Thursday, January 3, 2013

 The Legend of the New Year's Resolution

"Practice patience; it is the essence of praise. Have patience, for that is true worship. No other worship is worth as much. Have patience; patience is the key to all relief."

                                          - Rumi

        Have you ever been to the gym on January 1st and had to wait in a line to use one of the 15 treadmills which are normally free?  Or maybe you've been grocery shopping on that same day and are determined to skip the junk food and candy aisles because "it's a new year!"  Well, I can guarantee you that by February 1st all those treadmills will be free again and everyone's grocery carts will contain just as many bags of chips and boxes of cookies as they did the previous December. Why is this?  Why do New Year's resolutions always seem to, how we say, "fail"?  
        Resolutions almost always have to do with breaking some kind of bad habit, the top one being unhealthy lifestyles like poor eating habits, lack of exercise, and too much drinking and smoking.  We should know by now that these and every other kind of bad habit cannot be broken by wishing upon on a star before bed.  Nevertheless, every New Year's Eve, we do just that and we honestly believe that by February 1st we will be "20 pounds lighter". 
        The reason why I'm revolving this post around the popular declaration to "lose weight" is because that had been my New Year's resolution every year from the time I started making them.  Why did I have to keep making the same resolution?  I will tell you why.  And surprise, surprise - It's because I never followed through.  When I wasn't 20 pounds lighter by February 1st I thought I had failed and for some reason, we as humans, feel that once we fail, we need to punish ourselves. Once I punished myself for failing, the motivation I had to break my bad habits was gone.  I had no self-love; no self-respect.  I had no confidence in myself that I could do it.  
         In December of 2011 I began to make the same preparations I made every year.  However, this time I felt different.  That year I had increased my yoga practice.  The best way to begin a yoga practice is to sit in silence, drop all thoughts and worries, and focus in on one of the most important sounds on this busy earth - the peaceful sound of your very own breath.  Listening to your breath, feeling how it moves through your body, can teach you so many things.  That year it bestowed in me the number one key I needed to succeed.  
         I, like every one of you, was born with what I like to call the "anti-virtue" of impatience.  As infants, when we were hungry, we cried until we were fed.  As children, we pouted and threw temper tantrums when we didn't get the toy we wanted.  In our adolescence, we literally thought the world was ending when our parents said "no."  As adults, however, we begin to understand what we're lacking but sometimes can't put a finger on what that really is. When I began to truly listen to my breath, I figured it out.  It's patience.  The greatest healing power in the universe is time. Once we accept the undeniable beauty of patience, anything is possible. 
        On January 3, 2012, I packed up my patience, tossed away my pride and joined Weight Watchers.  With their incredible support along with my new found endurance, I felt invincible.  I would never go on another "diet" again, but I would change my lifestyle no matter how long it took.  Whenever I felt failure coming, like when I would gain weight one week instead of losing it, I refused to punish myself.  When I got stuck in a rut all summer and gained some of the weight back, I didn't wait for the New Year to start all over again.  Once again, I didn't punish myself.  I worked my way out of it right then and there.  I didn't lose 20 pounds by February 1st.  I did, however, lose 20 pounds by June 1st. 
       I am now 25 pounds lighter than I was exactly a year ago today.  Even though I'm not at my weight goal yet, I don't feel discouraged in any way and I have patience to thank for that.  My advice to everyone is to, before you make your New Year's resolution or even if you've already made it, find your patience.  Set aside time during your busy schedule for yourself.  Wake up earlier if you have to or wait until the children go to sleep.  Sit alone in silence and listen to your breath.  That is patience, and once you are filled with it, you can accomplish anything!