Two steps forward, one step back

I’m not superstitious—but last week when I wrote this column about how everything just fell into place, some tiny corner of my brain said, “Don’t jinx it!”

The universe (having a great sense of humor) saw fit to take me to the other extreme this past week: Instead of everything going right, everything went wrong with my plans for eating right and working out.

Okay, I really can’t blame it on the universe. I took a bunch of actions that derailed my own plans. I hate it when I do that, but I do it regularly.

This past week, for example, I really fell off the wagon when it came to sugar. In a single day I had both cheesecake and some triple-decker extravaganza of chocolate cake with gooey frosting. That in itself isn’t such a big deal. I don’t aim never to eat sugar the rest of my life, only to get it out of my daily fare.

The kicker was that at the same time I was blowing my diet, I was also blowing off my workout routine.

Part of it was going to the annual conference of the New Mexico Press Association, of which I’m a board member. That conference was the source of the desserts, for example, and it meant I was sitting for long stretches on the weekend, a time when I usually get a bit more active. And because of the timing of the conference, I missed two of my regularly scheduled workouts. I did get some extra exercise Friday, when my daughter and I went foraging for chokecherries, currants, plums and piñon—I count lots of weird stuff as a workout. If it tires me out, you bet I’m going to count it. Our foraging trip meant lots of walking, stretching, and crawling. I don’t know how my daughter felt but I know I got to use some muscles that don’t usually get a workout.

The bottom line was that instead of everything falling gracefully into place, my plans were pretty much all a muddled mess by the end of the week. But as I’ve noted before, there will always be something to disrupt my routine; long-term, this is something I must deal with.

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Walking, reaching, stretching, and holding my arms up until they burned while picking piñon and other forest goodies were some of the exercises I did accidentally last week.

So here’s the plan: Rule No. 1 remains, “No beating myself up.” That’s important. So I missed a workout, and I didn’t make it up with crazy dancing or even a bit of strenuous housework. And I ate more desserts than I should have. So be it.

It used to be that when I derailed myself through recalcitrant actions or sheer laziness, that I would then take that as an excuse for an extended bout of self-loathing—a derail-o-rama, if you like. A well-I-fell-off-the-sugar-wagon-so-I-might-as-well-eat-the-whole-cake frenzy of blowing my own plans up.

The key for me these days is to minimize the damage. I’m already not beating myself up. Who needs it. And frankly it doesn’t work anyway. The thing to do is get back to the plan as quickly as possible.

In my current scenario, I missed most of my workouts last week. But Sunday night, I still did my meal planning and preparation for the week. It’s Monday, and I still have myself scheduled for a trip to the gym. I have still planned out workouts for my week ahead, and written them in my calendar. I am not jumping off the “oh well I blew it” cliff.

Changing habits is hard. It’s certainly hard for me. Referencing Rule No. 1, I’m still learning to be kind enough to myself to realize I’ve had 30-some years practice in not taking care of myself as compared with less than a year of building good habits. I don’t expect instantaneous change. I might occasionally wish for the magic wand, but the non-superstitious part of me knows that what I am describing is work. The good news for me is that I am not afraid of hard work.

How do you keep yourself on track? Shoot me an email at leota@lobo.net or call me at 505-286-1212—I’d love to feature your successful strategies here. Or join the conversation in my Facebook group by searching for “I’m Losing It!”