Generally speaking, I have no trouble indulging myself. If I want a cookie, I’ll eat a cookie. If I want to put off writing for a bit longer and watch another episode of “The Sopranos” (late, I know), then I’m watching.
But in 2017, I have worked toward making some lifestyle changes. One of these is learning the art of discipline and delayed gratification. Neither of those things come naturally to me — maybe not to any of us, huh? And both of them stress me out, simply because they are uncomfortable. I have gotten myself into such a pattern of avoiding discomfort that I’ve allowed things that are simply natural life hurdles to cause me more anxiety by putting them off rather than actually confronting them. Maybe this sounds immature to you. You’d be right. Maybe this is resonating with you. You’re not alone.
I would recommend a book that is certainly not new, but rather new to me, if you’d like to tackle some of these skills along with me: “The Road Less Traveled” by Dr. M. Scott Peck.
I have lost 15 pounds so far this year. I’ve wanted to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight since having my first baby. That baby is 4 years old already. In past attempts to drop pounds, I only applied as much discipline as I knew I’d be able to skirt around. You know how that goes? You tell yourself you’ll only eat what you bought at the grocery store, but you keep $20 in your back pocket just in case you happen to be out running around and need to pick up a sandwich at Chik-fil-A to keep your energy up? Yeah. Been there. Lots of times.
This time, I took the discipline up a notch. I set up hurdles and handed the keys to people I could trust. My husband and I both used the MyFitnessPal app to track our meals and hold each other accountable. I did eat Chik-Fil-A, but I didn’t sneak it. I stuck it on the app in all of its calorie-rich glory and balanced the rest of the day. I meal prepped on Sundays for the week. I didn’t just let the food sit in a big bowl in the fridge, but divvied it all up on Sunday into small lunch packs so that all we had to do was grab one on the way out in the morning. I worked an exercise routine into my workday, while our kids were at preschool. Previously, I would try to exercise at home in the evenings after they went to bed, but seriously how much more appealing is a nice glass of Pinot Noir at the end of a long day?
In the first month, I lost maybe 2 pounds. The second month, I lost another 3 or so. But then it started to go quickly. Talk about delayed gratification. Now we are a couple weeks from our fifth anniversary, and we are closer to our wedding bodies than we have been since that magical day in 2012!
The lesson for me is not about losing weight. It’s about learning how to be a balanced, mentally and spiritually healthy adult. Some weeks I’m better than others, but I am finally feeling like I’m truly learning the benefits of these important life skills.
Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent contractor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.