July 29, 2008

What does it mean when your body Hertz?

[By Merry]

I had a moment of insight.
Yes, another one.

Oh crap! Another moment of insight post! Someone save me!

Okay, so maybe brilliant moments of insight are not always as profound as they seem.

Moments of insight are like dreams: they convey an emotional message that makes them seem tremendously important to the person who's experiencing the revelation, but they're not always translatable to another person. Ever listened to someone trying in vain to describe why a dream felt like such an amazing metaphor for their entire life?

What? Why are you looking at me like that? Am I the only one?

Would you sell yourself? If not, why sell yourself short?

No, this isn’t really a post about selling yourself. I still kinda regret I wrote Skanky Fitness -- a lot of people have clicked on it with Entirely the Wrong Idea. (It was a joke, people!)

This post is about the difference between renters and owners.

What is the difference between renters and owners?

I'm glad you asked.

One thing I learned from buying a house ("one" thing?) is that it makes a difference in how you feel about the place.

fail owned pwned pictures
Well, with most homes, anyway

When I lived in a rental, I wasn't quite as careful. It didn't seem as important.

Not that I deliberately acted like a rock star in a hotel and trashed the place.
Gee, and I only invited a few people over...

I figured if something broke down, someone else would deal with it. Now, for some reason, I'm starting to develop hyper-Neatnik tendencies that I never exhibited before. I want to put things in their place, keep everything clean and looking good. This is probably in part because since I bought the house, everyone wants to come visit. But it got me thinking. (Rare occurrence, but it does happen occasionally.)

If you rent a place, you don’t invest as heavily in upkeep and maintenance. It’s like a rental car; it’s a vehicle to carry you around but you don’t care how it looks or how well it runs. If you own your own car, then it matters. Even if you aren’t worried about a few crumbs on the seats, you still make sure that you put gas in the tank instead of diesel or something that would make it hard for you to get around.

Is your body a rental?

One way to tell is if it Hertz . (Sorry. Couldn't help myself.)

I think a lot of people who are overweight or out of shape (or both) tend to look upon their body as a rental car rather than as their own personal property. We use the body to haul the brain around.

For example, I sit at a computer 10 to 12 hours a day . If the body sends up a message that it’s hungry, it’s easy for me to grab the nearest bag of potato chips and satisfy the complaints without taking any thought for how this will affect the long-term mileage.

It’s like giving your car the cheapest gas rather than premium, not bothering to change the oil (don’t ask me how that relates to body care, just trust me that it’s a vague analogy). Or like neglecting to maintain your house except for the amount of work required to be a couch potato.

fail owned pwnd pictures
see more fail pictures

Maybe I shouldn't have used two metaphors at the same time. Potato chips as a bad source of fuel is a good way to express eating right, but I think the owning vs. renting analogy is a better way to express this basic idea:
If you wouldn’t even consider selling your body, why are you renting it?

Don't think this analogy only holds good for couch potatoes. I mean, what about those crazed fanatics runners who keep running even though they know that they're going to pay for it afterwards in the form of injured knees, torn muscles, or sundry pain?
This hurts just to look at...

There are a lot of people who treat their body like they were renting it.

What, you don't want to talk about it? Fine. Then tell me your strangest dream. Go ahead. I dare you. I'll even explain what the dream means, free of charge. (Or at least, I'll provide an explanation that sounds good. Fair enough?)


  1. Excellent point!

    For some reason, it's really hard for many folks to "get it" that they only get ONE body and there are no trade-ins. So if you start smoking or "tan" your skin to the point of skin damage, or get blind drunk off your ass every weekend, or eat nothing but junkfood and never exercise, then YOU are going to be stuck with the consequences later on because it's YOUR body.

    However the feeling of smugness I was clinging to for the first 3/4ths of the post pretty much dissolved when I got to the part about runners trashing their bodies as though there were no consequences down the line. Er, um...

  2. Well, up to a certain age we think we're invincible. They we think we can fix it all by surgery.
    By the time we realize we should have been eating right and resting properly and getting proper exercise it's a very long road back to health and fitness.

  3. One of my nutrition teacher actually described things just that way. He said that a lot of people treat their car better than they do their body: car maintenance, totally, yearly doctor check up, not so much.
    He pointed out the fact that a car is replaceable, as opposed to, oh, YOUR BODY!
    Personally, I am the opposite, a very bad car owner but I take good care of my body.
    But maybe that has to do with the fact that I have already had some (serious) wake up calls about my health.

  4. If I were renting my body, I would SO have my landlord in court!

    Strangest dream? How about the one, during my first year of grooming, when I dreamed I was grooming a chicken? (A Rhode Island Red, actually.)

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  5. I love the analogy of treating the body like you own it rather than rent it. It's yours for life, so you've got to take good care of it and make sure it gets everything it needs, right? Thinking of it that way makes me want to eat my vegetables...

  6. Im with leah...and then I think some of us (and at times I) never move beyond to the realization of being mortal.

  7. We do this to ourselves physically and mentally. We neglect our bodies, and we say negative things to ourselves that we would never say to friends.

    Do some of us subconsciously think we don't deserve better? Or we've misunderstood humility (which should be a realistic view of our strengths and weaknesses) to mean self contempt? Then we act out that self contempt by neglecting our bodies and negative self talk.

    I'll be pondering this one all day.


  8. I am really trying to treat my bod like a prized possession...I have to admit I am terrified of being one of those older people with a million chronic problems. :-(

  9. I suppose there are people who start out trashing their knees and then end up couch potatoes; the worst of both worlds as it were.
    My strangest dream was the one that I only remember the ending: a blue sky and across it the text "To Be Continued."

  10. Und MaryAnne in K? Vee are glad you mentioned zee dream about zee chicken. Lie back on zee couch and vee vill drop zee sillee acczent und explain it.

    Clearly, grooming the chicken was symbolic of overcoming your fears, no longer being 'chicken.' The Rhode Island Red part, well, Red as a symbol of courage (good thing it wasn't yellow), the Island symbolized the isolation of fear, and Rhode is a variant of Rhodes, in ancient Greece, which is highly symbolic in some way or other.

    (I know, the dream was more probably your subconscious' way of dealing with your new job, but I like my version ;)

  11. When you start life as one of those people with chronic problems, it is easy to treat it as a rental. Of course, I am now trying to patch things up, but I will never be in great health.

  12. Very nice way of looking at it, Merry!
    We are always looking for ways to reach owners.

  13. I like this analogy...makes perfect sense. While I believe I own my house/body now, in college I was definitely renting it...used it for parties, couple hours of kickboxing a day, fast food.

    Cleaned up pretty well though. ;)

  14. Things that make you go hmmm! Excellent post! I really like the analogy, it is so true! Thanks!

  15. I love this post. Never really thought of it that way before. i think it's hard for people too because often we don't see immediate consequences from our bad health choices. We know that diabetes may hit later in life but the party hors d'oeuvres are now!

  16. first of all, the title is gold! how creative was that!

    and the content...right on all counts. we do tend to treat our bodies like they were rentals and if at some point should malfunction, we could trade it in for another. we're not the brightest, are we?

    but, boy, you wrote it in a way that it really hit home. i don't think i'll ever forget this now... do not treat your body like a rental, do not treat your body like a rental.

    excellent. and thank you!


  17. Hey, check out the NYTimes today --80-year-old Estelle Parsons in one of the leading roles in August Osage County or whatever it is. She does Yoga and all kinds of things. (This apropos my fear is of ending up like my mother-in-law, almost unable to move she's so weak and overweight.)

    I think this is a great post, Merry, and I think about this issue almost constantly lately. Not even just the body part, but the mind part.

    And also apropos, I think I am finally ready to fire up my blog. I stumbled upon the "101 goals in 1001 days" project (check it out at http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2007/05/04/101-goals-in-1001-days/). I'm almost up to 50 goals (you'd be surprised how hard it is) and can't wait to finish my list and get started on the goals. Planning to blog about it all. I am so revved up! More later.

    Cheers, Melissa

  18. I forgot to tell you my weird dream: My husband was preparing to make a trip to Canada for a job search/interview sort of thing. His mode of travel: driving a tractor. ???

  19. Now, ya tell me.
    I wish I'd paid attention to the food as fuel idea at age 5.

  20. I love your insights and especially todays analogy! Thats the way I feel- you've only got the one body so why would you want to treat it badly? The body is a temple and all that. Mmm, templeworshiptreatment.

  21. I like this metaphor. I definitely try to treat my body like I own it (though I wish I did that more with my condo, which I do actually own, and which has cat hair everywhere and I don't clean as often as I should).

    I sometimes do go a little far in the other direction as far as exercise and approach overtraining, then I just have to remind myself to scale it back. I want to be one of those awesome women in their 70s and older who's still active and vibrant and healthy!

  22. This is so true. Just like we may be able to get away with not changing our cars oil very often when it's new with no side affects at the time, we will pay for it later. Too bad when we make a lot of the bad "body" decisions that come back to haunt us (smoking, tanning, getting drunk, gorging on transfats) we are in our teens when our brains haven't even developed fully....If we are lucky we can make it thru and drop the bad habits. Oh well, now I'm depressed and need to have an oreo or two. Great Post! Lots to think about

  23. what I think is interesting is that so many of us act like renters but when it comes to OTHER peoples' bods (our loved ones), we act like very protective owners. I would never do half the crap (physical or emotional) to a friend's body that I do to my own. Not like i'm horrible - i don't smoke or go tanning or anything, but more the emotional stuff, like the stress I put myself thru or how hard I can be on myself... Need to be more OWNER.

  24. Great post. Perhaps a little more relate-able than "the body is a temple" also.

    My strangest dream lately? I was in a fishing village where one person who was despotic kinda ran the town however he liked; he was postman and in charge of the fishing fleet. for some reason a white whale swam by, and he killed it by throwing a stone at its eye... but then the HarryPotter-esque part of the dreams started and the whale flew in the air, turned over, and landed in the pier, becoming a glowing, pulsing gemstone mosaic in the boardwalk. Somehow it seemed that if the despot was overturned, the whale would come back to life. Then the alarm went off.

    I have absolutely no clue what it might mean, but I just dreamed it Sunday.

  25. Fun with words! And what a fabulous message. Took me a looong time to realize that you don't get a do-over if you trash your body.

  26. i like it. i go through periods of body ownership and periods of body rental (so to speak). i'm working more on the ownership.

  27. At 15-18 miles of a marathon many questions come to mind!

  28. Great post, Merry. Personally, I've noticed that I feel more like a renter when I'm unhappy with my body in some way, either because I feel like my body betrayed me somehow, or because I feel like, "well, this body isn't really ME - the REAL me is thinner/blonder/fitter/etc."

    It's that second point that fascinates me, not just in myself, but in others as well. I wonder if that sense of dissociation - that feeling that "this isn't really ME" - leads us in the long run to treat our bodies worse than we might if we started from a place of accepting and loving our bodies for what they already are.

  29. Heeeeeey now. I'm all for treating the body like a temple, even teach my kids the same. But I am one of those fanatics you knock. I can gauge my own aches to know when to stop...most of the time. If I knew letting three watermelons outta the shoot would s---t---r--e--t---c---h my temple out like it did, would I not have done it? Thinks not.

    I know plenty of "elderlies" that had hip replacements that never ran a day in their lives. I also know many heart attack patients that never ran a day in their lives. I will take a little knee pain or a twisted ankle over that any day.

  30. I agree with you - I used to rent...now I own.
    If only I treated my house as wella s I treat my body...I'm sure people think we've moved out months ago...

    Wierdest dream: I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance in labour and after much pushing J and I had a baby...cat. Noone else but me found this to be unusual. I named him Max. He was black with white nose and feet. Oh, and Max could talk. I recall saying "this is rediculous!" and then waking up.

  31. Merry, what a terrific post!
    I am one of the few people that take as good care of a rental (I have improved all of them at my own expense) as I would my own house. However, while my one own house that I owned was so far away I rented it out, they all trashed it. I agree people mostly don't take care of their bodies, it's like putting off household chores. Something they'll do later or not until they absolutely have to.
    Even finally really understanding one's mortality may generate a What difference does it make what I do? mentality, rather than, Wow, I'd love to have as many years as possible, and have them be as rewarding as possible, so I'd better take care of myself every day!

    If I might try my hand?
    Mary-Anne, my guess is the chicken meant you either felt a bit overwhelmed or were ready for a real challenge as a groomer.

    Merry, you're either going to heaven or still trying to decide if it's really there.

    Melissa, your hubby didn't really WANT to go to Canada, but since he had to he was going to take his time and be well prepared.

    gizmogirl, who is the despot in your life? You will prevail because you are a real gem.

    ;) everyone!

  32. Love the meaning of this post!

  33. I like your insight, and it's a good reminder to treat our bodies like they are precious... cause they are! :) It's so easy to take our bodies and what they do for us for granted!

    Dreams... well, let's see. I had a dream just the other night that I was in Hawaii slathering on lots and lots and lots of sunscreen. I could feel the hot sun beating down on me. Didn't sleep too well that night. I woke up to a rather warm bedroom... Hence the reason for the dream, I believe! ;)

  34. Great post Merry! Of course, if you believe in reincarnation, then, theoretically, we are just renting these worldly bodies.....

    (the Bag Lady wants a do-over. seriously. If she could please to have a do-over, she wouldn't be so hard on her body....No do-overs? Damn.)

  35. Wow, great comments!

    TK did a great job analyzing the dreams for everyone but Susan and Geosomin, so I guess I should take a try.

    Hawaii... warm bedroom... slathering lotion... sounds to me like your subconscious is very healthy and is trying to make the best of the situation. Probably if it were freezing cold, you'd imagine you were surrounded by lots of lovely ice cream?

    Sounds pretty well-adjusted, anyway :)

    You have a subconscious that delights in surprising you. But anything you produce is going to be cute, cuddly, and finicky.

    Actually, Max sounds kinda cute ;)

  36. lol, some great pictures there but also a strong commentary. I'm treating my body like I got it for free. Time to treat it like something I saved long and hard for.

  37. Why is it so hard to remember these thoughts when all I want is ice cream? Sigh. Awesome analogy though, Merry! Perhaps I'll see a car next time I want to be a renter.

    Although, I do belive I am an AWESOME renter. Just need to be better body owner.

  38. Fabulous post Crabby....I think you hit the nail right on the proverbial button with this one. It's also why we don't honour our body. So we don't always feed it when we are hungry, we don't always stop eating when we've had enough, we either don't give it the active lifestyle it needs or push it beyond it's limits.

  39. Hmph! Crabby's the other one!
    Stomps her foot and goes off in a huff

  40. Much as I'd like to take credit... as usual, the best insights are Merry's. I can only claim credit in being smart enough to blog with her!


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