A Little at a Time

Making a transition from a relatively sedentary lifestyle to a robust, active one is not a “walk in the park”. Changing the way in which you view food, and then, of course, consume it isn’t exactly a “piece of cake” either. How overwhelming must it be for one who might be led to believe that an extreme makeover in both areas is required immediately. How damaging to one’s dream it can be to attempt the inappropriate and massive restructuring of their lives which they believe must occur all at once. I have discussed the basics of this important concept of change with you on previous occasions. Let me please address this issue of urgency and put it in its proper perspective.

I suppose this might be a good time to drop a bombshell announcement. I have never liked the show “The Biggest Loser”. In truth, I’ve only seen it a couple of times and read a random article or two concerning the program. However, between that exposure and the testimonies of others who have also viewed it sparingly in the past, I believe I have sufficient evidence to state the following: what is being lost is perspective, not pounds. These “guinea pigs” are not those whose routines you need to follow. They have consented to be part of a laboratory experiment for all the world to see. What you do see is an illusion. You cannot hope to emulate anything concerning their existence as part of the series. They cannot even dream of recreating the same circumstances and environment when the cameras stop recording. What they experience is an extremely distorted reality. Who among you can put your entire life on hold, hire a drill sergeant for a trainer to torture you, and retain a personal chef to prepare all your meals? I don’t see any hands raised. The message that this over-hyped, sensationalized non-reality show is sending is doing more harm than its producers could possibly imagine. Dramatic or forced shifts in exercise and eating habits do not translate into successful daily behavioral patterns. If the motivation behind the “shock therapy” for body transformation is purely for a monetary prize, or a brief encounter with fame, or simply to attract attention, or to please somebody else, it will prove to be one’s downfall.

Do you think that genuinely understanding why some changes in your current lifestyle truly do need to occur could actually encourage a more sensible approach? I believe that the answer is yes. Without a more complete perspective, change can easily be viewed in one of two unproductive, even destructive ways. One’s mindset might be that it is altogether too difficult and therefore any attempt will be futile. Another view of change suggests that it is something society requires of them. This offers a very strict set of standards to which absolute adherence is expected. If you are overweight, you must do something to resolve that problem now. Apparently, if you are too thin, you don’t fit in either. You are constantly bombarded with the false declaration, “Assimilate or you have no chance to fully participate.” There is so much pressure, and not just on the youth, to look, act, and speak in a manner that is deemed acceptable. Interestingly, these assigned bench-marks for behavior, by which you are judged harshly, are constantly shifting causing more confusion. Too frequently, even those who should be counted on for support amid the barrage of negativity simply add to the problem. Repeatedly telling someone that he or she has to stop making so many unhealthy choices without offering a plan, and therefore a possible solution is hopelessly unproductive. Constantly nagging another who is carrying around extra weight on their frame is not going to lighten the burden they feel. Sadly, cast aside are the virtues of compassion, understanding, patience, and unconditional love. In their place can be found ridicule, finger-pointing, bullying, and then abandonment. Pushed to their physical and emotional limits in an all-out effort to comply, it is easy to see how many people might feel that there is simply no point anymore in trying to change.

So, what is to be done? You cannot physically do for others what they must do for themselves. However, as all are commissioned to comfort those in need of comfort and bear one another’s burdens, there is plenty of good work that you can perform. Striving always to be positive, uplifting, and encouraging is a wonderful start when those who are close to you feel that the things they wish for are so far out of reach. Help them to do a little at a time. Procrastination will lead to no worthwhile destination, but that doesn’t mean I recommend fool-heartedly rushing into anything pertaining to one’s fitness and food rehabilitation. This is a serious undertaking. It can be seriously difficult. So, take it head-on, but do so one step at a time. Don’t try to run a marathon when you should really first take that walk in the park. Those with a proper perspective grasp the notion that, generally speaking, if you are healthier you will be happier. When you experience an increase in happiness, you will tend to be more productive and helpful to those around you. Willingly becoming more helpful will lead to a life that is more hopeful of the future. All of this equates to better long-term stress management. Adversity becomes easier to accept and deal with. Barring the unforeseen, with the hope that is in you, a more complete and satisfying life can be attained, regardless of its length.

When evidence of risk factors for diabetes, stroke, heart-attack, etc. becomes quite clear, I hope that you do feel a heightened sense of urgency to address it. Nevertheless, urgency does mean you have to press the panic button with both hands. “I don’t believe that good work is ever done in a hurry.”-C.S. Lewis For many of you, D.I.E.T. modification has to be broken down to this: begin one meal at a time, one bite at a time, one day at a time! If you have not been a breakfast eater in years, an excellent initial goal should be to work on making this first meal of the day a priority. It is frankly a little too much to handle to attempt to do any more than that. Once your “fast break” meal in the morning has become habitual, then move on to tackle the next step in the plan. This involves the mini meal or healthy snack concept. Slowly, but surely, you can build a solid daily routine that is manageable. Little by little, the confidence which you need to continue to refine your approach will grow within you. “I think I can. I think I can.” will morph into “I know I can. I know I can.” Some may be able to wipe their daily plate clean and revamp their D.I.E.T in total from the beginning. But, most will not be successful going this route. It may seem like an uphill battle, but keep on chugging, little by little. “Believe in what your heart is saying. Hear the melody that’s playing. There’s no time to waste. There’s so much to celebrate. Believe in what you feel inside and give your dreams the wings to fly. You have everything you need, if you just believe.”-Josh Groban, “Believe”

photo credit: Leonard John Matthews via photopin cc