Some weeks at Every48 are “business as usual” weeks. There’s stuff to do. Stuff gets done. And most days of the week, a workout gets squeezed in there somewhere. A to-do checklist, if you will.
But sometimes, the deeper questions start to bubble up. Questions like, what’s really going on when we make commitments to ourselves to care for our health, no matter what else is going on in our world? What are we really saying to ourselves when we say, I’m going to make a commitment to exercise once every 48 hours of the year, no matter what else is happening?
(Disclaimer, of course: I have not been perfect at keeping that promise this year. Which is part of the story, actually. Keep reading.)
Progress Yardstick: Where were you a year ago?
Last December, I was speaking for a group of people who were dedicated to improving their lives through healthy weight management. We played a game called “Where were you a year ago?” And it led to some amazing “a-ha” moments for everyone in the room. Progress sometimes comes in such small increments that it’s really hard to measure until all of those little changes have accumulated quite a bit.
(See the Every48 post on the aggregation of marginal gains for more on that concept, by the way.)
I asked this group “Where were you a year ago?” and some great insights came out from the discussion. One person still had some weight to lose, but realized upon reflection that she was already maintaining a significant weight loss. She had lost thirty pounds in the previous year. Yet, because she still wanted to lose another fifteen or twenty pounds, somehow she had framed it in her mind as, “I haven’t achieved anything yet.”
Then she reflected on all that had happened the past year, and realized that she’d actually achieved a huge amount. An absolutely HUGE amount.
That’s what a time of reflection offers us. The ability to really see how far we’ve already come.
And so it is today, on a day when my shoulder still hurts, I’m still icing it and immobilizing it when I sleep, and doing all of the “right things” to make it get better soon so that I can get back to running. I felt supremely sorry for myself last week because of this injury. That, plus a whale of a work week, meant that I did far less exercise last week than I have all year. Since that fall eight days ago, I’ve gone to the gym to ride a bike exactly once. I’ve done a little bit of walking. Other than that, I just haven’t moved much.
And you know what? I feel different today physically. This “every 48” promise I made to myself this year really does work. I do feel more tired, less strong, less dialed-in right now than I do when I’m being a badass at the gym, or on the running trail, every 48 hours.
Sometimes it’s by not doing something that we realize how important it is to actually do it.
There has been such an incredible aggregation of marginal gains in my health this year because of this Every 48 promise that it would be hard to quantify them all.
I’ll give you just one stat: I weigh in at Weight Watchers every week, but as a lifetime member I’m required to weigh in once a month within two pounds (in either direction) of the goal weight I’ve set for myself. Last year I started tracking whether I achieved that goal in the first week of the month, or the second week, or the third week, or worse. I’ve always “gotten there” eventually (and I’m never more than a pound or two away from that two-pound cushion), but I really wanted to be someone whose weight was just steadily in that healthiest range so that I could count on weighing in the first week of every month at that healthy weight.
I just looked at my records for the past five months. And in that time – including my November weigh-in, which happened this weekend – I’ve been at that healthy goal range the first week of every month. Five consecutive months.
That’s the aggregation of marginal gains working, right there. A little more activity for the year led to a little more awareness of my whole self-care program, and that led to me solving the problem of the phantom pound or two that was hanging around that I just wanted to let go of. It may not sound like a lot. But after maintaining a significant weight loss for over five years, it’s a big deal.
On this fine Monday morning, I’m reminded of the magic of making promises to ourselves, and then keeping them. You can take it to the bank that I’ll be on that bike at the gym later today.
Happy Monday. See you tomorrow.