I have a history of being tough on myself. I like to make goals and to reach them. I have little tolerance for stumbling, for fumbling, for falling short. And yet. And yet the crazy thing is that this is exactly what I celebrate in others, people in my life, people in my stories. It's not that I'm going around looking for disasters, but rather that I find imperfection - and honest striving - to be curious and compelling things.
As some of you know, I've embarked upon an ambitious month of Wellness for my HERE Year. At the outset of November, I announced lofty plans to eat cleanly, exercise constantly, and meditate. Oh, and I would get lots of good sleep. I look back at that post, at those adamant declarations and I smile because that is so me. That is so me to come up with a plan, to adopt a no-excuses attitude, to charge ahead.
And there's nothing wrong with this, I've decided. There's nothing wrong with experimenting with self-improvement, with editing my habits. These are good things to do. These are things I hope to always do. But the problem comes, I'm realizing, when we are not kind to ourselves, when we do not build some robust forgiveness and flexibility into our plans, whatever they are.
Each night, I've been emailing my food log to friend and nutritionist Lauren Slayton as part of her fantastic Foodstalking Program. Each morning, she responds to the diary from the day before and gives me a new health tip. Last week at some point, I sent her my diary and I scribbled some note. I can't remember what exactly I said, but this was the gist: I'm snacking more than I should. Maybe I should stop sending you my food lists.
She saw in my words something I don't think I saw. A sense of creeping doubt, of defeat, of judgment. She wrote back and the gist of her note (which is exactly what I needed to hear by the way):
Don't judge yourself. It's a process.
Wow. Just a few words and my attitude shifted. It's a process. And it is, isn't it? This is not just about food, about nutrition, about quasi-narcissistic attempts to streamline body and mind. This is about life, guys. This is about human beings desiring change, about daring to believe that change is possible. This is about evolution and the desire to evolve. This is about strength and vulnerability and how sometimes these two things can be the same thing.
I won't ramble any longer, but I will say to you what Lauren said to me because maybe just maybe it's what you need to hear most right now:
Don't judge yourself.
It's a process.
Thank you, Lauren, for supporting me so thoughtfully through this process. I am eating so much better and cooking and truly changing habits even though it feels shaky sometimes and I feel so good to be attempting all of this. I honestly think I will look back on this month and think, That's when I started to figure it out. It's exciting.
And thanks to all of you for putting up with me and my inspiring/irritating attempts to better myself and my life.
Are you hard on yourself? Not hard enough? Do Lauren's words resonate with you today?