Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Change is Hard

Change is hard. I don’t think anybody likes change. Even when it’s a good change. I’ve been working on some positive changes since the start of the year, and to tell the truth, most days it feels like I’m getting nowhere. But every now and then a spark of awareness occurs, and I realize, that yes, I am making progress.

Take my 100 miles in 100 days walking challenge, for example. It started out slow, 45 minutes or 1-2 miles a day, then gradually increased to 1-1 ½ hours, or 4-5 miles a day, putting me way over the goal by having around 95 miles logged in before the first 50 days was up.

So I decided to scale back to a manageable three miles a day and carry on, shoot for 200 miles in 100 days. I now have 7 days left, and 17 miles to go.

But what started out as a little something to make me more active (since at the time I couldn’t use any of the machines at the Y and was not exercising at all), has now become an hour a day habit.

Now, if you had told me at the beginning that “You will have to spend one hour of each day walking” for the rest of your life, I would have said, no way, can’t do it, don’t have the time. Now, nearly 100 days later, I can’t imagine going through my day without doing something physical (I’m back to using some equipment at the Y), or, at the very least, walking. I get grumpy if I miss my daily walk or fitness break.

So with that habit now firmly entrenched, I’ve started a new challenge. I’ve joined a group of fellow writers committed to writing 1000 words a day. Blogs don’t count. (So what you’re reading now does not count toward my total for today.) Our 1000 words have to be words written on our books, or works in progress. Yesterday was the first day. I can’t tell you how hard it was to decide what to write and then sit down and do it. Again, if someone had said to me, “You will have to write 1000 words a day for the rest of your life,” I would have said, no way, can’t do it, don’t have the time. Life gets in the way, you know?

But since this is a time-limited challenge, like the 100 miles in 100 days walking, I said yes, I can do that. Our challenge will last about six weeks. I’ve heard it takes only three weeks to develop a new habit, so by the end of the six weeks, I should have the new habit of writing 1000 words a day, and not just when time permits and inspiration hits.

But what I’ve found already is it’s complicated when you have two goals that oppose each other. Writing involves sitting in the chair and typing. Walking involves getting up and moving around. How on earth am I supposed to fit both into a day already chock full of things to do?

The answer is priorities. A long time ago, I made a list of seven priorities. Writing and exercise are on that list, but I now see that was an exercise in intentions vs. reality. These challenges will help me to make those priorities something more than words on a list of good intentions. I figured out yesterday that since the walking is now a priority and I get grumpy if I don’t walk, that I will always make time for walking. So the writing, being a new element I am adding to my routine, has to come before the walking. Can’t go walking until I finish writing.

And so the change builds, one step after another.

Another change I have been trying to make is to improve my eating habits. Not that they were all that bad to start with, but yes, I could use a little adjustment. Mostly having to do with dairy products and sugar. Still, the thought of never eating some of my favorite snack items again was truly daunting. I didn’t think it could be done. But slowly, gradually, I ate what was in the cupboards and refrigerator at the time, and simply didn’t buy those dairy products and processed snack foods any more. I watched in amazement as the contents of my fridge shifted over to only healthy choices, and surprise of surprises, I didn’t feel deprived.

Over the weekend we had an impromptu picnic here. My friends brought the guests and the food. Hamburgers, hot dogs, cole slaw, potato salad, fruit salad, baked beans, strawberry-rhubarb crumble, macaroni-tuna salad, and ice cream and cones. Between us we had five cartons of ice cream lined up on the table. It was truly a feast for friends.

But as I started to eat, I noticed I could taste the sugar in everything. The potato salad was the exception, so I had two helpings of that. But I was even able to taste the sugar in the bun of my annual hot dog. The ketchup, something I only eat on my annual hot dog, no doubt added to the sweetness. The baked beans were so sweet I decided I wouldn’t need any dessert, and I was only able to pick the tart filling out of the strawberry rhubarb crumble. The brown sugar coated oat crumble I couldn’t eat at all. The only way I was able to have any ice cream was an hour later, with a cup of coffee to counteract the sweetness.

Used to be I couldn’t drive past the ice cream shop without wanting to stop. Now it’s the last thing I want to do. My stomach gets queasy just thinking about it. My taste buds have changed, have adapted to my healthier style of eating, and have no desire to go back. Even my long-time favorite, brownies, no longer have any appeal.

But if you’d told me six months ago I’d never eat brownies or ice cream again, I’d have said, no way, can’t do it, can’t even imagine living without it.

Now, however, I can.

So yes, change is hard.

But not impossible.


Mona Risk said...

Yes changes are difficult but once you pass the first effort, adjustement is easy. I adjusted to healthy food during six months and my health improved a lot. Then came traveling and I messed up. Now I need a new effort to start again on healthy food. But I adjusted to writing 1000 words every day and to walk on the treadmill. The important thing is
not to stop as it would need so much effort to start again.

Liana--Thanks for being my inspiration and the kick in the butt I need from time to time. LOL

Sheryl said...

Wanting to do it for you, is the driving force, I think. Making up your mind to do it, because you're worrrrth it!

Nice blog, Liana. Good luck with that 1,000 words. The miles...I think you've cracked it, kiddo! :)