On Being Radically Moderate in 2017
Since having kids completely ripped away my ability to power through whatever life threw at me, I have struggled with how to make life perfect again. In case you were wondering, this isn’t exactly possible. But I’ve often thought that if I just try harder or come up with the perfect program or schedule then the weight will melt off, parenting will be a breeze, my spouse and I will have perfect communication, and my health will be optimal.
Of course these programs and schedules are usually extreme in some sense. We think that if we clear our schedules of everything and focus exclusively on potty training for three days that our 18-month old will never have an accident again. That 30 days of strict paleo eating will reset our bodies and put us on the path to fast weight loss and optimal health. Or that purging our homes and becoming extreme minimalists will clear up all the emotional clutter in our lives.
And look, sometimes this stuff works. There are 18-month olds who after three days never have an accident again. And people who follow a strict diet that jumpstarts them into a sustainable healthy lifestyle. And people who give away all their possessions, move into a tiny home, and watch their relationships flourish.
But often, and almost always for me personally, these quick fixes are anything but. They are ways of trying to rapidly change situations that instead need the slow, steady, terribly boring hard work of waiting and mind-changing, and habit-forming, and grace-receiving.
In 2016 I determined to stop using quick fixes. This means instead of cutting out entire food groups that made me fixate on food and healthiness in ways that made my stress levels go through the roof, I determined to eat when I was hungry and not eat when I wasn’t.
Instead of committing to an entire exercise program I would hate, I walked four days a week with a friend, did daily stretches, and went to bed earlier.
Instead of trying to lose weight, I worked on my thought patterns and body image issues, and some hormone imbalances, and stress levels.
Instead of yo-yo parenting, I tried to be consistent and confident in my parenting choices.
Instead of spending my time constantly researching all of the wonderful homeschooling options, I picked something, talked it through in detail with my husband, and then stopped researching all the ways I could do everything better and started implementing what we decided on.
And when I failed at all of the above, I focused on not beating myself up and instead making better choices the next day. Without doing anything extreme I’m less stressed, more hormonally balanced and better rested (and I did lose a very little bit of weight). And I’m more confident and less stressed about my parenting and homeschooling choices. The best part is the way I approached life in 2016 is a way I can continue to approach life indefinitely. Because there were no quick fixes, there is inherent sustainability.
Now, I still have a lot of work to do on all of this. I still fall into terrible thought patterns. I still eat when I’m not hungry, but because I’m stressed or tired or bored or happy. I still doubt my parenting choices and want to get hard core about something or other in an attempt to make problems go away fast. But the hard work I’ve put in over the last year means I have a whole lot to build on in 2017.
I read an article recently that talked about a “radically moderate” approach to eating. And I realized that’s my goal: to approach life in a slow, but steady, radically moderate fashion. So this first week of January I’m forgiving myself for making myself sick on sweets over the holidays, I’m headed to bed early and I’m being moderate about food and many other things in my life, in the most radical way possible. Here’s to the slow, hard, sustainable change of 2017.
How are you making space for radically moderate change in 2017?