On respect for where you are.
“Every journey begins with a single step.” So says Lao Tzu. I wholeheartedly agree. And whether the journey is the path to fitness, first level, or climbing a mountain, consistent steps will eventually allow one to reach one’s destination.
On my weight-loss journey, in order to make consistent progress, sometimes it is wise to pause and reflect on where I am at that moment.
Imagine a rock climber who is climbing a summit. Sometimes, one must pause in the actual climbing to assess such matters as where the next safe spot is to put one’s hand or foot.
To be consistent in fitness or in riding, the same rules of travel apply. Where am I now? How did I arrive at this point? What lies ahead? How do I take the next step? And the next?
Where am I now? I’m on a plateau. I’ve lost over twenty pounds in 2017, but no major weight loss for about four months now. If I focus on the plateau, it can be semi-depressing. But if I look at how far I’ve come – I weighed 207 pounds on Christmas Day, 2016 – I realize I’m much further along the path to my overall goal of fitness than I was this time last year. Reflecting on my past success inspires me to remain focused on my overall destination and carry on through the uninspiring times, like this present plateau.
How did I arrive at this point of twenty-plus pounds lost and down two clothing sizes? By making wiser choices about food, increasing my exercise, and learning why I tend to overeat when I am stressed or feeling negative emotions. By learning to remain mindful of what I put in my mouth, no matter what the situation.
If I’m happy and want to celebrate with ice cream or some other treat, I take the time to ponder that decision. Sometimes, I still indulge in the treat. Because I’ve taken a few moments to consciously choose to eat it and figure out how I will offset the indulgence within my overall eating plan, I then enjoy it very much because I’m focused on enjoying the treat instead of wolfing it down with a very unnecessary and useless side order of guilt.
Other times, I choose to forego the treat because I now understand that the accumulation of too many indulgences – celebrations or comfort sessions centered on non-nutritious foods – are what got me so overweight in the first place.
If I’m sad and want to “stuff down” – literally – those negative emotions with food, I now take the time to reflect on the emotions and recognize them for what they are: legitimate feelings that deserve to be expressed in a healthy way, such as exercise or some creative endeavor instead of a self-sabotaging way like overeating, which is only going to add to my negative emotions because the post-food-fest guilt demons are going to be screaming what an utter failure I am, which is a Big. Fat. Lie.
Side note regarding expressing negative emotions in a healthy way: drumming is one of my very favorite things to do when I am sad or angry. I take all that negative energy and pound away! It’s fun, it’s creative, many calories are burned, and – bonus – music is made! Talk about a win-win! And drumming is so instinctive, anyone can drum. I’m not trying to be the next percussionist of the London Symphony Orchestra, so I don’t worry about whether my rhythms are primitive versus sophisticated. I’m drumming for fun and to express those emotions so I can “grow on” in my fitness journey.
What lies ahead? A whole new round of personal growth to get the next ten pounds gone, apparently. Consistent growth is not necessarily, well, “consistent.” Sometimes it happens in spurts (insert mental image of your favorite young horse – does “butt high” come to mind?) and then nothing seems to be happening for a bit until the next growth spurt happens.
My present path is like that butt-high yearling, and I realize the emotional terrain ahead, for me, is somewhat steep and rocky.
How do I take the next step? In a word, deliberately. Trail riders and endurance riders understand this word so very well. A steep, rocky slope cannot be galloped up blindly, but, rather, it must be traversed with deliberate care as to where each hoof is safe to step.
When we’re out riding and come into a level, grassy field that we know is safe and without leg-breaking holes, a full-out romping gallop is an exhilarating option. We can set our eye to the end of the field and let our horse run “wide open.”
With tough, steep inclines, however, we focus our vision to just a few feet ahead of where we are in the moment. We keep our pace slow enough to assure the safety of our riding partner and ourselves as we climb to the summit.
So, as I look ahead to reaching my next mini-goal of thirty pounds gone, I now understand I can’t rush madly forward, trying to force the weight off. I must be deliberate in my personal growth, nutritional choices, and exercise, and allow the weight to come off whenever it comes off.
During this delightful but nutritionally treacherous time we call, “the holidays,” it is wise to approach each food-focused event with the deliberateness that will assure continued success throughout the season.