I’ve been on a diet for 12 years.
For 12 years I have steadily gained. There were a few exceptions here and there. In 2014, I did 30 days of the Whole 30. I lost 16 pounds in 30 days.
I also lost my will to live.
A grainless, legumeless life is no life at all.
I am not a body-shaming, fit-into-my-wedding-dress kind of person. I don’t really care about that. What I want is to have energy again. To like wearing jeans again. And to have a single pair of shorts that says, “49 looks good on you, girl.” Simple stuff.
So here I am.
In the middle of another attempt, without knowing exactly why it is so difficult.
I was thinking about this yesterday when I walked into our pantry and lingered there. The pantry is never a good place for me to linger, mostly because there is nothing natural in the pantry. Nothing that grows from the ground. Nothing with less than 50 ingredients. The fruits and veggies are in the fridge. Sometimes the good stuff is already sitting out on the kitchen island. But things that are good for me long term are never, ever in the pantry.
I looked down yesterday afternoon, in the pantry, and found the case of Girl Scout cookies that I had voluntarily allowed through my door on Sunday afternoon. I paid $60 for them. And there they were. Saying hi. This is like kissing a person with the flu. Why would you do that?
After wondering for a few long seconds if I should make this particular choice, I walked away with a sleeve of Trefoils in my hand, saying to myself, “I’ll start again tomorrow.” I ate the whole sleeve in one sitting.
That’s when I figured out my problem.
My problem is tomorrow.
I mess up today, declaring a Mulligan of sorts. And I decide that I’ll fix it tomorrow. If there were still Girl Scout cookies I liked, I’d be doing the same thing today. But I ate them all, so I’m safe for the moment from Trefoils.
Tomorrow is my Today Ruiner. Because it gives me an excuse to never do anything today. I never truly get started.
I was turning these thoughts over in my mind this morning, trying to determine why I seem to be stuck in a decade-long rut, and thinking about today’s To Do list. I had two things that absolutely had to be done before school pick-ups: Exercise and writing. They are equal in importance, somewhat equal in effort, and not equal at all in likability. I hated the thought of going for a power walk without a friend, so that’s what I chose to do first. I knew if I did the writing first, the exercise was unlikely to happen. But if I walked first, I would sit down after to write.
In my quest to do the next right thing, if two are pressing and equal, I do the hateable first.
While I walked, I listened to several episodes of Emily P. Freeman’s podcast, “The Next Right Thing.” One of today’s listens was the episode called “8 Books for Soulful Decisions.” That felt like a kick in the knickerbockers, because (1) I’m trying to figure out what my next right thing is, and (2) I’m not allowed to buy any books right now. I opened up Amazon, thought about the gift card money that I was drowning in since Christmas and my birthday fall within the same week, and weighed my options. Two books seemed to be calling my name:
Atomic Habits by James Clear
The Listening Life by Adam McHugh.
I think I need these books. All I have to do to get these books in my hands is to admit that I have a problem. I have to admit defeat. Is this my next right thing?
And is it even really defeat if James Clear can solve all my problems? Maybe he’s the solution to my clandestine Treefoil gormandizing. Maybe after reading Atomic Habits, I won’t be tempted to hoard books I never intend to read. Or buy 12 boxes of Girl Scout cookies, 2 of which only I like.
This is my next right thing.
I’m going to surrender.
But I’m going to do it tomorrow.
And if anyone out there reads this who happens to know Emily P. Freeman, give her my address. She owes me $10.