At one time a few years ago I was very rigid about what I would consider a victory in terms of weight loss and fitness. If I lost 1 pound over a week, that was a FAILURE. I needed to lose at least 3 pounds over the course of a week for me to consider that I was successful. When I was running, it was unacceptable to just run 30 seconds more than the day before. I had to much run further and/or faster. And one diversion from my rigid eating schedule meant that the entire week was shot.
That worked. I mean, I lost the weight, right? But like many of my strategies it became unsustainable. Maybe because of my own lack of willpower but I certainly couldn’t keep it up and now I find myself where I am.
So I’ve been trying to find a place where I can accept small accomplishments and still consider them victories and be okay with that.
It was about 2 months ago, right before Thanksgiving when I sat in Urgent Care, the inside of my ankle having turned into a swollen and painful mess. Every step hurt. As the doctor gently placed the air cast on me and I was fighting off tears, she told me to cut myself a break - take some time off from running, let yourself heal - after all, she told me, it was the holiday season.
I told her that this is what made it worse - not being able to run during the toughest time of year as far as eating goes - at least for me. She basically told me there was absolutely no alternative - I had to rest it or it simply wouldn’t heal.
Fast forward to today - 2 months later. My goal for this week - not even a full week, mind you, because of the Martin Luther King Day holiday - was to stay out of the peanut butter. Peanut butter was the one thing for this work week that was 100% off limits. It seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? To have an actual goal to avoid 1 food. Not stuffing myself with peanut butter every night should be a no-brainer. But for me, this is an absolute challenge. If I can make it through the rest of tonight I will have achieved that little tiny - and yet monumentous - goal.
I also have been able to run pain free. Slowly and on the treadmill, but I’m putting in the miles. 86 so far this month. My longest run has been 10 miles - a far cry from what I used to do for a “long run”. And so much slower than a few year ago. But still, if I’m keeping up a high heart rate for an hour, it might not make me a stellar runner, but it’s burning the calories, right?
Since I was feeling flush with these “victories” this morning I decided to get on the scale. The last time I stepped on a scale was that Urgent Care visit 2 months ago. The screen read about 2.5 pounds lower. Did I actually lose 2 pounds from then? Who knows given the variation from scale to scale, the time of day, etc. But just stepping on that scale was a big deal since I’ve been so scared to do it for so long. And knowing that I didn’t gain a massive amount since the last time I weighed in was a huge relief. Although the number made me cringe, it hasn’t set me on a downward spiral and depression - at least not yet.
Don’t get me wrong - I have a LOT of work still to do. But having small goals - and letting myself feel good about achieving them - no matter how insignificant they may seem - seems to be a strategy that can work for me - both physically and mentally...