i think i'm an optimist. that is, i try to look at the glass as half full more than half of the time. but if i'm being honest i will have to confess that i hate disappointment. and one of the ways i've learned to avoid disappointment is by having low expectations.
when i was 12 we moved from our little corner of southwestern pennsylvania to somewhere in the middle of kentucky, about a six-hour drive away. as we had no family in kentucky, we would often make that 6 hour drive through the barren lands of west virginia during holidays and breaks. to a 13-year old, 6 hours is a really long time, especially if you are spending it cramped up on the floor of a volkswagon vanagon that keeps breaking down. i remember thinking that we must be at least halfway there once when i asked how much longer we had to go. "what?" yelled my parents from the front, having failed to hear me over the space-shuttle-loud roar of the german engineering wonder. i shrieked from the floor, "HOW MUCH FURTHER DO WE HAVE TO GO?" in what i thought was a cruel and heinous reply, my dad replied with a yell that sounded something like "about 5 more hours."
and so i began to have low expectations. even as i got older and we would arrive in dunbar, west virginia, which i knew was about halfway home, i would convince myself that we had at least four more hours to go. and i wouldn't just do this to myself. i would tell my poor unfortunate younger sisters this stretch of the truth as well. i remember the way i rationalized it perfectly clearly: if i have low expectations, then i will always be either right or pleasantly surprised. somehow this never really worked because i couldn't quite lie to myself good enough. even though i told myself it would be 10 hours from waynesburg to wilmore, i knew deep down that it was only 6 hours, and if it took 361 minutes i was secretly disappointed. that's just how i am.
now i am 31 years old. and i am still playing games with my own mind. many times over the last ten years or so i have tried to lose weight by a variety of means. i have tried to exercise. i have tried eating less. i have tried eating better. i have tried atkins. i have tried pretending like i don't care. and here is the weird thing about all of these attempts: i try not to tell anyone about it. not my friends, not my coworkers, not my family, not even shannon, insofar as that is possible. i try to hide it even from myself. why? its that whole low-expectations thing. you see, if i don't expect to lose weight, then i won't be disappointed when i fail. but if i do lose weight, i will be pleasantly surprised. but this never works, because as i am making the agonizing decision to eat carrot sticks instead of sweet honey bar-b-que potato chips, deep down i know that i am trying to lose weight.
when i was in new york city a few weeks ago, i did a ton of walking, and, due to the nature of the trip, i ate well and snacked very little, if at all. i determined that it might be a good time to begin what has been long overdue (i went to the doctor recently - remember that horrible experience with the bloodwork? - and found out that my ldl cholesterol is quite high) and start exercising and eating better. and so i did. but i tried not to tell anyone. i woke up early and went running, which probably caused shannon to think something was terribly wrong with me, but when she would ask me about it, i would downplay it like it was no big deal and move on to the next subject. "greg, would you like some delicious bar-b-que potato chips?"
"no thank you. could you please pass the carrot sticks."
"what are you trying to eat healthy now?"
"what? no. i just really like carrot sticks."
keep those expectations low.
but i cannot lie to myself anymore. here it is: I AM TRYING TO BE MORE HEALTHY. that is why i ate a small portion of ziti and a triple portion (at least for me) of broccoli last night. that is why i have been waking up early to run. that is why i have been daily drinking enough water to drown an elephant. that is why i got new running shoes (pictured above. purchased at gabriel brothers in belle vernon, pa. shout out to gabriel brothers which is a chain that sells damaged and overstocked clothing and shoes mostly. love that place. and yes, those are my legs in the picture.). and that is why i am writing this today. well, that, and the fact that i am an optimist. i try to see the glass as half-full more than half of the time, even when i also try and lie to myself about what i am expecting. and so far, whatever i was expecting , i have lost between 15 and 20 pounds, and i feel a ton healthier. the true test, of course, is consistency over the long-term, but i feel like i have a better start than ever before, and now that i have come out of the closet with this thing, i have a ton of accountability which has always been mysteriously missing. i wonder why?