I came across a journal entry from October 2012 where I expressed urgent need to “get this over with”. I wrote “I’m tired of this. I should be there by now. Enough already.” Half one’s life is a long time to be overweight and trying to lose weight. A year and a half later, I am compelled to take stock of how far I’ve come. I have not lost significant weight beyond the initial 50 pounds that came off very quickly for me. It’s as if I settled in to a new set-point. Five foot five and 200 pounds. I am still 80 pounds away from my ideal body weight.
But what about all the other successes? What areas am I still struggling with and how has my life changed over this eighteen months? A behavioral psychologist will tell you that changing habits can take time. Willpower is like a muscle that fatigues when used. The smaller the adjustment, the more likely that behavioral change will endure. For someone like me, I had to make loads of small changes. And I have.
I have made so many positive changes in my life that my new life seems pretty unrecognizable from the recent past. I walked away from processed foods, grains, and dairy. I don’t drink sodas. I go to bed early most nights and have enjoyed the best sleep in years. Most nights, I sleep 8-9 hours. I eat organic food almost exclusively even though doing so has meant significant social and economic sacrifice. I drink filtered water. I’ve transitioned away from plastics and now primarily use ceramic and glass in my kitchen. I use mineral rich salt. I prepare and serve my family a green smoothie for breakfast and a vegetarian school lunch 90% of school days, most of the times a raw salad. I rarely consume foods high in sugar in an effort to keep my blood sugars stable. These behaviors are solid.
Some behaviors are less ingrained and are requiring significant effort from me right now. I am serving and eating more raw vegetables than I’ve ever eaten in my life. I’m consciously adding more sulfur-rich vegetables: kale, cauliflower, and radishes to my menus. I’m learning new recipes, expanding my repertoire, experimenting with new combinations and flavors. I am on a vitamin program because of significant deficiencies diagnosed at a recent doctor’s appointment. I am supposed to take supplements daily, but I probably take them 30% of the time. It is a considerable effort for me to discipline myself to take supplements 3 times a day. I let other activities get in the way and I don’t get to it. I recently discovered lemon water which I really enjoy, but I make only 1-2 times a week. Same thing, the time gets away from me. I have begun the practice of soaking nuts and seeds (and sprouting them, when needed) and keeping them in the freezer, ready to use. I have sesame seeds and walnuts done, but I haven’t taken the step of getting pecans, macademia nuts, sunflower seeds, and the others I use regularly. I’d like to get better about rotating them through so they are ready-to-eat. I think about exercise every day. I am so up against the wall on this one, it is a huge internal struggle. A battle is raging inside me. I don’t know why I am resisting so powerfully, I really don’t know. I’m not sure what is going on with me on this one, but I need to get it handled. Exercise is the single greatest thing I could do for myself right now that I am not doing. I have many daily practices on my plate right now and I am embracing change as a process, not an event, and over time, these practices will lock in place giving room for me to take on new and greater challenges.
I am very excited about the future. Physically, I have noticed significant improvements in my mental health and brain clarity and endurance. I am able to synthesize material I learn and retell it in my own words. That is huge! I am noticing my ability to plan and organize ideas and action steps when I couldn’t do that before. I have a long way to go, but these improvements are so significant, I am encouraged.
So, maybe I haven’t achieved the perfect body yet, but I’m willing to work at it as long as necessary to establish enduring habits that will serve me for the rest of my life. It’s not a sprint, it’s not even a marathon, it’s a lifetime.