Tuesday, April 17, 2012
What is Normal?
Let's do a little pretend game:
You have complicated musculo-skeletal issues.
Here's what you can't do:
-A walking meditation: making minute changes to your gait so that you can be fully tuned in to your body as it moves for 5 minutes will leave you with severe hip pain for 5 days.
-Ride a bike: your knee is so out of alignment that doing so would deteriorate the joint even more rather than build muscle and prevent further deterioration. Not to mention how bike riding would throw out your back.
-Get a knee replacement: your back is too fragile to do rehab on a stationary bike and the stress on your opposite hip during the recovery period would be more than it could take.
-Walk fast: your knee wouldn't react well (see above), the discs in your lower spine would send sciatica pains through your lower back and your hip would exhibit pain that your surgeon has so far been unable to diagnose.
Swim: both your back and your hip would give you dangerous pain signals, that, if ignored could lead to much worse pain (and perhaps surgery).
-Have a colonscopy: moving the probe through a section of your body in close proximity to the lower spine would cause a full-blown case of bulging disc, leaving you in the best case scenario with nerve damage down your leg and in the worse case scenario with a ruptured disc.
- Wear even slightly high heels. Ah, come on, it won't hurt. And you'll barely stand. After all it's a party and most of the time you'll be sitting talking with friends...Um no, just a few minutes and your hip, your knee and your back will remind you of the mistake you made for days to come--and that's if your joints let you off easy. A disc in your back might decide to rupture. Just for fun. So no, you can't wear high heels. Ever.
The funny thing is, you look normal most of the time to the rest of the world. Yet you live a life of musculo-skeletal hypervigilance. Stop being vigilant for a few minutes and ka-pow!--pain for days, the possibility of rupturing a disc, dislocating your hip, more surgery...
Hypervigilance is normal for you. You couldn't keep going without it and even with it, you're never sure what tomorrow will bring. Pretty crazy, right? Does this sound like a "normal" life to you?
Now what does this have to do with weight?
I was reading the blog of a weight loss maintainer recently (I won't go into details because I'm really not trying to call anyone out or criticize how hard this blogger and the blog's readership have worked to lose and maintain their weight loss) and the comments section was full of people talking about how "normal" it is to count every single calorie you ingest, to exercise faithfully and vigorously almost every day of the week, to weigh all your food and to NEVER deviate from the straight and narrow because even slacking off for a day or two can spell the beginning of the end and a return to morbid obesity in the time it takes to say "it's perfectly normal to weigh, count, always keep in mind, never forget, calculate the calories, run/lift weights/do the elliptical for an hour a day without fail, refuse to go out with your friends because eating in a restaurant is dangerous, etc., etc.".
In my opinion, neither the life of the musculo-skeletal basket case nor the life of the weight loss maintainer is normal. These two people have one thing in common: the abnormal lengths they must go to to maintain an appearance that seems "normal" to the outside world.