Thursday, June 14, 2012

Make Sure Your Inches Aren't Actually Miles

It's human nature, isn't it? If you give yourself an inch, you're liable to take a mile.

Skip your workout for no good reason, rely on boxes for your family's nutrition, have a "write-off" vacation, a regularly scheduled "cheat" day - there are no shortage of inches out there just waiting to get turned into miles.

Now of course, there will be times where real life does preclude your best intentions and inches are necessarily and understandably taken, but it's the inches for no reason that I worry about.

I blogged once that there are times when suffering's warranted. Another time I blogged about how healthy living requires effort. Both are true, but I can't help but wonder how many folks' best intentions were waylaid by the simple fact that they bit off more than they could chew - that their inches were in fact miles.

Better to take small careful steps of change than to require huge bounding leaps as this race never ends and you really best try not to get tired.

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  1. Roman7:46 am

    That's a very thoughful reality check; thank you!

    In my own case, paying attention to trimming my waistline has produced, in the past, an average loss of 0.4 inches (1 cm) per month in belly circumference at bellybutton level. To lose 4 inches of visceral fat there, it can take me 10 months of being careful about food and exercise. No diet; nothing dramatic; just taking due care and giving the usual junk a miss. But: ouch! Talk about inches to miles!

  2. Sometimes, when you're taking a mile, you may be tired, even exhausted, and you're trying to tell yourself something important. You're mind and body are telling you to re-evaluate your direction, question your goals -- things which may need questioning. Are your goals really creating the life you want? Are they helping you to string together the memories you ultimately want to linger on? Goals, in and of them self, are temporal and, generally, only briefly satisfying. Memories, on the other hand, are precious.

    I once had a physical trainer try to sell me on his services, and he thought the hallmark of training was meeting ever more challenging goals. He was so hell-bent on goals that he used as an example his toddler. He said he didn't get all excited when his wife told him she'd started to walk (note that he was absent for that event), because walking's assumed! I stopped him. I told him he was missing the point of life. That many people, who don't have such fortune, would give anything for a daughter who walked. That watching a toddler walk, any toddler, is a miracle, but only if you're tuned into it.

    It's okay sometimes to take a mile, if you then use it: go ahead and make real life adjustments and don't fall into a rut.

    By the way, I home cook and I use some boxes. It's about balance, and if a box gets me to my son's fencing tournament on time, it was a box well used. Note too: fencing is my son's one sport. He doesn't do five. Just one. And it creates memories we linger on.

    1. Debra - you said just what I was thinking. If you don't give yourself inches or even miles, you may just give up altogether. I've cut myself a tremendous amount of slack in the past year and found it's actually made it easier to develop and maintain healthier habits.

      There's too much of a perfectionist ideal that if you take a night off exercise when you're exhausted, or if you cook out of a box one night out of seven, you're just lazy and undisciplined.

  3. Definitely agree with this! I've seen so many people try the latest radical diet or fitness routine only to end up becoming frustrated or overwhelmed and giving up entirely. Small but sustainable changes that you build over time are the way to go.

  4. Shannon11:55 am

    Good article and good comments. Lots to think about.

  5. IMHO, the key to successful weight maintenance is learning to keep those inches as inches, and not let them become miles. Getting it off is its own motivation, discipline and constant monitoring are needed when the excitement/pain of weight loss is over, and the rest of life begins

  6. Great post Yoni! I think taking inches is just part of life. We're all human, we're all fallible. The healthiest people I know have strategies, rules, mindsets, and policies that don't necessarily stop any unhealthy behaviors from ever happening, but acknowledge that things will happen from time to time and just to make sure overall that they are on a healthy pathway. For the most part these people value progress over perfection, and patterns over phases.

  7. Anonymous1:30 am

    "All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection. So I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible."
    William Faulkner

  8. When people ask me "what do you do to loose weight" I tell them I took a lot of little steps and big steps - what I'm doing today I wouldn't have been able to do a year ago - telling them what I am doing today is like only describing the last leg of a cross country hike. I feel like if they try to do what I'm doing now they are setting themselves up for failure because they are skipping the journey.