When you’re trying to change the way you’re body looks, it’s so easy to get caught up on the numbers on the scale; so easy to get frustrated when you fluctuate between losing and gaining, when you can’t get past that one number or, worse, when you trip up and gain everything back you lost in the weeks prior. It’s easy, when you’re still so far away from your goal, to still look in the mirror and notice all the ways you still need to change and improve; how much work is still ahead of you. It’s easy to maintain old habits and continue to avoid mirrors all together, to get discouraged when your weight goes up instead of down, to feel queasy when you weigh yourself to begin with or to wonder if you’re ever going to reach your goal.
It’s easy to focus and nitpick the little things.
The way your legs still look like cottage cheese. Those love handles that stick out over your pants. The stretch marks. The way your triceps are still flabby. How your calves only look slim at certain angles. Your thighs rub together. Your back fat. How no part of you looks good good in pictures.
You nitpick so much that those little things become something bigger, to the point where you get discouraged, you lose hope or you give up all together.
It’s not as easy to focus on the little things that matter.
Like how the scale went down .2 pounds since last time. How you cut off 10 seconds off your mile time or ran for five more minutes. Adding weight when you’re lifting. How you don’t breathe as hard walking up the stairs. The way you sometimes pause to look at how your jeans fit in the mirror. The slight definition you feel in your muscles, even if you can’t actually see it yet. The moment when you buy a pair of shorts instead of capris to wear over the summer or you wear that two piece despite how your love handles stick out. How you can wear a skirt and your thighs don’t chafe, even though they’re touching.
There are two paths of thought being described, here: the path looking at how far you need to go and the path looking at how far you’ve already come. The former can be dangerous, even detrimental, towards achieving your goals. It’s dark, and once you step onto it, it’s very easy to continue on until you don’t remember the light anymore. The latter is well lit and promising, encouraging you to push forward, no matter how long it takes or how small the proof of progress is. It’s also the harder of the two to choose, especially consistently.
But you must.
In my fitness journey, I get so caught up looking at all the ways I still want to improve that I forget to appreciate how far I’ve already come, only six months in. Sure, the progress is small and the journey is still long, but the progress is present. And if I quit now, I’ll have no second, hopeful path to strive towards. Instead, I’ll slip into a third path of regrets, laden with What ifs, as all I can notice is how I went backwards, instead of forward–even if going forward includes fluctuating numbers on the scale, cheat days with sweets, still avoiding the mirror and feeling like you’re never going to make it. Because if you push forward, if you continue to choose hope and work and effort, you’ll make it. You will.
I want to be excited for a year from now, two years from now, five years from now, to be able to see and feel exactly what traveling down the path of little things that mattered helped me achieve; to reach the goals I’ve had for most of my life yet never reached.
Here’s to the little things, both the ones that push me and the ones that try–and fail–to stop me.