Monday, July 14, 2008

Positive Feedback and Goals

One of the things that has helped me stick with my wellness routines--such as eating healthy, exercising, meditation, and sleep hygiene--has been the positive feedback I've received. And I'm not talking about positive feedback from other people--I'm talking about the positive feedback I'm getting from my own body.

Since I put these routines in place, I have lost 45 lbs, and the benefits of this are enormous--I no longer huff and puff going upstairs; I don't get a sweat rash on my thighs in the summer; my feet don't hurt anymore, and I'm actually finding that I'm able to do exercise involving some impact work, something I thought I'd never be able to do again.

I also have a lot more mental clarity. Some of this is due to stopping the psych meds I was taking, but I am convinced that a large part of it is due to my instituting a sleep schedule and being absolutely rigid about sticking to it. Getting the right amount of sleep is extremely important for your mind and body.

My moods are much more stable, and I attribute this to my stopping aspartame, stopping antidepressants, eating a much more nutritious diet, and getting myself into a regular exercise routine which includes yoga. I also have a greater sense of peace, and a greater sense of contentment. I think that my mental health is better now than it has been for most of my adult life.

The only problem with this scheme is that it has been slow to incorporate and slow to show results. The difference over time is amazing... but it has taken a long time for me to fully incorporate these wellness activities into my life, and a long time to see results. And I still have times when I backslide. I've been working on losing my Depakote weight for two years now, and I'm still not finished (I'm close, though! Fifteen pounds to go!). I know intellectually that losing weight slowly through a combination of sensible diet and exercise is the safest, most-likely-to-be-permanent way to lose weight, but it has not been easy, and I would like to see those numbers going down faster!

So while it's nice to have someone notice that I've lost weight, it's even nicer to be pain free and to feel happy and content most of the time. When I get impatient, I just have to think about all the positive feedback I'm receiving from my mind and body--and that's enough to keep me going.

Writing Prompt: Many things that are worth achieving take time, and in our culture of quick fixes and I-want-it-now, a lot of people don't have the patience to work slowly towards a long-term goal. Are there any long-term goals you have been putting off working towards because they look so big and so impossible? Reaching those goals is a matter of small steps, taken successively.

When I started losing weight, my long-term goal was to lose sixty lbs. Sixty! Even at a healthy two pounds a week, we're talking the better part of a year, and that was assuming I could lose two pounds a week. So I broke it down into smaller parts. I wasn't going to concentrate on losing sixty pounds, I was going to concentrate on losing the first five. Losing five pounds was a small amount that I felt I could lose in a reasonable amount of time.

What is a small, positive step you can take today towards achieving a long-term goal? Is it possible to break the goal down into smaller parts that don't look as daunting? What is a reasonable way to break it down?


Gianna said...

I just take things one day at a time. My overarching goal is wellness. I do what I can on a daily basis.

Today I made phone calls to yoga studios. Will be starting a class tomorrow.

I don't worry about weight, myself. I make my over all health my priority. If I shed weight, which I probably will as soon as I become more active for a span of time, great but it simply isn't the goal.

I do have a goal to be able to take my half day hikes in the mountains by falls end. The fact that this is conceivable to me is incredible.

I walked an hour yesterday...I don't over think the steps to my goal---I just do what I can when I can...that's just me.

When I'm physically well I'm an athlete by nature so it does sorta just happen.

Jazz said...

Yeah, a lot of this stuff is kind of what works for you...I know with some writing goals, I end up way overanalyzing every step, and so with writing, I'm better off not trying to break it down, just letting it happen.

That's one of the things that's cool about weight, though...once you make being healthy your goal, it kind of all falls into place...and falls off! I didn't really go at it with a plan...Just like you said, a day at a time, and don't think about how far you have to go...(sometimes it's better to think about how far you've come).

That's awesome that you were able to walk for an hour! You have come a really long way in a fairly short time. You must feel so good about that!

Terra Incognita said...

Wow, I am SO GLAD to have read this today. I don't know why, it just resonated with me. Thanks.

Jazz said...

Terra, thank you for posting this comment! I really needed to hear that this post resonated with someone, because I was feeling like it wasn't as good as it could have been. I guess I'm feeling a bit negative at the moment. So thanks for boosting my spirits!

Wellness Writer said...

I agree and feel that most people are not aware of how they feel. The value of my six years of detailed mood charts was to be very clear about how medication, diet, exercise, sleep, stressors, etc. affected me.

Now, I no longer keep the charts in same way, but I'm very careful to "monitor" things so that when I begin feeling poorly, I can quickly compensate.

With the death of my dog yesterday, and a health scare, I realized that today I'm just exhausted. So...I canceled all my plans except a dental appointment. I realized that I'm too spent to exercise or be outdoors, which is my usual therapy.

I've spent the day resting and watching Westerns (one of my vices), and I've listened to music, and napped.

I'm feeling much better, although I'm taking one last nap before going to the dentist.

Of course, it helps that my son is "grown up," drives, and can take care of himself!


Jazz said...

I'm glad that you are taking care of yourself--and that you recognize the need to do so.

As you said, a lot of people aren't in tune enough with themselves to know when they need to take a break.

When I've had lot of emotional stuff like you have going on, I really need to withdraw and do some things for me, just to sort of regain my equilibrium.

Good for you for knowing that you needed to do that, and for listening to yourself and doing it!