Sunday, December 07, 2008

Poor health equals poor self-esteem

Between the ages of 25 and 41, I jogged at least 20 miles a week. Health was a major value for me. But I wasn't completely healthy, and I evaded the fact. I was too thin and looked older than my age. I saw this in the mirror, and I felt it in my bowels. I had diarrhea after every long run. I had perennial gas problems. I had poor digestion and constant issues on the toilet. I had convinced myself that my exercise made me healthy automatically, and that I could eat anything I wanted, as long as I got enough protein. I even convinced myself that my diarrhea was a regular "cleansing" -- something my sympathetic ex-wife, Kelly, used to laugh at (rightly so, I came to find out).

I thought I had pretty high self-esteem. I was right -- and the accent was on "pretty." I didn't have full self-esteem. I wasn't completely objective about my life and my values. I hadn't dealt with my own dissatisfaction with my journalistic job and my own desire to do work that was much more satisfying. That evasion and earlier evasions about other aspects of my life got me used to evasions in general. If you allow one evasion, then that irrationality will breed it to construct ever-more clever subconscious evasions. It lives like a tape-worm in your subconscious until you consciously go in search of it and kill it.

I had started working on my evasions and being completely rational at the age of 31, when I discovered Objectivism. I worked through perhaps 90% of my irrationality but had not done the mental work necessary to complete the task of living a totally rational life and killing the tape-worm. At 41, I'd gotten to where I was virtually totally conscious of and in control of all my thoughts (a final step in working through one's issues and being totally honest) and had begun to wonder at my digestive and health issues. I finally felt like I was worthy to have a body that reflected the new me, the new full-bodied self-esteem.

That was when Kelly approached me about her discoveries on the importance of a healthy diet (see my previous post on that). The facts were incontrovertible. I could not (would not) evade them. I began to eat right. Within months, I was looking healthier and my digestion actually started working properly. The toilet was no longer a quarter-hour foe. My digestion hadn't been that good since I was 15. By the time I was 44, I looked younger than I did at 36. In fact, Kelly and I would see a photo of me in my mid-30s and were blown away at how bad I looked.

At 41, I also quit my journalism job and got a job that was more fulfilling for my personality. And I did my writing on the side, with the thought that I would one day do it much more when my financial situation allowed it.

I have now fine-tuned what Kelly taught me and have a diet that is simply amazing and has me feeling like I did in my early 20s. When I reflect on the days of evasion, I realize that what caused me to evade all those years in front of the mirror and on the toilet was a poor self-esteem, caused by evasion of values. My poor self-esteem was reflected in my body. I simply didn't WANT to change anything because I didn't DESERVE to change anything. I didn't deserve to be healthy. It's an insidious thing, really. And when I see or hear of the same scenario in friends or family now, I realize the same thing is happening with them. And it pains me, especially when they won't listen to me.

I try to be diplomatic about it, but inside I'm wanting to scream, "Friend, focus on the values. Get your self-esteem back. Get your health back. Live life to its fullest. Live long. Get off the toilet. Have fun looking in the mirror."

I want my friends to feel as happy about their health as I now do mine. I want to share in the exuberance of a life well-lived and well felt. Perhaps, if they read this, they will see themselves in me and what I was, and decide, as I finally did, that NOW is the time to change their diet and change their life.

Godspeed, if you do, my friends!

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