Saturday, 31 October 2015

You gotta want to change


How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?
One, but the lightbulb really has to want to change.

Hopefully, that's broken the ice.


Do you want to change your life?

I do.

For me, change was not a sudden thing, but something that grew over a number of years.

I've mentioned before that I was quite ill 6 1/2 years ago, but I was looking for change even before that.
I looked at some of my old medical records today (online, patient-accessible medical records are a fabulous thing), and they showed that in an "official" weigh-in in 2007, and again in 2008, I weighed in at 100kg (220 lbs). The weight had crept on over a number of years, particularly after the Summer of 1998, when I changed from a "physical" job to an office-based role. When I changed jobs in '98, I weighed 85kg (187lbs), but just 9 years later I had put on 15kg (33lbs). That's a lot!
I wasn't happy about it, and tried to cut back on the food, and always lost a bit, then I would just get so hungry after a while that I would just eat.

Yes, a lot of us have been there.

Anyway, then I was ill in the Spring on 2009. Quite a dramatic year, really, since my mother died in January of that same year.
I got to see a couple of specialists - one for my lungs and one for my blood. The blood specialist said I had to "mobilize". It was up to me, she said. Walk 3 miles a day (about 5km), or face a long decline of worsening health.

As I said before, I was already looking for change, so this seemed as good a direction to go in as any.
Lost a bit of weight, and put it back on again.

The next big change happened when the company I worked for had a reorganization. It involved consolidating the work done at four separate sites into a single new operation at a new site. Net headcount reduction, 300.
I turned down a pretty generous redundancy payment, and managed to get a transfer to a much more physical job in the town where I live. I wanted the extra physicality in the work as a form of exercise.
Lost a bit of weight, and put it back on again.

Then, in the Winter of 2013/14, I made a choice that has changed my life. I decided that I was going to get fitter riding a bike.
So I committed to riding on January 1st 2014, and I was going to ride up a local hill (it is just about a Category 4 climb, with the minimum required rise of 80m).
January 1st comes round, and it is a mixture of rain and drizzle - with the forecast being much the same all that day.

So I rode in the rain for a couple of hours and got wet.
I was ready for change, I had committed to change, and change happened.

So what makes my tale any different than any other new year's resolution - good for a day or two, maybe a week or two, but the forgotten until the next new year?

You gotta want to change, and I wanted to.
I was proud of that ride, and I still am.
When things are tough, I remind myself how I rode up a hill in the rain on New Year's Day.
Anyway, that year (2014) I got my weight down to 94.5kg (208 lbs) in the Summer, although it slipped back up to 96.5kg (212 lbs) by the end of the year, but still down.
Of course, I rode further, much further, later in the year (topping out with a 100 mile (160km) odyssey to the site of my former workplace, which had been replaced by a supermarket.
But that day in the rain still stands out for me.
That was the day I changed.

Of course, I have made further progress since then - from that end of 2014 weight of 96.5 kg, I am down to just 88kg (194 lbs), the lightest I have been in more than 15 years. I cycled that huge 232km in the Summer just ended, too, but even after that, the day in the rain in 2014 still stands out. What made the weight keep coming down was probably the running I added from January 2015 onwards. I worked my way up from a rather mediocre mile-and-a-bit to a more impressive half-marathon (it took me 2 hrs 27 minutes, by the way, but then again, it was the first time I had run that far for 30 years!). Yes there were tough days, especially at the start of the running - blisters, sore legs, sore feet - I even lost a toenail at one point. But I had committed to change, really committed, not just words but actions, so I got through it.

Change isn't cheap, and it isn't provisional.
From 2000 to 2007, I changed, too.
I studied for a degree part-time, while still holding down a full-time job.
Yes, I committed.
Yes, I got high marks (one of my tutors called me the "100 percent guy", because I gave 100%, and on one assignment, I submitted "perfect" answers, and she marked me 100% :-)

So, even before I was ill, I was embracing change.
I graduated aged 43, when most folks are already stagnating.
Then I was ill, then I changed my health and fitness.

A couple of weeks ago, the doctor said I had to change my diet - my blood cholesterol levels are a bit shaky. Not terrible, just shaky.
So I changed my diet as well.
Once you start really committing to change (and I mean REALLY committing, not just saying the words like you do at work), then further changes become easier (even if they do involve tofu!)

That's me.
I wanted to change.
I was open to change.
I was looking for change.
When change came, I took it.
And didn't look back.

And what of you all?
Are you ready for change?
You want things - maybe to lose a little weight, or maybe to go a bit further or a bit faster on your bike.
But will you do it the way I used to?
To give it a go, but it never seems to work out?
To look for reasons why what you want isn't really possible?

Or will you give it an honest go.
Even when it rains?

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