The Nudge I Needed

Today, a post I had written two years ago showed up on my personal Facebook feed. For some reason, I decided to read what words of wisdom I had imparted on mankind two years ago.

As I read, I laughed about ‘not foreseeing any changes’ in my job. We all know how that turned out now, don’t we?

And then I read the last few paragraphs, and sobered up quickly.

How do you change the way you think? The way you feel? The way you react? How do you change habits that have become so ingrained into your very existence you can’t even conceive that life could be different?

And there it was. The nudge I needed.

I had been ‘writing a post in my head’ for months, but wasn’t sure if I was ready to openly share my struggles with body image.

So for today, I leave you with the post I published two years ago and the promise of hope when I share my journey in my next post.

The following was originally published on November 15th, 2015.

I enjoy change.

Take season changes, for example. Right now, I’m looking forward to the first snowfall of the season, a blanket of sparkling snow to brighten up the dreary November landscape. And I ask you, what could be better than sitting by a fire, cuddled up in a cozy fleece blanket, sipping tea, and reading John Grisham? Exactly. I love winter!

But…by February, I’ll be sick and tired of shoveling snow, and shivering as I wait for my car to heat up. I’ll be feeling downright cranky from the lack of sunlight. So by the end of February, I’ll be looking forward to basking in the sun on the first 60 degree day. I’ll be anticipating the promise of new life as trees begin to bud, and tulips emerge from the dormant earth. I’ll be dreaming about running in shorts and a long sleeve t-shirt.

By the time June rolls around, I’ll have taken the color green for granted. By June, I’ll be excitedly anticipating late afternoon thunderstorms,  weekends boating on The Chain of Lakes, and strawberry picking. (And yes, I’m a teacher. I’ll be looking forward to June for another reason, as well.)

But by September? By September I’ll be sick of inhaling bugs on my nightly walk. I’ll be wanting a reprieve from the heat, and the oppressive humidity. In September, my thoughts will shift to brightly colored leaves, sweatshirts, campfires, and eating all things pumpkin. 

My love for change does not stop at the seasons. I also enjoy curriculum changes. Stop laughing, teacher friends. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I do look forward to teaching something new, or, at the very least, modifying what I have previously taught. History has revealed I am good for no more than three years teaching any given grade level. (Just to stop any speculation, or rumors, I don’t foresee any changes in my future, due to the passion I feel for the subject matter I teach, and a phenomenal group of coworkers with whom I get to spend my days.)

The first year at a new grade level is a mixed bag of excitement for all things new, and anxiety for…all things new. The second year I achieve a level of comfort and competence with routines and curriculum. And by the third year, I’ve tweaked the living daylights out of everything. It’s at this point, I feel a need for change.

(And now, I’ll address the elephant in the room.  I have been happily married for 25 years. It would be way too much effort to retrain another husband.)

So there you have it.

I. Heart. Change.

But these are changes that happen regardless of whether or not I want them to happen. I am not changing. 

And that’s what I really want to talk about. I want to talk about the changes you make regarding personal health and wellness. How do you change the way you think? The way you feel? The way you react? How do you change habits that have become so ingrained into your very existence you can’t even conceive that life could be different?

To begin with, the desire to change must come from within. You need to come to the realization your health is priority, and what you’ve been doing, isn’t working. All the outside influences in the world are not going to make a difference, unless you want to change. In fact, outside influences may very well prevent change. For some people, the more they are pushed and badgered, the more they resist. You need to be willing to relinquish whatever unhealthy coping mechanisms you have developed, and take a good, hard look at yourself.

My desire to change was triggered by fear. Fear can be a catalyst for change. For a long time, I was in denial about my health. For a long time, I ignored, or sometimes even delighted, in the signs and symptoms I experienced. But while fear triggered the realization I needed to change, it didn’t allow me to wake up the next morning “changed”.

Discontentment may also serve as a catalyst for change, but that in itself, is not enough. And I say this because the means you choose to change, may not be healthy. The focus may be more on the end result. Case in point? Think about all the people “dieting” to a healthy weight by restricting their eating and exercising excessively. Not only is this an unhealthy change, but most likely, it is not a change that can be maintained. Focusing on the end result is not a guarantee of wellness. In fact, it may very well lead you down a path of destruction.

Education is vital. Being well informed allows you to make positive, intelligent decisions, which in turn, encourage change. Knowledge is power. And the process of educating yourself will provide time to learn, evaluate, and reflect. 

My personal journey to wellness is still unfolding. I have accomplished a lot, and I feel healthy most of the time. But in all honesty, I am not quite there yet. There are times when I have “bad body days”, days I feel incredibly uncomfortable in my own skin. There are times I hear, or see something that triggers unhealthy voices in my head.

But, I am a lot further on my journey than I was three years ago, and I am grateful for the changes I have made so far.

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