Keeping it together, barely.

Today is a bummer of a day. Today, I realized that my body is failing me. The realization is especially bummerific, because I am someone who spends most of her time trying really hard not to fall apart.

I try every single day to improve in at least one, if not all, of the following: diet, exercise, relationships, mental health, knowledge, sleep, spirituality, community, and environment. I am always striving to improve, which is why it’s frustrating to see myself unravel.

Today it’s a urinary tract infection.

I don’t really want to put this on the internet, but in the interest of transparency I will. For the first time in my well-intentioned adult life, I failed to jump out of bed immediately after having sex to pee. I lay there feeling good instead. How dare I, right?

I guess I got what I deserved, because exactly 24 hours later, I had my first sign of infection. To which my reaction was: Seriously?!?

To make it extra interesting, this incident coincides with a lapse in insurance coverage. No antibiotics for me, as I won’t be re-insured for another three weeks! I’m actually fine with that as long as the infection doesn’t get any worse…

Still, worrying about the infection getting worse while uninsured is a whole other form of punishment.

The last example was three weeks ago.

My feet have always looked rough, and in an attempt to care, I established a pattern of soaking them once or twice a week, scrubbing them, and applying cuticle oil and a thick layer of lotion. After each attempt, my feet would appear soft and supple for a few hours and then return to their normal monster form by morning.

I finally got fed up with the lack of results and decided maybe my feet aren’t meant to be soft and supple. Maybe dry, rough feet would serve me better? My husband scrubs his feet approximately never, and they are quite lovely for feet.

So, I skipped my weekly ritual one time. Two days later, my heel cracked open painfully. It turns out that can happen when your feet are dry and you wear open-back shoes or spend a lot of time standing on hard floors. Guess what — I do both!

My Grandma had cracked heels toward the end of her life. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that age 31 is too young for grandma conditions to set in. Am I wrong?

The time before that was when I gave up on exercise.

I thought it wasn’t doing anything for me. I wanted to be lean and mean, and I was still very much pudgy despite a great deal of daily effort. So I stopped.

And then my butt fell. Yes, my butt literally fell. Or, if this is more descriptive: My ass sagged.

It was so sad.

After feeling sorry for myself, a new thought occurred to me.

Why wouldn’t my ass sag if I didn’t do anything to prevent it? Of course it would sag. That’s how stuff works.

I was irrationally convinced that I had inherited flawless genes, despite 30 years of evidence to the contrary. I thought I should be able to do whatever I want and look good. That isn’t the case, and more importantly, that’s never been the case. Where did I get that idea?

I blame the media. And delusion. I’ve read many women’s magazines, and every few months, some gorgeous woman is featured who recklessly reveals her beauty secrets are never washing her face, eating fried chicken every day, and avoiding sweating.

Naturally, I applied the good fortune of said strangers to expectations of myself, mostly because I wanted their luck to be my own.

I was so deeply invested in the delusion that despite being a reasonable person who likes to believe she can recognize patterns, I was still literally shocked when my ass had the audacity to sag.

And, allow me to add that there was a pattern. This was not the first time I ever stopped exercising. (Ha! Take that, exercise! I’ve quit you multiple times!) Looking back, my sorry ass sagged each time.

Luckily, I am no longer staring in the mirror with either my jaw or my ass hanging low. I’ve changed my perspective on exercising. I now remind myself that I have less-than-stellar genes. My experience and my relatives tell me so. My family and I are all prone to weight gain and generalized lumpiness, and every female relative that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing going back to Great Grandma has (or had) batwings.

All of this boils down to one truth.

If you’re not happy with the results, re-examine your efforts and your expectations.

I have to exercise. It’s sort of the toll I pay to exist in a semi-decent form. And I suppose that is also why I should always pee immediately after sex, and I should regularly scub my feet, even if it doesn’t appear to be doing me any good. Just because I’m not seeing the result I want, doesn’t mean my diligent act of self-care isn’t preventing something else — something terrible, probably — from occurring.

I will continue with my efforts despite this latest bummer of a day.

Like what you read? Give Leslie Lee, MS, RD a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.