Friday, March 21, 2014

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

“Long term consistency beats short term intensity.” -Bruce Lee

Better to begin a journey that takes 1000 steps than to stumble on one huge leap. I can tell you why so many people relapse bad habits so easily - because they feel like they’re punishing themselves, they feel deprived, they have low self-worth and think “why bother?” Those are some of the reasons but I’ll tell you what my greatest enemy was: cold turkey thinking.

When I’ve tried before to lose weight, I told myself, “okay, this is the last corn chip I’ll ever eat. This is the last time I drink soda. I’ll go to the gym 14 days a week” (okay, the last one was a bit of a stretch, but you see my point).

Almost immediately, I became the Hare - I was in such a hurry to lose weight because I literally couldn’t wait to reach my goal. I’d become frustrated with my progress slowing from two pounds a week lost to one (as if it’s not its own victory). Because I wasn’t getting results, I’d burn out and quit.

That kind of black-and-white thinking is common among weight-losers or anyone else trying to make a life change and relapsing because they simply cannot take the pressure of a total, 180 degree life change. Few people can handle that kind of stress.

A lot of the initial advice I received from the internet this time told me: exercise and eat less. Oh, and drink more water. Oh, and cut out all starches/carbs/fats/sugars etc. etc. etc. If I were to implement all the necessary changes at the same time, it would have overwhelmed me so much that I would have lasted maybe a week.

This time I took matters into my own hands. I became the Tortoise - slow and steady. First, I cut my calories. When I was comfortable with that number, I cut them a little more and re-evaluated; I asked myself if I was still comfortable, and proceeded.

I decided to drink two 32-oz mugs of water a day, and resolved to only drink water and tea, but only when the idea sounded comfortable to me.

Then, I started exercising. I started with two days a week, then re-evaluated and decided I could do three days. Then four. Now, five.

I’m dropping weight steadily now and at the expense of nothing - I don’t feel overwhelmed because I made one tiny change at a time.

This process still requires sacrifices; there will absolutely be days when you’re taken off guard. A coworker brought donuts? Engage that willpower muscle. Mom wants to enlist your help baking Christmas cookies? Engage that willpower muscle.

But 90% of the time, during day-to-day activities and a routine lifestyle, you can maintain these changes and still feel like you’re going with the flow. Just try not to overwhelm yourself. Give yourself a break and appreciate what you’ve been able to change. You’re in no hurry - your goal sits at the finish line, but that finish line lasts for the rest of your life. You might as well be happy and comfortable when you get there.

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