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Overthrowing a Lifetime in a Week

Thursday, January 09, 2020

I have an Apple Watch. The Watch in trying to encourage one in one's health goals gave me two goals for January: one was specialized for me and one was universal. The Universal one called "Ring in the New Year" was this: to get all three of your goals (Move, Stand and Exercise) maxed out 7 days in a row. The Specialized one was this: get 23 workouts of 15min or more in January.

So the past 8 days, I was really moving my rear to make sure I got both of those goals. Obviously, I haven't managed my specialized goal (23 workouts in 8 days is FEROCIOUS and sounds crazy!), but I did manage the Universal one.

As I sit here today, after 11 consecutive days of working out (I've managed to squeeze in a workout every day since the 29th of December), I realize I am tired. My back is sore. My chest is sore from rowing at the rowing machine in the gym. My butt is sore from Spin Class. My calves are sore from running and Spin.

I. Am. Sore.

And as I sit here, with my sore back and tired legs, I think of all the New Year's Resolutioners who may be in my boat. They've spent this first week of New Year's busting rear. Gym every night. Eating healthy. Drinking water. Sleeping right. And maybe they step on the scale and see they've lost a mere 2 pounds or maybe they are like me.

They. Are. Sore.

And so they do what anyone would do (what I will in fact be doing today): They will take a break. They will decide, "I cannot keep going at it like this; I have to give myself time to breath."

And that can be a death knell for all those beautiful New Year's plans.

I'm not saying we can't take a break. I honestly should have taken more breaks but I'm stubborn and really wanted a silly digital medal on an app. What I'm saying is, sometimes we go so hard, so full throttle, so 300% into something, we are just bound to burn out sooner rather than later. And when the motivation is gone, the energy is depleted, when everything hurts and the damn scale won't show a significant weight loss, we throw in the towel. What does it matter if I skip tonight's exercise? What does it matter if I skip tomorrow's? I'm not seeing any change, so there's no point.

I've spent YEARS cultivating these bad habits - from prioritizing and worshipping at the alter of Jack in the Box and DQ to choosing cheap, easy foods instead of wholesome meals to emotionally eating when I am happy, sad, and upset. I have a line of blog posts dedicated to the Old Habits I used to follow until I started to realize how to manage my own health. How can I expect myself in one week to unlearn EVERYTHING I had known up until that point? I took 6 years to get a mechanical engineering degree - why would I suddenly go from unhealthy to healthy just over a New Year's?

Change isn't easy; the body likes habits, and the body loves junk food like Oreos and Doritos and ice cream. When I first started on my journey, back in May of 2018, I "watched what I ate" - in that, I watched all the junk foods that still went into my mouth. (Har har, I know, not funny.) I added exercise back into my life, but it took me weeks to really tell myself that I couldn't outrun my fork and that I had to make healthier food choices in addition to just moving my body more. And in the two months I went on the journey solo, adding a bit more exercise and modifying my diet only just barely, I lost 8 - 10 pounds - which basically is about a pound a week.

I recall many a time in my yo-yo dieting past where I would start my diet on Monday, eat well through the week, exercising, etc. and then when the next week came up, I noticed there was virtually no change in my weight. Discouraging is a word that is apt here - and when there was no change in that scale, I gave up. Threw in the towel.

I'm only glad I didn't do this back in May of 2018 - I KNEW I needed a change and I had to do something now. That first week, I lost 3 pounds - but the next week? ZERO POUNDS LOST. That would normally have been when I gave up - but I didn't. I kept at it, clumsy and slow and jerking all over the place. And you know what? Today, 616 days later, I rest at 50 pounds lost. If I had given up on week 2, I very likely still be 235 pounds today.

To everyone who is tired, who is sore, who keeps trying and is faltering in motivation: Take heart! Take a break today, rest up your body and come back in screaming tomorrow. Sure, today might not give you the 20 pound loss you might want. But DO NOT QUIT! Getting healthy, losing that excess weight, regaining control of food is worth it because YOU are worth it! Keep your eyes on the future - imagine yourself in 600 days time, when you are at or closer to your goal and don't lose sight of that.
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