On Beginnings….

“The Miracle Was Not that I Finished, but That I Ever Began”.

I have no idea who originally said this, but I first came across this profound statement on the back of a runner’s tee-shirt at the Luna Bar Women’s Duathalon .  To me, this quote sums up all that I could really say for myself about starting the off-white process as well as all that really matters.

Often, after coming upon my blog or learning about my professional experiences, people ask me how they can get started, or rather, is it even possible for them to get started.  I can see the desperation in their eyes because they’ve probably tried everything: Weight Watchers, calorie counting, hypnosis, swearing off certain foods…whatever.  I can also see that desperation because I too have felt it.  I know that feeling of totally ‘blowing it’ by eating out of control or binging on sweets, and feeling like all the hard work you put into your dietary changes are gone.  Boom….go back to the beginning.  It’s even worse when that feeling of blowing it is followed by the nagging voice of “you should know better”.  Aaargh, who wouldn’t feel shame if the  harpies of “woulda, shoulda, coulda” were barking in your ear.

It has taken me a long time to work on that black and white mentality.  I always feel like if I’m not being perfect with something (Food, school, money, whatever), I’m therefore a total failure.  Not much wiggle room in that mindset.    This thinking has often overwhelmed me because it made me feel like none of my changes, insights or experiences counted for anything and I was back at square one.  How exhausting and defeating!  With the help of friends, therapists, journaling, and some down and out cry-fests, I’m evolving this attitude.  The miracle is that I even started this process in the first place and that I “woke up” to wanting a better life for myself.    It’s also a miracle that I don’t give up.  As my friend S. says… “Don’t give up because you are always just 3 feet from gold”.  Even if I ‘screw up’ (which I put in quotes because it’s not real, just my mind being in judgement)or make a choice that really isn’t the best for me, I’ve not destroyed the past.  I’m not back at the beginning.  I’m right where I was and I have something to learn from whatever is happening in the moment.

In some ways perhaps many of us will always be at the beginning, so we may as well get used to it.  That is a very yogic philosophy on this whole process, but I buy into it.

If you are at the beginning, meaning that you are now just realizing that you want to change your diet in whatever way and reestablish a healthy relationship with food then CELEBRATE that awareness!  It is the most important thing.  Trust your skills and assets to help you. The same innovative thinking that helps you juggle work/family/hobbies or unclog the sink or deal with a difficult coworker can all help you deal with your own food experiences.  You come to the table with a lot of assets.  Be be patient don’t expect yourself to change overnight…it will just set you up for disappointment and that feeling like you are back at the beginning.  Start with ONE manageable change.  If you used to eat two candy bars per day and now you eat one, you have made a change.  If you switched to water instead of soda – you are a rockstar.  If you started journaling your feelings and realized that there is an ocean of emotion in there – yes!!!  This is progress!!!

It has taken me YEARS to get to where I am now, which is nowhere close to perfect, but it’s better than it was the day before.  Each day that I appreciate the fact I even decided to begin this process of Off-White living, I am a grateful woman and more likely to stay on the horse as I journey down this path.

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2 thoughts on “On Beginnings….

  1. Patricia Major Reed April 18, 2011 / 4:10 pm

    One of the things that kept me from getting started is fear of commitment and the thought that if I give up sugar and flour (my initial goal), it would wedge me between two choices: drudgery while I live that way or shame because of another failure. As you said: Black and white.But I forgot that I was making the choices for MYSELF. After just a few days of “off white living” I lost most of my cravings, and that’s when I really began to see that I do have choices. I feel free and powerful.

    Last week, I experimented by having some pasta and then some dessert with friends. No shame, just an experiment. And the next day I was grouchy and felt like I was in withdrawal. But it was my choice. No guilt. No shame. And I won’t choose to do that again without knowing the consequences of my choice.

    You really described well the idea of “progress not perfection” and also of living in the moment. My goals are no longer “out there” (a particular number on the scale or the ability to say I’ve been doing a “perfect” job for xxx years). Each day is a gift for me and my values and aspirations are part of the adventure. So, as I write this, I’m getting ready for a healthy breakfast. Who knows what the rest of the day will bring, except for the freedom to make more choices!

  2. CJ April 20, 2011 / 9:04 pm

    After reading your opening sentence, I remember when you finished your duathon you commented on the gals t-shirt.
    I too know that feeling of ‘blowing it’; as if all my previous efforts were lost because i too many chocolate chips, for example. 😉
    As I’m traveling through a new biological change in my life – the ease I once had about my eating has seemed to vanish. What I am grateful I still hold dear and true is my worries about it. There is ease of awareness, much awareness, but I’m not consumed about the ‘bad choice’ I made. I note that I’ve detoured off my desired path and come back. And yes – this may happen a few times a day or a few times a week. But I trust my higher self is continuing the work I set forth and this too will pass in the given time, not my time.
    And now about the ‘for example’ i used above – I will put the package back into the cabinet. 😉
    Remember – we are not good or bad, we are simply ‘us’.
    Happy travels .. xo

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