Monday, May 19, 2014

Shh! The Secret Plan Hollywood Doesn't Want You to Know About!

 Like many women, I have occasionally fallen prey to splashy headlines that promise maximum results for minimum effort.  The chirpy vow of "Lose 2 Sizes in 5 Days!" has caused my hand to stretch out almost without conscious effort more than once.  Not just dieting headlines, either - "Organize Instantly!" and "Just Exercise 5 Minutes a Day!" also draw my attention.

Well, it's a bad habit.  A nasty, ugly, bad habit and it stops today.

There are a lot of things I want to change and in the past, I've tried to change them all at once, without bothering to figure out why I do some of the wacky things I do in the first place.  See, I tend to overdo, which (in my case, anyway) leads to an inevitable crash and burn cycle.  Give me strict dietary rules and I'll follow 'em like a lab rat - until I get desperately tired of hot water with lemon before I've washed my face.  So I skip the green tea one morning and go straight for the dollar store candy.  Or I feel a vague sense of "am I kidding me?" at sneaking baby carrots into the movie theater and go for the blue raspberry slushie.  (Seriously - "blue raspberry"?  What is that, exactly?)  Or I miss a "run day" and feel like a slightly more stylish version of Jabba the Hutt.  Or I fail to pick up the kitchen counter one evening and feel like the whole house is due to be condemned by the Board of Health.  And I feel large, unwieldy, unworthy, and sad.

In the last few weeks, I've slowed down enough to take a good look around.  Here's a sampling of the things I found out.

  • I stress eat.  And not salads.  I can do something about that.
  • I'm not very good at this running stuff. I can do something about that.
  • A house is messy when someone moves back into it.  I can do something about that.
  • Working too hard for too long will lead to Bad Things and yes, I can do something about that.
  • Good relationships don't keep score about who folded the laundry and I can definitely do something about that.

What to me is an epiphany is often to other people a moment of, "Well, yeah."  By demanding that I simultaneously excel in all aspects of my life, I've set myself up to fail at just about all of them. Blasted perfectionism - I thought you and I had had a talk about that, but no.  I bought in to the glossy magazine pictures, forgetting that Photoshop has a lot to do with those pictures and stylists have a lot to do with the rest.  In short, it seems that I've been as crazy as a rat in a coffee can.

So here's my headline - I'm calling this my WILD NEW SUMMER PLAN to Energize Your Life, Love Yourself, Look Great (and Have your House Look Great, Too!)

Really, the whole thing can all be summed up as ENJOY MORE! but in keeping with the whole glossy magazine, self-help thingie, here's my simple 10-step plan to get there:

  • Drink more plain ol' water, but remember that a Diet Coke twice a week or so isn't criminal.
  • Eat more foods that haven't been processed to the point of being unrecognizable, but it's okay to have that mini-bagel as part of breakfast.  In other words, don't throw out edible food just due to the presence of white flour, but buy better next time.
  • Cut out the crap candy and enjoy - just a little! - really good dark chocolate.
  • Run anyway.  Sure, my goal of a 40 minute 5K is a small one, but that doesn't mean it's not worth reaching.
  • Mark something off the "take care of the house" list five days a week even if it's just flicking the feather duster around while boogie-ing to Earth, Wind & Fire.  Yes, it'll make the cats run and hide, but that's really their problem, isn't it?
  • No one's calling Hoarders about the dust bunnies.
  • I'm a full-growed woman, which means I have curves and yes, sags.  Ignore the scale and remember that the only "hotness" reading that ought to matter to me comes from FryDaddy, who thinks I'm pretty gosh-darned keen. Just as well - I'd probably break a 20-year-old, anyway.  So fragile.
  • Speaking of FryDaddy - he's moved home, so why not enjoy having him there? Checking work e-mails with my morning coffee isn't a good way to start the day, so stop it.
  • When I'm berating myself for not measuring up to whatever wackadoodle standard I'm trying to use, stop and ask myself, "Would I let some stranger talk to my best friend that way?" If the answer is "no," then I need to stop talking to myself like that.
  • Spend some time every morning and every evening just being still.  I've got more than the average amount of gifts in my life to be grateful for, and it's polite to pay attention.
Will this plan make me a Zen lama in a kickin' bikini?  Nope.  (Funny mental image, though.)  But I'm starting to really believe that being Real might just be better.

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