Saturday, November 22, 2008

The crazy cycle of success... and screwing up.

So, it feels like it has been a while since I've blogged. The truth of the matter is that school and work are in high gear right now, and making it through a day of a pile of work, some studying, and convincing myself that I need to spend time in the gym is pretty much all I can do right now. Work is starting to make me feel really burnt out, and I'm thrilled to say that I've got only two more weeks of work before I'm off for a month. I've not had vacation time since early summer, so let's just say that I'll be taking advantage of a well-deserved break.

One thing that I'm really looking forward to is spending some good refreshing and renewing time in the gym. With the weather being so very cold, and snow on the ground, it could be really easy to curl up and stay in bed in the morning, but I'm excited about the propsect of spending my break from work looking after myself. I feel like I'm getting into a bit of a rut -- I don't know how else to describe it. I wouldn't necessarily say that I'm unmotivated. I'm just feeling kind of slow and lathargic. Maybe it's the time change from a few weeks ago. Maybe it's the weather. It's likely the intense pace of work and school that i've been dealing with. Regardless, I feel like I need a bit of a boost; like I need to go back to that place I was in earlier in July where I was so very excited about kicking things into high gear.

So, how do I make it through the next two weeks? My focus isn't so much on what I can do to dramatically change, but instead, what I can do to maintain thegood healthy patterns that I've learned in order to help me be resilient amid the stress and challenges of the weeks ahead. I need to remember that I've made a significant lifestyle change -- that this new way of thinking, being, and living in the world isn't just a one-time thing. This is unlike every other attempt I've ever made at getting healthy. It's not a one-off. It's not a quick and easy solution. It's a mind shift of hard work and dedication that's giving me results that don't necessarily find their permanence in themselves, but find instead find their permanence in my renewed sense of confidence, and sense of self. This isn't something that I can decide to no longer do anymore because going back to my 'old ways is easier. The thought of doing so actually makes me feel nauseous. Falling back into negative patterns is no longer an option. Instead, maintaining decent healthy patterns is the way to cope with difficulty. I guess what I'm trying to articulate is the fact that a healthy, balanced lifestyle is my new baseline, and my focus for the next two weeks is on maintaining the baseline. And if I don't see decreases in the numbers, I'm okay with that. I just don't want to see increases...but if I do, I'll deal with it. I've learned to allow myself to screw up at this -- knowing that in the past when I've made mistakes like not counting calories properly, not drinking the requisite 8 glasses of water a day, or not following the prescribed 'program' to the letter, I've given up out of despair and the inability to forgive myself for not being 'perfect'. The perfectionistic Type A is in my nature. I'm a Virgo. But just because it's my nature, doesn't mean I have to accept it as my only reality. I can choose to change it. Essentially, I want to do what I can to maintain what I've already accomplished, and reward myself at the end of the rocky road by indulging in some intensive, focused, accelerated behaviour that is going to generate and motivate more change. "Treating" myself now means indulging in a well-paced 2 hour workout instead of indulging in a well-paced 2 hour dinner out. It's kind of interesting how the mind shifts....

The other thing I am trying to make sense of is that I've recently begun to realize that I'm not necessarily afraid of failing at this. I'm actually kind of afraid of succeeding. The small victories I've celebrated in the past few months are indeed worthy of being called much more than 'small'. I'm beginning to see that. On Friday, my friend Alison told me that the fact that I can now drive my car with a winter coat fully done up (instead of having to take it off because I'm too big), and that the pair of 'skinny' pants (skinny being a relative term) that I bought 3 years ago finally fit aren't 'small victories'. They're a big deal. But it's really easy for me to downplay my successes... because deep down inside, I think I'm afraid of celebrating those successes in the way that I deserve. I also acknowledge that in celebrating my success, I admit that I'm inherently capable of screwing up (see previous paragraph about perfectionism). It's kind of a crazy cycle. I'm working on it, though.

That said, another friend recently sent me this quote, which I once attributed to Nelson Mandela -- a visionary who imagined the impossible and saw change happen in a culture and a part of the world where change seemed impossible...kind of the same way I used to think about myself, that being 'big', 'obese', 'fat' (whatever you call it), was my lot in life. However, I recenly learned they are the words of Marianne Williamson (, a writer and spiritul activist who founded Project Angel Food -- a non-profit organization in LA that delivers meals to home-bound people living with HIV/AIDS ( The message is clear and really resonates with me... and I'll close this entry off with her words:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously
give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Kia Kaha

Stay Strong.

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