Thursday, 20 September 2012

How I am trying not to lose my mind

Photo courtesy Justin See, licensed CC-BY-SA-ND

I am about 1/3 of the way through this ever-so-gradual journey to fitness, and it is, I confess, daunting to think that I have twice again as much effort and commitment still to put in as I have managed to accomplish to date.  In other words, if I have accomplished any milestones thus far in my travels, I still have to accomplish just as much two times more before I am done.

The mere thought of that is exhausting.  And frustrating.  I want my immediate gratification, and I want it now!

So that I do not lose my mind at the thought of all the work I still have left to do, I thought I would reflect on some habits that I am trying to internalize that can help me along the way.

1. I am my own person.  Comparing myself to others is the quick road to depression.
If life has taught me anything, it is that although we are not all precious snowflakes, we are all individuals.  My body is not built like anyone I know.  The peculiar mix of my family history and Mendelian genetics is not replicated by anyone else in the world.  So why should I look at other people as a benchmark for how I "should" look, or what I "ought to" do?  It's fine for me to be inspired by others, but lining myself up against a fitter, smarter, more attractive person will demotivate me faster than anything else in the world.   And there is always a fitter, smarter, more attractive person lurking out there.  I can't let myself get sucked in to the comparison game.

2. Consistency, consistency, consistency.  [repeat]
I am a boring person, I will admit.  I am not quite so predictable that you could set your watch by me, but I do like me some routine.  Routine is comfortable.  Routine is understandable.  Routine allows me to plan my day for success.  I know when, how, and how long I am going to work out each day, and I am getting better at knowing what to eat and how much.  Having a predictable selection set of healthy choices makes it easier for me to stay on track.  Doing roughly the same thing every day (exercising every day, sticking to a healthy meal plan) makes it easy for my body to cope with the demands I am putting on it.  It has also helped me to almost entirely eliminate food cravings.  Scratch that -  I still get food cravings, don't think I am superwoman - but the cravings are manageable.  I haven't binged in months, and am slowly learning to have the discipline to control my moods and their impact on my food choices.  Doing the same good things day after day is helping me set up habits and patterns that will become second nature in time.

3. Accept that there is no quick fix. 
As my mother says "the weight did not go on all at once, so it won't come off all at once".  I am by nature impatient with many things, and it causes me great frustration to have to patiently follow the plan and see the results.  I see my impatience in how frustrated I get at my blood sugars and their stubborn refusal to come down in any material way.  I also see my impatience in how frustrated I get when my Friday weigh ins do not go as planned/hoped.  The reality is that my brain knows that it will take me another full year or more to lose the weight and (hopefully) bring my sugars under control.  Emotionally, though, that tiny dinosaur part of my brain wants total success all at once.  I don't know when I am going to learn zen-like patience, but if it's anything like weight loss, it will be a long time coming.  Sigh.

4. Persistence pays dividends.  
This is a marathon, not a sprint.  Ask anyone who is trying to make a lifestyle change. It's such a cliche because it's true.  And, as with any long term project, there will be days that are good, and days that are bad.  Occasional backsliding is more than made up for by continued focus on the plan day after day.  I consider getting healthy to be like a gradual war of attrition on my unhealthy habits and overweight self.  Over time, my stubborn self will wear down those bad habits. 

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