Saturday, October 15, 2011
Boredom is the enemy of anything worthwhile.
I’m discovering that. Beginning a healthy change in one’s diet (or “lifestyle modification” in medical parlance) is exciting, new, and at first, easy. It’s like falling in love. At first, every little thing about that person is new and cute and interesting. You love being with that person, talking, touching, sharing. Your friends will think you’re over the top because all you do is talk about that new special someone. They don’t want to hear every single detail, but you tell them anyway because you’re excited!
Then you get married. Life settles into a predictable routine and suddenly you discover that the cute little snort your partner makes when he laughs is really NOT cute, but annoying. You feel annoyed sometimes and don’t want to talk. You discover the WORK of marriage. You realize it’s worth it (if you’re smart), and you learn to forget the arguments, overlook your loved one’s faults, and love them anyway.
That’s what getting healthy is like. At first, all the new habits you’re developing are new and exciting. In diabetics, we talk about the “honeymoon period” where the diabetes goes from horribly, awfully, controlled, to unbelievably good. The patient loses weight, eats right, and their labs come back fantastically good. Three or four months later, the patients’ weight starts to creep up. “I went on vacation, (a cruise is the worst) and stopped watching, stopped exercising, and when I got back I didn’t get back into my routines.”
Getting healthy is changing your routines. At first, because they’re new, all your friends know you’re “on a diet” and cheer you on. You do fabulously at it. You do all the right things, exercise, eat right, etc. and then.....something messes up your routine.
I’ve read in multiple places that it takes 30 days of doing some new habit to make it stick. I belong to a group called “Flylady” who uses this idea to get people to clean their houses and their lives. She adds a routine a week and sends out emails of encouragement daily. It works, but you have to do the routines daily. She stresses that you need to just START. She uses a timer. The enemy is Perfectionism because you think you can’t get things done so you never start. She encourages you to just do 15 minutes, or 10 minutes and STOP. It’s okay if you don’t finish. Do 15 minutes of a new habit daily. Clean up a “hot spot” (a messy junk collecting spot) for 10-15 minutes a day. I plan to eventually use this plan to get off my butt to exercise. I’m trying to use this also for writing the blog.
I saw a patient the other day who has been with me for the 16 years I’ve been in Oak Park. She saw me through both children being born, and all the ups and downs of our practice. When she first started with me, she was morbidly obese. She joined Weight Watchers, and started exercising every day. That was about 13 years ago. She lost probably about 100 lbs, and has kept it off. I saw her the other day and she was very disappointed because she wanted to work for Weight Watchers and they told her she needed to have a BMI of 25 to work for them. I think that is so short sited. She has a BMI of 27, but has KEPT IT OFF. She is healthy! Tom Cruise, I read somewhere, has a BMI of 30. It’s because he’s muscular. She’s not in Tom Cruise’s shape but she has managed to keep her weight off, keep exercising, keep eating right. She has so much to offer to those of us who are trying to establish good habits. The point of this whole thing is to get healthy, not to be a fashion model, after all.
So, set your timer (thank you Flylady!) and make a menu and grocery list. Set your timer and start dancing around your house. Start a daily healthy habit.
Appreciate the fact that you are alive and have a chance to change and STAY that way!