My dictionary defines “comfort zone” as being “the level at which one functions with ease and familiarity.” I’d say that pretty accurately describes where I found myself. I was overweight, and out of shape.
I’d always been strong enough, and stubborn enough, that my weight didn’t slow me down – or so I thought! Thankfully, the impetus wasn’t a dreaded diagnosis – just a realization that change was needed. I was living life with a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other kind of existence; functioning with ease, and something had to give. But, could I do it? Was I too old?
It wasn’t without a ton of skepticism, but I stepped way outside my comfort zone, and committed to a lifestyle change! And, the good news is, it thoroughly changed my life, and the life of my husband, too!
Change is hard! We are habit-driven human beings, living in a hectic, fast-paced world, and we’re often stuck in a rut, doing whatever is normal – whatever is comfortable!
Our ‘rut’ involved eating out – a lot. It wasn’t always that way, but as empty-nesters, we found ourselves able to do so, and almost forced to do so by time commitments! We were always running errands after work, or visiting a fast food drive-through on the way to a grandchild’s game, or spending time with friends at a favorite restaurant! And, of course, after every grandchild’s concert, there was the obligatory trip to get an ice cream sundae with the kids and grandkids! Our social life – our comfort zone, really – revolved around food! Sound familiar?
Though my attitude wasn’t the best, and skepticism was at an all-time high, I somehow found the courage to step outside my comfort zone and commit to change.
And, it was tough, in the beginning – committing to a new lifestyle, learning new recipes, trying new foods, planning ahead, and prepping lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. I felt as though everything I knew – my ‘normal’ – had been ripped from my life, and replaced by these foreign routines and alternate behaviors and unheard of meals! I was much too old for this and too comfortable with the way life was!
But, remember, I said I was stubborn! Well, that served me well!
Even shopping was new to me! A farmer’s market? Fresh produce? Asparagus? Fish? Cucumbers? You’ve got to be kidding me! (I tried them – still don’t like them, but I tried!)
I’m a meat and potatoes kind of girl. Almost every meal had potatoes – baked, fried, mashed. It didn’t matter, I never met a potato I didn’t like!
I started reading ingredients in everything, determined to stay away from sugar, sodium, and all those food industry additives and preservatives. You know the ones. Those multi-syllable words on the label that you can’t pronounce, nor can you identify! If I don’t know what it is, or can’t even say it, we don’t eat it! Simple as that!
Next, I hosted my own private grocery party, inviting my daughter and daughter-in-law to come for free food I had pulled from our kitchen cabinets. Chips. Pasta. Pre-packaged, one-skillet meals. Crackers. Salty snacks. Sugar-laden tidbits. Spice blends and barbecue rubs. I gutted the kitchen, all in an effort to make this step outside my comfort zone more successful. You know, out of sight, out of mind – right? Wrong! I sometimes missed what I’d given away, but I don’t now.
We bought a food processor to slice and dice all sorts of fresh vegetables. Next came a steamer. How did I get along without those in my kitchen for decades? I don’t know!
Our life changed drastically as we left our once comfortable lifestyle and traded it for a new one – a healthy one. I’ve learned to enjoy a cold drink of water – often! And, I’ve learned I really can survive without the soda I was once totally addicted to! I’ve found I can eat at our favorite restaurant and not partake of the basket of complimentary chips – amazing, but true! I’ve learned to make wiser choices and to get a to-go box early, since portions are often more than I need.
I’ve found energy that I thought was a thing of the past. I’ve regained motivation to do landscaping (plus a lot of other things that had been left undone for years). I no longer drive around looking for the closest possible parking place when I visit the store.
I don’t refer to my weight as something I’ve ‘lost’ because if you lose something, you want to find it. Not a chance!
When I made it to the 50-pound mark I asked my husband to take a picture of me carrying the 50-pound bag of dog food we had just bought. It was going to be one of those pictures worth a thousand words! Well, I tried to maneuver that unruly bag and pose for a picture, but quickly discovered it was a difficult task. Finally, by resting my foot on the running board of the truck, I wrestled the bag to one knee and he snapped the picture! It was mind-blowing to realize I’d carried that much extra weight under my own skin, every day, all day long, 24/7, for years! Actually, for decades!
That picture truly was worth a thousand words.
But, now, I’ve made it to the triple digits! I am 100 POUNDS lighter than I was just 286 days ago! AMAZING! Things have slowed down a bit, but I never imagined in a million years I’d ever lose anywhere close to that much weight!
This new lifestyle is quickly becoming our new normal, and it’s a good place to be! I’m learning to be comfortable in my own skin, comfortable with who I am. And as the pounds disappear, a newfound confidence appears. Motivation and energy are replacing end-of-the-day exhaustion.
I guess you could say I’m functioning with the “ease and familiarity” described in my dictionary. And, believe me, this is one comfort zone I don’t EVER plan to leave!