Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Written in Sand

At the beginning of March, I wrote a blog I called The Body Blog, detailing my desire to lose some weight and trim my ambiguous shape.  Ultimately, I was more concerned for my appearance (I was going to a water park with my students and wanted to feel comfortable with my shirt off in front of them) than I was for my health, although my weight at the time put me outside of the healthy range for Body Mass Index.  I set my goal of dropping to 170 by May 14 and I went to work.
I started very slowly.  I had to learn all of my bad habits - large portion sizes, desire for copious amounts of sugar, eating late at night - and I had to figure out how to get rid of them.  I am vegetarian, and while it would seem being vegetarian would promote healthier eating, it really doesn’t if you aren’t particular.  My food choices tended to stray more towards the cheese and breads group instead of the healthier fruits and vegetables.  I have never pretended that I became vegetarian because of my love of vegetables.  If I was given the choice between a nice bowl of pasta with cheese sauce and a salad, I would gladly choose the pasta.  Then I would add more cheese to it.
One of the easiest ways to battle my eating habits was to find a calorie counting app for my iPhone.  I decided to use Lose It!, which also came with a website.  As soon as I ate anything, I input it, watching my calories approach the limit for the day.  Another nice feature is that I could input exercise as well, and it would reduce my total calorie consumption by the amount I had burned.  That helped motivate me to exercise more.
I was good for two months, watching what I ate and when I ate it, exercising regularly, keeping myself focused on my goal.  I had a few breakdowns during the time, but I always got back on track.  I shrunk my weight from 184 to 176, only six pounds from my goal of 170.
Then May hit.

For anyone who is a band director like I am, May is the devil.  While the rest of the school winds down towards the end of the year, we gear up.  While core curriculum teachers focus on the advent of the summer, band directors focus on the immediacy of today, shoving tomorrow further and further away.  Summer?  What is that?
May is full of band placements, band trips, performance benchmarks, new marcher camp, drum major auditions, officer elections, band banquet, graduation band practice, the spring concert, inventory and instrument assignment, registration night, uniform fitting, merchandise purchasing, marching season planning, cleaning, performance based finals, parent meetings, budget meetings, letter jacket fittings, and a plethora of other items I have conveniently blocked from my memory.
Needless to say, the running stopped, the bike riding stopped, the dieting stopped.  I am a stress eater, I eat my feelings (as one student put it), and I had a lot of stress and a lot of feelings to eat.  I weighed myself yesterday and I was 184 again, erasing all the gains I had found during March and April.  So, now, I am back on the wagon, aiming for that ever elusive 170.  According to LoseIt, I will reach that goal on August 1.
Instead of beating myself up for not hitting my goal on May 14 like I wanted, I am choosing to acknowledge my mistakes, hoping to learn and adjust for the next go.  There is no reason I should berate myself for my weak will when it comes to sweets, or for the ease fast food or donuts offers when it comes to a quick meal in between work obligations.  I prefer to simply fast forward to my next attempt, where I can build on the process instead of tearing down my previous efforts.  As long as I have learned something, and don’t simply repeat the same cycle as before, then I am doing the right thing.
Writing our goals in sand is important.  When a goal is written in stone, it will always be there, reminding you of your failure, and the weight it bares on your shoulders.  Writing your goal in sand allows editing if adjustments are needed.  Having that freedom to mess up, the freedom to know that you will allow yourself a re-do, is liberating.  Too many of us collapse under the pressure of a goal written in stone, when all it takes is a small adjustment to get us to where we want to be.  
For me, August 1 is now the new date.  I have smoothed over the place where I wrote May 14, erasing the guilt and burden I could have felt.  Now, I am free to move forward again, using the lessons I learned to help propel me to my goal.

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