self-esteem when you look in the mirror.
Deprivation isn’t about scheduling time in the coming week for exercise. It’s when you don’t have a future to look forward to.
Having made the decision to jump out of hot water, it would, you’d think, be permanent. Yet the pivotal decision is only the start. Each day, I must decide what to eat and whether or not to exercise.
One Day at a Time
Getting sidetracked is easy, particularly during the holidays when we are encouraged to indulge. When it comes to fitness, though, there are only two conditions: in hot water or outside hopping around.
Either I’m keeping my covenant to live healthily, or I’m contributing to my demise. Either I’m being a responsible steward in caring for my body, or I’m abusing it with insufficient rest, too much food or not enough exercise. Either I’m making progress, or I’m losing ground.
Knowing the number of decisions that lie ahead could be daunting, if I let it be. Instead, I find the ongoing process reassuring. Past decisions don’t control the future. If I mistakenly get into hot water, I can quickly hop back out!
William James said: “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.”
Seeing deprivation for what it really is has altered my attitude. Deprivation isn't giving up a second helping. Real deprivation is losing the freedom to live life to its fullest because of being overweight and lack of fitness. Deprivation is transformed into personal freedom.
If you’ve made the leap of faith, congratulations! If you’re thinking about it, hurry, it’s not too late! The water's getting hotter!
In Carole's new book, "From Fat to Fit"
, she tells how she reinvented herself and became an accidental catalyst for the Nevada County Meltdown. Over 1,000 people lost over 4 tons in 2 months. She is a columnist for the Union newspaper and was featured on NBC's Today show, CBS's Early Show, and MSNBC's Countdown. For more information about Carole, her endeavors, and the Meltdown Contest go to www.CommunityMeltdown.com