There are things I work to do every day for my self-care. These include showering, brushing my teeth, drinking a decent amount of water, stretching, meditating, reading daily, and getting at least some exercise.
One thing not on the above list, which I am less consistent with that I need to do better, is my dietary habits.
When it comes to the everyday items listed above, however, two, in particular, have a tendency to be neglected. Meditation and exercise.
Meditation, exercise, and my dietary choices are the three aspects of my self-care that need more attention. All of them require specific intentional actions.
As such, I need to motivate myself better to do these things.
How do I find my motivation? I suspect if I had the answer to that question I would be more centered overall, in better shape, and not pondering a consult I would prefer to avoid.
Let’s break it down, shall we?
Why I need to motivate my diet
I love food. Like, not just for the sake of eating to get the necessary nutrients, but I love food. The taste, the smell, the texture, and the vast variety of choices. From a simple hamburger to Chinese fried dumplings to lobster, across numerous cultures and culinary artistry, I love food.
All of my life food has been a source of comfort. I enjoy preparing it as much as I enjoy eating it. Unfortunately, because of its comforting nature, I have turned to food when I was sad, depressed, lonely, anxious, or otherwise feeling bad.
I am 5’6” tall and weigh somewhere between 255 and 260lbs. Much of this is the result of when, how, and how much food I consume.
There are many options available to me for getting better control of my diet. One of the most drastic and effective methods I could choose is that I could cut down/cut out carbs and sugars. When I have done this in the past I have taken off weight and inches.
It is now the holiday season. As such, there are a metric shit-ton of treats like cookies, candies, cakes, and other sweets I dearly love. And that’s in addition to the rest of the vast food options.
Because of my love of food I have been less than willing to take these steps. Why? Comfort. Food has always been a part of my comfort zone. Also, I think that my shape and size has become such an intricate part of my identity that I subconsciously hold onto this.
What do I mean by that? Let me explain.
Why I need to exercise more
Last night was fencing practice. I have been participating in medieval swordplay for over 28 years now. I love this more than virtually any other activity in my life.
We don’t fight with standard weapons, these are heavier blades than the Olympic and collegiate fencers employ. Much closer to the real historic weapons. Often, we use multiple weapons at a time, too.
One of my opponents at practice last night is a tall, 21-year-old. For 10 minutes we fought until both of us could hardly catch breath and needed water and a break. It was glorious.
It is a source of pride that, despite my short stature and large gut, I am quick on my feet, flexible, and wily. I have great endurance, and it’s no trouble making someone less than half my age work their ass off, too. A friend has referred to my fencing style as “the Matrix” because of how I move seemingly impossibly.
But I know that it’s important to get into better shape for my overall health and wellbeing. I was walking every day, but then between the cold air and various projects I needed to do, I have been less than diligent with this.
I couldn’t tell you the last time I hit the gym and lifted weights.
Exercise is good for my heart (which is a consideration given a family history of heart issues), as well as my various joints. My wife and I joke about the fact that between the two of us we have only one good, uninjured knee.
Exercising regularly is a good habit, not just for the body, but also for the mind and soul.
Which brings me to the other self-care issue I’ve been less diligent about.
Why I need to meditate daily
I began with 5 minutes a day. Then expanded that to 10. In time, I reached 15 minutes of meditation, and I was practicing daily.
That time centered me, calmed me, brought me peace. It helped me to focus on the things I desired to do and to find inspiration for developing new ideas and actions to take.
Somehow, along the way, I just went a day, then two, then more without meditating. I know how good it is for my mental state and health, and yet it got trumped by writing, editing, and to be perfectly honest — distracting myself in other ways.
Even recognizing the value of meditating, somehow it gets shunted off to “I’ll do it later” or “I’ll get around to it” and then the day is done. No meditation took place, and I kick myself for this lapse in a necessary and healthy act of self-care.
Options and habit-building
I need to turn all of these into habits. I need to reclaim the motivation I had to do this.
My doctor wants me to consult a bariatric doctor. A gastric-bypass would almost definitely allow me to drop the inches and get into much, much better physical shape than I am currently in.
I know many people who have done this successfully. It’s rather impressive to see, and I know they will all support me if I were to go down that path. The truth is, I really really do not want to.
I have had enough surgeries in this lifetime. Also, am I really at the point where this rather drastic surgery is my best option?
Can I motivate myself to take control of my diet and exercise and meditate to center myself?
Yes — if I find or create the motivation to do so.
The best method of doing that is to build some new and better habits.
When it comes to my diet I can use any number of methods to track what I am eating and to make choices when it comes to carbs and sugars. The impetus to make this change is solely within me, as nobody else can do it for me. Getting into the habit of writing down what I am eating and better seeing that before me could motivate me to choose more wisely.
I don’t have to give up much of what I love, just moderate it far better.
Both exercise and meditation are a matter of scheduling. I need to get into the habit of getting up in the morning and exercising. When I did this in the past it worked well for me, so I know I can do it. Then, after exercise, I should do my meditation.
Talk is cheap, even when written out. This is a matter of action.
The next step is up to me
I have to decide to take the necessary steps to create these habits. Only I can act on my behalf, and I am the only one that can choose what is best for me.
There is someone who has offered to be my accountability partner. I need to utilize her in that role to motivate myself. Having someone to report to about my progress, or lack therein, would be beneficial.
Also, I need to acknowledge that I am worthy and deserving of getting into better shape, and performing acts of self-care. There is only one me, this is my only body during this time in this life. Part of making it the best that it can be is mindful self-care.
I recognize I didn’t entirely answer the questions I posed. Part of that is because, truth be told, there are no simple answers to be had.
Motivation lies within. The dual-meaning of that statement is not lost on me. It is up to me to decide to act…or not. Motivate myself — or lie to myself and take no action.
Doing the things I need to do to take care of myself does not always come easily. With the practice of mindfulness, I can see how to move forward.
Taking the first step is all up to me. How do you motivate yourself to take action and build habits?
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you and I matter, and we be motivated to act in our best interest.