Friday, July 4, 2014

Why vanity makes no sense - really

That last few weeks I've felt rather introspective, but I wasn't sure how to voice it. You see my best friend's mother is dying. She was diagnosed in April with pulmonary fibrosis. She deteriorated rapidly, went to the hospital a week ago and 2 days ago was moved to hospice. All her family is gathered around her to be with her during these last moments. My friend said her mom is ready to go.

This family means a lot to me and they have always been good to me. I know both her parents have struggled a bit with weight and blood pressure. They have been trying to eat healthier and move more, etc. My friend's mom was never seriously overweight and she lived an active lifestyle, but she tried to do better. Yet she is dying from a disease that even the most fit athlete could get - hardening of the lungs. She's basically dying from a slow suffocation as her lungs harden more and more.

As I think about her family gathered around, sharing stories - laughing, crying, and finding closure, I'm sure things that are not on their mind are things like, "if only she had exercised more. Or, if only she was a little thinner." They are thinking about their lives together - their moments. Isn't that what's important?

Now, I'm not saying eating right and exercise and being a reasonable weight are not important. Of course they are! You can't have as many great stories and events to tell if you can't do the things a healthy person can. And, a very unhealthy lifestyle and weight can shorten (and does shorten) our lives.

But do we need to be perfect to be healthy? No. We don't.

So, I look at myself. I am definitely losing the weight for my health and happiness. I am NOT happy when I weigh a lot and I don't feel good and my health deteriorates terribly. I'm not as good a mom or as nice a wife when I eat poorly and feel poorly. I would be lying, however, if I didn't say that I like looking nice. That's why the loose skin bugs me a bit. It does less now than when I first noticed I was getting them as now I realize, "Hey, bat wings or fat arms. Make your choice!" My choice is bat wings. I like cute clothes. I like my thinner face and shapelier body. So, yes, there is some vanity there too, but in the end, "is it reason enough?"

I know many, many people going for those vanity pounds - just for that... vanity. It won't affect their health, but, as it is called, it appeases their vanity to be a bit thinner. They get miserable if they don't get to that desired weight. They claw and fight and go hungry. They skip parties to avoid the food. They worry on vacations and avoid all the cuisine. For what? 10 pounds? They give up some of the joys of life for vanity.

Some day we all die. Do we want to feel we lived a good life? or one "not quite good enough" because we didn't lose those vanity pounds. What memories will that leave for our families after we pass on? "Oh, she was always worrying about gaining 5 pounds!" "Man, remember when she wouldn't try the croissant in France?"

I was there. That was me fighting and clawing from 175 to 165. It took me 6 months to lose those 10 pounds. 6 months of daily exercise of step aerobics, kickboxing, strength training and walking/running. As well as very controlled eating of no more than 1500 calories a day. A vacation of free eating led to several more months of hard, hard work just to try re-lose those vanity pounds. Was it worth it? Maybe my health was marginally better at 165 than 175, but I was miserable - I was tired and I was hungry and I was frustrated at the lack of results. My husband said I was beginning to change in my outlook too. I was too focused on those few pounds, that I lost sight of all the good I had done. And it's true... I had!

I think on that now as I continue on this renewed journey. I'm doing this for my health, for certain, but I no longer have this lofty goal of getting to a perfect weight any more. SURE it would be great to get to 165 or 160, but I'll be happy with 175. I'm not going to go for under 25% body fat... because really, is 26% so much worse? (Which is what it was at 165). I want to be happy and healthy. I don't want to be frustrated about the vanity pounds. I want to enjoy my life while being healthy. I want my family to enjoy me and I want to enjoy them so that when my end comes, they can smile, laugh, and feel the joy as they remember a life well spent.

Hugs and lots of love sent to my friend and her family.


  1. I am sorry for your friend's mother, I hope she is comfortable with her family and they are enjoying the end together. It's hard when you're suffocating and in pain :(

    The book of Ecclesiastes in the bible hits on this over and over again. One of the wealthiest, wisest, Godliest men in the duration of history at the end of his life, reflecting on how so many things were merely vanity. Even good things like friends and family do not last. Only one thing is eternal. That's one of those parts of scripture I can understand intellectually and appreciate the application of, but I don't believe I can truly internalize it at this stage of life. When it comes to money and appearance, at least, I can very much see the truth of it.

  2. How right you are. I commiserate because I'm not 25 and 125 anymore. Or even 175! At 190 I need to lose weight, but I know that I'm not willing to do what needs to be done to get to 125. It's a tradeoff - like "clean enough" for our homes. There is more to life than this and I for one am not willing to be that selfish. Because after all - there's only so many hours in the day and we all spend them doing something. That level of commitment would take me away from all the other things I could be doing with/for my family. Although I acknowledge that my health is important, so is balance.(BTW it's Kelley - Not "Anonymous" - I just don't have any of those other accounts!)

  3. Hey Melissa! Just wondering if all is well in your world? You are missed in the blogsphere. Best to you and your family.

  4. Also hoping that all is well with you. I imagine you are just busy with work and kids.

    Hope the weight loss is still going well!

  5. An instructive post. People to really know who they want to reach and why or else, they'll have no way to know what they're trying to achieve. People need to hear this and have it drilled in their brains..
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