We’ve all heard the cliché, “Patience is a virtue,” but when it comes to reaching a goal, all I want to do is get there NOW. In an instantly gratified society I’m tempted to reach for the new “best new product” or “quick fix” when it comes to weight loss. I spent years indulging myself and ignoring the advice of my body, why should I spend time and effort to fix the problem when I can just take care of it with the latest fad? What is the catch? The catch is: you won’t learn your lesson with a quick fix and the cycle will continue.
True, lasting change comes from growth. I’ve spent years knowing what is good for me. I knew the foods I should eat and why. I knew I should eat them in smaller portions. I knew I should be getting exercise on a daily basis and get a routine going. I knew I needed to reign in my stomach and my wallet because what I was doing was not good for me. Knowing and doing are two very different things. Sometimes I would do. I’d eat right some of the time and exercise a little bit. I’d start a program and like it until something distracted me, or I got sick/injured, or it was someone’s birthday and I HAD to eat a piece of cake…and that brownie…and that latte the next morning…and the week after that. (You see where this leads.) I could have used a pill or a crash diet or surgery-some people have great results with those things- however my understanding from the people with whom I’ve spoken use those things to avoid the change, skipping the growth. The people I know who have had the most success are the people who start small, one step at a time, until that one action becomes a habit, and those habits link together to form a routine, and whose routines continue to expand until they create the fabric of their lifestyle. These are a few of the nuggets of wisdom I’ve gleaned and am trying to implement into my own life and daily choices:
- Create a road map to your goal. When you’re taking a trip, you don’t just click your heels and go from Maryland to California. You look at a map, figure out which route your going to take, pick the cities you’re going to stop in, and plan how long it is going to take to get there. For example, don’t just say, “I’m going to lose 60 pounds.” Say, I’m going to lose 60 pounds by this date next year. That gives me 2 months to lose each 10 lbs, so I plan to be x weight by one month, x weight by two months, etc.
- Pick the best mode of transportation. Everyone has a different preference when it comes to, well, everything. Eating well and exercising is no exception. I am not a runner. I want to like it, but it is just not my thing. (One day I WILL complete a 5k, but that is a different mountain I need to climb.) I like zumba, I LOVE yoga (when I can afford to go to a studio), and I love my Beachbody workouts (like the 21 Day Fix) from the convenience of my home. Find what works for you and do it. Which way will get you to your destination the best? Would you rather take a scenic drive or a nonstop flight? Which one can you see yourself sticking with for the duration of the journey?
- Find people who will travel with you. One of the reasons I am doing so well right now on my fitness journey is because my Beachbody coach and support group is amazing. Having the right amount of accountability-and let’s be honest, someone to bitch to every once in awhile- can be the difference between sticking with a program and falling off the wagon. Sometimes I’ve been too scared to share my goals and struggles in the past because of how I thought people would perceive me. Lately I’ve realized that we need to share, because so many people out there are going through the same things and need to know that they are not alone. Sometimes we need people to engage on our trip instead of just sleeping beside us in the car the whole way.
- Stop and appreciate the surroundings every once in awhile. There are some people who like to go nonstop from point A to point B with tunnel vision on and are disciplined enough to stay focused the whole time. I am not that person. I love spontaneity, hate routines, and get bored with monotony. Though planes get me places faster, I love car trips. I love seeing the landscape change and getting to intimately know the road I’m traveling. On my weight loss journey, I’ve been keeping a list of the positive changes I see daily to remind myself that progress is being made-even when I can’t tell from a mirror or a scale. Those minor victories may be stops on the way to my destination, but by acknowledging them, by embracing the change instead of just seeing how far I still have left to go, I learn to keep moving forward so I can see how far I’ve come.
- Learn how to navigate detours. For me this is the hardest step, but the most important. There will always be a reason to quit-and excuse to hinder my progress. I have a weight chart from the last couple of years that looks like a mountain range with gradual drops and steep inclines. There was always something that got in my way and caused me to backslide. If you’re traveling and make it a quarter of the way across country and hit a traffic jam or get a flat tire are you just going to turn around and head home? No! Learning how to accept the obstacle, find a way around it, and keep going is paramount. Knowing that a detour is not a road closure means you can still get there, even if you have to do some creative problem solving to make it.
Sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination. Though my goal right now is to lose weight, my journey to health will last me a lifetime. With the right tools and support, I look forward to enjoying that path, leading me toward new goals I haven’t even dreamed yet. Don’t limit yourself when you can explore new possibilities every day.