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A Past, Present and Future in Balance

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas, SparkWorld. I hope that everyone is having a wonderful day and that you've had a few moments of calm to relax and reflect. In addition to being filled with religious and traditional celebrations, this time of year is an opportunity for us to look back over the ups and downs of the past year and ahead to the promise of the new one.

Looking back over 2013, I see that it was a year that presented quite a few challenges for me--probably the most I've faced in quite some time. Nearly every area of my life was upset in one way or another and it's certainly been quite a roller coaster ride. In spite of everything, it's also been an amazing and wonderful year filled with many learning opportunities, triumphs and opportunities for growth. Dealing with stressful situations had often been a big problem area for me in the past and was typically when I reached for food to soothe my worries. But as I now know, falling into that pattern only led to greater unhappiness and an increasingly lower sense of self worth.

When I set out to lose weight in early 2010, I had little reason to think that this time would be any different from my past experiences of weight loss and regain. I was a master at both, but was never able to keep my motivation up in the longer term to do what it takes to keep the weight off. And like many people, when I started off, I focused on changing my eating habits, getting more exercise and making myself accountable, which worked like a charm and helped me lose more than 90 pounds. But for me, the real work began after I reached my weight-loss goal. I knew that I never wanted to go back down that path to obesity again and that I'd have to dig deeper if I wanted to prevent that from happening. So, as uncomfortable and uncertain as it was, I had to go searching for the underlying reasons why I had never been successful at managing my weight.

For me, it was less about what I was eating and how much I was exercising and more about why I was making the choices I was. I realize now that I didn't value myself enough to make the consistently good choices that would ensure my good health over the long haul--that, in essence, I allowed my mentality of doing what made me feel good at the moment to dictate the course of my life without looking ahead to the future consequences of those actions. And, in my case, what made me feel good in the present and what made me feel good the next day and in the days to come were not the same. My sense of the past, present and future were totally out of sync with each other and I desperately needed to get myself in balance. My biggest breakthrough in the past two years has been that I haven't always turned to food as a source of comfort to deal with stress. And seeing how I've coped in the face of some pretty big life events is immensely encouraging, but it's taken work, experimentation, patience and resilience. Because even now, with all the progress I've made, I'm far from perfect and still very much a work in progress.

And perhaps on a certain level, having my Ebenezer Scrooge moment of having my future flashed before me has made my sense of immediacy in looking after my own health even stronger. When I was younger and would joke with my dad about his various (minor) ailments, he'd always say, "Don't laugh. Whatever I have, you're gonna get." Both still being fairly young ourselves, I never took it as anything more than good humor at the time. But seeing my dad go through the pain of a heart attack, multiple surgeries related to complications from both his heart condition and his poorly managed diabetes, including a recent procedure that he described as the most painful thing he's ever experienced in his life, all before the age of 65, makes me understand that I don't wanna get what my father's got and that I need to take action now if I want to make sure my future health doesn't follow in his footsteps. I had already felt and experienced the negative health consequences of being obese when I was in my 20s and early 30s and I know that things only would have got worse if I had allowed myself to continue that way.

So, while having some vanity moments here and there and accomplishing personal short-term goals is great motivation for me in the present, knowing that I'm doing what's in my power to steer my future good health is the best long-term motivation I can imagine. I plan to continue keeping that in mind as I forge ahead so that I'll continue to make better choices most of the time and continue to improve my ability to recover when I inevitably slip. I believe that by being able to learn from my past while looking ahead to my future will help guide me to do what's best in the present and finally give me the sense of true balance I've been searching for. And I think that's the best Christmas present I could give myself and the people I love.
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