I’ve been “should”ing myself crazy these last few weeks. “I should eat more spinach,” “I should go for a walk,” “I should not buy those potato chips.” I don’t know if it’s the winter doldrums or just plain laziness, but asking anything of my body or mind lately is like asking grandson Luca if he wants jelly on his peanut butter sandwich. The answer is always a resounding, “No!” (Followed by a five-minute explanation of why he used to like jelly, but doesn’t anymore, and then making you pledge that you will never, never, EVER put jelly on his peanut butter sandwiches ever again because he doesn’t like jelly anymore. Just peanut butter. But not chunky peanut butter. Just plain peanut butter. And no jelly.)
Recently, a friend was explaining the details of a complex job he was working on, saying that a lot of people in his field go through the motions without ever knowing why. To him, he said, “It’s not enough to know how, but you have to know why.”
In weight loss and maintenance, that inquiry can be reversed. It’s not enough to know why, but you have to know how. I know why eating an apple is more healthy than eating a Pop Tart, but knowing how to choose the apple instead of the Pop Tart requires more skill than simply reaching for and biting into the apple.
Either way, bringing curious attention to both the how and the why is the only way to combat the “should”s. Asking “Why am I ‘should’ing myself up a wall?” is more difficult than mindlessly burying my nose in a bag of Kettle Brand baked potato chips, extra crunchy with sea salt (I don’t care how low fat they are…they are devil spawn), but in the end, a better choice.
I’m going to be Ms. Obvious here: doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest. But planting reminders of what matters most along our journey can help when we run into the “should”s and the resounding “No!”s.
Writing – whether it’s in a journal or a blog – not only gives me clarity in the present moment, but over the last eight years, has left a paper trail that guides me back to my intentions when I’ve lost my way.
One of my blog posts that reminded me why it was imperative that I extract my face from the potato chip bag was, “What Is Your Deepest Intention?” from 2009.
“I had to decide if I wanted to eat my way to an early death or live the healthiest life I could for as long as I could. That decision became my deepest intention.
“Did I falter once in awhile? Yes. But ultimately, I always went back to the intention.
“That intention continues to guide me in maintenance. Without it, I’d behave the same way I always did when I got to some weight goal: by not paying attention to my food intake and slacking off on exercise.”
Creating a volume of writing is like creating a safety net, a place you can fall when you forget that what you’re thinking and doing has all been thought and done before. You just need a reminder that you’re not alone. You have your former self!
If you’ve kept journals or blogs throughout your weight journey, how often do you go back and re-read your words? Perhaps – in the doldrums of winter – you could use a little self-inspiration to help recall the whys and the hows of your journey, too?