What in THE HELL did I do?
How did I get here?
I ate… a lot.
Not long ago I had an epiphany. I eat every meal like it’s a special occasion.
You know that feeling you get when you’re out to dinner for your birthday or an anniversary? That one meal your family makes and you all look forward to? Thanksgiving dinner? The anticipation before the meal. Having a little more than you probably should. Indulging until you’re uncomfortably full. I eat every meal this way. All of them.
The result of having done this for years is that it has now become my normal. This is what I’m used to, and not having a large meal every time I eat feels inadequate, almost like I’m doing myself a disservice. Logically I know this is super-backward and not all all true, but, more often than not, another helping sure does seem like the right thing to do.
This week I declined an invitation to play soccer with my daughter. Because I’m so out of shape I was terrified that I’d be an embarrassment to my kid. This is, easily, the single-most humiliating thing that I’ve ever experienced*.
I honestly don’t care what I weigh and I’m not terribly concerned with what I look like, but having to miss out on making a memory with one of my children because I’ve failed to take care of myself isn’t something that I’m willing to have become “normal” for me.
It’s time to face some harsh realities, come to terms with them and redefine what normal is. I know two things: I’m not happy with the way things are because of my diet and lack of physical activity, and short-term changes are not enough anymore. I need to fundamentally change my lifestyle to be healthier before my ability to make these changes no longer exists.
I said I don’t care what I weigh, and I don’t. If I were healthy, happy and able to do everything I wanted to, the number on the scale would be irrelevant. However, I’m not healthy, I cannot do the things I’d like to and this makes me very unhappy. That number is information I can work with. It’s a metric, a way to track progress and change. As of right now that number is 280.
Based on what I know (or think I know) about myself, this number needs to be significantly lower than it is. Like, drastically lower. The last time I felt like I was “in shape” and felt healthy, I was 100lbs lighter. That’s my goal. Lose 100 pounds… Now, how in the hell am I supposed to do it?
I could cut calories and dive head first into cardio to lose weight and get the job done; I’ve done it before. The problem with losing weight this way is once I get to where I want to be I go right back to unhealthy patterns and habits. Losing weight cannot be the only goal. The number cannot be the only metric. I have to learn more about how to live and eat in a way that allows me to be healthy. I have to learn different ways to evaluate my health and wellbeing. I have to learn how to break bad habits and develop new patterns that make me happy. If I resent the process and the tactics I use, I’ll never adopt them as part of what my normal will become. Whatever I do has to not only make he healthy, but happy as well. That’s my goal. Be happy.
Deadlines & Consequences
I am a deadline-driven person. This might be a convenient way to justify my proclivity for procrastination, but I’ve found that if given a deadline I am far more motivated to complete tasks. So, I’ve given myself 9 months to achieve the goals I’ve set for myself. Nine months from writing these words my family and I will be taking a vacation that could well be a once-in-a-lifetime event for all of us. I cannot allow our trip, their experience, to be made less than it could be because I couldn’t keep up. That’s not the memory I want them to have of their trip. That’s not the memory I want them to have of me.
By writing all of this down, publishing and sharing this plan publicly I know I’m painting myself into a corner. I know I’m inviting scrutiny, judgement and possible ridicule… BUT I hope to also have posts like this keep me on track; serve as a sort of contract between me and whoever happens to read them. I’d like to be able to look back at the words I write over the next nine months and have them be a reminder of what the cost was to achieve my goals. Help me to remember how I feel right now and not take things for granted. Not go back to the habits and patterns that define normal for me today.
What will it cost for me to meet my goals? The day of my deadline I will have been alive for 41 years, 11 months and 17 days. To meet my deadline, I’ve given myself 9 months (274 days). This time represents less than 2% of my life so far, and less than 1% of the average human lifespan. Less than one percent. When put in this context, devoting the next nine months of my life to making myself immeasurably better physically, mentally and emotionally seems like a bargain. I am ready to begin this journey. I am looking forward to being healthy and happy. I am excited to discover what normal will mean for me nine months from now.
I plan on posting here often, but have decided to overhaul my Twitter account to act as a running narrative for this journey over the next nine months. Feel free to follow me there if you’d like… @rjpooch