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Saturday, March 05, 2016

On Goals and Progress and Baby Steps

Jean Sexton muses:

Many people say you should set goals or resolutions on New Year's Day. That gives a shape to your entire year. This year, for once, I didn't even whisper "I resolve" to myself. I was too busy trying to recover in the hospital in Amarillo. In fact, I was moved out of ICU on January 1st.

I've decided that my goals are going to be set month by month. They may be the same (lose a pound a week, walk a little longer, walk a bit further, work on my balance), but each month I will start from where I am. I have a long way to go to meet my long-range plans (be at a healthy weight, be able to walk two miles, exercise a minimum of 40 minutes a day), but I will try to make progress each week on them. I can add a minute onto the time that I walk and do that until I am reasonably not really tired out by it. I can let my Wii show that my weight is trending down. (Yes, I know that by video-game standards my Wii is a relic, but it does what I need it to do.)

Why month to month? If I fail at a goal or my body isn't quite ready to walk faster, then I start from that point and move forward. I won't recriminate and brood on the fact that I missed the goal and that means I won't make the year's goal. I've done that before and then I give up on my goal. This way I cannot give up on my goal which is to be better than where I started.

I do plan on being forgiving with myself. During Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, I think my goal will be to not gain weight rather than focusing on losing it. I do count walking in the grocery store as "walking" right now, because I get tired after shopping. (Remember that I never go directly to anything, but check out what produce looks good, what is on sale, and what would complement a meal I am planning.) With the Wii, if I cannot walk outside, I can take the time to walk inside. The idea is to make a little progress a bit at a time.

One of my friends calls these "baby steps" and reminds me that baby steps add up. With "baby steps" I weigh 30 pounds less than I did in January. When I got out of the hospital, I struggled to walk for five minutes at a time. Walking the tenth of a mile to get my mail (and another tenth of a mile back) was nearly an impossible trip even a couple of weeks later. I slowly built up to walking 10 minutes and then 15. Now I can walk half a mile and that takes around 20 minutes. In a month and a half I am doing things I didn't know I would ever be able to do again. And that walk to the mailbox? I am taking an indirect path back to my apartment so I get in a little extra walking.

Do I get discouraged? Of course I do. I am only human. But for me all I have to do is look at where I was a month ago to see how far I have come. (And if I forget that, my friends remind me!). And I look at this picture of me on February 21 (taken in Leanna's "girl cave") and see how much weight I have lost, see that I don't have an oxygen tank following me, and that (most importantly) I am alive which was not a forgone conclusion in December, 2015.

Please join me this year in trying to be a little healthier each month, in being a bit more forgiving of yourself, and in rejoicing in life. Take baby steps with me and let's encourage each other.