New Math: Juggling Equation of the Month

 

For all the complaints...About spring rains...

I knew...

the momentary inconvenience...

would be worth it.

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Monday
Nov072011

I'm Not the Kind of Person Who...

In my mid-thirties I realized I needed to change my relationship with food, for good. I lost over 90 pounds by learning healthy eating and exercise habits. And how? Well, it wasn't easy, but I think a turning point for me was realizing how we program ourselves.

One day, as I was beginning my weight loss journey, I found myself writing a list of all the things I thought I wasn't capable of and talking about it with a friend who was also trying to lose weight. My list started "I'm not the kind of person who..." Runs a marathon, feels comfortable naked, can stop from eating the whole bag, etc. And you know what? I wasn't the kind of person who_____. I was exactly what I programmed myself to be, which was clearly none of those things, and yet looking down at that list that day, talking it over with my friend, I realized how limiting it was. One of the things I wrote was "I'm not the kind of person who enjoys running." Up until that point in my life, I equated running with two things: horrific memories of asthmatic panting during Presidential fitness tests, and zombies. When the flesh-eating zombies came, I always joked, then I'd start running.

And yet I had several friends who ran the Chicago Marathon, and I found watching all those people--different ages, shapes, sizes--all running 26.2 miles incredibly inspiring and exciting. If 40,000 people did this each year, surely there must be something enjoyable in it?  Turns out, after months of walking for weight loss, there came a day when my briskest walk wasn't doing it. My ipod blasting, blood pumping, adrenaline soaring, I broke into a run. It didn't last long--a few blocks, but it was a start. And not long after, I started seeing myself running a marathon--fantasizing about blasting past other runners-- I'd become a person who liked to run, just for fun.

The trick here, of course, is that the coin has two sides: you can program yourself, you just have to watch your language (and imagery). Neuroscientists remind us the brain is plastic.  Use positive phrases and images, and eliminate the "don'ts" and "can'ts" and you make new pathways in thought and action. Four years later I found that list and found I could cross most of them off (except the marathon--stress fractures sidelined my running but also led me to find Pilates!)

I won't say it's always easy, but practice makes for good brain habits. Like tonight, riding my bike home from the studio in a light November rain, I remembered that there's been one I've been holding on to for a while that it's time to let go of, so here it is: I am the kind of person who has a blog.

Rinse, repeat. And what messages have been holding you back this week?

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