Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Perilous Times and Motivational Moments
It was early morning, and I smelt smoke in our house. I asked my husband to walk around with me to see if he could smell it too. We covered the whole house but could find no fire, and he smelt no smoke. After telling me that I had a nose like a blood hound and smelt something outside, he kissed me and went to work.
I called my neighbor Angie a bit later because the smell didn’t go away. Still dressed in her pajamas she walked around my old house. She smelled the smoke too. I called the fire department. After the call was made I frantically realized that I had invited strangers over, and my home was a toy-strewn, dishes undone, laundry out, and diaper smelling mess! “Angie, you have got to help me” I pleaded, and gratefully she knew just what I meant. We frantically ran around picking up toys, pushing clothes under their owner’s beds, and hiding dishes in the dishwasher. I wanted my home clean before it was destroyed darn it. By the time the firemen came my home was presentable. The circuit breaker in our 1930’s home was unsafe and had caused a small electrical fire.
I didn’t invite the firemen over just to see my clean house. I made the call because I “smelt danger” (I put it in quotes because I feel more like a superhero that way) Smelling danger is a good motivator to get help, but is not meant to be a motivator to clean. Cleaning my house is a good thing but I did it at the wrong time for the wrong reason; it wasn’t a great cleaning job, and it didn't stay clean for very long either.
Losing weight just to be skinny is a horrible motivator. Many of my un-successful attempts at losing weight ended with the thought, “I am never going to look like Jennifer Aniston, pass the gravy”.
When riding an airplane we are told that if the oxygen mask drops down we are to place it on our own face then on our children’s. That is because children need adults. If I thought I was being heroic by giving my son the oxygen mask first, and then I passed out, my son would be left without a mom.
By caring for our bodies, we then are able to use our bodies to care for others. This way we put our “oxygen mask” on first.
This past weekend we took the young women in our ward on an organized float trip down a river. My husband and I had our two youngest in life vests floating with us. We were bringing up the rear, hoping to help any stragglers
One of our 12 year old girls had a hard time navigating; she was on the other side of the river and couldn’t make it to where our group stopped. She tried standing up but the water was well over her head, and she was left hanging on to her tube and being swept down with the current. Being so far behind I watched this happen and felt helpless. Every other leader had their own girls they were watching and were not able to help her.
I jumped in the deep water and started my rescue attempt. She had floated so far down that I was exhausted when I caught up to her. The water was so deep that it was impossible to get her back on her tube. I had to swim pulling her tube across the river to the shallows. It took all my strength. By the time we made it, I felt muscles I didn’t know I had.
Two years earlier, I would have been stuck helplessly watching her float away. I am not a hero, she would have made it to shallow water soon enough, but she was scared and kept crying “help me!” I would have felt horrible explaining to her mom that I just couldn't do it. I felt blessed that my body was strong enough to serve in this way.
Many women say that they don’t have time to take care of themselves, and that it is too hard to find time to exercise and eat right. “Life is too busy” “my kids need me” “I don’t need to be thin more than they need a ride to scouts” “My husband would hate to eat that way”. If the motivator is to look like a movie-star, of course sacrificing for a healthy lifestyle is going to be a low priority. It would be easy to give up walking to make Susie a great lunch for school. But what if Susie needed you to be healthy? What if your coming to her class party unashamed of your weight was more important to her than her lunch? What if your son would rather ride to scouts with the neighbors if it meant that you would be able to go down the slide with him at the park?
If you went for your morning walk and Susie learned to make her own lunch the world wouldn't end. What if you explained to your family that you will be a better mom if you can just have that hour? What if you comforted them with carrots? Children adapt better than we give them credit for.
I have tried to motivate myself just for the sole reason of looking thin – it failed. When I changed my motivation and decided that I would get healthy for myself and my family I was able to walk farther and eat healthier every day. If today you just do a small thing like bake with wheat flour instead of white, or put the baby in a stroller during Oprah and refreshments, you are on the path to being a healthier, stronger woman and a better mother. We know obesity can kill, but it can also exclude us from our families lives. We can't live hiding from cameras and undocumented from our photo albums forever. Our kids need moms at their parties, with their friends, at the park, and on rides. Our husbands are tired of a closet torn apart while we spend hours trying to find something to hide our bellies. Obesity excludes us from so much of life. The sacrifice we make of time to get fit will come back to reward our families in the end.