It’s been a good week. Granted, we’re only two days into the week, but I’m feeling pretty optimistic. The weather is starting to warm up, the snow has melted, and for those of you who asked, last night’s dinner didn’t include broccoli. Life is good.
After one of the coldest winters I can remember, we’re having an early taste of spring. And I have to be honest, I’m facing the warmer weather with mixed emotions. I’m thrilled, but in the back of my mind I realize it’s still mid-February and Mother Nature has a lousy sense of humor. As much as I’d love to ride my motorcycle to work, I know all too well how quickly the weather can change.
It’s funny – when I lived in Key West, people always said, “If you don’t like the weather in Key West, wait a minute.” And honestly, that’s the only place I’ve ever lived where you could be out on a boat in beautiful sunny weather, and watch a little wisp of a cloud above your head develop into a full-blown squall in less than ten minutes.
I moved to Ohio a little over 22 years ago, and I’ll never forget that first winter. I was complaining about the snow one day and a co-worker said, “If you don’t like the weather in Ohio, wait a minute.” Okay, it’s at least a little bit funny.
The other thing about warmer weather is that it’s a reminder of the things I didn’t accomplish over the winter. Like finishing my first book, losing that extra weight, painting the bathroom, or hanging the outdoor Christmas lights. On the other hand, I won’t have to take the lights down this April (don’t ask), so maybe that’s a blessing in disguise.
Of all the things I didn’t accomplish, the weight loss bothers me most. I was doing really well, then the holidays hit and my progress came to a grinding halt. In fact, I’ve put some back on. Not much, but I’m not the kind of person who handles setbacks very well. Especially when I know the problem is right there in the mirror.
It’s funny, I was talking with one of the employees in my gym back in December, and he told me that starting in early January, the place would be packed. I asked why and he said, “New year’s resolutions. But don’t worry – by the end of March most of ‘em will drop out and we’ll be back to normal again.”
And he’s right. Here we are, halfway through February, and the gym is a lot less crowded than it was six weeks ago. At least I think it is. I haven’t been there in the past week myself. Does that mean I’m one of the dropouts? Meanwhile, I’ve discovered the long-forgotten cookie jar, and yesterday I found out that my money still works in a snack machine. Go figure.
Which begs the question – when I started this crusade in October, was I just getting an early start on a New Year’s resolution? Or was I getting a really late start on last year’s resolution? Either way, I did NOT want this to be a New Year’s resolution of any kind. For me, that’s the kiss of death. I wanted this to be something I did just because.
So as I’ve been sitting here for the past few days, beating myself up about falling off the wagon and going back to my old habits, I’ve had to think about why I started this in the first place. And truly, there are several reasons, some a little more important than others.
First and foremost, I want to be healthy. And aside from weight-related issues, I really am healthy. Considering the things I’ve done to this body over the years, I’m one of the lucky ones. It’s time to make the most of that.
There are other reasons. Naturally, I want to look good. Okay, I’m 53 years old – I want to look better. There are, after all, varying degrees of “good”. I’d like to get rid of this back pain. I’d like to fit comfortably into the coach seat of an airliner. I’d like to shop for clothes in any store, not just that store. And I’d like to tie my shoes without getting dizzy. Is that too much to ask?
I’ve also had to think about where I’m going. My goal isn’t just to lose weight – anybody can do that. I want to maintain a healthy weight, which means dieting and exercise alone won’t work. Those are things you do to look good for the prom. And the more I understand that, the more I realize this is not a project with an end goal. This is something I need to do for the rest of my life.
Most of all, I’ve had to remind myself that I didn’t get this way overnight. I started putting on weight over twenty years ago and it gradually got worse. It won’t take me twenty years to get rid of it, but it’s not going to happen in the next few months either. As long as the general trend is downward, I need to cut myself some slack.
And I think that’s the most important thing to remember. In the overall scheme of things, one day or one week is nothing. It’s a drop in the bucket. And the same goes for five or ten pounds. It’s not the end of the world. I know what to do – I just need to do it.
And along the way, I have to maintain my sense of humor because that’s what keeps me going when things get tough. I’ve made the obvious jokes about my weight before, so there’s no need to repeat them now. The point is, we have to maintain an even keel and try not to let these things get us down. Because that breeds depression, and it’s hard to do anything positive when you’re depressed.
The bottom line is, I’d rather be fat and happy than unhappy and still fat. And happiness is a state of mind. I can accept myself without accepting my weight. I can give thanks for the health I have instead of lamenting my limitations. And I can embrace the beauty and humor that surrounds me instead of dwelling on the misery that hides behind them. It’s a personal choice I can make.
You can, too. If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution that isn’t quite working out, or there’s something you’ve wanted to change, get busy. You can make excuses or make progress. Meanwhile, give yourself permission to stumble along the way. Failure isn’t falling down – failure is falling down and not getting back up.
So lighten up a little and get back on track. Meanwhile, take time to smell the roses, to enjoy the things around you, and to laugh. It may not get you any closer to your goal, but it will change the way you look at the situation. And maybe that’s the magic you’ve been waiting for.
Copyright 2011 – Dave Glardon
Good stuff. Now, I’m off to Zumba class!
That’s it, make me feel bad! Just for that, I’m going to the gym! 🙂
Good post Dave! Totally understand how terrible midwestern winters can be, being from Minnesota and all! I wish you the best of luck with your weight loss and maintenance!
Thanks David. I know what kind of winter you’ve had in Minnesota, and hopefully you’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as well.
I hope you didn’t hit the dreaded plateau right at the holidays. That would be an unfortunate coincidence. But you know they happen and you were on the right track and will be back in the groove before you know it. Having actual daylight after work has given me a boost of energy and I hope it will do the same for you!
Yes Patti, not having to go home in the dark has made a lot of difference in my level of energy as well. As for the weight loss, I’ve been here before – I lose a bit, then hit that plateau. But I know once I crack it, I should keep going in the right direction, just a little more slowly. And that’s okay. All I have to do is watch a baby crawl across the floor to remind myself of the meaning of determination.
Reading this post is really helpful for me. I too started a downward spiral around the holidays and haven’t pulled up yet, thanks to my housemate’s health crisis starting about that time and culminating in an emergency hysterectomy on the 15th of this month.
So I’ve been making a lot of excuses for my horrid eating habits of late – stress, unemployment, more stress, etc. This needs to stop.
Check out some of my other posts. The entire focus is on putting more humor in your life, and maybe you’ll find something in there that’ll help. Laughter can cure a lot. I’m sure it’ll help you as well. Best of luck to you and your housemate.