I have enjoyed two major turning points this year and I know they will impact me for the rest of my life.
The first happened in the doctor’s office, during my annual physical this fall. Because I am, ahem, in that stage of my life – mid-fifties and going through “the change” – I put on ten pounds (4.5 kg) without even blinking over the last year and a half. In fact, I found myself just five pounds (2.3 kg) lighter than when I was at term, ready to deliver my third baby (who, incidentally, weighed almost 9.5 lbs, or 4.3 kg), when I was 37 years old!
Honestly, I have felt as if the individual cells in my body each got heavier. And I lamented to my doctor about it. She’s around the same age as me and, though a lanky 5’10” (66 cm) gorgeous woman, admits to having struggled more in recent years.
Then she turned to me and told me the hard truth.
“If you don’t change what you’re doing now, you will probably show up in my office next year five to 10 pounds heavier, and then next year after that the same, and so on.”
I sat, stunned. This can’t be true, I thought. I’ve been fine ‘till now…
She recommended the book Younger Next Year to me. (There’s also a female verison here.) My husband and I read it and, although some parts made us laugh, we realized what it was saying is this: Those of us over 40 need to seriously move our bodies every day. Exercise six days/week, and make at least four of those sustained aerobic exercises (40 minutes or more). That’s what our bodies need to remain healthy for the long run.
But even more significant, the focus should be on getting our bodies healthier, not worrying about weight. That’ll come if we do the above and start to pay more attention to what goes past our lips.
That’s where I’m focused now. I want to be the best version of me. Period. And that means on the physical front with my health. I know that will overflow to all the other areas of my being.
The second turning point has to do with a writing challenge I participated in over the month of December. It was a 28-day 500+ word daily writing challenge through an app called SPAR. Best-selling author Jeff Goins began this challenge (his second writing one) and I jumped on board.
Using this app, I did the work and then checked in daily showing evidence I had. If I missed, I would lose $5 (or whatever amount the initiator sets). I didn’t. The pot grews and, in the end, each of us “winners” took away a whopping $6.57!
No, the key here is loss aversion (not financial gain!). And it’s not just loss of money, but loss of face/confidence. Oh my – it works brilliantly!
Unfortunately, right now SPAR is only available on iOS. But I imagine there is an Android version in the works. And this can be for any type of daily reportable challenge over any set time period, such as exercising, meditating, reading books, spending time with your spouse or kids, whatever. You just have to be able to show how you did it through a 20-second daily video check-in.
As a result of this challenge, I have written 24,663 words I might never have written! I have renewed confidence I can continue writing like this. And I am now 85% of the way through the draft of my second book! The SPAR challenge got me close – and I intend to finish the draft up these last few days of 2018.
And, an added bonus of SPAR: The community developed around this challenge was a lot of fun!
In both of these instances, two incredible things have clicked for me.
I now realize how much developing habits lead to a deep sense of personal satisfaction. That satisfaction outweighs the resistance and rationalizations I encounter sometimes.
I also recognize these disciplines make me a better person. In a larger sense, this makes our world better. I am an asset to society, not a drain.
If I’m healthier, I can have more energy to encourage and care for others. I am less of a burden to those around me as well as society in general. I am a contributor rather than a taker.
And if I write a lot? Through the practice, I become better at expressing ideas. But more significant, the world gets a new and needed perspective it otherwise wouldn’t have. Words move. Words have power. Words shape the world.
These things matter to me. Not just for 2019. But for the rest of my life.