Living a Healthy Lifestyle
by Judith Lawrenson
“So, if ‘dumming’ rhymes with humming, we are all just whistling Dixie when we
say we got a good grade on the test, or are we faking it BIG TIME?” - The Uphill Skater
Dumbing down has become such a big catch phrase lately, I thought we, as responsible readers of Pink and “Skating Uphill” should look at what this means. Not only for us as smart, cool ladies, but as (OMG!) people who might be doing it to ourselves. By this I mean, girls, how actually awful is it to be that little 20 lbs over weight, or to make up a phony excuse for being late or not doing something we said we would do? I honestly think that this sort of thinking has invaded many aspects of our lives. I also am going to go out on a limb here and say that I do not think this is always a bad thing—so there. Yes, I have joined the Dumbing Down Hummers!
This expression, by the way, has taken on many different meanings. The one we are most familiar with, probably, is the one used in our schools. It is synonymous with the lowering of standards. In other words, if Bobby cannot pass a particular class, is it actually Bobby’s fault, or is it because some evil person, hiding somewhere in the woodwork, has purposefully made the class too hard for him? What if many others are passing this class and he is the exception? Is this a racial issue, a cultural issue, or due to the fact that there is something different about his learning style? Perhaps also, Bobby has not had adequate preparation to be in this class and should not be there under any circumstances. Should he be in the class before this one? Has he not been tested for admission to this class? It seems there are more questions than answers to this scenario that I will also refer to as “lowering standards.” Yes, I know that is a bit unfair, and I will explore that with you as well.
I have occasionally had the pleasure and honor of teaching a class at the OSHER Lifelong Learning Center. My class is one of those self-esteem, eating right for happiness, be yourself kind of things, and I so enjoy sharing insights and opinions with my students. Almost universally, I find that I am asked questions about standards. People want to know if I really mean that you should only eat this number of calories in a day? Do I really mean that you must drink your water and get your sleep or is that just another one of those studies that seems to keep changing results? How important is it, honestly, to get off your big butt and walk outside?
Much as I hate to shift the burden, ladies, I am going to have to do that because a lot of the idea of compromise and adaptation, and that sort of thing, is actually highly individual. What I mean is, perhaps you decide that you absolutely must lose 40 pounds. Try as you might, in an honest effort, you are only able to drop 20. A visit to your doctor and a consultation at Weight Watchers determine that you really are very near to a weight that is good for you and sustainable. So, what now? Shall we struggle to get off that extra weight only to have to starve? Sometimes goals are unrealistic and that is a true fact.
Failing is not permanent. Neither is success. Being comfortable in your own skin should be. So that is one answer. Before you set personal goals or, worse yet, someone else sets them for you, be realistic. This means doing your homework and being honest with yourself. Both of these things are stuff we should be doing anyway and you should not have to read it here!
As to not being able to achieve because others are keeping you down, I look at that as an excuse. Not to be hard, and I know it is easier to do something with a friend or with support, but in the end, it boils down to just you. I stopped drinking three years ago, and I am still surrounded by very close friends who drink, and I am still in the same social situations where I used to drink. This has been tough, but I have done it. Sure, it would have been a piece of cake if all of my friends had said they would stop with me, and we had all climbed on the wagon together—ha, ha—like that ever happens. So, it mattered enough to me that I was able to do it myself.
As to the issue of not being qualified to be attempting a set goal in the first place, I think that is very valid and should be accepted as a reason, not an excuse. I have seen it happen many times where a person will say they are going to run a marathon at the age of 50 or they are going to shoot their age in golf at the age of 80. I am sure you have heard those types of things as well. Often this is very motivational and it works out really well, but equally as often, people do not understand that in order to run a big distance, they have to run many little distances first; to shoot a great golf score requires a great many hours spent on the course. It seems these things go without saying, but I guess not from some of the things I have seen some people attempt. Don’t say you do not know what I mean!
So, I will end where I began. Back to Bobby who is in the classroom not able to perform up to a preset standard that has nothing to do with his abilities or knowledge. Shall we change the test? How about instead we look at reasons. He has had no prep for this class that is too advanced for his level of expertise. How about a pre-class or a tutor? He is being held back by some learning difference, perhaps. My solution is the same as the woman who sets a goal of running 50 miles at the age of 50. Is she actually equipped to do it or must she first lose 30 pounds, have her heart checked, and try running one mile first?
All I am saying is that we need to look carefully at ourselves and our goals before we set, modify or fail. I love to succeed and so do you. Let’s set ourselves up to do that instead of looking for reasons to fail!
Tune in next month for yet another sermon on just doing the best we can do
in our circumstances because that is what it is all about anyway, right?