I’ve just gotten back from a wonderful 15 day holiday in Tuscany and London. It was such a good time that we actually extended our original 11 day trip by another three nights, delaying the inevitable return to reality.
But now that we’re home, I find myself sitting here, in the dark hours of Monday morning, feeling a little unsettled — how do I get back into the swings of things?
“Starting” can be an overwhelming thing. Whether that’s starting back at work after a holiday, starting a new healthy lifestyle, or really starting any new healthy habit. Thinking about how to get from A to B (post-holiday blues to normal life; couch potato to healthy, fit and flexible) seems to require a lot of personal motivation…a lot of digging deep.
While that can be a tough thing to do, it’s certainly not impossible. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do tackle any new task or goal? By breaking it down into more manageable pieces.
Take weight loss for example. Losing 50 pounds is, for most people, an intensely overwhelming weight loss goal, perhaps one that feels impossible. What do you have to do to lose 50 pounds? What changes will you have to make? How do you even begin? These questions feel so big, and the effort required feels so huge, that many people will stop before they even start. But what if the weight loss goal was only five pounds, not 50? Five pounds seems quite manageable, accessible with just a few small tweaks here and there. Losing five pounds is the first bite — you realize that yes, you can lose weight, and actually it wasn’t all that hard to do. So you move on to the next 5 pounds, and then the next, until eventually that 50 pound weight loss goal isn’t out of reach after all.
The same concept works for starting pretty much anything new. Here’s how it plays out in fitness, nutrition and self love:
Starting A New Exercise Routine
Doing an exercise class that calls for 10 full pushups on your first day at the gym is a terrible idea, one that will no doubt crush your fitness spirit. The better play would be to start with simple stretches, some full body movement, and try modified upper body exercises. After a while you will progress to planks, and then to kneeling pushups, until one day a few months down the road you’ll be doing pushups without a care in the world.
Eating More Vegetables
Buying 10 varieties of vegetables and attempting to cook an Ottolenghi dish as one of your first forays into healthy home cooking is a recipe for disaster. Instead, start simply with a head of broccoli and a couple of zucchini, a pot of boiling water, and some butter to toss through at the end. Heck, microwave them if that makes it easier to get more greens onto your plate.
Loving & Accepting Your Self
Expecting to love your body and your life after reading one self-help book is not realistic. Emotional change probably takes the longest of all, but starting gently with daily self-love and self-acceptance practices will over time change your perception of yourself, your life and your personal value. This is why I keep banging on about this self-care stuff and reminding you that we’re all works-in-progress!
This slow and steady approach may not be particularly thrilling but it is the most effective, and should be remembered when the overwhelming feeling of “starting” starts to sink in.
So I’m glad that I wrote this post this morning. Talking to you has helped me rethink my initial waking instinct (to take the world by storm) and quelled my initial waking panic (how on earth was I supposed to do that). It has allowed me to sit here and watch first light break across Los Angeles, my metaphorical elephant by my side, writing this post, and returning to reality one step at a time.
See you next week!