Roller Coasters

I used to be an adrenaline junkie in my younger days.  The bigger the rollercoaster, the better.  Upside down and inside out – heck yes.  Cliff jumping – heck yes.   I even went bungee jumping once upon a time.  Unfortunately, as I have gotten older, my inner ears have decided that they don’t like those crazy motions and those twists and free falls just make me vomit.  Sigh.  

These past few months we have all been on a rollercoaster.  One that is brand new.  We can’t see around the next bend and we are at the mercy of the cart and the rails – hanging on for dear life. I think (no, I know) that the rollercoaster ride isn’t over yet.  We are still at the beginning of this journey.  We have climbed up that crazy steep, clicky hill and we are starting to descend, but we aren’t even close to the finish line yet.  

Our routines are gone.  Our comfort zones are gone.  Our normalcy is gone.  I have no idea if my kids are going to school in September or if I’m going to have to come home from work and fight with them daily (again)  about being accountable for the work they are supposed to do while I’m not there.  I don’t know if they are going to be able to ride the bus to school or if I’m going to have to drive them.  I don’t know what time I’m going to be able to start the office – or if I’m going to be able to be in the office – or if I will have to shut it down due to an exposure.  

I know very few people that thrive in uncertainty.   Most of us struggle.  Most of us crave routines.  One of the most common things I hear from my patients is that they do fine eating well Monday-Friday but once the weekends hit, everything falls apart.  That’s because we typically have a lot less structure on the weekends.  We wake up at a different time.  Our morning routine is different.  Our day is filled with a variety of things occurring at a variety of times.  

Late August to early September is usually a very busy time for us at Heartland Weight Loss.  It’s the mom version of New Year’s.  The chaos and unpredictability of summer is over.  Kids go back to school, routine resumes, and we get to breathe a bit and work on ourselves for a few minutes every day again.  This year is different.  We don’t know when the kids are going back to school – heck, we don’t even know what school is going to look like.  We don’t know what our new normal is going to be.  We don’t have a normal routine to aspire to!  

It’s time we started leaning into the chaos.  Maybe we should start trying to adapt and adjust and stop fighting the urge to stay inside the lines.  Maybe we should start working a little harder on resilience rather than falling into anger and irritability.  Maybe we should start focusing on ourselves a little.  

Some of the greatest triumphs have come out of adversity.  I know of no one great that is quoted as saying, “all the things I’ve accomplished are a result of having a super-easy life”.  How we handle discomfort and uncertainty can make us stronger or break us.  

It’s time we leaned into this new normal.  Why?  Because our ability to regroup and rebuild might be the decision between life and death.  We are facing a formidable foe – a virus that preys upon people with age, obesity and poor health.  It’s brutal.  This virus doesn’t care if you always have good intentions to have a salad for lunch and end up changing your mind.  This virus doesn’t care if you did well last week and let things slide this week.  This virus doesn’t care about excuses or reasons or intentions.  It cares about finding a good host and replicating.  

It’s time to stop being a good host.  It’s time to fight back.  It’s time to get as healthy as possible so that we can all survive this roller coaster and get off at the end.  I want to see each and every one of my patients at the end and give every last one of them a high-five, then give this stupid roller coaster the middle finger and walk away.

Let’s learn how to thrive during hard times….

Courtney Younglove, M.D.