Go on ahead – I’ll wait here.
Pat yourself on the back! You have had your moment of enlightenment (ahhh haaa-cue beams of sunlight) and you get IT. You have wrapped your head around the importance of health and wellness and it is on the top of your list of priorities. Are you standing there all alone? Go ahead-look around. Chances are you might very well be standing in that sunlight all by your lonesome. You really can’t expect everyone to catch on as quickly as you have. You can wish it, hope it, pray it, imagine it, but don’t go expecting it.
If I know anything, it’s that you can’t make anyone believe anything they don’t want to/aren’t ready to believe. I also know that making significant behavioral changes is difficult if your environment doesn’t support the changes. Blah, blah, blah. (Translation – You can’t do this stuff when the rest of your world is doing the EXACT opposite of what you are trying to do.) By environment I mean your physical environment and the people within it. My physical environment on most days is my house that is bursting at the seams. My people are my husband and my kids. They make for a fun, active, and occasionally challenging environment. I have started and stopped and started and stopped this journey towards weight loss more times than I care to count. It’s only this time that I’ve changed it to a journey towards health and wellness. Go figure but a great little bonus has been significant weight loss. Yipee!! You’ve heard me refer to Alex as a “naturally thin” person. Yeah, so obviously he was not equally inclined to journey down the path of sacrifice for the glory of weight loss. He’s one of “those” people who gives up pop (or soda depending on your neck of the woods) and loses 7 pounds. He can also shovel gobs of cheese and chips with no visible ramifications whatsoever. I, conversely, think about cheese and chips and they magically end up on my hips. I give up diet pop and…tah dah…nothin’. My kids-they were blissfully unaware, thank goodness, to their mommy’s ongoing frustration with weight. My peeps did not make my journey easy. It wasn’t their journey. The Kuhel family is happy to report that we are now on the same journey (cue beams of sunlight and throw in a choir of angels while we’re at it). Come along with me as I share how this miraculous happening came about.
- Get on the right track already!
I will say that my stops and starts were, in part, a result of being on this road all alone. I also did not have an internal GPS at the time so I was COMPLETELY on the wrong road. Weight loss was the destination when health and wellness should have been the X on the map. In reality that X is perpetually hovering in front of us. It’s something that we have to work at and strive for daily. Weight loss was never and shouldn’t have ever been the focus for my family. It turns out it that it shouldn’t have been my focus either. Now let’s be real. I wasn’t exactly dismissing the fact that my pants were falling off. I am a woman after all. For me, it was a reframing that was totally necessary. Once the goal was to “live well”, everything started to make sense. Funny thing is, when you do things that are good for you, you become healthy. Your body does not want to be overweight. Your heart does not want to pound outside of your chest after walking a flight of stairs. Your muscles don’t want to cramp up following a lap around the track. Your body does not want to fail you at the age of 40 (that’s the next big number for me-insert your next big number).
I love my family. Some days I don’t like everyone so much- you know those days- but I LOVE my family every day. Once I realized the importance of health and wellness, I knew it was something that I had to have for my family. I really had to have a heart to heart talk with my husband. It wasn’t a long talk, but it was one of the most important ones we’ve had. It wasn’t a long talk because it made so much sense to want what’s best for all of us. It really was just a decision away for us. It is only a decision away for your family as well. Now your significant other may be a harder nut to crack. You need only to open those stubborn eyes to the fact that a healthy life is so much happier than an unhealthy one. Changes made now will pay you back many times over in the years to come. You are not asking to go where no one else has gone before. It’s not scary. It’s just an initial choice to live better, followed by daily choices to support a healthy life. What is scary is a life that is lived based on a series of unhealthy choices. Kids are easy. It’s no big mystery that they have big eyes and ears. Who hasn’t heard a little one say “Oh @#$!” in an eerily familiar tone at an inopportune time? Big and little kids alike will internalize what they hear and see. It’s up to you to fill them up with the right stuff. Talk the talk and walk the walk. My children will be the first to tell you that they DO NOT want a lecture on the virtues of anything…at all. It’s amusing and frustrating that they seem to tune out the stuff that you make a point of making sure they hear. Equally amusing and frustrating is that they hear and see things that you go out of your way to keep from them (see above mentioned example). So save your breath and fistfuls of hair and go the indirect route. You’ll have to adjust these suggestions to fit the ages and maturity of your kids/partner/roommate etc. Give them small bits at a time. Try to give them the same bits as many times as you can. “What bits?” So instead of a monologue about the evils of trans fats, corn syrup, or some unpronounceable ingredient, show them that a short list of ingredients on a package is best. If they don’t recognize the ingredient as food, it probably is not whole or “real” food. Tell them real people eat real food. Most of the kids will get that point. Always take the stairs when possible. They’ll ask why you are walking up the stairs instead of riding the escalator or elevator. Tell them that you will always walk because you can. My 3 kids would routinely race toward an elevator to vie for the honor of being the one to push the button. This would always be followed by the other 2 howling “IIIIII wanted to push the button”. THAT is enough to make a mortal want to take the stairs. Renee is the last of the converts to walking the stairs, but she wouldn’t dare ride the elevator without us – yet. I am full of helpful “bits” so read and take away what makes sense for your situation. Add a few new bits every so often. Be consistent. Your message must be clear. This is not a means to an end. This is a lifestyle and it’s just the way it’s going to be from now on.
- Get your whole act together.
My initial point was that your healthy lifestyle has a much better chance of sticking if the life around you supports it. One of my most frustrating past struggles had to do with food preparation. While I was trying to eat like a rabbit, the “others” were gorging themselves on bags of chocolate chip cookies and greasy burgers. Neither of these choices was good for anyone. The “others” were going to be sick and I was going to be, just as soon as they were out of sight long enough for me to grab those greasy bags myself. The key for me now is to cook whole food for EVERYONE. No one is going to eat garbage and no one is going to starve themselves eating 3 carrots, a wedge of iceberg lettuce, and piece of cheese for dinner. We are successful at eating well on most days. The Kuhel kids know that we eat balanced meals. I’ll even make a plate and keep one component off. They can tell you if the lean meat, good carbohydrate, or vegetable/fruit is missing. It’s what they are used to now. As I am writing, I am looking at an empty plate that used to have piece of cheese pizza on it. It is now in my belly. My sons, daughter, and husband have matching pieces of pizza in their bellies as well. Guess what…it’s okay. We have it once in a while. Remarkably, we used to be able to eat a whole lot more of this cheesy pie only it also had pepperoni or sausage on it too. None of us can tolerate much of it anymore. Isn’t that a kick in the pants! Our bodies don’t want gobs of pizza either!! Who woulda thunk it? Everybody eating healthy food makes it easier for everybody to eat healthy food. Soon your bodies will reward you by serving you well.
We don’t walk this earth alone. We don’t function in a vacuum. We need each other. You ALL deserve this healthy lifestyle. It is not that you need to trudge along in misery together. Change, even if it is good for you, is one of the hardest things to do in life. Give yourself a fighting chance to get what you deserve by surrounding your family with the right mind set. Change a little at a time. A lot of little changes add up over time to one very important change…a change of lifetime.
Till next time…live well! Toni Kuhel