Monday, January 02, 2012

Getting Hard

After more than a year of not taking care of myself properly, I've decided to get physical.
A couple of days ago,I started jogging, doing sets of push-ups and sit-ups throughout the day and taking my dog for long, fast walks through the dull but leafy suburban flatlands where I live. This afternoon, I'll begin working with weights and the Schwarzenegger-scale cardio' machines at my local gym, a small, friendly, family-run business where a cadre of serious natural bodybuilders train. I'm also going to swim and learn to box.
I adhere to a strict diet. Every night, before I go to bed, I measure and prepare my food for the following day. The menus are balanced and healthy, devised by a nutritionist. The alarm on my iPhone is set to remind me to eat at five specific times.
I'm tired and sore, very sore, but I also feel really fucking good. Being physical again enlivens me and draws me out of the confines of my own messy mind.
I could do all this gradually, rather than take on such a relentless daily regime. But the process is as important to me as the outcome. The U.S. Marine Corps' boot-camp mantra – Pain is weakness leaving the body – is as much about building mental strength as physical. Hard training demands mental discipline and stamina. To put it in terms only a psychiatrist would use, it changes (therefore reprograms) one's internal dialogue, to encourage self-confidence and a determination to push through inevitable barriers.
The last couple of years have been my worst, strewn with epsiodes of mental illness, a bankruptcy, and my father's death from an insidious cancer. I was forced to return to Brisbane and confront a deeply troubled past. My physical health declined shaprly and last month, I underwent surgery. I'd become withdrawn and allowed myself to grow frail, soft and fat.
The state of my mind and body affect my creativity. Hard exercise and a balanced diet clear the manic static in my head better than any medication. They shape not only my body but also the way I think. The difference will be apparent in my new work.

4 comments:

Wendy Olsen said...

I agree.
It has helped me a lot. But a small break has put me back.
I admire your drive to be well.
I am hoping I can be as motivated!

marinagp said...

Excellent. I am sure, as you said, that this new regime will reflect in your work. Take care, marina urbach
also known as (marinita urbachita.)

Josh said...

Stay strong Hazel. I know what it's like being in a tough state of mind. But time can and does heel all wounds, and art can be the greatest therapy of all.

Phoinix said...

How the hell have you NOT been boxing already? Pretty safe to say you'll enjoy that quite a bit.

My favorites have always been: "The only easy day was yesterday." and "Sympathy is in between shit and syphilis in the dictionary."