Taking teensy, tinesy steps in the right direction
There are not thousands of ways to grow fit, to lose weight, there are millions. Maybe billions.
There are as many ways to do it as there are bodies. We each have a life, live in a specific environment, within a body that may be challenged by diseases or traits, guided by abilities and inabilities, informed by our cultures, our traditions, our lifestyles, our preferences. We have a reality within which we are comfortable, and jumping too far outside of that reality to work on fitness, to regain our health, just doesn’t work for most people in the long run.
And it’s the long run that we’re worried about, isn’t it? It’s not really getting into that bathing suit for Spring Break, right? Or, well, maybe it is, but what about after that? How will you maintain your weight loss, keep your new fitness level?
Finding what works within your reality, at this time in your life, is key. And many diet counselors advocate trying on one new good habit at a time to make lasting changes.
I received a great letter from Sanidine (not her real name), which explains this method better than I possibly can. Here she is:
I stumbled onto SDP sometime around February of last year. I was hanging onto about 20 pounds of baby weight, and was feeling tired. And discouraged. And pissed-off.
I read your words, about your internal transformation, and about your low-carb lifestyle, and thought “I’m not there yet.” I wasn’t ready to commit to journaling, to cutting out flour and sugar, to getting up even earlier, so I could spend time at the gym. But, I subscribed. And I read. And I was inspired.
Not quite a year later, I’m still not ready to commit to a lifestyle overhaul.
I’ve cut out trans-fats and packaged crap. I drink about a gallon of water a day. I eat lots of veggies, and have incorporated the delicate flavor of stir-fried tofu into my life. I eat small portions of beautiful whole foods and focus on nourishing myself instead of stuffing myself. I’ve let go of 15+ years of all-or-nothing fitness mentality, and have realized that a little bit of moderate exercise every day is actually BETTER for me long-term than just one or two heart-pounding, sweat-drenching sessions every month. Not that I don’t love the heart-pounding and sweat-drenching — it’s just more practical to be easier on myself right now.
I didn’t wake up one morning and decide, “This is it. This is The Day.” I decided that I’d try to drink more water, to help my energy levels. Then I read more about trans-fats, and got freaked out, and banned them from my house. After banning most packaged goods, it seemed a simple step to cut out added sugar, and most baked goods. And that left me with the need to fill in my diet with things like spaghetti-squash croquettes and pecan-crusted halibut and sauteed Swiss chard with garlic and walnut oil.
I still have weight I’d like to lose — but now it’s only five pounds, instead of 20. And it’s been a beautiful, peaceful journey. No guilt. No obsession with backsliding. No diet mentality. No “totally new life on Monday.” Just a series of making better choices about the small things,
Thank you so much for being a part of that.
Sanadine rocks. She eased her way into a life-style overhaul without ever planning to do it. So it always seemed doable. You see? Baby steps.
Sanidine’s way worked for her. She never lost her focus, understood that learning is critical, and she took it easy, discovering which habits she needed to change, discovering healthier habits she could form, and tackling them one at a time.
She didn’t swallow anybody’s advice without considering whether it made sense to her, felt right for her, could work for her. This is key.
What will it be for you? Is it drinking more water? Eating more mindfully? Cutting out the bad fats? Portion control? Is it discovering your food sensitivities? Getting back on your asthma meds? Walking? Exercising every day?
Whatever it is, you will need to fold it into your present life. Trying to do too much too fast can overwhelm you. Try taking on one habit at a time, one focus at a time. When you’re ready to try something else, try that.
I recommend prioritizing exercise habits first if you’re not exercising now. Consider talking about any changes within your family, learning together, reading the food labels together, particularly if you have kids at home, so you can help model healthier behaviors and move a whole generation toward better choices.
Read up, go slow.