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If it’s January, it Must Be Resolution Time

It is January first, and I’m getting a jump on my Monday. I’m doing it because my January third is going to be slightly cluttered with an eye appointment. Here it goes!

I was logged into Facebook to check on pages I manage and spotted people I know posting their New Year’s resolutions. It got me thinking about change, and why this stuff seldom works the way people envision resolutions working.

The first thing is, why wait for the new year? If it really needs to be done, do it now—don’t put the thing off. 

My next observation—or question—would be, Why do diets begin on Mondays? Shouldn’t they start in the mind, on the next shopping trip, or in an online order?  

My third musing would be that people make resolutions but seldom lay the groundwork to establish successful life change. How do we each lay that groundwork? What does it take to do the work that will establish change in our lives?

It begins in stages: the first stage is to come to an understanding of what the real issue is. I’ll use a diet for the example, though most any example could work. I’ll use my own diet journey.

Often a person wakes up to their personal reality, sees themselves in the mirror, and shudders at the sight that is reflected back to them. The realization of the pounds that are now present isn’t a happy one. You might have a range of clothing sizes, and some of those sizes might never be worn again. You hold on to all of the sizes in hope that “someday” you will fit into those jeans you wore fifteen years ago. I didn’t have that issue because moving to Europe is all about weight, and getting it on the boat. I had to give clothes I was wearing, and not wearing, to someone who could use them right then. I’m glad that the choice was made for me.

In 2006 I realized that I felt awful, and I didn’t like my reflection in the mirror. I felt ugly, frumpy, and unattractive. We purchased a treadmill so that I could walk inside, and I hoped that walking would help me take the weight off. Four years later my “goal” had not been achieved, and I was miserable. In 2011, after years of back pain that began in adolescence, I made the decision to have a breast reduction. That was a good choice on my part. Talking to my husband about the decision I was making was a process. He had the concern of things not turning out right. They did. The reduction enabled me to walk easily, and to feel better while doing chores. The “bench,” as I thought of it, was gone. Wow, was that a game changer! I also began to win at taking the weight off. Having a couple of kilos gone in one day gave me hope! Maybe I could do this thing.

All the tears I cried, the times when Jon had to hear me grapple with the issue that it was taking so long to drop the weight, now seem like an eternity of days gone by. That was one kind of looking and digging to get to the root cause of my food issues.

There is something to be said for feeling good, and feeling like you are winning at something you want. After a decade, I was wearing smaller sizes; I was winning the battle, or so I thought. I was doing the outer work. What about the inner work? 

My health insurance covered a dietitian, and she was helpful. It took a conversation about doctors being vigilant about the Body Mass Index (BMI) to turn the entire weight loss process around for me. Wowzah, had I fallen into a nasty trap!

I thought I’d done all the inner work as I began to understand that in my genetic heritage of deities, a love of sweets from two grandfathers and my mother had caused me to deal with sugar like alcoholics deal with a drink: one is never enough. This sent me spiraling into a new level of self-discovery. It was unbearably painful. I engaged in a dance, and while the weight was coming off, my eating and I were doing a wild rumba. All the years that I’d focused on BMI had held me back from focusing on feeling good. I had to contemplate how I might have bought into the diet myth, and the body image of fitting back into a size 6–8. Intellectually, I understood that there were things I needed to do. In 2021 I crossed into a new zone: the I’m-happy-with-who-I-am-and-what-I-see-in-the-mirror zone. It was a massively delightful discovery. It also lifted a huge burden of non-reality off of me. Now it was about management.

I recall the day clearly. I was sitting on a stool, getting dressed and taking a look at myself. No, my stomach wasn’t model flat. I would never have that EVER again. My arms were OK, not perfect but good enough, and my calves, they were still wonderful. Throughout my life my calves were the one body part that always looked great. I took time to reflect on this wonderful factoid. My thighs really were OK, and my face had thinned out. I realized in that moment I would never see a size 6 or 8 again. 

Then I began to think about how I really felt inside. I felt good, and as I realized this fact, I began to look deeper. Why was I stuck in the weight loss mode? I came to understand that I didn’t need to go there. A size 10–12 was perfectly fine. At my age it also felt like I could maintain that size.

Healthy isn’t about the perfect body. Ultimately it is about feeling good at where we are. It becomes a process of cutting ourselves some slack, offering ourselves the same grace and generosity we tell others to treat themselves with. In all the inner work I spent time doing over the years, I realized that I, too, had cut myself some slack and offered up a huge healthy serving of grace and generosity to myself. In 2022 I sat on the stool, looked at myself, and smiled. Yeah, I’m good with her!  

Resolutions are fulfilled when we lay a foundation of inner work, dig deep, and discover the generous helping of self-love we are serving ourselves. We make peace with the demon within. We grant ourselves the insight that the real work takes time and is about honoring ourselves over what we think we want. The question we must ask at the beginning of any goal or resolution journey is, What do I really need, and why?

It took me from 2006, a lot of treadmill and conversation time working with a professional, and a real hard look in the mirror to come to understand that what I wanted (getting back to a 6–8 size) was not what I needed. What I needed to do was to like—and love—the reflection of the 10–12 sized woman who sat on the stool. It doesn’t matter the size or the kilos/pounds that I carried. I started this journey thinking size and BMI. What matters most is that I got healthy. What matters most is that I’m enjoying where I am and can manage life where I’m at without my body doing the yo-yo cycle.

2023 is starting off with some real peace of mind. I’m good with this.

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