I was reading an article the other day which focused on resilience. It defines resilience as the ability to regulate emotions such as sadness, anger and fear which is critical for effectively coping with stress. It seems everywhere you turn, every talk show or magazine article, there are tips on ways to reduce stress.
The basic message is that stress is bad for you. I used to think that way too at one time.
For anyone who has followed my progress (or lack thereof) I have admitted to quitting a good paying job albeit a stressful one in order to lose 150 pounds. To be honest I envisioned, plain and simple, an episode of Extreme Weight loss makeover. As you can tell it did not quite happen that way but I am all the wiser for the experience.
Over the last couple of years I have learned that a resilient person is not someone who avoids stress but rather someone who learns to master it. The ability to call upon both your physical and mental capabilities to adapt and construct a better reality is resilience. Without stress or rather the ability to withstand it, we weaken, oneís self- esteem suffers ultimately detrimental to your well-being. Even though I thought I had taken the appropriate measures to control my environment I soon found small problems seemed insurmountable as my world became smaller every day. I began to stay home more and soon my freedom turned into a prison. Not having any timetable that I needed to adhere to left my day without structure and soon my best intention of becoming fit became a nightmare. Slowly descending into a depression, I became so miserable to be around because I was failing at the one thing I set out to do and the pressure actually prompted me to gain 25 pounds so that I was now the highest weight ever 385 lbs.
Itís been almost a year since I hit that low point of realizing that I had made a terrible mistake. Since then I have discovered that I need to manage my weight like everything else in my life because itís not a special event like going to the Biggest Loser ranch, itís a lifestyle. The article claimed that success can actually hinge on resilience if one accepts that setbacks are part of the endeavour. Those who react most productively will make the most progress. So whether you want to call it fate or destiny perhaps I needed to go through the fire so to speak to come out the other side. No this story is not over as I have not lost a lot of weight but I have not seen 344 lbs. in almost 5 years so it is progress.
Reinterpreting negative events or 'cognitive reappraisal' has allowed me to think of the last two years as a valuable learning experience and not a waste of time. Whereas once I used to catastrophize or exaggerate the potential negative impact of any event I now try and see if I learned anything from the exercise. In previous blogs I have touted the writings of Eckhart Tolle for precisely this ability to remain in the present moment. Do not dwell in the past and stop fretting about the future because all you have is NOW.
Seeing the glass half full has been a challenge. My personality is such that sarcasm and acerbic wit is seen as a positive so marrying the two has not been easy. But I realize that resilience is about being realistic and not necessarily seeing the world through rose coloured glasses. It is not about ignoring the negative because that can be dangerous too. Rather itís a filter in which I take information in and pay attention to what I absolutely need to for my well- being, a version of donít sweat the small stuff.
My effort to get physically fit has been delayed with a minor setback, namely the impending surgery to repair the torn tendon in my foot. But throughout all of this, Sparkpeople has been the best network of friends I have never met who understand all the trials and tribulations associated with weight loss and it is here that I get my best role models for success.
If you can dream
And not make dreams your master
If you can think
And not make intellect your game
If you can meet
With triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same
...that is resilience.