Time for Change
My 11-month-old black lab puppy, Maximus had to wear the “cone of shame'“ for two weeks. He had eye surgery and the doctor told us when we went to pick him up that he would have to wear this cone for two weeks. No dog park and no playing with the neighbor’s dogs. Seriously? The neighbor’s dog, Kodi B. is his best dog friend and Maximus looks forward to playing with him every day. An 11-month-old lab, wear this thing for two weeks?? That’s just cruel!
It’s cruel for Maximus and cruel for us.
This pup is a very active, playful, (demandingly so) little guy (well, maybe not so little – it is a relative term). But, if he doesn’t wear it, he would risk scratching his eye because it itches, or scratching it during play…is it worth the risk? What could possibly happen? Well, for one thing, he might tear the stitches out. He could do more damage to it, maybe to the extent that he would have to have another surgery. Or worse case, he could do permanent damage.
Are we willing to risk any of those consequences for the inconvenience of two weeks of wearing this thing? Truth is, I’ve thought about removing it several times. I actually trimmed it back a little. He looks absolutely pathetic. He runs into things all day long because it distorts his peripheral vision. He’s unable to play with some of his toys or chew some of his bones because he cannot even grip things with his paws, then get to it around the cone with his mouth. It’s just a sad situation.
Taking care of ourselves is often like this.
Eating a healthy diet is not easy. There is pressure to eat a certain way at football games, at parties, when eating out with friends, during the holidays and that’s just the peer pressure. How about our own taste buds? We like the sweet and salty, the butter and savory foods that are loaded with calories but low on nutrition. Healthy food also seems to be more expensive and goes bad if you don’t eat it right away. What are macros and why is counting calories so time consuming? It’s just, well, annoying and cruel to put ourselves through the struggle.
Then there is that awful “E” word, the word which will not be named (at least in this sentence). Who has time to exercise? For women, it’s even more time consuming because we have to shower and fix our hair after it gets all sweaty (thank goodness for dry shampoo, but that’s only good for an occasional fix). And the workouts? Who knows what to do anymore? The internet is full of ideas but are they right for me? What about injuries? People are always getting hurt while working out. Should I do HIIT everyday to save time, or just start running? The possibilities are endless.
Why bother? Is it really worth it?
The short answer is yes. And you already know that. You know why the answer is yes also. Because you want to live a long, adventure filled life. You want to see your kids grow up, play with them and your grandkids. You want to spend more time doing the things you enjoy than time at the doctor’s office. You’d rather spend your money on doing things or buying things you really want than on medications, and doctors’ visits. Do I really need to go on? Do any of those reasons resonate with you?
Next question please. So where should I begin?
Where do you think you should begin? What begs your attention? The food and eating healthier? The exercise and being more active? Of course you want to do it all and you want to see results immediately. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but the world doesn’t work that way. It likely took you time to get to where you are now and it’s going to take time to get you to where you want to go. Keys are of course patience and consistency while moving in the right direction. But first you have to know where you are.
It starts with a good honest self-evaluation.
On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being perfect) how would you rate your current level of health? List the areas you need to work on. if the list is long, narrow it down to 10, then narrow it down again to 3-5. What is it that bothers you most about your current health? Why does it bother you? Now honesty is crucial in self-evaluation, so take the time to really think about these questions and what they mean to you. There are lots of possible answers and many people share the same struggles, so you’re not alone here. But this is your starting point.
The next step.
From here, you have to stop and think now: what can you do today to get you one step closer to the healthier you that you envision? Focus is a great tool. Use it! It can be a small step (and quite frankly, should be) like drinking a glass of water before each meal, or walking for five minutes during your lunch hour. These are just samples. Your vision could be much different. Write down your step or steps. Then set a trigger or que to remind you to do it. This can be an alarm on your phone, shoes by the door, or a glass set next to your sink to remind you to drink the water, these are all triggers. Finally, when the action is complete, reward yourself in equal proportion to your new achievement. Rewards should be in keeping with the goal. So think again about what you feel is an appropriate reward for this new action. Then repeat.
Build on that success.
Once that habit has been established and once you feel comfortable that you will continue this behavior add another to it. Add another small, achievable, yet rewarding step in the right direction. Same method applies. Trigger, Action, Reward and before you know it, you’ll have built several new healthier habits. You’ll be closer to your ultimate goal and it will be as natural to you as brushing your teeth each morning (I really hope you already brush your teeth each morning!).