You make hundreds of small decisions all day, every day. What to wear, what to eat, should I buy this, where will I go for lunch, who should I go for a walk with or should I just park it on the couch, who will I love, I’ll answer this call and not answer this one, I’ll go here at 6:00, I’ll respond to this e-mail; I’ll delete this one, I will stay at this job or I will apply for this one and on and on it goes, day after day, month after month, year after year. Some decisions though are tougher to make and that is where I am at right now. Not really making the decision but more making the decision into a reality.
I can’t believe that this quote just popped up for me and it is exactly what I needed to hear! It’s funny because all of the training I have had over the years has taught me that if you don’t take action on your choices and decisions they are just a wish. My training has taught me to own up to my mistakes. It has taught me to understand other people’s opinions and how to analyze my responses or reactions to those opinions. It has taught me optimism and has empowered me to take control of my life without blaming others for my shortfalls. It has taught me to be true to my word and true to myself, to be authentic and sincere. It has taught me that if it is to be it is up to me. I’m finding that I don’t have a tough time deciding that I want to do something, but lately the issue is taking action to make that decision into a reality. What is going on you ask? My issue is that I make excellent food choices all day long, but the evening comes around and all hell breaks loose, meaning my sweet tooth, my crunchy cravings, my hunger not hunger comes to visit and I don’t even want the company. What is my problem? I tell myself every single morning that tonight I’m going to do better. I have even gone so far as to throw the luring foods away in the morning but in the evening, I will get up and make some cookies or melt some chocolate and pour it over my popcorn…….what am I doing? This is how bad it is occasionally – I have fallen asleep on the couch and woke up just as a jelly bean was ready to go down my throat. Wanna know what the absolute ludicrous part of that is, I haven’t done that just ONCE. And no, I don’t eat jelly beans unless someone is with me anymore, I clearly can’t be trusted with them. Why can’t I get my sh&% together?
So, I figured I should go back to what my intentions and needs were for my health since stopping work 2 years ago due to my MS. The first year my strategy was to plan absolutely nothing so I could begin to build up my energy as I was in an absolute energy deficit from working long hours and in a stressful, fast paced work environment while having active MS. So, that’s what I did and I could slowly feel my energy levels build back up, deplete, build back up and repeat. It took that entire year to have more energy build ups than energy depletions for the week and after that year I knew I was ready to make some new commitments to my health. My next commitment to myself was to spend the following year getting some physical activity in. When I was working, I had zero energy for physical fitness and I worked as a fitness coordinator……go figure. I missed feeling well enough to take on some activity. That’s one of the things that MS robs you of – your energy. I knew that this commitment was going to be more difficult to honor. Before I developed MS, I was fairly active; I hiked, taught fitness classes, played soft ball, golfed occasionally, walked, I considered myself an active person. But when you hurt daily, have brain fog, you have trouble forming words, you can’t walk a straight line, you have muscle spasms, dragging feet, shooting pains, blah blah blah fitting physical activity in is a challenge. I had to figure out a way to make it work and the only way I knew how to do it was to think about the things I loved to do and then look at it to determine whether it was something that would fit in with the limitations I faced daily. If the answer was no, I had to be ok with putting it aside and acknowledge that those things were fun to do while I could but I can’t do them anymore and that’s ok. I knew I couldn’t hike big hikes anymore but I could walk around the block. Could I go to a fitness class and do it safely? Nope, but I could take up yoga so I did. Can I play soft ball? Hell no, besides that, I wasn’t very good anyway, off the table softball goes. Golf – yes, that is something I could do and my doctors encouraged me to do so as often as I can. Now I know that I can walk when I can but for the most part, I use a golf cart. I’m still not a very good golfer but this is something I can do, so I did (and continue to do). I can swim – I utilize aqua therapy when I need it but I can also swim as it is easy on my body and I found out that my muscles were happy when I swim.
Now starting year # 3 of not working due to my MS, I have made a commitment to make my full-time job managing my MS which includes making sound nutrition choices to continue my path to having the best quality of life that I can. And I do – all day most days. And I don’t, more nights than I care to admit. Maybe I’m bored? Maybe I need to go to bed when the monster rears its ugly head? Maybe I am comforted by snacks? Maybe and this is what I think is going on and that is that I have developed an extremely bad habit – nothing more nothing less. So, how can I break it? How can I honor my commitment to myself to manage my MS in such a way as to allow me to live the healthiest life available with the hand that I have been dealt? What I do know is that all the habits that I have right now — good or bad — are in my life for a reason. In some way, these behaviors provide a benefit to me, even if they are bad for me in other ways. I also know that this habit in particular, is preventing me from accomplishing my goal and without sounding dramatic it is jeopardizing my health. The good news is that I can teach myself new and healthy habits and strategies to help me which I can then substitute in place of this bad habit.
As Napoleon Hill has stated, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.”
Momentum comes through actions, so daily I need to do something that moves me forward to my goal. Even a small act can be significant. So, what substitutes can I make when the mood to snack hits me? Breathing exercises, meditation, yoga stretching, have fruit cut up in the fridge for easy access, go to bed the first time I doze on the couch, etc. In addition to replacing the bad habit with better habits and with something that moves me towards my goal. I am going to:
Be accountable to others – That’s why I am pouring it out to the world. If you all know that I am going to do better, then it will be hard for me not to do it. The key is to do this because I want to though, not to avoid judgement, I am strictly looking for support, not a babysitter – my friends and family are off the hook! This one is all me, but feel free to ask me how I am doing!
Be accountable to myself – In the long run, a more consistent and healthier plan is to be accountable to myself. This will come from within, the good thing is it’s up to me, the bad thing is that it’s up to me. Accountability requires believing in myself enough to be 100% dedicated to getting the work done.
Start saying I “choose” instead of I “should”– I have choices in this and I also know what I should do. If I look at it as what I should do, it takes my personal power away and makes me feel like I’m not in control which is ridiculous. Making this a choice will make it easier to take action.
Cut myself some slack but don’t accept my own excuses – I just need to remember that screwing up doesn’t make me a bad person, it makes me human. We all fail, in fact, failure is good just ask Walt Disney or Thomas Edison. Everybody gets off track. So rather than beating myself up over a failure, I just need to plan for it and get back on track quickly.
So, here I go! I know that year #3 has some great things in store for me! As I’ve said before, I may have MS but it certainly doesn’t have me.