TagHealth

Holiday Opt Out

Happy Thanksgiving! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Holidays!

Prepare yourself, this is what you’re going to hear out of the mouth of every family member, friend, sales clerk and stranger for the next few months.

But it’s not a happy time for everyone. A friend on Facebook recently posted this,

It’s important to remember that not everyone is surrounded by large wonderful families. Some of us have problems during the holidays and sometimes are overcome with great sadness when we remember the loved ones who are not with us.
Many people have no one to spend these times with and are besieged by loneliness. We all need caring thoughts and loving prayer right now.

The holidays are not happy for everyone. Especially for those who have lost family and friends during this time of year, the incessant holiday cheer can be grating.

So today, I am going to share with you a secret. It’s one I’ve used successfully and without remorse.

via Unsplash.com /  By Ilham Rahmansyah

via Unsplash.com / By Ilham Rahmansyah

It’s ok to opt out of the holidays.

The time I played Saints Row for Thanksgiving

I did that a few years ago and it was the best Thanksgiving I ever had.

I tend to get really down over the holidays. I get depressed. Christmas time is usually the worst, but that year it was hitting me really hard over Thanksgiving.

I didn’t want to spend hours in the car, through some of the worst traffic in the country to be with family. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and both sets of parents. I love seeing them and spending time with them.

But the idea of driving to see them was too much for me to take that year. So I didn’t. This was shortly after I had graduated college and was working on an IT Support contract. I didn’t have any paid time off, so I had to work if I wanted to get paid.

I didn’t want to spend my few precious days off sitting in traffic and dealing with the stress of travel. I would have no relaxing Thanksgiving holiday. It would be spent sitting in traffic, battling other drivers and the weather on I-95.

So I hatched my plan. I told both sets of parents I was going to spend Thanksgiving with a friend who lived out-of-state. I didn’t get to see him much and I said he and his family had invited me for Thanksgiving and that’s what I was going to do. ((I was too nervous to tell either of them I just needed a year off. I just needed some time to myself. It would have taken more energy to explain this than to just say I had made plans elsewhere.))

But instead, I never left the house. I went to the store to get some food for the next few days. I think I ordered a pizza or two. And I spent the next three days on the couch.

I slept in patches throughout the days. I played late into the nights and early morning. Then crashes for a few hours, awoke refreshed anda did it all over again. I played Saints Row with a group of online friends. There were enough people who I regularly gamed with in enough time zones there were always a few people online and ready to play.

Instant Gang!

Instant Gang!

So I’d fire up my Xbox, put on my headset, crack open a fresh Mountain Dew and lose myself for hours in the world of Saints Row.

I laughed so hard. I was in bliss. I wasn’t sitting in hours of traffic. I wasn’t in the bad weather which I knew would only make my travels more stressful. I was warm, inside my apartment, all alone, talking and laughing with friends. And when I was done, I turned the Xbox off and I was alone, in quiet and solace.

It was the alone time I craved. I needed to recharge my batteries and unwind. I needed less stress, not more of it. And after my gaming binge holiday was complete and I returned to work, I felt like a new person. I was repaired.

The depression had lifted. The clouds over my head had cleared and I felt good. It was the Introverted Holiday I had craved and made for myself.

My Saints Row character at the time.

My Saints Row character at the time.

The holidays can be hard. There is an expectation to always spend it surrounded by family, not matter what it takes to get there. It’s meant to be a joyous time.

I needed to be strong enough to say no and opt out. I needed time for myself that year. I needed to be alone. I needed to repair. I needed to take some time off work for myself. I needed that time to heal and be a healthier, happier person.

By the time Christmas came that year, I was in better spirits and I enjoyed the time I spent with my family. And it was all because of my Thanksgiving alone.

The Promise of Health

Why are there so many fad diets?
Why are there so many exercise machines?
Why do people do Juice Cleanses?
Why do people make terrible green-looking shakes and smoothies?

Because they’re all looking for a quick fix.

There is no quick fix for a lifetime of treating your body poorly. There is nothing that’s going to make you look like those people in the ads unless you spend the time and effort for months, if not years, to make your body look that good.

It’s not a machine they bought.
It’s not a supplement they took.
It’s not a food they ate or vitamin they took.
It’s nothing as simple as that.

They worked.
They worked hard.
They worked hard for a long time.

That’s how they got their abs.
That’s why they look like they do now.

It’s nothing simple you can buy from them.

They’ll tell you and sell you anything.
They’ll promise overnight results.
They’ll promise 10 pounds in 10 days.
They’ll promise you the moon.

And when it doesn’t work, it’s not because of them.
It’s because they promised you a lie.
It’s because you made a temporary change and expected permanent results.

Diet and exercise lead to better health.
Making good choices leads to to better health.

Making a lifetime of good, healthy decisions and actions leads to better health.
It won’t come from an advertisement.

Turning the corner

I know my hard work has paid off. I went to the grocery store tonight. I went to pick up a few items for a couple different recipes my wife and I intended to make before the next pay check came in. For dinner, we decided to pick up something cheap and simple since we were tired and didn’t have the ingredients we needed for the meal we had planned last week.

I went to the frozen food section and relished the thought of some delicious meal I used to live on nearly exclusively. I wanted to visit my old friend Marie Calendar. We had so many good times in the past. I was curious what the Hungry Man was up to chilling in the freezer section. I was even curious what the good people of Stouffer’s might have cooked up for me. They all do such good work and I had enjoyed many of their meals in the past.

But when I got there, my old friends had changed. No longer did their meals look irresistible and delicious as they had. No longer was I salivating at the thought of opening that package, popping it into the microwave, waiting a few minutes and having a hot, cooked meal ready to eat. I thought my old friends had abandoned me now that I had come back to them, even if it was just for a one-night stand.

Then I realized, it was not they who had changed, but it was me. I had changed. I have changed. I am no longer a slave to the microwave and to the plastic-wrapped delicacies. I am a changed man. I looked upon those glossy covers not with anticipation but with disdain.

How did I once salivate over these pictures? How did these foods once seem to appealing to me? They looked processed and bland. They were dull. It took me forever to make a choice. I eventually decided on pasta of some sort. I don’t even remember what it was. It was ok. Nothing like the memories I had of such cuisine. It was a meal but there was no joy in it.

It was at that point I realized what a changed man I had become. I look forward to making dinner or at least helping out at night. I love the smell of fresh herbs and cooking with real ingredients. I like to know where my food comes from and what it looks like before it turns into dinner.

Last night, I made a Chicken Tamale Casserole with help from my wife, including her finding of the recipe which she stashed in an ever-growing Evernote notebook which is up to 242 recipes.

Often times when I am in the middle of a long road it is hard to see changes until they smack you in the face. Tonight was one of those times. I thought it would be easy to select something quick for dinner but it turned out to be much harder than I suspected.

Reminders

Back pain is a reminder. It is a reminder of all the poor decisions I made in my life.

I was thinking on the way home from the grocery store this week about the amount of money spent on medical bills. We gasp at the hundreds or thousands required to heal us.

It all makes sense when you consider we spend hundred or thousands of dollars on junk foods and poor lifestyles choices. These choices put us into the position to need medical care to repair the damaged we have done. 1

Makings good life choices means not having to pay for those choices later. Making poor choices in lifestyle and health means you’re going to have to pay for those choices sooner or later.

Back pain is a reminder of those choices.


  1. This does not apply to people injured by the negligence of others. 

Stats and false idols

When I started going to the gym I was obsessed with stats. How far could I walk? How much weight did I lift? What did I accomplish when I was there?

And that discouraged me. I had to hit the magical numbers I told myself I had to keep the same pace. I had to keep up. Otherwise, what was the point in going at all?

I was missing the point. I need to get up and get to the gym. The rest doesn’t matter.

I need to break out of the funk and haze filling my head. I need to lose the cloak of exhaustion weighing heavily on my shoulders. I need to get to the gym. The free one. The one a short couple floors below me where I live. I need to stand up and walk downstairs. It could not be much easier.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Chinese Proverb

The journey is to regain control of my weight and with it my health and lifestyle. That single step is that first step out the front door towards the gym. I am working to make that first step a habit so I can follow it with many more steps. I am on the journey. I am making the steps.

I need to discard the false idols along the way. They only pretend to be short cuts, cheats or dead ends on my journey.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/peroty/status/33357232712196096″]

Stats were my first false idol I had to discard. When I started it, I was convinced if I tracked my progress in terms of calories burned, miles moved, and weight lifted it would keep me coming back. In reality, it became overhead. Another set of data I had to record, categorize and track. It became a road block.

As of tonight I have removed that road block.

Gone are the iPhone apps to record my workouts. Gone is the need to capture the “Great Workout!” screen of the treadmill. Gone are the list of reps and weights.

Tonight is a check mark. Yes, I went to the gym.

With the help of a pared down Health Month I intend to keep my journey going and make it to the end of my thousandth mile.