Signs of the Times
When I visited our daughter in Korea I was impressed with some motivational quotes she had up on her mirror. I copied them into my notebook and made up my own signs when I got home.
The one that impressed me the most was this one:
Fitness is 20% exercise and 80% nutrition. You can’t out run your fork!
Amen, sister. Especially as we age and our metabolism slows down. It takes less to keep us going but we continue to eat what we did at a younger age and all that excess food ends up as excess flab hanging from our arms, rolled around our torso, and blobbing down our legs. It is not a pretty picture.
There are formulas to figure out how many calorie you need to maintain your current weight. One of them stated that if you aren’t exercises vigorously for more than 30 minutes, five or six times each week, you have a sedentary lifestyle. Yep, that’s me. And sedentary bodies need far fewer calories than marathon runners.
Consider this: a regular sized candy bar has somewhere between 200 and 250 calories in it (depending on which one you choose). You’ve got to walk for a whole hour at a three mile per hour pace to burn that off. What if I eat an extra 1,000 calories? Who has time to go for a brisk four hour long walk? Not me, that is for sure. It takes too much exercise just to stay even, let alone try to lose the excess, if I keep overeating. This is where portion control is valuable, and I will address that in more excruciating detail later.
Another motivational sign above Liz’s sink said “There is no diet that will do what healthy eating does. Skip the diet and just eat healthy.” I will add “And not emotionally,” which is what I tend to do. A “diet” can be thought of as a hare approach, swift, but not permanent. The tortoise approach is a slow, steady change of habits that is permanent and a winner. What makes this difficult is there is so much information available that it is challenging to read or study it all and so much of it is conflicting that who knows what is correct. We will get to that later too.
The third motivational sign was a good one for me: If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results. Now we are talking! It reminding me a verse in the Book of Mormon that could be paraphrased to say “. . .by small and simple changes are great results brought to pass.” (See Alma 37:6) This fits with the concept of the tortoise plan, slow and steady changes. If we stop and think for a moment, we didn’t suddenly wake up one day and look at ourselves in the mirror and say “Where the heck did all of this come from, I won’t fit in any of my size _____ today. What happened?” No, it crept up on us ounce by ounce barely noticeable at first, but after ten pounds or so our clothes were tight and we bought a bigger size. And so on until we are an enormous size and wishing it was not so. I have often fantasized about going to sleep one night and waking up in my former body, the slim and trim one I used to have. Nice fantasy right? Not going to happen, but hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?
In all my attempting (or trying) to lose weight I studied a bit about habits and how to change them. I think I have found that it is about the same as everything else. What works for one person does not necessarily work for another. The only constant being a firm commitment to the change, and a persistence beyond momentary failure.
When my children have struggled to learn a new skill and complained that it is hard, I have reminded them that they learned how to both walk and talk. Did they give up when it was hard to learn those two things? No. Did they quit with the first stumble or stutter? No. Okay then, you can do hard things and persistence and consistency will win in the end. Oh, good advice for me.
As I was pondering one day about what other habits I have that give me what I want I decided on this one:
I want a clean kitchen so I do dishes daily.
I want a slim, fit body so I eat nutritionally and exercise daily.
That is my own motivational sign. Getting what I want is a matter of doing what I have to do to get it. There is no magic fantasy granting fairy god mother to wave her sparkly wand and wake me up in the body I want. I have to do it myself, day by day. Because of that thought I came up with another sign for my wall of motivation.
The choices I make today determine what I will look and feel like tomorrow.
My goal is to be a healthy, active woman, wife, mother and grandmother.
(I am not a grandmother yet, just planning ahead.)
My outcome is a result of my choices. I have made other good choices in my life, such as protecting my fair skin from the sun. I have used sunscreen and worn broad brimmed hats and long sleeves for all my adult years. Several doctors have told me that my skin is in beautiful shape for my age. They marvel that there is so little sun damage. So I know I can do things that are good for me. It is simply a matter of choice.
The last sign I have up is made of three reminders. I will try to explain them and their importance to me.
The first one comes from a talk by Clayton Christensen telling about being on the basketball team at a university in England where he was studying and having a winning season. They got to the playoffs and the game was to be on Sunday. Previously he had made a decision to not play on Sunday. Now he was under pressure to do so. He pondered and prayed about it, finally deciding not to play, but to honor his commitment to keep the Sabbath day holy. As he thought about playing he tried to rationalize that it was just this once and it was extenuating circumstances so it was justified. He felt the Spirit whisper to him that there will always be extenuating circumstances and that it was better to just be obedient. So he was, and his team won without him. For himself he was strengthened for all the subsequent situations of extenuating circumstances where he was tempted to violate the commandments and standards that he had covenanted to keep.
1. There will always be extenuating circumstances.
The second reminder is from my Book of Mormon hero Nephi. When his father, the prophet Lehi, tells him of the commandment of the Lord to return to Jerusalem and get the Brass Plates, unlike his older brothers who complained of the difficulties involved, Nephi submitted and said “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” (See 1 Nephi 3:7) Nephi went and did and was successful. I can do the same.
2. Be like Nephi: “I will go and do!”
Another hero of mine is the modern prophet, Joseph Smith. He was an instrument in the hands of the Lord to restore and re-establish the Church of Jesus Christ in its fulness. Joseph faced tremendous challenges and persecution, finally being martyred at the age of thirty-eight. He remained cheerful and steadfast throughout. He accomplished more in his short years than most in double or more the amount of years. At one point when persecution was especially bad he wrote a letter, while falsely imprisoned, to the saints outlining their duties. He concluded saying:
Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, for his arm to be revealed. (See Doctrine and Covenants 123:17)
I do not have power over others (like my husband and children) to change their desires and eating habits to be more compatible with mine. I have to allow them the freedom to choose and act according to their desires. I cannot change the weather so I can go for a walk outside every day of the year. I cannot grow a garden year round or grow citrus or other warm weather fruit trees here in Iowa. In fact we move so often that I have not lived in a place long enough to plant a fruit tree and see it reach maturity. Still, there is much that I can choose to do to be healthy if I choose to do so.
3. Be like Joseph: “. . . let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power.”
The other papers on my motivational wall include an enlargement of the size measurement chart from a sewing pattern envelope to show me where I am and where I want to be; and a graph-paper chart of my weight taken each Saturday morning of the year. That has been helpful as a visual of my ups and downs. I would have liked it to all be downs, but at least I know where I am. It was a first step to changing habits, and I will make a new chart in January and keep going, with greater hope for the consistently downward line I want to see.
Each of has to find the interior motivation that best suits our personality. For me it is a challenge to meet the needs of my family which differ from mine, but at least if I acknowledge the differences I can do what is necessary to accommodate those differing needs.