Sunday, June 6, 2010

Warning: Life in Progress

I recently re-joined the SparkPeople health-support community. SparkPeople, in the site's own words, is "a free online diet and healthy living community with over 3 million members who provide support and motivation to each other." I joined the site to take advantage of tools that help track my food and water intake, physical activity, and progress on other goals. While I would like to lose some of the weight that I've accumulated over the past few months, what I most like about the site is how the nutrition tracker breaks down my fat, carbohydrate, and protein intake. As a long-time fat-phobic eater, this facet is really helping me meet the daily minimum for healthy fats.

Although SparkPeople really is quite an amazing tool -- and it's free to boot! -- I am treading carefully in my use of the site. My last long-term use of the site directly preceded and aided in my downward spiral into life-threatening disordered eating. So I recommend SparkPeople, but also encourage to avoid using it obsessively. (For an intriguing discussion on this issue, check out this SP forum discussion. I contributed my thoughts and received some really positive feedback from other users who are seeking to use the site in a balanced way.)

However, as much as I like SparkPeople for its help in helping me achieve balanced nutrition and fitness, it also sparked (no pun intended) some deep thinking. Yesterday I noticed one of the t-shirts in the site's store. This shirt boldly reads, "Fitness in progress."

I initially felt repulsed by the t-shirt. I don't know what I would think if I saw somebody else wearing it, but I knew that I certainly never would. For me that would be like admitting that I'm not okay, that I'm not in control -- which the disordered eating part of me translates to fat. Admit to the public that I'm fat? No way, and no thanks.

But the shirt's message stuck with me. What if I did see a person walking down the street proudly wearing it? I'd probably find myself mentally cheering her on -- for whatever health she's gained, and for the balance she is pursuing. The wearer's body shape and size would probably not even factor in to my encouraging reaction. But if I can think about a random stranger, why can't I encourage myself in a similar way?

Perhaps it's because we are all our own worse critics -- and doubly so for a person who suffers from any sort of body or food issues. But if I'm honest with myself, I should wear this t-shirt. What's more, I should wear it proudly. Because the fact is that I'm not perfect -- and I never will be. Nobody ever will be. We are all a work in progress. Can't you see the t-shirt options? "Faith in progress." "Confidence in progress." "Forgiveness in progress." "Love in progress." "Parent in progress." "Blogger in progress" . . . and so on, forever.

I will never arrive. There is no end. There's only now, so I might as well enjoy it, regardless of my pant size.

Yes, I'm working on my health -- but I'm working on a lot of other things, too. My relationship with God is an unending project, but it's also unsurpassingly worthwhile and rewarding. The same is true for my relationships with other people, starting with the Best Husband Ever. Other life construction projects include writing, photography, hooping, and maybe even gardening. Because I'm a perfectionist, maybe I'll never feel finished . . . but that's okay. As cheesy or trite as it might sound, life is a journey and, if we let it, an adventure.

What are you journeying toward?

"Little by little, one travels far."

~ J. R. R. Tolkien


  1. I definitely need one that says "Life in Progress". We should never be content to be complacent. You're so right - we can't arrive when there is no end, and we need to enjoy the process of the journey.

  2. Here's another one - and I may even make one on Zazzle or some other DIY t-shirt site: Hoopdancer in Progress. ;-)As SaFire says in the HC manifesto: Practice makes improvement. And as Paul and Timothy say in Philippians 3:12-14: "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."Whatever else we do, let's press on toward the goal. :-)


"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King