The Virtue of Small
Why is it that when we craft goals, we almost always aim BIG? When we say we're going to lose weight, we immediately utter some number that is to be the final goal. "I wanna lose SO AND SO pounds!" Why don't we ever say, "Well this week I plan to lose a pound?" Better yet, why don't we ever say, "Well this week I plan to walk a little more or eat more nutritionally-dense foods?" We seem to always want to affix a certain grandiose number so that we can have a concrete measure of success. I started my business of yo-yo dieting when I was 12 years old. Before embarking on whatever was the new diet trend at the time, I used to say to myself, "Okay, this is it! I'm going to lose 20 pounds this time." I used to lose 5, even 10 pounds, but at the end of the diet, I not only gained what I lost but gained a few more pounds. This crazy cycle kept going until one day, when I was in my early 20's, I found myself over 200 pounds! Still the absurdity ensued, with more fervor each time during that whole decade of my 20's. When I sat by my doctor's office for my 30-year check-up and was given the news that I was borderline diabetic, I was forced into a new approach. Since my efforts of the last decade or so did not work, I needed to find a different path. I decided I would start walking. Walking from my second floor apartment to my car, and then walking from the parking lot to my office, was an ordeal. But I decided I would try to walk, in addition, around my block. I dreaded every time I had to do it, but I did it everyday anyway until after two weeks, the block seemed boring so I decided to go for two blocks. After a month, I started noticing my clothing becoming a little looser and my energy level increasing so I decided to go to the nearby park and walk/jog around the track. Truthfully, I did more walking than jogging. And I thought my heart was going to burst the first time I did it, but I kept it up every other day. My clothes kept getting looser. This gave me encouragement to address my eating. The first thing I cut out was soda. That was tough because I enjoyed it so much, never realizing how addicted I was to sugar. I did that for about a month and finally drinking soda started becoming not a part of my life any longer. It was time to move onto the next small goal which was to eliminate fast food. This actually turned out not to be as small an undertaking as first I suspected. Not only did I enjoy the comfort fatty, salty foods offered, but the convenience of not having to prepare it myself. I started going to the grocery store and picking out a handful of veggies I remembered liking from childhood and trying to recreate recipes from memory. To my delight, most of the food I made came out tasting pretty good! As a bonus, I discovered that I liked cooking and little by little, I became more adventurous with my choice of vegetables and spices and I was able to control the amount of salt and unfavorable fats that went into my cuisine. I loved being in control . I took it upon myself to swap out white rice for brown, to choose more green and leafy veggies over starchy ones, and to avoid frying anything. After a few months, I was swimming in my size 18 clothes and was now wearing size 12. At the track, I started walking only for warming up and cooling down. I began jogging the whole way and after a few more months of this, I incorporated sprints into my work out. As another bonus, I discovered my love of running. It was exhilarating and freeing. To this day, it is my favorite cardio activity. It took that rude awakening of a diabetic future to shake me into coming up with a new approach. But had that diagnosis not happened, I would probably still be on some ineffective new diet today. It took me a year to get out of obesity. I had to learn that I didn't pile on those pounds overnight so it was unlikely and unfair to expect that I would lose them overnight either. I learned to be patient. I learned to appreciate each tiny step it took to accomplish a grand goal. And that goal was not just a number on a scale. That goal was to live a healthy and active life. It's been over 15 years for me and I haven't regressed. This is testament that careful steps, though small, can get you very far.