Some people have the ability to imagine the future. I’m not one of those people. When I want to make a change, whether it be a small one like redecorating or a large one like changing professions, I need to take one step at a time and then regroup. So I buy a new painting for my living room, hang it, and then pause before making additional purchases. Or I get a part-time job as a wellness coach at the Y and give myself time to settle in before I decide what to do next to earn additional money in a meaningful way. Whatever change I make, I need time to live with it, to see how it alters things, to see how I feel about it. Only then, and slowly at that, will I have a sense of what I want to do next. And then the process begins all over again.
Awhile back I wrote a testimonial for my personal trainer. It ended with the following:
Even though I got a late start, I’m now in the best shape of my life. I’ve got a ways to go to meet my goals but for the first time I truly believe I’m going to attain those goals.
I know now that I was lying to myself when I wrote that last sentence because I didn’t actually believe that I was in it for the long haul. Deep down, I was pretty certain that I didn’t have the determination or discipline needed to get to my ideal weight, whatever that might be. What I expected was that at some point I would become content enough and then I would stop trying. In truth, I had no clear picture in my head of where I was headed at all. Any progress I made was fueled by my desire to get as far away as possible from where I had been when I first started changing my life around. It was about running away…from being overweight, from not inhabiting my body, from not being authentic, from feeling numb, from being on automatic pilot. And running away is different, very different, from running towards something that you value.
Don’t get me wrong. Running away has fueled many positive changes over the last few years. But I’m finding that I’m now in want of a new energy source. I want to run away less and strive towards more. This means being motivated less by fear of gaining weight back and being motivated more by wanting to give my body what it needs to function well. If this is what I want, two questions come to mind: what changes am I willing to make to get there; and, will I be content to proceed at my usual cautious rate? Much to my surprise, I’ve discovered that the answer to the latter question is a resounding “no!” So, in a move that is uncharacteristically bold for me, I’m committing myself to following a well-balanced but regimented eating plan for the next 30 days. I’m plagued by doubts about my ability to adhere to the plan – what if I end up being hungry all the time or find that I can’t socialize with people the way I want to because of my restricted diet? What if I’m no longer the “me” I’ve always known because suddenly I have a different relationship with food? On the other hand, what if I’m successful and make significant progress towards getting to a healthy weight and feel fantastic in the process? I don’t know which outcome scares me the most. But I want to find out. Wish me luck!