It takes awhile for me to buy into things. I hear them, I process them, I’m pretty sure I know better. And usually, when all is said and done, there’s a 50/50 blend of old and new in my life.
I love when people tell me what works, what I must do. Aaaand that’s sarcastic.
But a couple months ago our company brought in a consultant. (Cue initial eye roll). And I was surprised because the things I learned from him were fascinating, and stimulated my brain. Little tidbits ~ things I’d never thought of before. Perspective.
For example, did you know that multiple studies have been done and it takes 66 days for something to become a habit? It takes 66 days of repeated actions for it to become embedded in your brain as natural. Sixty-six days is no joke.
I mean that sincerely. Because after the hubs and I got back from Italy (both an amazing and excruciating trip) I decided that I needed to make some changes. And I needed to stick to them. I’m really *really* good at trying new things — but I don’t always tough it out. It’s been a four-year journey for me ~ going from someone who never thought about a thing she ate to a person who thinks about everything she eats. And when she eats it. And how much of it she eats. A person who drinks green juice and green smoothies and organic raw kombucha. But once I began tuning into my body, I couldn’t turn the awareness off. So every day is a new beginning of choices, of decisions. Of picking what works for me. (And sidenote, those things have changed and evolved over time).
When I was diagnosed with MS, I decided that nothing was going to change. But that was unrealistic. Like new parents saying that having a child wouldn’t change them. It does. It’s inevitable. Some of the changes are necessary. And some happen without even acknowledging they happened. And some things you fight to keep the same.
But the flip side of the coin is that if you DO decide you want to make a change, you actually have to make the change. You can’t talk about it and then make exceptions every other day. You have to choose to change, and then stick with it.
That’s always been hard for me. I’m an excellent complainer.
It started small. All my ‘healthy’ eating turned out to be not that healthy after all. And then I discovered, that the better you take care of your body & your insides, the more you feel it, and want to stick with it. When you are eating crap and drinking all the time, you aren’t really in touch with how shitty you feel. But when you start to gain perspective, everything begins to shift. Drink water. Get sleep. Eat green veggies. The result is feeling better, having more energy, and generally having less health issues. Good stuff, right?
But the other thing that happened when I was diagnosed was that I went ahead and broke my foot. And it threw my body into a tailspin. And all the healthy things that I’d worked hard to include in my life (running, yoga, hiking, etc) became infinitely harder. I had weakness in my legs, my feet both hurt and were numb all the time …. It was frustrating, depressing, and didn’t inspire much hope for movement.
I sporadically went to the gym and swam laps. But that takes SO MUCH WORK. And it was hard to get into a rhythm with it. When we moved to our new house, I once again joined the gym. I have yet to go. It’s a pretty big money suck. And then, in October, John found out he needed surgery. Big surgery. And he decided to buy a stationary bike.
It sat in our spare room and then our basement, for probably six weeks. It became what all home exercise equipment seems to become — a collector of dust. As our Italy trip approached, I hopped on it once or twice (because clearly, that’s all that is necessary to lose weight and look like a super model). And then we went to Italy. And we did a lot of walking. And I could actually do the walking. Which was a crazy realization. And I started to check my steps on my phone and become aware of how much exercise I was getting daily.
So even though my eating in Italy was terrible, and I paid for it, it also showed me that I was capable of more movement than I knew. So we came home, and I decided (armed with the new knowledge about 66 days) that I would start riding the bike.
I didn’t ride it every day at the beginning. I don’t ride it every day now. But I ride it most days. And I have built up my time and my resistance. (My insanely competitive nature has come in handy!) The other thing I started was tracking my food intake. The first couple weeks were more informational that anything — I logged what I ate. I didn’t change much. I didn’t care if I went over my calorie goal. But then it started to niggle in my brain — if you want a burger, ride the bike. You get 500 more calories! If you want wine, ride the bike. If you don’t want to ride the bike, eat zucchini spirals and drink water.
I have not hit 66 days yet. I’m at 50 (I know this, because My Fitness Pal sends me notifications with exclamation points which means it’s a good thing!). But just like green juice and green smoothies began to change my life four years ago, making exercise a priority — even for 50 days, after such a long break — has changed my life.
I know that sounds pretty intense. But I have started to take better care of myself because I feel the difference. I’m actually watching what I’m eating, and I’m moving my body & muscles. I’m getting a healthy sweat in nearly every day (which has done wonders for my stress levels, I have to say!). It feels good to be focused, and to also see results. Do I look like Christy Turlington? No. I am certain that will never happen. But my body feels tighter, I am sleeping better, and I’ve lost a couple of pounds. So my clothing fits better, my eyes are brighter and I don’t have such dark under-eye circles.
About two weeks in, I really thought I’d see something. And I saw nothing. I weighed MORE, I was tired all the time (this is nothing new — MS takes care of that on the regular). But I felt like I was hitting my head against a wall. I took a day off here and there, and curled up on the couch, drank wine and ate sushi. And then I got up the next day and tried again. And the longer I pushed myself to ride the bike, hit the bag, the better I began to feel.
I am proud of myself for making the commitment to do this for 66 days. Because even 50 in, I know I’ll stick with it. I am finally feeling the benefits and the difference in myself. I’ve seen all the memes about life being short, and enjoying the cake. I enjoy the cake. But I also enjoy the kombucha, and the spiralized zucchini, and the green smoothies. And those things make my whole body and my mind feel good, too. So that’s a huge plus.