How to Eat a Donut
I ate a mini donut today for the first time in a year. And it opened up a whole new weird train of thought. I ate that donut with a new perspective of nutrition, in a new lifestyle. I have become that person that "doesn't eat donuts." And here I was chowing down on an amazing freshly made donut at a lovely little coffee shop. Did I just undo all of the progress made the past couple years? Definitely not. But in that coffee shop, I sat there struggling with a whole bag of insecurities, with the past staring me in the face. And I treated this treat like a regression.
So what does this story of donuts and my insecurities (here's to humanity!) have to do with anything? It made me think about the life cycle of goals. We all hope in time that a goal is set, then a goal is met. The end. But that's not the end. What happens when a goal is achieved?
New Years resolutions and setting goals (both of which I am in full support, as evident in my last blog post) can be a difficult proposition to explore. As healthy as it is to set goals and plan out dreams, it's a big ask. Think about it. You're engaging in an activity that forces you to take a broad look at your life and say "okay, how do I change this part of me forever?" It's daunting and exhausting and intimidating. Believe me, I know. I'm in the middle of the process right now. And it's already two weeks in to 2017!
The thing is, we're not all new to this concept of goal setting. You need money to get a job, you fill out applications until you get the job. Goal set, goal met. You're asked to be a best woman or best man in your best friend's wedding, and you need to fit into a dress or suit and become immortalized in wedding photos. You get your nutrition in check or join a gym. Goal set, goal met. But the act of actually making those plans a reality, making the steps necessary to achieve those goals, is tough. And we understand that too. We know how hard it is to apply for those jobs or fit into that dress. We know that from beginning to end, the road is not straight or smooth. But we keep taking those steps and making those moves until one day that goal is achieved. And we look around at the obstacles we faced and the journey we traveled and we appreciate the whole thing because it made us better people for having lived through it.
But what happens after that? What happens when the mountain is climbed and the goals are met? What happens after the "happily ever after"? This is the real meat of what I want to explore, because while the new year is a great opportunity to see new goals realized, it's also a time to unpack the goals set the year before, and make new moves to new outcomes. I'll use a personal example in hopes that it might resonate with someone out there feeling equally as hodgepodge about directions.
About two years ago, I was about 45 pounds overweight (or as my computer autocorrected to, "overwhelmed", which I think sounds better anyway actually). I was 45 pounds overwhelmed and looking for a way to feel comfortable in my own skin. And I needed to do this on a deadline. I was that hypothetical "best woman" in the scenario mentioned above. I stumbled into my first Crossfit class at Crossfit Queens in Astoria, New York, not really sure what to expect. I remember doing deadlifts and single unders. Partner WOD. 20 deadlifts, hold the bar, while your partner jumped 20 single (or double) unders with the rope. Something like that. I used a training bar and ten pound plates. 35# deadlifts. And I could do (maybe) 10 single unders. So I did 10 instead of 20. I scaled the shit out of that WOD. I was the worst athlete in the group. I loved every second of it. And, as former coaches love to remind me, I left that first class with the "biggest shit-eating grin." I did. It was the middle of December, and I walked the mile home with my coat undone and the sweat crystallizing in my frozen hair. I was hooked. I became addicted to feeling my body move again.
i just celebrated my two year anniversary with Crossfit a few weeks ago. Two years of deadlifts and single (now double!) unders and health and fitness and positive body change. I lost the weight I wanted to lose, and I gained a whole new set of skills I didn't expect to ever acquire. In these two years, I went through an immense transformation. I held onto the goals I set so fiercely, and met them at a pace I didn't expect.
Now, coming out the other side, I have left the past behind and built a whole new life. But I haven't allowed myself to set new goals for this new life. The grand goal to "lose weight lose weight lose weight" has been so engrained in my every decision, every move, every choice. At this point, navigating the next steps are more immense than the steps before. For fear of regressing, I grasp the old goals so tightly that I don't allow new ones to blossom. I'm being held back by my own goals. So, in the case of the great donut indulgence, I treated my new self as if my old self was eating it. I fell into the trap of punishment based on previous circumstances. And this spiraled into a world of self-deprecation and confusion. All because I didn't acknowledge the growth made and the challenges needed to be set.
It is possible to "get in your own way", even with the best intentions. It is possible to treat your new self as if you were living your old life. It's normal. But when goals are met, it is your duty to challenge yourself to make new ones. It is your duty to be proud of the achievements you've made and use that momentum to continue achieving more.
So how am I transitioning my goals from "lose weight" to something else? I'm setting aside time to take inventory. I'm taking the "if it ain't broke" method and trying not to make up problems that aren't really there, while finding the parts of my life that need some more attention. This takes brutal honesty and a deep look. And it takes time. And probably a pen and paper to write it all down. It's also helpful to remember the "why". Why did I set that original goal to "lose weight" in the first place? What were my motivations that got me to where I am today? And how to I harness that motivation in the next phase?
Achieving goals doesn't, by any stretch, mean that there are no other ways to improve or change. It's a prime (and important) opportunity to tease apart our new selves built on past goals, introduce ourselves to our new lives, and step into this new life with a fresh look. Perhaps this is an open call to not let go of our drive, our ambition, our commitment to ourselves, and our willingness to continue growing into the people we are happy to become.