I asked my 7-year old niece a couple of weeks ago what she’s learned since she started 1st grade. She said that she’s has learned to “make good choices”. I love that for her first grade mind, that’s a one-time lesson.
Of course, we know that the reality is that our entire lives are spent in the struggle to make good choices. As hard as it can be to learn to make good choices, I think it is even harder to learn to forgive ourselves for making poor choices.
For the majority of my adult life, I have made poor choices when it comes to my physical health. I wi
sh I could point to a reason for my bad decisions, but there isn’t just one. I don’t have that one deep, dark secret that caused me to turn to food for comfort. I don’t have a physical condition or illness that has kept me from being physical active. What I have are just a lot of little moments along the road of life when I could have chosen vegetables over ice cream, and I didn’t. I could have taken a walk, and I chose to read a book instead.
I’ve made BIG DECISIONS to get healthy. I’ve made resolutions. I’ve made sweeping changes to my pantry, my refrigerator and my schedule to “get healthy”. I put together a long-term plan, with realistic goals and milestones. And I’ve done all of that with the right mindset. I’m not hung up on my weight. I’m not ashamed of how I look. I’m not worried about what someone else might think about me. But I know that I want to be healthier, I want to live longer, and I want to enjoy more physical activity – and so I resolve to make a major change.
And then I fail usually sometime around day four. I make a bad decision. I have the ice cream. I skip the workout. And my plan is doomed. Weight loss and fitness experts will tell you that you have to just pick yourself up and get back to your plan, but that just doesn’t seem to work for me. My plan didn’t account for failure, and now it’s a blemished plan that isn’t shiny and fun anymore.
So I am taking a new approach – inspired by my favorite 7 year old. I don’t have a plan. I haven’t made any resolutions. There are no milestones I’m tracking. I’m just making good choices as often as possible, and forgiving myself for the bad ones. My new mantra is…
Every moment is a new opportunity to make a good decision.
I don’t know if this approach will work in the long run, but it’s helped me to get through a couple of days of good habits without a sense of overwhelming responsibility to some bigger picture.