Most of us have heard the expression: “Yesterday’s the past; tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present” (Bil Keane). I admit it sounds a little hokey, but it’s true. We can’t undo what happened yesterday and tomorrow is promised to no one, so all anyone really has is the moment before us right now, and that moment is priceless.
I’ve worked a lot of jobs with some crappy hours and crappy pay mainly because their hours were nearly golden to me. They paid enough to keep me above water (barely) but they left me with a lot of free time, which meant more to me than the money. It still means more to me than the money, because the job I work now, while paying better than the crappy ones, still leaves me with a good amount of free time. One of the biggest pains working The Job From Hell is that it sucked up all my time. Even though it had better pay and benefits, literally all I had time to do was work, drive and sleep.
Most of us squander our moments; I admit that I am so very guilty of this! I make a list of things to do and then I use that list to procrastinate: “hmm, I can do that one tomorrow; I can do that one later tonight; I can put that one off until after the weekend and that last one can wait until after the holidays.” So out of a list of about ten things, I’ll get two or three of them done and shove the rest off for another time. I’ve actually checked out books on how to make a ‘correct and efficient to-do list.’ Really?? We need a book? How about we just do the dang things we put on the list?? One of the apps on my phone is a reminders app called Alarmed (by Yoctoville.com) and I love the thing! I use it for most of the tasks that I will forget to do, like scheduling appointments, getting everything on my list and when California went to the reusable bag law, I used it to remind me to bring them. One of ‘reminder alarms’ on the app is a stern voice saying “That’s a direct order! Do it now!” That one I reserve for the no-more-procrastinating tasks, and most of the time, it works for me. I remind myself that there’s a reason I chose that alarm.
Unfortunately, I can’t use that app for the times when I really really need to kick myself in the butt when it comes to weight loss. Most of us aren’t really aware of the ways we procrastinate when it comes to losing weight or eating healthy. There’s the obvious ways, like I’ll start my diet tomorrow/ Monday/ after the holidays, and we do the same for working out: I’ll go tomorrow/ this weekend/ next week/ next class. But the little things and little choices are not so obvious and when we push them off for another time, we’ve missed an opportunity we didn’t know we had.
These are choices like the healthier breakfast or lunch vs the less healthy more convenient meal, or the little snacks throughout the day or walking instead of driving across the shopping center. These are all opportunities and they add up. This probably sounds familiar: I had a healthy breakfast and a healthy lunch, but then I had cookies in the breakroom and stopped for a mocha on the way home because it was cold and I was tired and I’d already had the cookies, and once I got home, I didn’t have anything ready for dinner and ended up ordering Chinese so I blew the day! I know I’ve argued with myself many afternoons on “whether a plain latte is ‘healthy’ or not and does it fit in my calorie budget.” The question I really should be asking myself is “how can I make the best of this moment in front of me?” It doesn’t matter if I had a dozen cookies before the latte or if I just ate celery all day; what matters is the moment and choice in front of me now: latte or no latte?
We do the same thing with our workouts: I forgot my gym bag, so no workout for me today! Do I really need my gym bag to get in some exercise? Well, if I’m planning on going to the pool, yes, I do need it, but how much exercise can I get in without it? That includes things like walking around the office as much as possible; if I’m running errands, I can always park at the far end of the lot and get in more walking. I can do some body weight squats while I’m waiting for the printer to finish its job; I can do some stretches when I get up from my chair. There are a lot of days when I brought my gym bag with me but ended up missing my class because I had to work late, so how about I go to the pool anyway and just swim or even tread water? That moment when I realize I am not going to make it to class, I have a choice: go later or bail on the opportunity? And that really is what it comes down to: am I going to make the most of the moment I have in front of me or am I going to take the easy way out?
Some of us argue that these little choices really don’t matter. How much exercise do we really get walking back and forth from the copy room to our desk? Is a latte really going to torpedo our whole weight loss plan? I believe they do add up, just like sitting at our desk, in our cars or at home adds up: minutes become hours, just like a handful of M&Ms every afternoon eventually becomes a bag of M&Ms in a couple of days. These eventually show up in the stiff muscles and joints and the muffin-top around our waistband, but even more important is the pattern they create!
The more we get used to choosing the ‘easy choice’ rather than the ‘best choice,’ the more we lean towards that choice. It’s easier to give in to the ‘I blew the day’ excuse, and then before too long, it becomes a week of ‘I blew the days,’ and how much longer before we just throw up our hands and say ‘I can’t do this’? We create a bad habit without realizing we’re doing it. We wear a groove in our memory, our behavior that keeps leading us down a road we don’t want to take. When we ask ourselves ‘what’s the best choice’ or ‘what’s the best use of this moment,’ we put a stop on our automatic “this day is already lost!” attitude and begin to look at ways to re-evaluate our choices. We stop settling for ‘good enough’ and aim for ‘better’ instead. Even if it’s something as simple as getting in 7000 steps a day instead of 5000, it’s a better choice than just settling for ‘okay.’
We don’t have to make a Master Plan for Weight Loss or schedule activity for every hour or even plan out our meals for the entire week; we just need to look at the moment we’ve been given and ask ourselves “what’s the best I can do right now?” and then do it! (That’s direct order!)