Thursday, July 8, 2010

Split Seconds to Success

As I was walking the other day in the morning heat, I was thinking about the whole process of losing weight. It really is not one huge *thing.* It's hundreds.... thousands... of tiny little steps and choices all linked together to make a whole. Every step or non-step is taking you in *some* direction, whether you notice or not.

I walked down the sidewalk into a bit of breeze. The sun was hot but tolerable. When I turned the corner on my walking route, the sun was behind me and I began heading uphill. Every step was a little less enjoyable. The sun was scorching on my back, and the hill seemed longer than usual. "Keep going," I thought, "another step." I wanted to turn back and go home and have a glass of lemonade. But I set my sights at the top of the hill. "Just get to the top of the hill," I told myself, "and then you can go home." (I was trying to trick myself, because 'the top of the hill' happens to be the exact halfway point of my mile walk. So one I get there, whether I continue 'round the block or turn and go back the way I came, I've done my mile).

Step after step, I kept going. Up, up, up. Every second that passed I was deciding whether to continue or not. And when I got to the top, I turned the corner into the shade, went around the block, and finished my mile.

It's like that with food, with exercise, with drinking water or eating junk or having a binge. Split second decisions, linked together, make the whole result. In a second you can look at the cheese Danish on the counter and either take a bite or shove it deep into the trash. In a split second in the grocery store, you can walk away from the chips or touch them and put them in your cart. It takes a second to walk past the kitchen or to go into the kitchen for a glass of water (or a candy bar). Every time you say 'yes' or 'no' or 'later' in your head, it is a step down one path or another. The key is to focus on which path you truly want, and make *most* of your steps in the right direction.

Pay attention to those daily, split second, almost unconscious choices. Did you choose to add extra cream to your coffee? Or to sit on the couch instead of being active? It is not about devoting hours and hours to fitness. It is about that moment in time when you either put on your workout shoes or don't. The rest follows... choice by choice.

When I got home from my walk, I felt glad. I was pleased with the choices I'd made. Not every choice is a perfect one, and sometimes I make a mindless (or even mindful) decision that puts me back a few steps from where I want to be. But paying attention is the first step to *better* steps. Every step counts.

23 comments:

Rebecca said...

Amen. Thanks for the reminder that even the little choices count..because they add up and keep you on the path!

Lori Ann said...

Great post. Little choices happen for me when I order my coffee in the morning. You're right - just a few tiny details.

Jen said...

Lovely post, Lyn! I have been reading your blog for quite some time, though this is the first time I've left a comment. I have been thinking a lot lately about the "whys" of weight loss, so this tied in perfectly. Thanks for this!

Christie said...

Yes, I had one of those decision moments the other morning when I decided not to go to my favourite store to buy something to nibble in town. As I was heading in the opposite direction, I passed a fruit seller, who had some gorgeous nectarines among their wares - so I had one of those instead. Was really glad I didn't give in to the not-so-healthy nibble I'd have ended up with from the other place!

Debbie said...

Super post, and you are right little choices matter. This post made me think today.

desertagave said...

I use that same trick when out on walks. I love that I only need enough willpower to make it through half the walk. Then there is no choice but to get back home!

Dinah Soar said...

Good points all Lyn. Makes me think of what the Bible says--that there is no temptation common to man for which God does not provide a way of escape.

When we put that bag of candy in our grocery cart and think "I shouldn't be buying this'..right there is our way of escape....what follows--the decision we make-- takes us toward 'life' or 'death'...life, i.e reaching our desired goal, death as in killing our goal or dream a bit at a time.

Seeing the overall bigger picture--which basically is connecting the dots-- helps us make choices that tend to life.

This very thing is why I no longer use half and half in my coffee. While I cannot drink it black, which is probably best, I can tolerate and even enjoy it with 1 or 2% milk. That one little thing brings me a step closer to my goal, to my dream, and it's no great sacrifice on my part.

I think one of the biggest obstacles we all face is seeing weight loss and maintenance as an insurmountable hurdle. But it's really not. We can chip that hurdle away little by little keeping the end in sight, pressing forward and not dwelling on our past failures, but learning from them. Past mistakes can be stumbling blocks or stepping stones. If we learn from our failures, the lessons we learn become, in fact, gifts...dear gifts, as in costly, but gifts none the less, and all the more to be treasured because of their great cost to us personally.

Val said...

Love it!! I am putting "focus on which path you truly want" somewhere highly visible. Just what I needed to hear!!!

EMILY said...

Yet another great post from you! HOw do you do it? You always have such great and motivating things to say! Thank you!
www.helpemilylose.blogspot.com

Neesha said...

Great post and sentiment. I write and think about being happy and it's the same way with happiness. It's about active decision, a series of choices. You can't hope to wake up one day and just be blissful, you have to work for it. It's like financial success or weight loss or anything worth having. It's one conscious decision after another that leads to happiness.

April said...

so so true! their is also the battle of the choice of what you do with your choices. after i have a cheat and it has passed, i'll say to myself "i could have gone without that." remembering that conversation in my head the next time a cheat might present itself forces me to do a double take and really think about it. plus you have to chose to NOT beat yourself up if you do slip. i struggled with this a lot, and it is such a waste. i'm still learning to tell myself that's it's ok if a i slip, that it's ok if i'm not perfect. at first i had those unrealistic expectations and they caused me to be super negative. it just wasn't worth it.

LOVEOFMYLIFE1924 said...

Thank you so much for this post! I have been struggling this week with the choices I've made and this post will be the perfect reference for me for this journey I have ahead of me.

I appreciate it and I love your blog.

beerab said...

I'm the same way- I go for my walks and some of the time I'm like eh I GUESS I'll walk. But after I do I always feel good :)

So-Me said...

I really like this post. It made me think of an Oprah Winfrey quote that I keep in plain sight on my blog because it is SO true: "Right now you are one choice away from a new beginning." All of our little choices really do add up!

Cara :)

Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit said...

Fantastic, Lyn. You've grown a lot, even as you've been shrinking...

plumpnonfiction said...

Great post. Everytime I get on the treadmill and I feel like I can't do anymore, I keep telling myself... one more minute. Then I keep doing it over and over. When I'm done, I feel great for trying so hard.

Deanna - The Unnatural Mother said...

LOVE THIS!!! Amen Sister!

Lanie Painie said...

You are 100% right. I have always been one to preach that our lives are the results of the choices we make and only recently realized that it was true for me and my food and exercise habits as well. I've been taking my own advice after all these years! After all, I am pretty brilliant! (just ask me).

That said, I just had the most delicious experience wtih a 1.55 oz bar of Hershey chocolate AND a glass of ice water.

Anonymous said...

It's such a balance. On the one hand, if you did turn back before reaching the hill, you still WON because you got out there and pushed to that point. next time you'll get to the top. And if you don't push to exhaustion, there will be a next time.

I'm also struggling with the cream-in-coffee sorts of issues. I use splenda and skim, I don't eat out much, I cut back on bread - and then I binge on ice cream or junk. If you assume the binge will happen no matter what, then every step counts. If the little steps cause the binge, then I need to recalibrate. tough call

Betsy said...

LOVE THIS POST! Yes, I know I'm yelling! I wish I could keep this with me every second of every day! If you get a chance, please visit my brand new blog at http://unintentionallyunemployed.blogspot.com I sure could use some new blogging buddies!

Fat Grump said...

Brilliant. Hundreds of little choices - and that is just what I needed to read about right now. Time to get up. I was all set to stay sitting here, feeling hard done by.

(Lyn - I bet you aren't fully aware of the way you inspire others, thousands of miles away. Thank you. x x)

Shawn said...

This was an awesome post. I had the same sort of realization the other day. I don't walk in my area, too many dogs. So, I have been hitting the gym. While on the elliptical machine, I was subconsciously trying to get out of finishing my workout. For every roadblock, I pushed harder. Also at work, it has become increasingly easy to pass on ordering food even when I brought something. Or pass on all the sweets laying out on the table. You are such an inspiration and motivator... Keep up the good work...

Hanlie said...

You're right - success if made up of thousands of small decisions. Great post!