I’m done with the whole “New Year, New Me” thing. Saying something like that would make me a liar. The truth is, I woke up the same on Wednesday, January 1st as I did on Tuesday, December 31st… well, I did pick up a nasty cold. But you get what I mean. My name was still Stacey.
For too many years, I told myself that I was going to make some sort of positive change on Monday (mainly to lose weight). Oddly enough, Monday never came. I would just allow myself to make a few extra less than healthy decisions the weekend before, digging a deeper hole, and never doing anything to reconcile it. I’m not sure why it was too hard for me to believe that I was capable of a happier, healthier life. I guess it was too easy to stay stuck. And so the weight just kept coming, week after week and year after year.
Sometimes I would actually start exercising or cut out a candy bar here or there, but by the end of day 1- MAYBE day 2- I was done. It was too overwhelming to think about the bigger picture- how much weight I really needed to lose, or NEVER eating chocolate again, or dealing with 2nd day exercise soreness… excuses were my easy out.
Every year around this time, gyms and produce aisles are flooded with eager “Resoluters.” They feel an awakened sense of determination to really make it this time. And to those people I say: “GO YOU! Welcome to a better way of life!” I encourage you to stick with it, even if a negative voice in your head starts to creep in and whisper lies and excuses. Know that you are stronger than that voice, and every.little.bit counts. It took me 16 years to get to 300+ pounds, and I assure you it will take me working at it the rest of my life to stay healthy.
Instead of thinking about all of the ways I need to change myself in 2014, I spent my New Year’s Eve celebrating the blessings that 2013 brought. I married a wonderful man, moved into our first home, fell in love with a black lab named Abby, welcomed my first nephew, traveled to new places, got to know some great people, and faced some health problems head-on. Good and bad, it all helped to shape me into who I woke up as this morning.
Let’s try something new this year. Let’s not wait for 2015 to work on that goal. Let’s not wait for Monday. Let’s just start now. Believe in yourself enough in this moment to take the first step… and then keep walking. (or skipping)
I like to ask a LOT of questions. Evidence of this: in 5th grade my teacher made me write 250 times “I will not be inquisitive” after one particularly lengthy question-answer session during a history class. (At the time I did not know what that word meant; I do now.)
I find myself continuously asking questions about pretty much everything I do: Why am I doing this? Is there a better way?
We’re just a few days into the New Year. How are those “resolutions” or “goals” treating you? Are you still going?
It’s hard to do something without understanding/knowing/having a purpose. Even the little seemingly insignificant things have a reason. You drink a glass of water because thirst is a basic human need. You wear clothes in the winter so you don’t freeze outside. You go to class to learn and pass in hopes to obtain a degree. You get a job to pay for expenses.
In my last post I talked about taking a new approach to achieving your goals this year, and part of it included listing your reasons for wanting to change things. This is so important.
If you have decided to lose weight this year, why? To help your clothes fit better? To be able to shop in a clothing section reflective of people your age instead of grandma’s? To feel better about yourself?
If you’ve decided to exercise more this year, why? To have more energy throughout the day? To sculpt and tone? To complete some sort of physical feat?
Do you run races without a finish line? No. That would be simply running and running and running… and totally ridiculous. You need to have a reason for doing things. You want to cross a finish line and prove to yourself that you CAN.
If you find yourself already struggling to “stick to task” with those resolutions (which over 90% of people do at some level), take a few minutes to close your eyes and think about your motives. You might find that little extra “umph” that you need to REALLY achieve whatever your goals might be this time around.
What are your greatest motivators?
Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? It’s always “cute,” in theory:
You reflect over all of the things that you need to improve, change, or “fix” about yourself and contemplate solutions. When January 1 rolls around (or maybe 2), you hit the ground RUNNING.
Suddenly the gym becomes a priority,
you add a few more fruits and vegetables to your plate,
you hit the sheets an extra hour earlier,
you trade your cup of coffee for a glass of water,
you start wearing your seatbelt,
you find time to try a new hobby or sharpen your skills of a previous one,
you start cooking more meals…
and about a week later it all stops. Game over.
It takes, on average, about 3 weeks to either break a habit or form a new one. But most of us don’t have 3 weeks, we have RIGHT NOW.
Am I right?
For however many decades you’ve tried this hit-your-head-against-the-wall method, it hasn’t worked so well. Why not take a new approach?
This year, we’re not going to look at the big pictures.
We’re starting today. And we’re working on today.
Not next month, not 10 pounds, not 3 dress sizes.
Here’s what I suggest you try:
- Take a piece of paper. (Preferably something that’s pretty or eye-catching… but that’s just me.) And save room for “incentives.”
- On the top of the page, write down ONE goal, one thing that you are going to do today that positively aligns with a healthy eating choice you’d like to work on. (i.e. I will eat 1/2 cup vegetables with every meal or measure my food into correct serving sizes.)
- In the middle of the page, write why you are doing these “things.” And I don’t mean something ridiculous like, “To finally be a size 2.” Think of something like “To be an example for my family/friends.” “Because I care about my health.” “I want to feel better.”
- On the bottom of the page, write down ONE thing that you are going to do today/this week that positively aligns with some form of physical activity. (i.e. I will spend 30 minutes at the gym 3 times this week or I will lift weights one extra time this week or I will try a new exercise class this week.)
- Work on each of those “things” TODAY. Don’t think about tomorrow (unless you need to mindfully plan when you are going to hit your 3 gym sessions in advance).
- WHEN (notice, I did not say “if”) you reach your goal, give yourself a cool sticker. (No laughing; it works!)
Now, for the next month you are ONLY held accountable for these two things. When the new month hits, put up 2 new “things” you’re going to add/switch in your lifestyle.
It’s a little less stressful and unapproachable when you think in baby steps instead of leaps.
It took me 2 years total to lose over 100 pounds, and over 10 years later, I’m still trying to figure things out. We are all a work in progress.
Just keep moving forward.
And if you have an “off” day, forgive yourself immediately and be ready to get right back at it the next day. You’re worth every effort.
Just keep moving forward.
Two little things at a time.