Monday, January 5, 2009

The Path to Gradual Change

I am going to be following along as Sally at Aprovechar lays out her series for better self care in 2009. I think this will be a great complement to what I’m trying to do with the Beck Diet. I have the goal of gradually making changes to improve my health but I get easily sidetracked by my impatience. I want to relax and slowly make changes but it’s like I want to take advantage of this motivation that I feel – make the most of it, I guess. But I realize that this approach has NOT worked for me in the past and has only led to disappointment. I need to give myself the gift of letting this process take as long as it takes.

It’s funny how I seemed to grasp the concept so much more easily when it came to the financial overhaul. That process of getting rid of my credit card debt took 4 years – a time that seemed so long at the beginning. Now that those debts are gone, I feel so proud of what I have accomplished. But I am not so na├»ve to think of it as “finished”. I have to practice what I’ve learned every single day so that I do not return to a life of living beyond my means. I funnel that energy into saving for the future now and I am very confident in my ability to stick with it and reach my goals. I want that feeling to extend to how I approach my health/weight.

I love that Sally is outlining a series of concrete steps for this process. Yes, I want to make gradual changes. But how? She has a plan and has graciously decided to lay it out, step by step, every two weeks. Step One is to Embrace Gradual Change. I’m going to post about how I am taking her advice and implementing her strategies, starting here with my thoughts regarding her ground rules outlined in Step One (her words are italicized):

1. Accept where you are: I have a lot of difficulty with this one. I am not at all happy with myself for getting to this point. I realize that I need to let this go, however. Feeling bad about myself is doing me no favors. I have to start where I am right now and focus on what I need to achieve my goal, not focus on my past mistakes.

2. Be gentle with yourself in general: It’s funny how my inner voice is so much nastier when talking to me than anyone else. I’d never chastise others for mistakes or try to make them feel bad for slipping up. They’re only human, after all. I need to apply this to myself and not berate every false move. I also have to beware of the opposite danger: the “I don’t care” monster. It’s like a switch in my brain. I can only take so much nit-picking from the nasty voice until I give up and stop worrying about it all together. I need to stay in tune with what I’m trying to accomplish without being overly critical of the fact that it’s not going to be a “perfect” journey.

3. Trust yourself to take care of yourself: I need to dig deep on this one. How can I trust myself when I’ve failed to accomplish this goal of weight loss so many times? I am so amazed that Sally found a way to change her life/become healthier without counting anything. I simply don’t trust myself to find a way to do this without some sort of math involved! I know intellectually that this is ridiculous, but it remains true, just the same. All of my adult life I’ve either been losing weight or gaining it. I’ve never just sat comfortably at a particular weight. How on earth could I just “eat healthy” and still actually lose weight? It’s never happened before. If I don’t have a particular plan to focus on (like counting points or calories), I tend to eat too much, even if it’s mostly good-for-me food that I’m eating. I guess I haven’t developed a healthy sense of portions, etc. So, for now (since this is a gradual process, after all) I’m going to still follow the Beck Diet in which I will count calories so that I can build some confidence in this area.

4. Decide on some form of measurement, and stick with it: I’m weighing myself every day to get an idea of the trend. I’ve never done the daily weighing before so we’ll see how this goes. It’s so crazy to see how my weight fluctuates day to day. I’m hoping to see a downward trend eventually but I don’t want to focus too much on the numbers for now.

5. Accept opportunity cost: I’m actually pretty OK on this one. I feel prepared to make my health/fitness a priority and make the time for it. I will have my personal training class three times a week and yoga at lunch twice a week. I’m fine with using that time in that way. I will also devote a lot time to shopping for and cooking good food. I don’t see this as an obstacle at all.

6. If you’re living with a family, make the obvious changes a family affair: I’m really trying to work on this one. I’ve enlisted my Mom to be my dieting partner and we’ll be keeping in touch on our progress/struggles with the Beck diet. I think this will be really helpful for us both. Cute Man shares my goal of losing weight and getting healthier and he is pursuing his own way to achieve that. His method is not all that different from mine so we’re able to help each other a lot. He is doing a very low carb type thing right now so it’s actually me who needs to do a little extra to not undermine his goals.

Despite my efforts to just chill, I’m still in that gung ho type phase with my diet. I know that I need to calm down and not try to do everything at once. It is so hard for me! I did manage to focus on activity as opposed to eating for the last couple of months, so I feel like that is a good foundation. Now, I’m ready to add in the dieting piece – as slowly and mindfully as I can. I will practice being gentle to myself and giving myself credit for the things I do well so that I can build up my confidence and trust in my ability to do this. Thanks again to Sally for starting this series which has spawned so much thought for me.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant post! I hope 2009 is a fab year for you!

Anonymous said...

Good luck from me too. I find the debt pay off concept easier to grasp as well
Have a great 2009


Thank you both! So far, so good :)

Anonymous said...

Love reading your thoughts and feedback, Amelia. :)

It's totally okay to be gung-ho, and to let that guide you to an extent. I think the problem comes in when the gung-ho-ness eventually fades and you feel like you're 'slipping' when really you're just dealing with real day-to-day life.


You're totally right Sally. I just have to make sure my current enthusiam doesn't burn out. Slow and steady wins the race.