The secret of getting ahead is getting started. -Mark Twain
Everybody says that getting started is the hardest part of anything. Diet and exercise, they say, are no different. Once you get in the mindset of commitment, you’ll be set. Once you begin an exercise regimen and firmly establish it in your life, you’ll be successful. Pinterest is overflowing with inspirational messages written over the image of some fitness prodigy’s insane six-pack abs or enviably toned legs and tiny waist: “You’ll always lap everyone who’s sitting on the couch.” “Yesterday you said tomorrow.”
A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. – Lao Tsu
Well, let me tell you: I’ve had over a decade of tomorrows. Tomorrow I’ll start getting up at 5am to work out, not hitting snooze. Tomorrow I’ll cut out carbonated drinks. Tomorrow I’ll eat well…which means that tonight I can eat this pint of Ben & Jerry’s. The problem is that tomorrow may come, but the next day is a little shakier, and the day after that might already get me saying “tomorrow.” Or I’ll have a good week in full, then one birthday party or one night on the town will get me promising “tomorrow.” Often I’ll shoot for a nice “round” start: the beginning of the week, the beginning of the month, the beginning of the year, my birthday, etc. (this is the same logic that prohibited me from stopping the accumulating gas at the pump at any price other than one ending in a 0 or 5.)
I’ve “started” losing weight with various degrees of accountability: joining Weight Watchers online, joining Weight Watchers in person so the presence of more people in a meeting can motivate, signing up for Jenny Craig and paying up front for the commitment, signing countless verbal agreements with family members to check in on each other’s food logs and weekly encourage one another, founding a blog where I tell all my weight loss secrets to one of my best friends and to the world…
I KNOW how to start a weight loss journey; if it was only about starting, then I would have an Olympic gold medal in this event. “Starting” has become so ingrained that a few times I have begun a commitment to weight loss on a whim, and I actually kept at it for several months. I would get excited to step on the scale and see the fruits (or the negation of fruits, if you will) of my labors. I felt so accomplished and confident when I refused some chocolate or unnecessary treat. But something always happens. The excitement wanes, life obstacles and social events present themselves, and I’m back where I started: waiting to “start.”
Everyone has a success mechanism and a failure mechanism. The failure mechanism goes off by itself. The success mechanism only goes off with a goal. Every time we write down and talk about a goal we push the button to start the success mechanism. – Charles ‘Tremendous’ Jones
I have a serious confession: this time, even the starting isn’t easy. This posting marks the 1-month anniversary of our blog. It’s been an amazing beginning, really: we were Freshly Pressed and featured in a WordPress newsletter, we’ve accumulated more followers than I had ever hoped, especially at this early stage, and they’ve provided so much empathy and positive encouragement. I’ve finally found a way to talk about these issues and my personal struggles (even if I still feel the need to use a pseudonym) in a way that should free me to accomplish my health goals.
I have all the reasons and support in the world necessary to begin – and finish – this journey. The only problem is, I haven’t, and I’m not sure why. All my life, I have placed an extraordinary amount of pressure on myself to perform, to excel. Even though we initially said that if nobody reads this blog but us, we would consider it a success and a tool toward weight loss and healthier living, I, in my overachieving (my capacities for overachieving and perfectionism know almost no bounds), have allowed myself to become stressed over the blog, over scheduling, over good grammar and proper social management. I’ve let even this blog – ironically created as a way to relieve the pressure of bottling up my feelings – pressure me into feeling that need to perform, excel, and succeed. Obviously success at weight loss is my goal, but I will never achieve it if I allow the pressure to paralyze me. I’ve felt like a fraud these past weeks, neglecting to measure/weigh myself every week because I’m too afraid of the results (and of reporting them to readers), not updating my progress journal because I feel as though I’m a hypocrite. Even though we’re using pseudonyms, now that we’ve gone public, I worry that if I don’t succeed, failure will loom even larger and be even more difficult to bear.
I don’t know why I haven’t been committed; sometimes it just seems like I’m waiting for that lightbulb of motivation to turn on, like it miraculously has in the past. But I do know that I’m tired of tomorrows. I do know that I want desperately to succeed. I do know that as much as I am thrilled to have followers and committed friends and family, I owe it to myself to succeed. And I owe it to myself to be patient with the process.
So here’s to a world of todays, devoid of unreachable tomorrows. I embark anew, on a nice round start date of commitment: September 1.
Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
(I want to have genius, power, and magic!)