Since I wrote my blog on perspective, I have had constant reminders about realigning my own perspective about my body, my opinions in general, and my sometimes my all too quick judgement of others. That usually means it's something I have to continually work on, OR I haven't learned me lesson...Most likely a combination of both...This morning I had a rare opportunity to get my run in at 6:15AM which is a relatively peaceful and still time of the day. I run along some busy roads, so most times, I stick an earbud in to drown out road noise with some sing-a-long, upbeat music and go on my merry way. This morning I made a decision to run without music and since it was so early in the morning, I had an opportunity to take in nature and work through some thoughts that have been lingering- mainly perspective.
Most times I go on a run, I run for a determined distance and I know how long it's supposed to take me. I wear a watch or use my phone to time myself and provide a steady supply my as sing-a-long music I can rock out to. This morning was different. I was running for pleasure in the process, rather than my accomplishment of a goal. Running without music or a timer allowed me to change my focus from "How fast can I go?" to "Just enjoy the activity." I don't know about you, but life is a lot like that for me. I tend to feel the need to fit as much as I can in a day or strive to earn the most badges of busy in a week, and rather than feeling successful and accomplished, I end up feeling defeated by all I didn't get accomplished. Our culture covets the busy and the overachievers--how can we not feel like we have to keep striving? After all in our culture busyness, not smart & balanced productivity, is equated with striving and achieving.
In all my busyness, I tend to look at the big picture of things and glance over the details. As I was running today, I caught myself not looking at the long-term goal of finishing the run; instead, I was looking about 5-10 steps in front of me, occasionally glancing up and more often looking behind me. About 2/3 of the way through my run, something profound hit me: When I am slowing down enough to enjoy the process, I don't worry about the end result. I focus on what's at hand, pay attention to how far I have already come, and every once in a while, I glance up to make sure I am still heading on the right trajectory towards that end result. Boy could I use that advice more regularly! I don't stop to celebrate that my struggle is now to stay between 150 & 155 as opposed to previous versions of my struggle when I couldn't stay under 190. I'll gladly sit in this struggle over the old one. Every once in a while, it would benefit me to look back, remind me where I came from in order to empower me to keep trucking ahead.
The law of diminishing returns is by far my largest struggle with keeping a healthy perspective regarding my body, but it's applicable across the board-- it explains my tendency towards having the passion to start things, but little perseverance to see them through. When I first began my weight loss journey, I was losing 1/2 a pound per week, my body was changing and I was dropping clothing sizes faster than I could keep up purchasing new ones, also my strength and cardio performance improved significantly enough to notice almost every month. At 35-40 pounds smaller, I don't see much fluctuation in my weight (unless it's the opposite direction than what I'd like. I've worn the same size clothes for the last 2.5 years, and my strength and cardio ebb and flow with gaining and losing depending on my workouts and life's demands. The law of diminishing returns is to blame for the change (or lack thereof)-- it explains this phenomenon of results becoming harder to achieve as you move closer and closer to your goal. When you have 40 pounds to lose, it's usually easy to lose a single pound, but when you have 3 pounds to lose it's a bit harder to achieve that same one pound weight loss. The same was true for my run as I neared the end. I was more focused on the end than the process or how far I had come. I wanted to finish quickly, but no matter how fast I seemed to kick up for the last 1/2 mile, I would slow again as I focused on the finish line instead of the next 5 steps. I finished the run feeling worse than when I was fulling enjoying the process, but better than I normally would because I had enjoyed the process. And thanks to the process, by the end of my run, I had a great blog to write, new insight to my same old problems, and I felt great about the run which made me feel better about me.
Changing perspective in order to slow down and enjoy the process is not easy, but it is worth it. Mindfulness is the best way to start your slow down. If you catch yourself focused on the finish, look at how far you have come to get to this moment, breathe, and focus on the current moment embracing the good, the bad, the pretty and the ugly. Then spend time enjoying this moment because you only get to live it once.