Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Little changes become big ones

People often ask me how I just completely changed my life in a moment of epiphany; without any pre-planning or thought.  Honestly, I don’t have the answer for that question other than it truly was a miracle. It is only by the grace of God that every day I can continue to live that lifestyle.  I realize that you may not share my belief system, drive, or determination, but that does not mean that you cannot change your life.  Change can be drastic, or change can be subtle and occur over a period of time.

While it is completely true that I just starting dumping bottles of soda down the drain on March 1, 2011, never to have a regular soda again, it took a little while (I can’t remember exactly how long but I’m guessing it was a couple of weeks) to completely kick the soda habit. When I went to the store the next day, I purchased some diet soda, but at that time I couldn’t find Diet Faygo peach soda (peach was my favorite and I was consuming an entire 2-liter bottle of regular soda each night) so I purchased some other flavors. Fortunately, I didn’t really like them so I naturally didn’t drink as much. I also started to alternate bottles of flavored water with each glass or bottle of soda. I was buying the pre-packaged flavored waters at first. Eventually I was drinking just the purchased flavored waters because I didn’t like the carbonation in the soda anymore.  Drinking about 6-8 bottles of purchased flavored water can get very expensive so I used the same process to wean myself off of those. I started using the flavor packets like Hawaiian Punch or Crystal light and alternating a bottle of those with the pre-packaged flavored waters. Eventually I was just using the Crystal Light type products.  Next came the process of diluting the package.  Now, instead of using one packet with a 16.9 bottle of water as directed on the packet, I use one per quart bottle that I keep refilling with regular tap water.  Currently I drink between 1 ½ and 2 gallons (8 bottles) of flavored water per day. I have become addicted to it.  I will occasionally have a can of diet coke, but it is very rare and often just on a special occasion or when I’m at a party or event.

I applied the same principle…..small changes add up to big ones….when I began to try to regain my mobility.  I knew that I couldn’t go from a wheelchair/walker to walking on my own “just like that”, but I could make “little changes” that would eventually lead to big ones.  You’ve likely read or heard me say that I started by going from the chair to walking behind a wheeled walker to using a cane and then to taking a few steps on my own. My first ‘real walk” was only to my mailbox at the end of the driveway; maybe 50 yards and back. Once I became comfortable with that, I walked to my neighbor’s mailbox and back….then to the next house…and then to the stop sign. Eventually I was able to walk a couple of miles at a time. I was always, and still am, conscious of the fact that I had to walk BACK home so I walked AROUND the block at first so I was always walking AWAY from home but (in a sense) TOWARDS home at the same time, rather than walking down a long road and being unable to get back home. Once I became comfortable with my own ability, my route was not an issue.

Other little changes were made in the calorie department. I started buying the 35 calorie  a slice bread instead of regular white bread; I used sugar substitutes in my coffee instead of sugar; skim milk instead of whole; butter spray instead of real butter; low cal/fat free/sugar free products instead of full fat ones; and the biggest change: REAL food instead of processed.  It was an eye-opener to discover that a can of peaches (my favorite) in heavy syrup had over 300 calories in it compared to a real peach for less than 100. And I totally eliminated fast food from drive-through restaurants.

If making a COMPLETE lifestyle change is too drastic for you at this point, or if you are wanting to change but don’t know where to start because it all sounds so overwhelming, I encourage you today to make just ONE small change this week: ONE small, little change like parking your car in a spot in the parking lot just one row farther than usual or walking DOWN the stairs at work instead of taking the elevator. Maybe it will be waiting to turn the TV on for 10 minutes after you get up or home so that you can spend a few minutes of quiet reflection/prayer/meditation (whatever you want to call it) thinking about all the blessings you’ve been given this day.  Perhaps it will adding ONE vegetable to your evening meal; eating HALF as many potato chips; buying frozen yogurt instead of a carton of Ben and Jerry’s; or eating a fun-size candy bar instead of a king-size one.  Start as SLOW as you need to; just DO something because LITTLE CHANGES turn into habits and eventually turn into BIG CHANGES!  You can do it!!!

What other SMALL changes have you made…..and how have they turned into habits or big ones?

Believe me, my friends….. YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE……because LITTLE CHANGES really do make a difference. Life is not a race; take it a slow as you need to in order to make it a lifestyle change.  And I’ve always said….and continue to believe….that you should not make any change that you are not willing/able to live with for the rest of your life.