Hello everybody! I hope your day is treating you right thus far. Being that it’s Thursday, I’m linking up with Amanda at Running With Spoons again to share some thoughts with you on this fine day. These thoughts happen to be quite lengthy, so get comfortable.
Lately, goals have been on my mind, and I don’t mean soccer goals because I care less about sports than any other human on this planet. I mean life goals. You see, when I was studying social work in college, we talked a whole lot about setting goals with clients, which was not the most riveting of the topics that we covered. We learned about making goals SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely), and how to chart progress once the goals have been set. By the end of my senior year, I could set and measure clients’ goals like nobody’s business, but when it came to my own life I lacked some experience in that arena. I was working on one goal and one goal alone: weight loss. As far as I was concerned, it was the only goal that truly mattered to me. If I lost weight, part of me believed that everything else would fall into place. Plus, my goal was SMART! I set out to lose eighty pounds, which was pretty damn specific, and I planned to measure my progress by weighing myself frequently. At the time, my goal seemed attainable, realistic, and timely. According to the app on my phone that I used to track food and exercise, I could get to my goal by May, just in time for college graduation! Perfect! Because losing weight was my focal point, every goal in my life became oriented toward fitness and weight loss, leaving room for little else.
As I stood outside following my college graduation, I was not focusing on the significance of completing my degree. I was filled to the brim with anxiety, irritable, and annoyed with the fact that I was still five pounds away from where I wanted to be. I wanted everybody who had come to see me graduate to just leave so that I could get back to my workout.
That was the problem with setting weight loss as my primary goal in life. Once I lost the weight, I was left with nothing. I had not taken time to discover very much about my interests or invested in self-care practices because all that mattered to me was weighing less. It was my holy grail. When I lost the weight, I felt like somebody who spends their entire life preparing to climb Mount Everest, neglecting every other part of their being just to get to that peak. When they get to the top, I would imagine they end up asking themselves, “Now what?” When I had lost the eighty pounds (and then some) I was left with a feeling of emptiness as I realized I had little left other than the shell of the person I could have been.
In recovery, I have tackled a number of small goals. First, there were the goals to increase my intake. Then, goals regarding weighing myself, moderating exercise, and moving away from calorie counting were established. Each time I set a goal, it made moving forward in recovery a little more manageable. I finally understood what all of that talk about goal setting in my afternoon lectures had been about. If I had not set these goals with the help of my therapist, I would most likely still be in the place that I was in a year ago, which is a nightmarish thought to entertain.
The other day, I realized that it had been quite some time since I had set a goal for myself. I’ve been feeling a little stagnant in recovery, settling for complacency more often than I would like and not setting and accomplishing goals like I once was. So, I have decided that some new goals are in order, and I have come up with five to focus on.
1. Spend time creating a pleasant atmosphere for myself
I love a nice ambience, and I am going to start creating one for myself through lighting, fragrances I love, and organization. It’s delightful to come home in the evening and be able to relax in a comfortable environment free from chaos.
2. Devote at least 10 minutes per day to meditative activities
When I first began recovery, I committed to practicing mindfulness and/or yoga every day. However, it did not take long for my disorder to manipulate the situation and insist on yoga over meditation for exercise purposes. The harder the yoga, the better, as far as it was concerned. Needless to say, this defeated the purpose of seeking out mindfulness. My new goal is to engage in genuinely relaxing, meditative activities every day. Today, for example, I did a ten minute breathing exercise and went for a lovely, leisurely night walk while it was lightly raining. It was perfect.
3. Aim for 8.5 hours of sleep each night if possible
I’ve been trying to make note of how my sleep patterns affect me during the day, and I have realized that I feel best when I get about 8.5 hours. That may seem like quite a bit, but when I allow myself to sleep uninterrupted that is usually where my body ends up. So, my third goal is to get to bed in enough time to average that much sleep each night. This shouldn’t be too challenging, seeing as I’m usually tired enough to sleep at an hour that rivals the average eight-year-old’s bedtime.
Why hello there, bed. You look lovely this evening.
4. Try to challenge myself with food at least once per day
It’s easy for me to fall into ruts where I’m no longer challenging myself regularly when it comes to food, and I want to do something to break these up. Whether that means eating a different snack than usual, going to a new restaurant, or eating at a different time, each of these variations will help me progress in recovery.
One major feature of my eating disorder has been not allowing myself to eat more than I initially put on my plate, even if I’m still hungry. This week, I finished my lunch and was still a little hungry, so I had some tortilla chips with salsa. I believe in the power of baby steps, and little challenges like this can lead to huge leaps in recovery.
5. Express love and/or appreciation to somebody in my life every day
This one may sound simple, but it’s something I want to become more aware of. I am incredibly fortunate to have loved ones around the country and around the world, and I want them to know how valued they are to me. Under the control of my eating disorder, I lost sight of most of the love in my life, and I am thankful that I am able to see it once more. My plan is to reach out to one of the exceptional people in my life every day and show them my appreciation.
There you have ’em – my current list of goals. It feels good to be establishing some things to focus on that have nothing to do with weighing less or exercising more. Life is so much more than those things, and I hope that these goals will remind me of that reality. I encourage you to think a little bit about what goals you could set that would truly improve your quality of life. It’s rather empowering!