Monday, June 20, 2011

Ideal vs. Reality: Learning to Accept but Not Settle

Ideally, this is how my days "should" look, in my own mind, shooting for my own best health and optimal comfort:
I would lift weights for an hour, 3x a week, including all my PT exercises for my knees.
I would bike for 30-45 minutes 6 days a week to build endurance and aerobic conditioning.
I would not eat any processed foods, only fresh, local, organic produce and free range meat and eggs with some olive oil and maybe some nuts and seeds.
I would only drink water and unsweetened teas. No diet sodas, artificial sweeteners, or sugar. I'd drink at least 3 cups of green tea per day for prevention of reproductive cancers that run in my family.
I'd get 8 hours of restful sleep each night.
I would get outside for a 2 mile walk with the pooch and some play time with the little one.
I would clean my house, organize things, and declutter.
I would get away for "me" time a few times a week.

Well, that is the ideal dream I have in my head. But reality is, I have been unable to keep ALL of that stuff up for very long. It stresses me out trying to be perfect and do everything. And part of the price I pay for the wonderful gift of having five children and two dogs is the sacrifice of MY time and will for theirs. I wouldn't trade that for the most perfect body in the world!

Real life is not ideal. I think many times we set ourselves up for disappointment by putting big goals before ourselves that, while perhaps not *impossible* to reach, require a level of sacrifice that is not conducive to our happiness. Sometimes, we need to accept our own limits and be happy with what we *can* do, thankful for the changes we *have* made, and proud of the progress we *are* making.

I DO lift weights, but only twice or three times a week for 20 minutes. I don't get the PT in.
I DO choose local, organic, fresh veggies and free range meats for my dinners, when I can. I also eat processed stuff as a means to an end.
I DO drink lots and lots of water. I also still drink diet sodas and artificial sweeteners, again, as a means to an end. I don't get that green tea in very often.
I DO try to get at least 6 hours of sleep, but 8 doesn't happen too often.
I DO often get at least one mile, sometimes 2, in with the dog. I always get outside to play with the little one.
I DO clean, but my house is still a wreck of sorts. Decluttering is not happening at the moment.
I DO go to dog sport events once or twice a week, and that will have to do for "me" time at the moment.

Now, I have a choice. I can be frustrated at all the ideals I am NOT reaching, or I can be pleased with what I AM successful at. I can feel good about myself or bad about myself. Why not feel good? Why not?

That is not to say we should settle for less. I am not saying you should think, "oh, I should be exercising but I am not, no big deal!" or, "I am obese and should lose weight but am not, oh well, I will just be happy where I am!"  Instead, I am saying we should be happy on the journey, and KEEP TRYING to hit the goals WITHOUT feeling bad that we fall short. Does that make sense? I still know I want to be biking. It is still a goal. I still plan to incorporate it. But I refuse to label myself a failure because I am not reaching that part of my own idea of what I want/need to be doing RIGHT NOW.

The true measure of success is time. If I am closer to my goals NOW than I was 6 months ago, that is movement in the right direction. If I am closer still 6 months from now, I know I have momentum and am getting close to the life I imagine for myself. It does take work and effort and stepping outside your comfort zone. You can't sit by and just be satisfied with as-is. You have to work at it. But you also need to accept and love yourself for the small, positive changes you have made already and are still making over time. Over TIME. That is the key. Do not be impatient and want it all to happen right now.

Look at the big picture. Give yourself credit for what you HAVE done. And then, keep working towards your goals, bit by bit.


Jessica said...

I feel the same way.

There is a list I always come up with at the beginning of the week which has my hopes for the week all written down and penciled in perfectly.

Of course, the reality of having a child with a disability, and a 3 year old, and 3 cats & a home to take care of all sets in and wears me down by the end of the week.

I always start with a bang but it never lasts. I am confused about what I should do, is it better to not aim so high or set my goals to push myself so hard? It's a tough call.

I want to stay motivated. But I guess I should just be happy with the things I am able to fit in to my day to day life :)

UndercoverDieting said...

I totally love your posts! :) You have so many great thoughts, and I'm often inspired by your blog.

I agree with you that it's so important not to berate yourself for your shortcomings, that will only get you depressed and you're actually LESS likely to succeed.

Diandra said...

You're pretty busy as it is, and a day has only got 24 hours anyway... I think you're doing a great job. Maybe your older kids can help a little with all the household chores, so you can have a little more time for yourself and everything you want to accomplish?

Lyn said...


Yes, they do help... take out trash, unload the dishwasher, mow the lawn, stuff like that. Two of them are pretty busy with college and work. There's still just a lot of stuff that only I can do! I'd hate to see what would happen if I asked the kids to declutter! On second thought... hmmm...

bbubblyb said...

Great post Lyn! It's definitely about finding the happy balance.

bbubblyb said...

Just saw your comment about the kids decluttering. I asked the oldest a few times and a lot of stuff found it's way to the shed. I still have no clue what's in there or how long it's been there so guess it wasn't a bad thing if I'm not missing any of the clutter yet (out of sight out of mind) lol.

Tracy said...

Every step is a step forward! You are doing a great job!!!

Niecy said...

I love this! You are so correct. We are always our worst critics. Although I want to be healthier and thinner, I have to remember that I am special as is. I HAVE lost 24 pounds, gained 2 back, and am now struggling, but I AM still working on it and taking it one day at a time. I DO worry about how much energy I will have when school begins again (teacher) because I am enjoying my time off to focus on myself so much right now, but I NEED to stay in the present and worry about tomorrow, well, tomorrow.

I love your way of thinking and hope you wouldn't mind if I write a little about how reading your post has helped me refocus.

Your timing is wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Oh Lyn,

This is quite possibly the most beneficial post you have ever written. I feel like it was aimed directly at me, it feels very personal and like an older sister would just give it to me straight.
Thank you so much!

Mother of Many

timothy said...

it's so funny how you see what you don't do and i'm amazed at what you get accomplished. you have an incredibly busy life and you travel the hills and valleys pretty gosh darn well my friend. so i say celebrate every success do extra when you can and let it go when you can't oh and if you need a cheerleader you got it!

Shala said...

You're so right. We know all the right things to do and one of them is to accept what we are capable of and not put unreasonable pressure on ourselves. Guilty.

Lynn said...

"The true measure of success is time." Wow, did I need that dose of reality this morning! You will be quoted in my next blog :) Thanks, as always, for the spot-on wisdom, my friend.

Anonymous said...

Having priorities straight trumps checking off some artificial list. You have your goal, you are doing things to meet it, you get to maintain sanity and having a loving life with your children. Sounds about right.