Silver Linings

At the end of each year, I like to take a look back and evaluate my personal and professional lives, which are often intermingled.  Like most of you, I have the typical ups and downs, the list of accomplishments, and even the goals not met.  What? Goals not met?  How could an obsessive compulsive, perfectionist, control freak, successful personal trainer and gym owner have failures?  Easy…I am human (much to my chagrin at times), but I also set challenging goals.

While I had many wonderful accomplishments throughout 2011, there was one thing in particular that was eating away at me. I noticed an increasing consumption of sweets, caramel lattes, and wine.  And while I was eating all of my healthy foods each day and working out consistently, I noticed that my sugar consumption had reached an addictive level.

By December 2011, I actually had a planned route to take the deposits to the bank, loop around to Dusty’s for a sugar cookie, and stop by Beaners (I can’t get myself to call it Biggby) to pick up a caramel marvel.  This was quickly inhaled by the time I returned to the gym and the evidence was left in the car.  To make matters worse, instead of the occasional glass of wine when I was out to dinner, I was having 2-3 glasses EVERY time I went out to dinner….followed by dessert!  This trend is topped of with the dark chocolate covered almonds that were consumed while doing paperwork and accounting. And while it was justified that they were organic dark chocolate covered almonds, rich with anti-oxidants from the dark chocolate and healthy fats from the almonds…I would consume the bag…not a few. To make matters worse, I was waking up feeling nauseous every day after only sleeping 3-5 hours each night. I thought to myself, “What a hypocrite!”

I knew I had to make a change, and I was the only one who could change it. What I was equipped with was the knowledge and understanding that this was 100% within MY control (this is great news for a control freak).  That’s it…NO sugar for 365 days!  But wait, it’s a leap year!  Okay, 366 days.  I can make it one more day.  WAIT!  I am being impulsive and unprepared.  What am I thinking?

What I did next would be crucial.  I took two weeks to write down the following, and develop a strategic plan.  I am a muller, so taking an introspective look allowed me to determine what was going to work for me…not anyone else…ME.

  • What specific behaviors did I feel needed changing?
  • What was my motivation?  (And if you know how you are motivated, that’s a bonus)
  • What did I hope to accomplish?
  • What are my specific parameters?
  • With what am I going to replace the behaviors?
  • How will I track my progress and what I learn during my journey?

Here is what I came up with:

  • Avoid eating sweets to improve my mood in order to manage stress and loneliness.  I wanted to stop No-Sweets sneaking in the cookie and latte run when I went to do bank deposits.  I no longer wanted to mindlessly drink 2-3 glasses of wine every time I went out to dinner.  And I wanted to change my mindset while doing paperwork and accounting.
  • I wanted to regain control of my life, be a worthy role model to my clients, and break the grip that sweets seemed to have over me.
  • I wanted to get more sleep, not feel nauseous when I woke up, lose body fat, and reduce my stress.
  • Giving up ALL sugar was not what I needed to do.   Instead, I came up with was 366 days of NO sweets, NO lattes, and NO alcohol.  I actually wrote down what MY definition of a sweet was going to be.  I knew I wouldn’t drink coffee unless it was in a latte, so that was going to cover that.  And while it was wine that was specifically the issue, I chose to remove all alcohol.
  • Make a different route to and from the bank for deposits.  Have snack bags of trail mix to satisfy my “sweet tooth” urges.  Planned for 6-8 hours of sleep each night.  Purchased flavored sparkling mineral water to consume while doing paperwork and accounting.  Drink at least 3 glasses of water with lemon whenever I went out to dinner.  Go downstairs and practice my ballroom dancing when I was feeling stressed or lonely.
  • I purchased a calendar that I would carry for the next 366 days to “X” off each successful day as well as journal about how I was feeling, what seemed to trigger me wanting the sweets, lattes, or alcohol, and track my weight and body fat.  I also chose to tell everyone I knew about my goal, and even made a proclamation on Facebook.  I knew the accountability factor and my drive for not wanting to disappoint people would help me stick to my guns.

It was interesting to see the various reactions from people as I made my proclamation of NO sweets, NO lattes, and NO alcohol for 366 days:

  • “That’s too long.”
  • “That’s too restrictive.”
  • “What’s the point?”
  • “I can’t give up sweets for 366 days…what do you think I should do?”
  • “Okay…I’m in…I will do it with you.”
  • “Great goal, I know you will accomplish it.”

The list went on and on.  The point is this…when I set the goal; I did it for ME…no one else.  And that is what I encourage each of you to do.  You must determine your own goal, and then develop a plan that will work for YOU!  Decide what you want to accomplish, take the time to think about it, make a plan, and write it down.  Someone once told me, “If you only think about it, it’s a dream.  If you write it down, it’s a goal.”  Being a goal oriented person, that quote resonated with me. If a goal is too easy, I feel like I cheated myself.  However, when I meet a challenging goal, there is a deep sense of pride and accomplishment that no one can ever take from me.

What I did not know at the time, was what 2012 had in store for me personally.  Without drudging on with the details, it was the worst year of my life in terms of loss, sadness, and no way to release my stress, anger, and depression.  And while my heart is still broken from the losses, my mind is still full with the memories, and my body still carries the scars from the injuries and surgery, I have come out the other side of 2012 a stronger and more resilient person who has much less fear of change and unpredictability than ever before….pretty good for an obsessive compulsive, perfectionist, control freak.

I accomplished my goal of NO sweets, NO lattes, and NO alcohol during such a personally dreadful year makes me more proud.  By year’s end I had lost 6.6 pounds, was sleeping 6 hours a night instead of 3-5 hours, and was no longer waking up nauseous.  Because I had taken the time to be specific about my goals, wrote a strategic plan, and stayed true to myself, I ensured my own silver lining.

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“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

                                                – William Shakespeare

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