I’ve made a lot of bad decisions. Actually, I’ve made bad decisions nearly every day of my 36 years. I know this because it takes a fairly consistent series of bad decisions to maintain an unhealthy body weight. Or, as I like to call them, tasty decisions.
I have been overweight since birth. My nickname as a baby was Butterball. (I don’t hold it against my family, by the way. It’s a funny nickname -- and we like to laugh.)
Pretty much the second I was self-aware enough to recognize that my body had more mass than it should, I wanted to change it. This awareness came pretty young.
I bought my first diary from a mall Hallmark store while shopping with my cousin, Jacki, (AKA Silverpixels) on April 3rd, 1986. I was nine years old. Six days later, on April 9th, I wrote my very first diary entry about weight loss, “... when I got home I had 6 pieces of toast and I’m trying to go on a diet. I’ll never make it.”
If chubby little me only knew...
I never stopped journaling and I now have an entire trunk full of old journals in my bedroom that represents 26 years of me whining about wanting to lose weight, yet failing to ever do so. (Honestly, I don’t know why I keep the self-deprecating things.)
The real question, though, is why? Losing weight is a goal I have had for my entire life. Why haven’t I done it? What in the hell is wrong with me?
Nothing. Turns out, being fat is a habit. Or, more accurately, it’s a combination of too many bad habits and not enough good ones.
I bought this book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and after I read it, I started to feel like I might be able to “stop the insanity” (oh yeah, I went there) when it comes to weight loss. I’m incredibly tired of saying, “it worked really well when I followed it...”, after losing and then regaining 25 pounds for the hundredth time. Incredibly tired.
The book talks about how to change your habits and how taking on a keystone habit, like exercise, will create a wide reaching ripple effect of change. It is inspiring and convincing.
Now, I know from exhaustive (self-help) research, that exercise alone is not enough for weight loss. What goes down the hole matters too. The point is not that exercise is good for you. Can I get a NO DUH? The point is that exercise is a catalyst for some pretty extensive healthy changes. Not just physical, but mental. ...If you do it.
Why don’t I do it?
I think the biggest problem, for me, is having too many freaking goals. When I have ten daily goals, which is ridiculous, the odds of me getting them all done is yeah, right.
So I get to pick... you know, the easy ones. Because somehow, on a list, it looks like throwing pottery is as important as exercising.
I now have two daily goals. Exercise is one of them. (I'll talk about the other one later. Consider this a cliff hanger!)
Gosh golly, here I am talking about simplicity again. That's because I’ve had enough of logs and points and counts and schemes. Simple has a chance of long term (read: lifelong) success. Complicated gives me the same feeling I had when I was nine: I’ll never make it.
So now that I’m trying to make exercise a daily habit, will I finally lose the weight? Who knows. Really, who cares? At this point, I no longer have my sights set on just weight loss. How many fat cells are being squished into my mom jeans is just one aspect of who I am.
I want to be calm. I want a clear head. I want enough energy to have a positive effect on my tiny circle of influence in this incredibly big world.
Don’t give up, little Heather. We’ll make it.
(Financial Disclaimer: I was in no way compensated, or even asked, to mention Mr. Duhigg’s book. I was also not compensated for the Klean Kanteen product placement. I'm just a fan. Of both.)
I like to throw things.