So what happened?
For starters, I began to set small, SPECIFIC goals for myself, and I tried to not be such a perfectionist. I learned how to be gentle with myself. I also began trying to spend more time holding myself accountable to MYSELF. Keeping promises to myself, instead of keeping my promises to everyone else. Easier said than done, it's true. I made the resolutions, the promises to myself, to move away from processed foods and try to eat whole, unprocessed foods, to not give up applying for graduate school, to begin moving towards all-natural beauty and cleaning products, and to choose to have a good attitude (The latter two I will talk about in future posts.)
I kept my promises to myself to stop buying processed "healthy" (and not-so-healthy) snack foods like granola bars, chips, pretzels, and crackers, and rice cakes, and kept fresh fruit available at all times. Grabbing an apple or an orange instead of a granola bar is not only less calories... but so much less junk (ie- flours, additives, preservatives, sugars, etc.) floating around your digestive system. Along the same note I tried to incorporate more vegetables into my daily meals.
For example- I work 5-8 hour shifts at a retail store downtown Charleston. There are restaurants and take out places on every corner! I began to take my lunch to work every shift, and pack a salad as my main course. This is important because instead of clocking out to go spend money I didn't have on cheap and unhealthy take out (the healthier take-out food is way expensive, of course), I will sit up at the front register and eat my salad, soup, etc., and if I continue to be hungry I will also have brought with me 2-3 apples or a bag of carrots to munch on. Especially working retail, its easy to get bored and want to munch- it's the worst. I try to stay prepared. (As a side note- I began to find that people in the shop would make comments about my healthy eating. Either encouraging or disparaging... "Good for you, girl!" or "What, are you a rabbit or something?" If the tone was negative, sometimes I would make a pithy remark about "Kale being nature's broom..." or something. I was definitely surprised about this aspect of healthy eating in public!)
At first I was taking the same salad to work every day and still eating my normal junk at home... Diet sodas, fast food- but It was a start. Now I try to cook vegan and vegetarian meals to keep in the fridge during the week, so when I get off of work/get out of class I have rice and beans, I have soup, I have homemade bread, cheese, vegetables, and fruit, so that way I can MINIMIZE weeknight cooking. I love to cook, don't get me wrong. But ain't nobody got TIME for THAT. Feel me?
I have steadily lost 18 pounds over the course of the year- at 5'10" in Jan. 2013 I weighed in at 158 lbs, and as of this morning I weighed 140.2 lbs! I feel great and am going to start incorporating regular exercise into my routine as part of my 2014 resolution.
Getting into graduate school was also huge milestone for me. I really needed the support of my loving boyfriend J- to push me forward. Once I took the GRE and applied I was convinced that I would never get accepted and that I should go ahead and just start looking for a permanent job. But guess what? I was accepted. Conditionally- but it was a foot in the door! I vowed to myself to have a good attitude, to be disciplined, and to keep ahead of my work. That didn't always happen, but I made the most valiant of efforts!
What was most helpful to me, as far as completing assignments, was setting up a work area in our otherwise unused second room. I set up a modest desk and chair, decorated it with family pictures and my favorite- succulents and orchids- and made it a space I would want to sit. And sit I did! Instead of sleeping in on my days off or on days I worked the night shift, I got up by 8 or 9 AM, made coffee, and sat down to get some reading done! (Anyone considering grad school- READING READING READING. And when you're eyes have turned red, and you think you can read NO more, you will have at least one more chapter.)
I made straight A's, gained full acceptance into the program, and really, TRULY, felt as if I was doing something worthwhile. I felt right. I feel right. And, I feel grateful on a daily basis.
It takes hard work to change old habits! I will be the first one to admit this. I think that the secret is finding realistic, SPECIFIC goals that you can work towards. Specificity is easier to follow through with- it's a lot harder to resolve to eat healthier than it is to resolve to buy fresh fruit at the store instead of crackers. It's a lot harder to say you are going to make straight A's in school than it is to resolve to wake up at 8 every morning and complete at least one assignment.
Thanks for reading!