An Anchor in a Sea of Change
Hello everyone, my name is Shannon Massey. I had the privilege of meeting Steve while we both lived and worked in Bangalore, India for the better part of 2017. During our time working together, we had a few conversations around discipline, of which, a couple of those conversations focused on health and fitness. Growing up, my parents’ always espoused the importance of health through nutrition and exercise, and throughout my years playing sports and working out, personal health became a key value of mine. Since then, it has kept me anchored, perhaps, even more so than any of my other values throughout phases of change.
When I moved to India, I wasn’t sure how I was going to account for my diet and exercise, but I knew I needed it. The first apartment I lived in didn’t have a stove. I didn’t yet trust my stomach with Indian food, so in the interim, I stuck with microwave oatmeal, peanut butter sandwiches, and canned fruit. Much to the dismay of my ego, I started to involuntarily shed good weight. Pounds seemed to wither away as slept. I remember standing on a scale for the first time, peering between my feet, and at the moment the red LED lights reached my eyes, a wave of self-loathing and sadness washed over me. With the literal and figurative loss of self driving my emotions, I immediately ordered loads of protein powder. I failed to account for tariffs and the red tape deeply entrenched in the Indian postal service, and it cost me two times what I should’ve paid and 1.5 months of waiting. Through the despondency, I tested out various gyms around the area, deciding on a Gold’s Gym not far from the new apartment I moved into. It had everything I needed. I had lost about 17 lbs of good weight and my strength had regressed to high school levels when I started at Gold’s. I prayed that this would restore my weight, strength, and more importantly, former sense of self. I was wrong. I never found the groundedness I was so accustomed to.
After moving to my new apartment, I finally had access to a stove. I could cook and meal prep again. The near-saintly food delivery men of BigBasket kept my fridge stocked. They had to balance the excessively large crates of food, most of which being mine, over the many potholes and unexplainable bumps in the back road leading to my apartment complex. My normal cooking schedule consisted of meal prepping on Sunday and Wednesday and ad hoc cooking throughout the week. During this time, my brain was mindlessly occupied just enough to wander, bouncing from thought to thought resulting in calming effects similar to meditation. As I continued my routine, I soon felt the sense of balance that the gym usually delivered. I imagine this balance as large flashing and iridescent, neon arrows reminiscent of those on the Vegas strip. Directly underneath the point of these oversized arrows sat my value of personal health; it was due for an evaluation. Before then, dieting had always been secondary to my time in the gym, more of a means to an end rather than the end itself. In jeopardy of sounding too preachy, I peeled back the layers of my value. I found it to be rotten and decayed. Piles of chicken and beef heaped on my plate, in near bodybuilder-esque proportions, was provided by my outdated understanding of personal health. I had focused on the material, the inevitably flawed physical benefits of personal health and had neglected the mindfulness that’s meant to accompany. I tweaked my value. I dropped meat and dairy from my diet. I focused less on the physical exertion in the gym and more on mindfulness. My sense of self wasn’t restored; it was altered.
Separated from everyone and everything I’ve known and loved, health and fitness was to be my anchor. But over time, the change crept into my values and revealed the revisions I needed to make.