Kindness? Compassion? Health?
When I saw the “word of the year” idea on both various blogs I follow and groups I belong to, I knew that was something I just had to do. I’m soon-to-be 43 and for most of my life I’ve set goals and created plans to achieve them. This is never more so than at the start of a new year, which sends me into a giddy frenzy of pie-in-the-sky thinking followed by visions of the me that will be looking in the mirror come 365 days later. Thinner. Healthier. More accomplished.
But on the first of January 2017, the me that looked in the mirror was some 3 kg (over 6 and a half pounds) heavier than the one that saw in January 2016, continuing the trend of a 3 kg weight gain every year for the last five years, after a lifetime of being thin. She had not run a half marathon. In fact, she hadn’t run at all since about March. She had finished her Master’s degree. But that was going to happen New Year’s Resolution or not.
So I looked at myself with the muffin top hanging over the skirt that had looked pretty good on me last year, and thought, What the hell happened? How had I become this person?
Now this isn’t a post about weight loss, or loving yourself as you are, or anything else. It’s about how those five years just happen to coincide with meeting and marrying the absolute love of my life. And how during those years we developed some unhealthy habits, such as Friday night treats of king-sized blocks of chocolate, that along with pre-menopause (that’s my argument even if the blood tests haven’t supported it), have led to me being 15 kg heavier (over 33 pounds) than when we met. It’s about how even if I went on diets, calorie counted, exercised and did whatever, the more consistent repetition, day in, day out, of what was going in my mouth was what had the effect. (Much to my annoyance they have worked the other way with my husband, who has LOST five kg since we got together).
The thing is, we are not what goals we set. We are not some untapped potential waiting to be realised. We are what we do. Every day.
And what I’ve been doing every day is eating too much of the wrong things. Those habits stopped any form of progress I made through running, fasting, whatever.
Now, if that anecdote doesn’t work for you, think about this. About six years ago I gave up my dream to be a writer, after close to 15 years of effort. The other day on Amazon, I saw one of the women who was part of my writers’ group, who, back when I quit, was behind me in terms of interest we were getting from agents and publishers. She had 42 books for sale. And clearly people were reading them, because some had over 400 reviews. What was the difference between us?
I had stopped.
And when I stopped, I stopped learning, I stopped moving forward, and I stopped my dream.
How many of you set yourself a resolution for this year that went something like this…
“I’m going to lose 10 kg this year. I might do something like calorie count Monday – Saturday, and then Sunday I can have a cheat day. But I can eat whatever I like if we go out, because we don’t go out that much. And when we have a morning tea shout at work. And…”
“I’m going to run a half-marathon… so I guess I have to run three times a week. I want to have the weekends free though… And I won’t be able to do any then because we’re going on holiday…And I can’t go running today because I’m tired…”
“I’m going to work on my blog for two hours a day, five days a week, but I won’t be able to do it that week because we have reports due, and I need to have my weekends free to just relax…”
Thinking about this now, it seems that when I started to plan my goals, I was always looking for a way out of them, as though to do them was some form of imposition on my ideal life (which truth be told, seemed to be sitting in front of the tv with a bowl of ice-cream).
The crazy thing about that was, these goals were meant to make my ideal life happen.
Now I know something about long-term lifestyle change, because after a decent struggle, I quit drinking over ten years ago. So I know I have what it takes.
And I know what the difference is between the goals I’ve set in the past and my sobriety. See, I am sober every single day. I don’t give myself choices about drinking. I don’t put caveats on when it will or won’t happen. I just knuckle down and do it. It is a daily commitment, a daily habit.
And after ten years, it’s not even something I think about much anymore. It’s just part of who I am.
So that’s why I haven’t set myself any goals for this year. Nope- not one.
But I have decided to bring in some extra habits into my life. Some non-negotiable, I’m in every day, all day, no matter what, habits.
I’m going to walk those dogs every day – even when it’s raining. I’m going to work on my blog in some form every day – even when the day job is intense. I’m going to eat food that makes me feel good after I’ve eaten it– not when it goes into my mouth. In the morning when I wake up I’ll tell myself I just have to think about doing them today. And then when I wake up tomorrow, I’ll start them all over again.
That’s how you make a habit. That’s how you make a change.
Who’s with me?