For Thanksgiving, not only did I feast on all kinds of sugary things not normally in my diet, but I also unplugged from all of my electronic devices, including the Fitbit.
I savored those homemade pies. And I lounged around for days on the couch, enjoying my days off, which tend to be few and far between.
And I lost ground. Big time.
But what I have here is competing self-care imperatives: On the one hand, closely monitoring my diet and getting as much exercise as I can; on the other hand, not monitoring anything and simply allowing myself to be, and to relax. To breathe. To take a break from the imposing load that I carry nearly all the time—I needed that break and I don’t regret it.
Still. I lost ground.
Here’s another thing I’ve learned this year through my efforts toward better health and fitness: The human body’s capacity for change is amazing. The more I work out, the better and fitter I feel. I felt those benefits right away when I started getting regular exercise. By the same token, a few weeks of slacking on the whole program and physically I feel like I’ve set myself back by months.
And that’s where another thing I’ve learned about myself kicks in—I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I don’t actually think I need to be perfect, but I have a high standard, and I have very high expectations of myself.
I get angry with myself when I feel like I’m not making the cut, not rising to the challenge I’ve set for myself, not getting it done. And getting angry with myself is entirely unproductive, and in no way moves me toward my goals. Remember my first rule? No beating myself up.
The truth of the matter is that if it were not for this column, and the Facebook group which accompanies it, right about now I’d be bailing out, for at least the next couple of months.
It’s fitting that right now as I write this, I am eating Thanksgiving leftovers—at my desk, as I do most days for lunch. There’s a little bundle of joy. It neatly wraps up a couple of habits I want to change, like not taking a real break for lunch, eating rich food (gravy, mmmmm, gravy and mashed potatoes and greens, all doused in gravy), and a sedentary lifestyle.
Here’s the thing. If I’m lucky, I’ve got maybe 100 years to walk around on this planet—and in a month I’ll be halfway there. Because of the ephemeral nature of life, because it can vanish in a moment, because it is so fragile, and so sweet, I want to make sure that my days on Earth are well-spent. I don’t want my body, at age 50, to behave like the body of somebody far older. That means I need to move it, or lose it. Simple as that.
Now here is the good news, as we enter the season of Christmas cookies, fudge, candy, and all of the tempting treats that the holidays bring: While I feel I have lost ground, I haven’t given up.
So, as I have done so often throughout this process, I will go back to the plan. Find things to do that are fun for exercise. Keep the processed sugar and processed flour to a minimum (That will mean turning down some cookies. Sorry, cookies).
In the end, it comes down to whether or not I will make my health a priority. I do get discouraged sometimes, but I’ve known from the beginning of this process that it is a long-term change I am working to make, and I have no expectations that it will be easy. So I keep on trucking.
My last thought this week, as I sit here with my gravy breath, is that I’m really thankful that I decided to put this journey out there in the public. It really does help me to be accountable, and for that, I am grateful to all of you who read this column, who stop me in the grocery store or call me on the phone to tell me it makes a difference in your life. Thank you.
What are your strategies keeping yourself healthy during the holiday season? Contact me at 505-286-1212 or [email protected], or join the conversation in my Facebook group, “I’m Losing It!”
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at [email protected]