Making A Change
The beginning of the year is always a time of cleansing; letting go of what happened in the past year and focusing on what to improve and centering ourselves for the year ahead. Many make resolutions or set goals and intentions for the next 365 days. Subsequently, for the remaining 364 days, we each strive to meet or exceed the expectations that we told ourselves we would do, striving to make those goals a reality. Unfortunately, a number of those goals are never reached, whether we quit or give up due to discouragement or distraction. Some of us will make it only a few weeks while others will make it months before those resolutions seem too unattainable and we throw in the towel.
In this instant gratification culture that we live, it can be detrimental to our personal successes. Have a weight loss goal and don’t see change within a few days? Many give up and say it didn’t work for them. Plan to save more money and realize that after your first paycheck you spent more than intended due to an unexpected event? Go back to your old habits. There are so many examples of this, but it all boils down to instant gratification.
Despite the desire for instant gratification, some are successful with their resolutions. Maybe they made a formal resolution, maybe they didn’t. We all have that friend or family member who completely knocked it out of the park one year. We were probably ecstatic for them but at the same time wondered to ourselves: Why can’t that be me? What am I doing wrong? How can I get there?
I used to be that person, but then one year something changed and it clicked. For me that goal that I wanted to achieve was weight loss. Plenty of friends, family members, and even doctors suggested losing weight, so it was always on my mind. I also wanted to be more comfortable, look and feel better in my clothes, and be able to fit into “straight size” clothes. For the most part I was content with my body and who I was. After years of failing attempts at taking control of my weight [I tried different diets (low carb, no carb, high protein, low fat), diet pills, exercise, etc], it all fell into place in 2014.
The thing about 2014 is that I’d finally accepted myself and loved my body. I was happy and content with who I was and with my life. I wanted better health, but didn’t know how to achieve it. I didn’t set any resolutions and frankly, I don’t think the thought even crossed my mind. In January of that year, my friend and Zumba instructor, Nancy said: Kate, this will be YOUR year. Take a picture now, and at the end of the year we’ll take another picture. As I always do, I scoffed and rolled my eyes, but I obliged her and took a picture (you can find that picture here).
When I talk about my weight loss now, people assume that it was something I set my mind to one day, did it and that was that. But the truth is, it was, and has been, a long journey. I already had incorporated exercise into my life (4hrs/week) for 3 years before my weight loss journey began. Following that photo in January 2014, Nancy challenged me to slow my intake of sugary coffee drinks. I had a habit of grabbing a venti caramel macchiato with 2% milk and extra caramel (or similar) every morning on my way to work. At first she told me to cut down the size from a venti to a grande, then she told me to that I should cut it down to once a week, then twice a month, then once a month… Within 6 months I had totally cut coffee out of my diet. As I kept cutting it out I could never decide when to treat myself so eventually I just didn’t go back for it, and I didn’t miss it!
Then in May 2014, Nancy challenged me to an 8-week challenge. If you’ve followed my journey, you may recall that we made a bet on it, as I was sure I would not be successful. I set my intention to follow the plan to the letter for 8 weeks. And you know what? Those first few weeks I didn’t see any changes, but then it started happening. If I’d acted as I had during diet plans past, I would have given up in a few days because I wasn’t instantly gratified. And then it snowballed. I saw my success and kept pushing forward, learning more about healthy diet and fitness.
While your story will be different, I can tell you what happened in my experience, that made me successful in my weight loss goals:
- Slow and steady wins the race. It’s healthy to lose weight slowly, and it takes time to change old habits.
- Set realistic goals. I didn’t set out to lose 70+lbs in one go and neither should you. Go by how your clothes fit
- Make a plan you can stick to. Small changes, like cutting out coffee or soda or adding in exercise, are normally the easiest to implement and be successful at. Start small and add more as you go.
- It takes perseverance. Fight the good fight and push through those hard moments, savor that fight and struggle. It will make you stronger in the long run.
- Be happy and don’t punish yourself for a slip-up. You must be happy with yourself and be making this change for YOU, not someone else. Likewise, life happens and you can’t sabotage yourself for those.
Remember as you set your 2017 resolutions and begin working towards each of them that this is just one part in your journey and each day is one page in your story. Reaching goals, especially lofty ones takes time. The road will probably be long and windy, with ups and downs, but it’s about consistency and staying the course. We’re going for the long game, not the short game.
Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today, right?