Monday, July 15, 2013

Old Habits, New Habits, Weight Loss and Writing

I often use my yo-yo weight gains/losses  as an example of what happens when old habits are invited back into one's life after a period of successfully developing new ones. In my adult life, I've lost (and gained back) considerable amounts of weight (60,80, 90 pounds) five separate times. I know how to lose it, and I do. I shop, cook, eat, exercise, dine out, and even begin thinking in ways that support the weight loss, and for a time, the maintenance of that loss. 

Then I get complacent, over-confident -- lazy. I let old habits back in, even in the face of successful new ones.

For writers struggling to develop and maintain good writing habits and reliable writing routines, this is a cautionary tale. For a while -- maybe you're in a class or graduate school program, or part of a writers group or other well-planned structure that comes with built-in accountability, deadlines and productivity milestones -- you stick to the writing routine. Pages proliferate. You get in a groove, maybe banish old procrastination habits, start new ones, understand and keep the few that already work. You're on a roll.

Then you get complacent, overconfident--lazy.  The old habits arrive, sometimes by surprise, sometimes not.

If I had the "answer" to this problem, I'd be rich -- and thin.

I only know this: new habits require diligence.  And, one other thing.  Those new habits -- writing related or weight related -- won't stick unless they are designed to take into account one's very unique, personal, individual life circumstances:  body rhythms, tastes, likes/dislikes, obligations, job/family, physical limitations, time availability, interests, etc.

Which is why I'm sending everyone I know --whether they are battling the scale or the blank screen (or running from either) -- over to Ruth Foley's blog.  Ruth's a poet, teacher and literary magazine editor (who earned an MFA at Stonecoast, as I did).  And, Ruth's lost 100 pounds. And, Ruth has posted 100 tips/stories/reasons about how she lost the weight and is keeping it off.

It's clear from reading her posts that Ruth understands about creating new habits in a way that honors her own body, mind, life, interests, inclinations, and family/home/work situation.  She explains the habits she adopted, adapted, created, tossed, embraced, tried out.  Her posts are a great combination of common sense, uncommon insight, practicality, innovation, motivation, and compassion. 

Ruth so clearly understands that it's in making small, big, sensible, simple, dramatic, major, minor, expected and unexpected changes, that humans develop the ability to create what they want. To me, her posts (broken into 10 tips at a time) are a valuable resource not only for those interested in weight loss, but for anyone trying to create a workable approach to any daily practice -- such as writing.  (And of course, Ruth is a good writer, so...bonus!).

Start here with #1-10.  Or begin with the final ten and work your way back.  Or find them all in one place.

1 comment:

Julie Farrar said...

Thanks for pointing me in this direction. I'm trying to lose weight AND develop a more consistent writing routine at the same time. The only thing I know is there is no magic bullet -- just sit down and write and eat things that energize your body. But why is it so hard to put into action as a lifestyle. I'm off to read her tips now.