Monday, August 31, 2015

Jamie's Thoughts: When You're Going Through Hell...

There’s this saying you may have heard of, ”When you’re going through hell, keep going...” by Winston Churchill.  Well, it may not have been from Winston Churchill.  It's origin is uncertain.  I learned it in the context of working in family law; and it was advice my boss doled out to divorcing clients often. 

This quote really resonates with me.  Because really, if you ever want to make it out of a bad situation, the worst possible thing you could do is to stand still.  To freeze.  To stop participating in life.  Rather, you need to put one foot in front of the other, however slowly that may be, and make your way through and then beyond. 

Yes, this quote was intended as advice for bad and tough situations.  It certainly does seem well-suited to help move through the painful process of divorce.  But I think it can also be applied to our goals and even weight loss.  Let me explain. 

You see, I’ve noticed something about myself.  I’m terribly impatient when it comes to my weight loss/fitness goals.  I want results like yesterday.  If I put in effort, it better be reflected on the scale in no time flat.  The internal dialogue goes something like this: 

Me:  “Okay body, got it?  I’m working super hard right now.  And if you don’t give me the results I think I deserve when I want them (which is immediately, duh!), I’m going to get super frustrated and give up.  So, that means you better give me results now.  Capisce?!” 

Body:  (radio silence)

That’s a pretty nasty way to talk to your own body, right.  After all it's just doing as it was designed to do by nature.  That mean dialogue certainly isn’t going to speed things up any.  

Let’s play a little analogy game here.  I’ve been trying to think of a comparable situation.  And for some reason, I’m just stuck on the idea of a broken car.  Let’s say the water pump in your car goes out.  You buy the parts for it, you start repairing it, but you stop about halfway through, deciding you've given it as much effort as you're willing.  And then you tell the car that it better fix itself or you're going to get frustrated and give up.  That’s kind of laughable isn’t it? Obviously, your car isn’t going to be fixed until you keep doing the work.  You might even hit a few bumps along the way, a few bolts that won’t come loose or maybe when you're replacing your water pump, you discover another problem:  a leaky  hose.  But what we all know with our rational brains is that no car is going to fix itself.  And so it is with our bodies. 

I’ve officially lost more weight in the past six months than I ever have or probably have ever had to for that matter.  I usually give up at about the 10-pound mark.  The typical Jamie pattern goes something like this:  First, I become complacent.  I’m not where I want to be, but I tell myself, “Hey, you’ve already lost 10 pounds, that’s great!  You don’t really have to keep going.  You don’t really have to work this hard.”  And then after complacency, I fall back into the same habits that got me to where I was in the first place.  

But this time is different.  I decided I’d make myself the guinea pig of my own personal "scientific" experiment.  I use the word "scientific" loosely here, but you get what I mean.  I set out to explore the question:  what would happen if I didn’t give up this time?  What would happen if I just kept going?  What would happen if I kept going, even after I was disappointed by the numbers on the scale?  What would happen if I wasn’t seeing the results immediately, but kept going?  What would happen if I kept going even when I felt complacent?  What would happen if I kept going to the gym, even when I didn’t want to? 

Folks, I’m going to cut to the chase right here and tell you the answer:  A LOT.  A whole heck of a lot happens when you keep putting one foot in front of the other, even on the days when your internal dialogue tells you that your goal is impossible.  On those days, you hear that voice, and then politely, say—"You might be right, but I’m going to keep trying anyway.  I want to see for myself." 

I’m convinced that for most of us about 95% of weight loss is mental.  It’s about combating this negative internal dialogue Every. Single. Day.  It’s about making habits and good choices Every. Single. Day.   

I reached a plateau in my weight loss.  And for a while I thought that maybe it was impossible to lose.  Maybe my body just wants to settle in at a heavier weight than it used to be, I thought.  I had reconciled that that was a possibility.  But I kept going any way.  I kept working out.  I kept making good food choices.  And guess what, the scale started to budge again, and I started losing fat again.

Now I’m at a weight I have not seen in almost ten years.  My body isn’t perfect, but I’m increasingly feeling more confident and comfortable in it.   The funny thing is, is that I don’t feel better because I’ve reached this perfect goal weight or look.  It’s because I’m taking good care of it that I feel this way.  Caring for myself and my body has helped me make peace with the imperfections and appreciate it just the way it is.  

If you’re reading this friends, I so hope this inspires you to keep going to reach your goals, even when you don’t want to.  That’s where all the good stuff is.  --- J  

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