Change is never easy…not when it comes down to it. We can talk about change, envision change, even set out to change, but then we have to do the work! I have been challenged by my weight for most of my life and I have always been doing something about it. The thing is I never got to where I was going and then managed to stay there. Starting to make changes is very different to actually changing…
Because no matter how fantastic and well thought out our goals are, that’s not where the work lies. It’s in the actual doing where the success and accomplishment lies. Of course that makes perfect sense, but I’d often miss that. I love to goal set – always have! What I have come to understand over the past year was that when it came to my health & fitness, I wasn’t much of a goal-getter. I’d always start my diets and fitness endeavours with all the motivation in the world, but never seemed to be able to follow through. I’d give up when faced with the smallest of setbacks, plateaus, scale gains or any real discomfort. I’d make all sorts of excuses as I gave up as well…too hard, too busy, too restrictive, boring, unsustainable, and on and on the list would go.
What I have learned over the last year is that change takes time. There is no quick fix around developing new values around health, fitness, well-being and lifestyle. And what strikes me the most is that in most other areas in my life I have always accepted and understood this. Being in long-term recovery from substance abuse, I know that we don’t simply wish change and there it is… It’s about consistency, practice, trial-and-error, winning and learning. And yet there was always a huge, mental block for me when it came to my body.
And the obstacle in my way was not about the diet plan or the workout routine, the obstacle was me. The idea that I achieved my goals meant that I had to sustain them. That means internalising the learning, and making health and fitness a priority in my life. It means not being able to moan about this or that stupid-ass diet that didn’t work, it means ongoing work and commitment to sustaining the success. Phew, and that is where the real work has been. It’s great to be complimented on my achievement, but now it’s about following through. If I want to continue to be successful in this part of my life I have to work to stay here. I have to embrace the new habits, skills and behaviours and really ground them in my life.
No more excuses, justifications and blame. No more self-pity parties and illusions of being the victim. It’s easy to fail at the things we set out to do. I fail, it’s over. For me failure is effortless! But to become good at something takes immense amounts of energy, dedication and consistency. So what the last year has shown me is that if I want to succeed in this area of my life, it’s really just about doing the work. Not sexy, not earth shattering, not miraculous.
I always imagined that losing weight and getting into shape had some sort of magic formula that only a few were given. They were part of some secret club that shared it with those exclusive members who were let into the inner sanctum of weight loss! And of course they had it easy, because my case was special. I wasn’t like everyone else trying to get leaner, stronger and healthier. My challenges with my weight were unique and no one could possibly understand or relate to my situation. What I realise now is that there are no weight-loss, secret societies. Yes, there are some people who are genetically blessed with better metabolisms and/or body composition, but they still have to work if they want to stay fit, health and in shape. You don’t get to sit on the couch eating whatever you like, never exercising, just because your metabolism works a bit better.
I’m not one of those people. I have abused my body over the years with the constant yo-yo dieting, insane diet regimens, all-or-nothing approaches and now it’s time to be gentle. I have learned that I need to work with, nit against, my body. I need to take time to love and nurture myself through the food that I eat and the exercise that I do. After 30 something years of all of this craziness, I now know what I need to do. And the last year is not very much when I look at it in the context of life.
So I follow the plan that is taking me closer to my goal, learning to embrace the process of change and growth. I am learning to listen to the voice that takes care of me, rather than the critic that is quick to reprimand and chastise. I see food as fuel and I love a good treat (not cheat) when my plan allows for it. I don’t go to the gym to punish myself, but to build myself up. I now understand that this is a process and a lifestyle that I choose – not one that has been forced upon by the outside world. I have learned to embrace my new, still growing, values of health, well-being, fitness and strength, and that 12 months really isn’t that long given where I was. It didn’t take me a year to get out of shape and I now accept that it’s going to take more than these first 365 days to get to where I see myself. And that is ever-changing too.