Tomorrow is a big day in science fiction popular culture land. The kind of day that makes you want to shout GERONIMO! Because tomorrow, ladies & gents, dear old Eleven returns in the season premiere of Doctor Who. Not only that, but this season will mark the 50th Anniversary of the show. I know, it sounds crazy. Mad man in a box crazy, but the original incarnation of The Doctor first aired in 1963 (although it didn’t really gain much attention here in the States until it was brought back a few years ago with Nine).
In anticipation of tomorrow’s season premiere, I was thinking recently about life lessons you can learn from The Doctor. Specifically healthy living life lessons. And while I realize on the surface this might sound like an odd comparison or challenging task, if I can do it with Harry Potter you can bet your TARDIS I can do it with The Doctor.
So! With that in mind, Allons-y!
Keep Your Companions By Your Side
By his nature, The Doctor is a rather singular character. All of his family and his entire species of Time Lords are gone. He’s the last one. He’s also 900 years old so he’s going to outlive every person he meets (and, being 900 years old he’s going to meet a lot of people). Personal connections are difficult and while different regenerations of The Doctor handle this personality quirk differently, the one thing he always knows is that he can’t do it alone. He needs assistance on his adventures and they come in the form of his companions: the men and women (mostly women) who travel with him in the TARDIS and help him save the world over and over and over again.
Likewise, it’s impossible to maintain a healthy lifestyle without support from friends and family. You need people you can go to when you’re struggling. People who will help you and motivate you to keep going. Just last week a friend texted me to tell me she was having a really hard time and it meant so much that she came to me. It was also brave of her to acknowledge that she was in trouble and needed help to stay accountable.
You also need to know that your own personal companions aren’t going to sabotage your efforts, whether it’s intentional or unintentional. This means understanding that you may not be going out to eat as often or not drinking as much or that your workouts sometimes have to come before your social life. They not only need to know about these changes they have to support them. This means no guilt tripping you or encouraging you to eat something you know you shouldn’t under the guise of “just one won’t kill you” or any of that bullshit. If someone isn’t supportive of your healthy lifestyle then they aren’t supportive of you.
Takes a Lot Of Heart
Or, in The Doctor’s case, two hearts. (No. Really. He has two of them.)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this is not easy. As this saying goes, if it was easy than everyone would do it. And I’m not just talking about losing weight, be it 10 pounds or 135. I’m talking about balancing a healthy lifestyle. I’m talking about giving your diet an overhaul or building up a fitness routine. It takes passion and determination and motivation. You aren’t going to wake up one day and say I’m going to lose 100 pounds or I’m going to run a marathon and then expect it to magically happen. You have to work towards that goal. You have to put in the time and energy over and over and over again. You have to continually be putting in the effort. Because, truthfully, the race that is healthy living, there is no finish line.
Those stupid fucking Weeping Angels, man. I don’t know about other Whovians, but as soon as I even just think about the Angels I start blinking uncontrollably.
Whatever healthy living change you are trying to make, don’t blink. Don’t take your eye off the ball. Be it losing weight or adding in new exercise routines or just eating better, don’t ever forget why you want the change to happen. I carry Before pictures around on my phone as a constant reminder of what I don’t want to be anymore. It’s not even just about not wanting to look like that but not wanting to weigh 311 pounds and having no energy, no life, no happiness. That is what keeps me motivated to keep going.
Bow Ties Are Cool
As are Converse sneakers. Or a striped scarf. It always sort of kills me whenever I read people (usually on stupid internet message boards) complaining about stores like Torrid because they see them as encouraging obesity, as if fat girls should be stuck wearing mumus for the rest of their life. As if forcing them to wear ugly clothes will someone force them to lose weight. I always want to yell You don’t really understand how this works, do you? Emotional eaters eat because they feel bad about themselves. They gain weight and need bigger clothes. If those bigger clothes make them look and feel like crap then they are going to continue to eat crap. So, in a way, you are encouraging obesity.
Look. Wear what you want to wear and stop worrying about the number on the tag. The clothing industry is ridiculous in that there is no sizing consistency across labels and brands. I can wear a 12 in one brand and in another it’s a 14. I could let it bother me but inside I buy whatever size makes me feel confident and happy. Trust me, people, wearing a particular size out of vanity isn’t going to do you any favors when the pants are so tight you are uncomfortable and everyone can see the muffin top.
My absolute favorite Doctor Who character is River Song. The woman is a fucking bad ass and tends to wear femme fatale noir clothing. I mean, really: what isn’t there to love about River?
One of the coolest things about River is how we are introduced to her: in her very first episode, The Doctor has no idea who the hell she is but River knows all sorts of personal information about him. Including events in his life that haven’t even happened yet (side note: the relationship between River and The Doctor was partially inspired by The Time-Traveler’s Wife, one of my favorite books). River carries around this blue journal that looks a lot like the TARDIS and in it she has a whole history/future of Doctor adventures only she refuses to tell him about any of it. Whenever someone mentions the journal she’ll just give that smile of her’s and say “Spoilers!”
We don’t know how our own stories are going to end. We don’t know what’s up ahead. We may lose more weight, we may gain it all back, or we may stay exactly where we are. There’s just no telling what life has in store for us, but that’s part of the beauty of the journey. Yes, it’s scary not knowing and it would be so much easier if I could see in the future and know that twenty or thirty years down the road I’ll still be maintaining this weight and running races and all of that. But I don’t know that and I won’t know until I get there. All I can really do is just take it one day at a time here in the present.
Bigger On the Inside
The Doctor travels in a time and space machine known as The TARDIS. It’s disguised as a big blue old-fashioned public telephone box. The running joke with the TARDIS is that it’s bigger on the inside. Like, way bigger. Swimming pool and multiple bedrooms and all sorts of timey-wimey wibbly-wobbly bigger.
We’ve all heard it before, that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, but in the case of the TARDIS it really is true. And it’s true for all of us, too. Because the TARDIS isn’t just a blue box and you are not just the number on the scale or your dress size. So never let any of those things define you or your sense of self. Eleven rocks his bow ties and Fez hats and doesn’t care what anyone thinks because he knows he has so much more to offer the world. Like, y’know, saving it.
There Will Always Be Daleks to Exterminate
No matter how many times The Doctor saves the world from the Daleks or Cybermen or whatever, they are always coming back for another fight. Healthy living — and weight maintenance in particular — is very much the same thing, because it’s a constant battle. A battle with yourself to find the motivation to wake up early and workout. A battle at the grocery store or restaurant.
Maybe battle is the wrong word as it sounds too negative. My point is just that you have to be aggressive and get after it. You can’t get lazy and allow yourself to fall back on old habits or a false sense of security, because as soon as you do that’s when the threat returns.
Can Always Regenerate
So The Doctor that will be gracing television screens across the world tomorrow night is the same character as the one who was in the original 1963 premiere. Because there is only one Doctor. There just happens to be different versions and incarnations of him. That’s why they are each given numbers. Like, say, Eleven. It’s a unique feature of the Time Lord species that allows the dying or wounded Doctor to stay alive by transforming into a new body (which often also comes with a new personality). It’s how new actors are introduced into the role (and probably how it’s managed to stay on the air for 50 years without the lead jumping the shark).
For us this means that there is always an opportunity for reinvention. A chance to try again. So you overeat at Easter dinner this weekend. Monday morning you get to wake up to a fresh day with new choices. So your most recent race time wasn’t the best. Sign up for another race and go for that PR. You fell while trying to do a headstand in yoga class. Shake it off and try again next week.
We are always a work in progress and have all the advantages and opportunities to constantly better ourselves. Don’t ever take that for granted.
Any other Whovians out there looking forward to tomorrow night’s premiere?
Love from the ashes,