Boomerangs and Blow-Back: When Hope Fails

woman's hair blowing crazy in the windIts three weeks into January.  That means three weeks into our New Year’s Resolutions.  For most Americans, it’s not looking good.  The cold carrots and celery have lost their appeal and become, well, cold carrots and celery.  Withdrawals of all sorts have hit, and we’re considering whether or not to whack our officemate over the head with a keyboard the next time he sinks his teeth into that morning maple bar.  If sidewalk vendors knew what we were thinking on our commute home, they’d splay their arms out in defensive and bellow “Maam, step away from the baguette!”

Barring any run-ins with coworkers or police, I hope your journey towards health is steaming right along.  If it’s not, and that fresh batch of hope you cooked up over New Year’s is starting to turn stale, please take heart.  I’ve been there.  I’ve done that.  There is a way to re-ignite your fire.

I’ve got three strategies for recruiting a little healthy 911.  I hope this helps as you move forward, not only in becoming comfortable in your skin, but comfy in your soul, as well.

Strategy 1:  Tweaking

I have a new favorite word:  tweaking.  It implies change, but on an attainable scale.  It acknowledges that I’m not totally off the mark, just needing a nudge back on track.  Change can be hard, especially when we’re going against the gravitational pull of habit.  That’s why I like the advice given by one of my dear friends, Dan Comstock, in our Attitudinal Healing group.  Dan got this advice from his counselor years back, and it continues to serve him.  Essentially, it scales down the magnitude of change.  When we try to change, our efforts are successful when we have one foot toward a new direction while keeping the other foot planted where we are right now.  Think of it as football players running drills through tires.  They never jump with both feet at once; they tap their way from one hole to the next, always one foot at a time.  They do it quickly, but always one foot at a time.  I use this picture when contemplating change.  I acknowledge the ultimate change I want to see.  Then I ask myself, How can I tweak it one step ar a time?

Strategy 2:  Circle Around the Perfectionist Pitfall

I’ve suffered from life-long perfectionism.  I’ve often held myself to nothing but the ideal:  nothing less than the perfect diet or best workout.  I would do this for a while but had more blow-outs than victories. My 100 pounds journey has taught me that perfectionism, while valuable, comes at a price.  It can zap my energy.  It can suck the hope out of my dreams.  It also contains a heavy dose of mental/emotional blow-back.  Perfectionism demands obedience to ideal expectations.  When I fail those expectations, I come under self-criticism.  Worse, if I hit a physical limitation, then possibility might as well take a knee.  If you’re a perfectionist at heart, please read my blog “Tips for Getting Over the Exercise Hump:  I Hate Forcing Myself to Exercise” for ideas on how to circle around this pitfall.  Leave the perfectionism for that outfit you’re going to totally rock on your next night out.

Strategy 3:  Forgiveness

Someone recently asked me, “What’s your go-to tool for weight loss?”  I didn’t need any time to think.  It’s forgiveness.  My 100 pounds journey has taught me a new definition of forgiveness, one that I use over-and-over — almost every day — and will rely upon for the rest of my days.  The kind of forgiveness I practice doesn’t equal “agreement” with something that was done wrong; nor does it mean wiping a slate clean.  This kind of forgiveness resembles the actual word:  for, meaning “before,” and give, meaning “to offer.”  I can offer myself a chance to change before I actually have changed.  I can give myself space and time to be different.  This is a powerful principle because there’s something in us that wants to constantly compare our progress to an ideal.  When we don’t live up to that ideal, the hope that once encouraged us becomes toxic.  It boomerangs around in our consciousness, morphing into judgment and criticism.  For example, my New Year’s Resolution may have formed around the hope of feeling better  and being able to hike without hurting.  I tackle a few exercise sessions.  Then I get sore.  I become tired.  I miss a few workouts.  Pretty soon, my hope has eroded into nasty whispers of, This’ll never work.  Nothing ever works for you.

To get unstuck and revive my momentum, I need forgiveness.  I need to offer myself the renewed chance to change, before I even head for my next work out.  I take a moment now, since that’s the only time that I really have.  I sit with my feelings, including being disappointed and frustrated.  I let those feelings boil until they’ve lost their energy (All they really wanted was my attention, anyway.)  Then, I take a deep breath and give myself another chance.  The cool thing is, no matter how many times I’ve done this before, forgiveness still works — every time.  That’s because forgiveness resides in the present moment, so there’s always time to be different.  How does different look?  See Strategy 1.

Here’s to a year of health, PLUS getting to know ourselves better than ever.  There’s something inside us that wants to be known by us.  Getting healthy is a great way to start the introductions.

Shelby is on her most revealing and thrilling adventure yet:  to find out what it’s like to lose 100 pounds in 1 year.  She began on Thanksgiving 2011.    Will she make it?  Find out by joining Shelby on this journey, not only of the body, but of the soul and mind.  Shelby lives in Missoula, Montana where she works out at The Women’s Club Health and Fitness Center. 


Filed under Principles

2 responses to “Boomerangs and Blow-Back: When Hope Fails

  1. Thank you for sharing Shelby! I enjoyed reading about all three of your strategies for setting yourself back “on-course,” and I particularly resonated with forgiveness 🙂 it always works.


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