They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Facing my inevitable birthday in the next few weeks, I find myself learning a lot lately and I am taking this as a sign that I am still not yet old.
At seventeen, I knew that I knew everything. Didn’t we all? At twenty-one, I still knew it all, I was just growing more wise. Around twenty-five, I began scratching my head. At twenty-seven, all I could think was, “what the fuck”? By twenty-nine, I thought I knew nothing, which in reality meant I finally knew enough. Enough to ground me soundly into my thirties where my thirst for learning about myself had been quenched, and all that was left to discover was the meaning of life. Or so I thought.
I find myself here at thirty-four full of knowledge and dare I say, “some wisdom”. I also find myself learning a lot of big ticket items about myself at a time I thought I was done learning and just sort of aging. I mean, I can meet someone at a party and know everything about them and their personality after about four hours. After 34 years with myself, what could I possibly have left to learn about Me? A lot, but at least I am gaining more clarity each day.
What on Earth am I getting at?
That was my long winded way of saying I’ve been having a lot of “aha” moments lately and I am getting ready to share my latest with you right now. I want to explain (in my personal opinion), why, for the first time ever, I am feeling not only confident that I am going to, and am in fact, taking better care of my body and I am not doing it begrudgingly or with torture to myself.
When we have a large amount of weight to lose, it becomes this big number in our mind. Let’s say we have 100 pounds to lose. Next you have to divide that into how many months you think it would take to lose. To do it healthy, you’re looking at a minimum of 9 months. Off the bat, we’ve set ourselves up with two dauntingly ominous numbers. But we’ve reached a breaking point and find strength to drudge forth and commit to beating those numbers. We put ourselves on some sort of plan, herein referred to as a diet.
Next, think of how good we are with managing our time and prioritizing projects. We know that if we have a major project to do, we know how much we need to get done immediately, how much we need to do along the way, and how much cramming we will do towards the end. That is just the way our brains are programmed.
Applying this rationale to our dieting goals, you can quickly see how we set ourselves up to fail. We start out really strong, but the second a small temptation presents itself (a cheat), it becomes really easy to say yes. Not because we aren’t strong or full of will power (which is how we have always viewed it), but instead we have this weird invisible thought that says, “well, I have 9 months to take the weight off, so this one cheat won’t matter. I have plenty of time to get this project done, er… to take this weight off, so I will go to that Bikram class or that aerobics class or the gym next week. We treat dieting like a project that we can accomplish at the end if we just cram properly. One cheat or excuse or justification easily slips into another cheat and suddenly, we’ve given up and slip into the familiar “why bother”? Then the punch in the stomach happens. That red circle we forgot we drew on our calendar and wrote, “congratulations on reaching your goals!” arrives. We look in the mirror and we are fatter than we were when we started and now psychologically we feel worse than we did nine months ago. What’s the best way to handle this type of depression? More eating and hybernating of course! Does any of this sound familiar?
Finally, my “aha” moment I promised:
I hit my personal rock bottom. I couldn’t find any motivation or inspiration, even though if I were to count my blessings and look back on my journey, things were going very well for me and that should’ve been inspiration enough. But it wasn’t. I remembered visiting Kristie Alley’s house with a friend a few years ago. He was staying with her and all of the cupboards were filled with Jenny Craig food. I will always remember him saying, “we eat all of the time, but you can’t help but lose weight!” I knew if it worked for Kristie, it would have to work for me. I was out of options.
While I did it for the obvious reasons, there has been one unexpected lesson that has come out of it and is helping me to win. Remember those ominously daunting numbers I referred to above? They have suddenly been divided by 52. Once a week, I go to my weigh-in and the days in between, I find myself making completely different decisions. My weekly goal is between 3 and 4 pounds in 7 days instead of 140 pounds in the next year. If I want to lose 4 pounds by Sunday I am conscious of what I am putting in my mouth. Four pounds is attainable! When I am seeing that I am not quite there, suddenly I am WANTING to go take a Bikram class today or go to the gym today or drive to Slimmons today without dragging my feet or putting it off until next week. I’ve given “Project Me” a weekly deadline and it is making all the difference in the world, because the competitor in me likes to meet my deadlines, or at least give it my all trying.
Here’s where it gets crazier…
It is bleeding into my personality. I am HAPPY. I am getting happier every day. Because pyschologically, I am doing right by me. I am acheiving goals. I am making this happen. It is EMPOWERING. I urge anyone who is reading this and feeling the pangs of what I was talking about above to find someone or something or some way to check in with each week. Whether it be Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers or even a spouse that you get on a scale in front of at the same time each week, I PROMISE you this makes a difference. I had always known this, but by never truly applying it, I never grasped it’s full effect and I am only sorry I didn’t realize it sooner.
I really want this for myself and I really want this for you if you are feeling the same. I’d love to see us all at the finish line a whole lot healthier and full of life!