After my first blog, many asked me “What are you doing? What’s your secret to your weight loss?” Honestly, the hardest part is not what I am physically changing, but what I am mentally changing about me during this journey. So let’s start there, because the mental aspect of weight loss is so much more difficult to explain and even that much harder to conquer than the physical aspects.
Why do we count down our days to goals as if our successes are only final destinations and not just visits along the journeys of our lives?
My lifelong struggle with my health is directly related to my misunderstanding that because I am “starting” somewhere then I must also “finish” this journey somewhere; this is just not the case. Who ever gave us this ridiculous notion that there is an “end” to healthy journeys needs to be fried & covered in Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce and served with a side of coleslaw, collards, and buttered biscuits.
Our bodies are ever-evolving, aging, and changing, bringing with these changes the needs for different nutrients, activity levels, and energy requirements. There is no end to those progressions. Yet, we always speak in finite language (ex: “Once I lose this 25lbs…” or “After I can fit into this size…”). This type of thinking sets us up for failure, but we still default to this “end-focused” mindset. Why? Because it is COMFORTING to believe that there is a finish line somewhere, that we can do all this work on our bodies and get to the point that we don’t have to work on them anymore (if only, right?!).
This healthy process is EXHAUSTING mentally, emotionally, and physically (and I would bet that it is more mentally-taxing than it is physically-taxing). Part of what makes this journey so exhausting is that there is no checkered flag waving at some endpoint. When I was in power-lifting, I had actual deadlines because of competitions. That is normal for someone still active in athletics. However, for the majority of people who are not still involved in sports, that external reward system is no longer a source of motivation. Yes, we have little goals, like fitting into my favorite pair of black jeans from 2009 or being able to sit on literally anything without analyzing its structural integrity first. But, these are not finish lines, they are simply checkpoints that remind us that our efforts are not fruitless, that we are accomplishing SOMETHING besides resisting donuts and ice cream 24/7 (which I am sure is a form of cruel and unusual punishment).
A lot of people I encounter along this process ask me “How much do you want to lose?” They are usually looking for a number as an answer, but I am always thinking:
“ummm, all of it would be nice.”
That is another issue I have discovered with my journey: When you have been obese for all of your existence, you don’t know what you’re aiming for because you never really had a starting point to get back to. Matter of fact, I have no friggin’ clue what I will look like as a “fit” person, because I have never been a “fit” person (see my first blog for further clarification). It is frustrating to have to continuously reach for some ambiguous figure that no one can identify and it is intimidating to have to repeatedly conjure up answers to others’ questions that you have yet to answer for yourself.
Many people, including myself, have started healthy journeys by counting down to some special date like a wedding where we need to fit into a certain dress or the summer for a new bathing suit. Those special days come and go whether we ended up fitting that god-awful bridesmaids dress or throwing a cover-up on over our tankini or not. Then, we get into the habit of choosing the next date we’ll count down to, not realizing that this process is never-ending (well, unless we want to get a lil’ morbid…).
So, part of this journey for me is transforming not only my body but my mentality when it comes to my health and outlook on life. I no longer am counting down to dates, events, etc because I know that sometimes, I won’t always hit whatever arbitrary date-related goal I have set for myself. In order to keep my sanity, I have to realize that
EVERY DAY IS DAY ONE.
This small change in phrasing is reinforcing to me that every day is a new chance to make small, consistent improvements in my intake, my daily activities, my study schedule, my relationships, and literally every aspect of my life. What I ate yesterday and whatever workout I have planned for tomorrow mean little-to-nothing in comparison to the impact I can have on myself and others TODAY. This is also a way to remind myself that while I have made GREAT accomplishments in my past regarding my weight, I can’t live in those moments and forget to continue my growth.
I should’t ride the coattails of my previous accomplishments when I know that I have so many more accomplishments to go.
Yes, you should feel proud of yourself for hitting the little goals along your path, but don’t dwell in that pride in order to cover up your lack of progress towards your next goals. Also, if we don’t do what we are supposed to do, we shouldn’t dwell on those mistakes or they will drag us down mentally and it’ll make it that much harder on ourselves to recover.
Matter of fact, I am struggling with that RIGHT NOW. I got out of my workout routine during this first 2-week break from medical school, I haven’t meal prepped in over a week, and I certainly haven’t been tracking my foods (RIP to my 100+ day MFP streak). And, I have certainly been riding the coattails of the hard work I put in between May and now while not holding to that same level of commitment.
Yet another big shift in my mentality is being honest with myself in both positive and negative aspects. I know that I haven’t been doing what I should have been doing in regards to my health, and I know that I am causing myself future troubles by stalling my progress. However, I realize that I have every ounce of determination in me to get back on track and continue towards a healthier me, no matter how long that takes (*cringe*).
So, here is my nod to the innumerable “Day One’s” we will inevitably encounter along our journeys. It sucks to admit that we will fail at times, that we may stumble off the path of the FitGods. We may try to set arbitrary deadlines for ourselves, but as long as we realize that every day is a new opportunity to make small, consistent improvements, we’ll be just fine.
Happy Day One!…..again… and again…… and again…