Today is my 35th birthday. I don’t have any great recipes or photos for you today, but I have a few thoughts I’d like to share. They say that with age comes wisdom. At the ripe old age of 35, I guess I’m just wise enough to see the virtue of posting some words of wisdom from others on the side of my refrigerator. I tore this out of a magazine last year, and it has been hanging on the fridge for months now. I glance at it fairly often. I think it provides some good ideas and some food for thought.
I like the idea of this list because, as it says at the top, it is all about “Whole Living.” After all, there is certainly more to my life than my weight loss and fitness goals. Having said that, it is interesting to me that so many of the items on this list can be placed in the context of those challenges. Here are some “wise” thoughts (also known as random musings and possibly ramblings) from the birthday girl on a few of my favorites from the list:
When you commit your dreams to paper, you give them a place to take root. Although I’ve never been one to keep a journal or a diary (although this blog might be a sign of change in that area…), I am a bit of a list maker. For as long as I can remember, “lose weight” was always at the top of my list of things I’d like to accomplish. Now that I’ve made so much progress toward reaching my weight goal, I’m happy to make lists with different things in the number one slot for the first time ever in my life. Perhaps those lists in years past had something to do with my success. Maybe they didn’t. What I’m sure of is that the process of thinking about what went on the lists was a great way for me to pinpoint the things upon which I needed to focus. Having a clear focus made it possible for me to identify the steps I needed to take in order to accomplish my goals.
Be mindful of where you put your attention. The shape of your life will follow. Focusing on healthy eating and exercise has certainly been necessary in order for me to get where I am at this point. I don’t think I have to tell you that. Beyond the obvious, however, I’ve been making an effort in this new year to put my attention on positive things rather than negative ones. I feel that when I focus on positive things, I’m more likely to get positive results. Negativity, for me, usually just results in whining and wallowing which tend to provide negative and counterproductive outcomes. Being grateful and finding things to celebrate each day gives me a much more optimistic outlook about many things in my life, and that includes my ability to achieve my goals.
When you view your health as nonnegotiable, your priorities automatically shift. Making up my mind that it was time to lose this weight led to a number of shifts in my life. In order to be successful, my daily menu and my exercise goals had to move up pretty high on my list of priorities. Otherwise, I would likely have spent most of my time getting sidetracked by other priorities and not really seeing the kind of progress that keeps me motivated. Before, socializing would have been my priority, and now, friends can tell you, I sometimes turn down social invitations in favor of getting in my time at the gym. For much of my life, I was concerned about satisfying every little craving (can you say “donuts!”), and now, while I might enjoy a donut at the end of the day, I’m concerned about meeting my nutrition goals first. While I set out consciously to change certain habits, I didn’t consciously set out to specifically change my priorities. By taking steps that put a focus on my health and my goals, I believe it is true that the priorities really did just sort of shift that way on their own.
Positive change starts with truth, and no one knows it better than you. I could spend all day pretending that I ate less or exercised more than I really did. Other people might even believe me. That’s great, but it wouldn’t ever get me anywhere. Without ultimately owning up to myself and recognizing the bad habits that needed to be changed, I would have been doomed to failure. I think one of the easiest (and worst) people to lie to is yourself. Being honest with myself about the changes that needed to be made gave me a stable foundation and a clear and true starting point to build on. This is one of my favorites on this list. It applies to so many areas of life, and is always good to remember.
Learning to let go begins with understanding why you’ve been hanging on. Losing weight can be scary. Losing a lot of weight can be really scary. There is a certain amount of security in staying locked away in an overweight identity if that is the identity you have always known, and there is room for a bit of an identity crisis as you peel away the layers. Is it possible to “hang on” to extra weight in order to stay in a comfort zone identity? Feel free to disagree with me, but I think the answer is yes. Could a fear of failure cause a person to avoid trying to reach a big weight loss goal and leave them “hanging on” to the weight rather than letting go of it? Again, I think the answer is yes. A person could “hang on” to extra pounds for lots of reasons. I’m still not sure that I can tell you exactly why I held on to the weight for as long as I did, but it might have been, in part, a fear of failure. It could also have been a fear of the unknown. What I do know is that if I hold on to a book with both hands, and then let go with my right hand, I’m still stuck holding on to the book with my left hand. In the same way, A person can take some steps toward letting go of extra pounds, but, at the same time, continue “hanging on” by sabotaging their own efforts. I think this is a useful question to ponder, and I plan to think about it some more in the days to come.
There’s no way to grow without taking risks. I assumed the risk of failure when I decided to embark upon this weight loss road, but I also assumed the risk of success. As a result of my decision, I’ve grown so much as a person and in my level of health as well. I know, in retrospect of course, that it would have been a shame if I had decided differently. I have also grown so much in my level of confidence and fitness by my willingness to risk looking silly, uncoordinated and un-athletic while trying new activities. I felt certain that I would get unwelcoming looks when I started going to the gym. I was concerned about having P.E. class flashbacks when I started working out with my trainer. I just knew that I was going to look like a crazy muppet trying to kickbox. While I’m certainly not the best at any of these things, I’ve grown to understand that if I do my best, that’s enough. In a literal sense, I’ve also grown stronger, more coordinated and more confident moving around in the world. I’m so glad that I decided to take those risks. If they sound sort of silly and not that risky to you, believe me when I tell you that doing those things took some major steps for me. I don’t regret taking those steps one bit!
That’s all I have to say this evening. I just think that a birthday is a perfect time to look back and see what you have accomplished and to think about what you would like to achieve in the next year. I have so much to be thankful for and so much to look forward to. Thanks for letting me ramble on.