It’s a Monday morning, and I woke rather reluctantly this morning. I slept well and deeply, and I suspect that without the alarm going off I’d have slept much later. The apartment is comfortably cool. The morning is a quiet one. My coffee is hot – and untouched, thus far. My medication has my made my stomach just a bit upset, so for now I am drinking water and waiting for that feeling to pass. Coffee soon.

I woke in pain, a sign that autumn is coming. Yoga, a hot shower, more yoga…I feel less stiff, and the pain is reduced, but still present in the background. I remind myself to be kind to myself and take things slowly as the day begins. I am smiling in spite of the pain this morning; the weekend was just that good. No stress. No drama. No frustration. There were plenty of verbs involved, and more than one opportunity to handle things differently. The choices matter.

“Perfect” is not a thing I’m likely to find becoming a defining characteristic of self, and by keeping my goals more practical I avoid setting myself up for failure. I keep practicing – simple things, too, like kindness, compassion, graciousness…basically, I keep practicing treating people well, including myself. I am learning the differences between self-indulgence and self-care, and learning the value of being authentically myself moment-to-moment, fearlessly. My results vary – on the whole, my results are profoundly positive improvements in my day-to-day experience. I find that good practices still require the practicing; it is short-sighted to see good practices as a means to an end, or an achievement to be mastered.

Whole, fresh, healthy, nourishing...good qualities for food to have.

Whole, fresh, healthy, nourishing…good qualities for food to have.

Yesterday I spent some time contemplating dietary changes for improving my health and fitness based on the most current science, and putting myself back on track to reach my fitness goals. I could keep making excuses about how I got here (having gained a handful of pounds in the hot weather), but honestly it’s neither required, nor of real value – it’s time for verbs. Thinking things through, and making adjustments to how I plan to eat going forward is the easy part. The real challenge isn’t even bringing the vision to life; I find getting started down a better path to be fairly simple, too. For me, the challenge comes later – after work, when I’m tired and don’t feel like exercise, or cooking, and find myself faced with the temptation of effortless calories – but the lack of effort, itself, is a hallmark of calories that are likely not the healthiest for me. I know to avoid heavily processed food products, and that’s easily done all day long…until I am tired. Honestly, at that point, I am generally not in need of additional calories anyway. So I’m shifting things around, switching up what I keep in the pantry, and adjusting both my everyday menu, and the timing of my meals during the work week. I finished the evening satisfied with the changes I’ve committed to – one of which is to be sure to get the rest I need. That’s a dietary change? Hell, yes it is – the science suggests inadequate rest affects how efficiently we process calories, and how our metabolism works.

As with so many things, living alone requires that I be very attentive to my diet, and the amount of exercise I get (or don’t) – I’m the only person facing the outcome day-to-day, and the first person who is going to notice and the only person who can act to change the outcome, at all. I’m not surprised that I gained a couple of pounds in the heat of summer – I could have chosen differently and potentially avoided that, although my thyroid does have something to say about it, I still have verbs to call upon so no excuses. I’m not being unkind with myself; boundaries, once set, need to be enforced – even with myself.

I take a systematic approach to these sorts of things, and I spent a couple of hours reviewing data regarding where my grocery money was going, and what sorts of things meet my current needs, and where there was waste, room for improvement, or potential to make small changes for the better that will have immediate benefit. I find change that is positively reinforced with results is easiest to maintain, personally. Learning to cook for one more skillfully will have benefit, primarily in reduced waste. Refining the staples in my pantry is another easy win for immediate benefit. Spending time looking at the most recent science on diet and nutrition, as well as taking a look at how my needs at this point in my adult life are different, result in better decision-making along the way. Taking time to recalibrate my eye to appropriate portion size relative to my size – and my goal weight, and where I am in life – will simplify portion control, which also has immediate benefit. These are good places to start, for me.  I’m even excited about it – and that’s also part of the success; it’s hard to act on change if I don’t want to manifest the change I am considering in the first place. 🙂

Sometimes starting isn’t as easy as it looks ‘on paper’, and to help myself along I also commit to repeated acts of ‘positive self-sabotage’. When I stop by the grocery store tonight, as I move through the aisles, everything I consider will be met with a silent question. “Does this choice meet my longer term needs over time, consistent with the changes I have mapped out?” If the answer is not a firm and obvious ‘yes!’ then whatever it is stays on the shelf. Sounds simple enough. There are still verbs involved.

Today is a good day to live life by my own rules. Today is a good day to take the very best care of me, and preserve a comfortable ‘now’, while also taking a long view about the journey ahead. Today is a good day to consider change – and embrace it. Today is a good day to change my world.