By Louise Kennedy
It’s true. I did lose 175 pounds – in a single day, no less. But of course there’s more to it than that; this is hardly a “Biggest Loser” situation. And the backstory is actually my real story this week.
Here’s how I lost 175 pounds overnight: I hauled three huge bags of clothing, six boxes of books and a lamp out of my house, merrily placing them on the scale right before they went out the door. This is an idea I learned from my decluttering guru, Flylady, and you’d be amazed how motivating it is. Seeing those numbers mount up makes you want to find more stuff to get rid of, and it turns a fairly boring, even depressing task into something close to fun.
I needed the help, because the reason I’m decluttering is that, for a lot of complicated reasons, I need to put my house on the market this spring. I’m not particularly happy about it, but I know it has to happen. That combination of feelings has created a huge emotional vortex that has been dragging at me since before I began Project Louise. Of course, the sheer logistical and practical challenges of getting ready to move are a huge distraction – and I figured now was the time to let you in on that.
My point here is not to turn these posts into a full-fledged diary of my life, but rather to note that, like everyone’s efforts to lead a healthier life, Project Louise is not taking place in a vacuum. Eating better, exercising more and generally taking better care of myself is all a high priority for me this year – but it’s not the only thing I’ve got going on. And there are times when my focus, of necessity, shifts to those other things, like work, the kids … and selling my house.
This past week has been one of those times. And I was feeling really guilty about not getting to the gym until I spoke on Friday with my coach, Allison Rimm. She gently reminded me that it’s still early days in this yearlong project, and that a lot of what I’m doing right now is what she calls “preparing the soil”: developing new habits that will allow me to sustain real change not just for a year, but for the rest of my life. Permanent change is hard, and it’s slow, and sometimes it can feel as if you’re not getting anywhere – but sticking with it does eventually bring results.
I hope and believe that’s true.
And I find myself remembering when I was learning to ride a bike: wobbling first one way and then the other, getting the pedaling motion down but losing balance, finding balance but forgetting to pedal, teetering and falling and getting up again – but then one day, finally, riding around the block. And then, a few years later, actually biking around France for a month, logging 50 or more miles in a day.
I’m still pretty wobbly, and I can’t see France from here. But I’ll keep getting up when I fall down, and I’ll keep doing something else that Allison recommends: finding ways to hold myself accountable. I do that by checking in with her, and also by checking in with you, telling you what I have and haven’t accomplished lately, and what I think I need to do next.
So this week, besides hauling some more boxes (which makes a great strength workout, by the way), I’m going to focus my attention on eating well – and writing down everything I eat, which I know is a great strategy but one I haven’t been using. I’ll make an appointment with my trainer, Rick DiScipio. I’ll get back on the bike. And, wobbly or not, I’ll keep moving.
I’m also going to spend some time thinking about the difference between a reason and an excuse. I really needed to get some clutter out of my house on Saturday, I had limited time to get it done, and I knew that it would also serve as real exercise – so that was a reason not to go to yoga that day. But fretting about moving, feeling overwhelmed, not planning my week very well, staying up too late and therefore not getting out of bed in time to go to the gym? Those sound more like excuses.
My goal is to stop making excuses – but, at the same time, to recognize that sometimes I have good reasons for not accomplishing everything I’d like. And when I do have good reasons, not excuses, I will accept them and cut myself some slack. That should make it easier to notice when I really am just making an excuse – and to get back up and keep moving.
Readers, what do you think? Do you have reasons, or excuses, for not working out? And how do you keep moving when life gets in the way?