Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thoughts for Food.

My most recent "aha"moment occurred a few weeks ago while I was attending a Systema seminar in Delaware taught by Martin Wheeler. It was my first seminar in Systema that was outside of the school where I train. I wasn't nervous about going to the seminar. The only thing I worried about was the hour long workout at the beginning that would include multiple pushups.
I get a little frustrated because I do something physical every day, sometimes even twice a day. I do kettle bell workouts, Pilates, Kenpo, BJJ and some Systema to name a few. I get frustrated because I feel like I should be able to do more than two or three what I call "guy" pushups. I mean good ones with your elbows in.

The push ups at this seminar were not regular old pushups these were the push ups starting in the up position at the number twenty. Then counting down to the number one while moving incrementally down to the bottom with each number and then doing the same to get back up. Oh and it was a very slow count. The number one position and the number twenty positions were doable but the numbers two through nineteen that came in between was extremely difficult. I decided to try my best. I could do maybe half of one or I could make it down to the one position but then I would get stuck. When we started in the up position at number twenty I'm thinking, "This isn't so bad, oh I love Systema, yay Systema I'm doing it. " and then we reach the middle numbers and my positive thoughts begin to change to something like, "What have I gotten my self into? this isn't fun, What else will we have to do, this is just the beginning of class, how am I going to do this? " And then I would descend to a point where it would start to get easier and my thoughts would return to loving Systema. It was easier down at the number one position, which I could hold. I would think "oh ok. I can do this... I like Systema again. Yeah it's really not that bad" After a few rounds of these pushups Mr Wheeler demonstrated one for us again. Only this time he included thoughts that you might be having while doing them. It was dead on almost word for word what I had been thinking. I began to wonder how he could have read my mind. My first "aha" was realizing that I wasn't the only one who struggled with this. I wasn't alone. Mr Wheeler went on to say how when you are in this part in the middle where it's really difficult, that is when those thoughts come in and he said, "That's self pity and you have to get through it." It surprised me that he called it self pity. "That's self pity? right there? " I thought. "What's it doing there? Those thoughts in the middle are self pity." It was a major revelation. He went on to say that you have to get past the pity part and work your way through it and not give up because our muscles are strong enough it's our thoughts that are holding us back. "You work your way through it, get stronger, get better and soon you'll love to exercise." he said.

I looked at the bigger picture. I began to think about many other struggles in my life. In the worst part of it, the center of it, was also self pity. It was the self pity that prevented me from moving forward. I've seen this in myself. I've seen it in my kids, my parents, my friends. Suddenly I could see everything differently.

A few days ago I had lunch with a group of women friends. This particular group of women
get together to discuss our problems with food. At one time or another we all had been in the same weight loss group. A weight loss group that was very strict, so strict that if you did not lose the assigned amount of weight for the month or could not maintain your goal weight, you would be kicked out. We all had experienced success in that group and lost lots of weight and even maintained for a few years. The program was simple but in the end it wasn't easy. All but one in the group had fallen off the path and had gotten kicked out. Once you are kicked out, unless you change your name or lie and say you are somebody else, you are never permitted to join the group again. So after several months or years of struggling on our own we decided to form our own group. We used to meet weekly then it fell off to monthly and now we just get together every now and then but our conversations are pretty much the same. None of us except one who is still in the old group, have been able to get back to our goals. We say the same thing every time, "We know what to do! we're just not doing it." One of the reasons we made this group was because we wanted to challenge ourselves to go a little deeper and try to get to the bottom of why we choose to eat. Overall the women have made some progress. I can't help wondering are we all not reaching our goal weight because we are stuck in our self pity mode? It would make sense with the emotional eaters for sure because while we are eating we are all having those negative thoughts. Perhaps we haven't been successfully worked through those tough number two through nineteen mental pushups. We know we are strong enough. We have the brain power to do it. Hmm...have I just gotten to the bottom of this? It's definitely food for thought.


  1. Great post. I wish we had a guru like the one teaching you Systema to teach us foodies how to work through the self pity levels.

  2. I think the first step is just to become aware of it.