Growth is a process. I have heard that if you’re not growing, you’re dying. Growth is also painful, joyful, scary, tedious, and weirdly liberating. Growth requires – no, it demands – a generous helping of grace.
Guessing that we would be spending most of our time in Florida pretty much locked down, we decided to use the opportunity to make a dedicated and concerted effort to improve our health. We chose to focus on nutrition, weight loss, and exercise. That has been going really well, with the exception of initial feelings of being self-serving and not serving others. Our experience and results are helping us to realize that by taking care of ourselves, we are better equipped to help others. This should not be news to me. I have told that very thing to so many Hospice family members and caregivers – but why on earth would that apply to me? That’s one of the many great things about grace…
We chose to use Noom as part of our weight loss plan. You’ve probably seen the ads – it focuses on psychology, etc. For our exercise, we have been walking (a lot!), mostly together. That allows for a lot of thinking time – you can only talk about “stuff” for a while, then you run out of stuff to discuss.
Noom is working well for us. Logging meals has definitely made me more mindful of what goes in my mouth. The psychology part has been the most beneficial for me. Having time to consider the subjects, and being fully committed, I am experiencing growth (and growing pains) along with losing weight.
I am truly an emotional eater and am getting adept at identifying my triggers – and even better at putting the safety on. Just recently, I was able to identify 4 humungous triggers. Instead of pushing them to the depths, I carefully examined each one. Thought about why they were so stressful, and then looked for evidence from past experiences to either confirm or deny the thoughts associated with them. So far, this is working well. When I feel the anxiety start to rise, I take a calming breath (or several), and look for the evidence.
I want to share some random thoughts that have been coming up. I know they are not “breaking news alert” worthy – but I share them in hopes that if you recognize something from this, perhaps you will give yourself a little grace.
- Make friends with yourself. Seriously – treat yourself like you would treat your best friend. Find a least one thing a day that you like about yourself (body, mind, spirit, ability, etc). Get over feeling guilty for this. If others see you treating yourself well – they will follow suit – and treat you well also. (Trash yourself, and they will treat you with the same lack of respect.)
- Forgive yourself. The past is done – let go of the mistakes, the “should haves”, the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” syndrome. What you have is this moment. Dream about tomorrow but decide right now to love yourself. Most likely, you are the one remembering all the bad, the mistakes, the missed opportunities.
- Congratulate yourself on accomplishments. Every day is worthy of celebration. Maybe you took one baby step forward. Maybe you stayed where you were (but didn’t backstep). Maybe you went backward a little (but didn’t completely lose all momentum). Depending on the day – each of those are praise-worthy.
- Give up worrying about what others think of you. Concentrate on how you think of yourself. No one else on this earth is living your life, they are not qualified to chart your course. (Bonus – when you are working on thinking of yourself and your own progress, you don’t have time to judge others!)
- Reward yourself. Kind words, little treats, only you know what will bring you joy. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking 10 or 15 minutes to sit quietly and watch the world. I have found a most delightful way to reward and/or comfort myself. Bill gave me a bottle of “Pure Grace” lotion for Christmas. This is one of my rewards. When I am really happy or in need of comfort, I use this lotion (smells awesome) and imagine that I am covering myself in pure grace. (Which is much nicer than their Amazing Grace, or the Grace lotions that have flower scents that cause me to have an allergic reaction!) This is simple, might even sound corny – to you. For me – it is a joy spot in my day.
- Live life now. Don’t wait for (weight loss, more money, a better relationship, a new car, etc… fill in the blank). Honestly – life isn’t going to magically change when one of these things happen. Your real joy in life will be found in your journey.
- Choose your travel companions carefully. They need to be helping you row the boat, not drilling holes when you’re not looking.
- Choose activities that fill you with joy and scare you at least a little. I am having more fun running now than I ever did when I was “training” with a coach or trying to keep up with others. I am running to please me – not to compare myself to others. The same with exercise. Knitting is both a joy and a soothing balm – and currently I have 4 projects on my needles and am thinking about #5. Why? Each project is bringing me joy as I work on it. And each is progressing nicely. Some might say this is too many – and maybe it is for them. For me – it is just right. Cooking is still an adventure and fun activity. We have added hiking to our repertoire.
- Don’t aim for perfect. May as well go unicorn hunting, or searching for doodle bugs. My grandmother had me hunting for doodle bugs way to often when I was little.
- Make your own rules – you are the boss of you (except of course, when violating rules will cause injury or harm!). Like, if the road is a one way road – be sure you’re headed the right way!
- Don’t be afraid to change things up. And keep changing them until you find what works. Recently I readjusted my daily schedule. I was getting completely overwhelmed and super stressed. I changed my daily routine, asked for help to do this from work, and decided to give it a week. After two days I was amazed at the difference. My attitude toward work, toward exercise, and toward the minutia of daily “stuff” that needs to be done has improved 100%.
- Ask for help. It’s okay. It helps others fulfill their needs.
All this to say – embrace growth and growing pains. Slather yourself with grace. You are a good person, created by a loving God. He only made one of you – so treat yourself like the rare, precious being you are. He thought it was important for the world to have one of you!