Traveling The Road of Good Intentions

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April 24, 2014 by Judith Liebaert

Spring has sprung and it’s been a hard cold winter baby. But this is the season of new beginnings, a new season of growth, flowing into summer.

Unfortunately for me, I’ve been going with the flow and growing in all the wrong ways these the past few months. I took the wandering gypsy wagon on the road, pointed south and escaped the worst winter had to offer, for a few months at least. I tried telling myself that I was going to start some new habits. I was going to use my two months of leisurely snowbird living to bike, swim and eat a lot of salads. I ditched the cold winds of winter and with them, my couch potato tendencies. I planned to come home ten pounds lighter.

In fact, I came home packing a few more saddlebags than I’d left with. What the heck? Where did I go wrong?

Talking about adopting new habits is exciting and hopeful, and there is a powerful feeling that comes with the declaration to kick an old pattern to the curb. But when considering changing routines and habits, actually exchanging old habits for new, suddenly there is the implication of hard work, not to mention the gloomy possibility of not succeeding.

I’d like to blame my middle age body that finds new and more sadistic ways to spirit my youth away from me. While it’s true that middle-age-spread is part of the equation, the ultimate undoing of my grand plans was my utter lack of a good plan to begin with. I missed one very important step. Replacing what I was taking away with something not only better for me or more condusive to my goal, but equal in the satisfaction factor.

I’m sure my body is very grateful for the invigorating physical activity, but that doesn’t change the fact that both my body and mind missed the pleasures of lounging on a soft surface, preferably in the sun, reading a good book. Or snuggling up in a down quilt on a cool night, watching a good movie, whiling the hours away with my cat purring beside me. I still craved that pleasure. My mistake was not knowing ahead of time what I would replace it with, and so I mindlessly over indulged in food — glorious food, and drink.

Hey, don’t judge. There’s a lot of pleasure to be had in good regional cuisine and libations. But even with the physical activity I added, I was packing on more calories than I was burning off. I’m thinking now that a better plan would have included a few hour long massages and frequent regular steam saunas whilst drinking lots and lots of water. Both would be ample enough reward to motivate me to steer clear of the extra helpings.

Depending on which guru of change you listen to, it can take 21, or 30, or 45, or 60, or even 61 days (really – one more day is going to make that much difference?), to form a new habit. Much of it depends on what the new habit is and whether or not it’s replacing an old habit.  Habits are patterns, they are like grooves in a record and the longer you’ve been playing the same old tune, the deeper the groove. It’s far easier to slip back into old patterns, than it is to stay the course of new ones. Such is human nature.

So it’s back to the drawing board for me, with deference to the middle-aged-metabolism-slow-down and a plan that will offer some measure of reward that doesn’t come by the cupful.

In this season of renewal are you considering making some changes in your life?  Check out my four step plan of Self C.A.R.E for making change that lasts and enriching your mid-life years.

*For those who have joined the Dark Moon Lodge journey, click through for newly posted creative journaling prompts. Remember the password is “darkmoon”.

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