Today I noticed that I am lacking creativity in my life. I was thinking about this during my commute to work this morning. 2017 is only a few days away and I am not where I want to be creatively. I promised myself at the beginning of 2016 that I would collaborate with someone on a creative project and start my own creative project—a blog. I helped edit content for my cousin’s blog throughout the year and it was a lot of fun. He’s really open to constructive criticism, and together we made the entries much more refined. I was glad to be a part of his creative dream. But I broke the promise I made to myself—as I did the previous year—to start a blog and write consistently.
I really hope to become a stronger writer. I want to write about things and people that inspire me. The problem is I don’t know where to begin. I don’t have a story in mind. I lack discipline. And even when I do write a few paragraphs, I get self-conscious and delete them. Fear sets in and I start thinking that there are plenty of blogs out there; why would anyone care what I have to say? This fear has held me down for a long time. I haven’t written anything fun or creative since I was in college. I had a passion for writing and I want it back. How do I get it back? I’m hoping this will get me started.
Today I noticed that the things that make me happy now are not the things I thought would make me happy 10 years ago. This realization came to me when I got a text message from my best friend as I was getting out of the shower yesterday morning. “I want you to hear it first. Brad and I are getting married. Our ceremony is at 2 p.m. today and we are planning a more traditional celebration in the future.” She married her boyfriend of five years in a little white chapel in Las Vegas a few hours later. They wanted to keep things simple so they eloped.
We had talked about what our wedding ceremonies would be like when we were younger, although neither one of us was too keen on the idea of marriage. If she ever met the one, she said, she'd have a small wedding. Regardless, I had this idealized notion that I would be standing beside her in my bridesmaid gown, along with our other friends on her wedding day. The thought of being part of her special day made me happy. When I read her text message, it stung a little to know that I had no part in this momentous milestone, at least not in the way I thought I would.
After the ceremony, the control freak in me took over. I needed to see the gown. I needed to see the veil. So we decided to FaceTime for a few minutes and two of our closest friends joined the video call. One of them was at work, the other was at home. I was at the airport waiting for my parents, whose flight was delayed.
Ten years ago, the idea of not being present for my best friend’s wedding would have devastated me. But as soon as I saw her on my phone screen wearing her white gown and perfect veil, my heart was filled with joy. Sure, the rest of us didn’t have a drop of makeup on or the perfect hair, we didn’t get to see her walk down the aisle or kiss her handsome groom, but we didn’t care. My friends and I shared in her happiness from wherever we were at in that moment, as though we had been standing beside her all along. The fact that technology enabled us to still be a part of her special day and seeing her as a beautiful bride made me more happy than I could've imagined 10 years ago.
Today I noticed that I accomplished the weight goals I had set for myself last year!
Hear me out: I’m not obsessed with diets or weight loss. I ate pretty much all I wanted during my 20s. But when I turned 28 I decided I needed to make some serious changes in my life. I was only about 15 lbs. over my ideal weight, but I am a very short gal and it felt like I was 50 lbs. overweight. I was having stomach issues and feeling pretty tired all the time. Worst of all, I kept having to buy a larger size every time I went shopping, which became less and less frequent. I lived in lounge pants because the thought of having to buy new clothes gave me a panic attack. I once broke down crying at a clothing store because nothing fit me. The sales people were so sweet to me. I should go back and give them a hug one of these days. Soon after my meltdown, I made a promise to myself that I would get back to being healthy. Which begged the question: when was the last time I was healthy? Maybe I never had been.
I do remember being strong and in great shape when I was taking kickboxing classes in my early 20s. I remember how much I loved going to class and seeing my body getting stronger and more toned. So I looked for a kickboxing studio near my house and just happened to come across the best group of trainers I’ve ever had. I will say that I haven’t been consistent in my attendance—life gets in the way sometimes—but when I go there, I give it my all. I also started hiking more. I started hiking alone and, if you know me, you know this wasn’t easy for me. I give credit to Cheryl Strayed and her book Wild for this. Every time I hike alone I think, “If Cheryl could do 12-15 miles alone in the wilderness with no cellphone, I can do 5-8 miles in the trail by my house near the freeway, blasting my favorite Spotify stations on my phone.” Overall, I became way more active than I had been in years.
Diets never work for me. If you tell me I can’t eat something, I’ll prove to you that I can and I will. So instead of juicing or eating only peanuts for a week, or whatever crazy diet people follow these days, I decided to follow a nutritional plan that told me what I could eat, how to snack healthy and when to eat. Five years ago, if you had told me to eat a salad for lunch I would’ve laughed hysterically then slapped you across the face for suggesting such a miserable meal. Today, I quite enjoy a colorful salad for lunch. I feel nourished.
I also followed a food diary. Self-accountability is a great motivator! Writing down what you ate earlier that day will make you think twice about what you eat the following day. One other small and seemingly insignificant thing I did to keep me on track is I stuck a post-it note on one of the walls of my cubicle at work that reads “Future Self will thank you” and I stared at it as I ate my healthy lunches every day. Every day I thought, “You may want the chili cheese fries and you may hate this [insert healthy meal], but Future Self will thank you.” I never really hated the healthy meals; I just hated the fact that they weren’t chili cheese fries.
I followed the nutrition plan, attended kickboxing classes regularly and stayed active. I will say that I wasn’t as disciplined or consistent as I would’ve liked but hey, I made some drastic changes in my daily routine and that had to count for something. It did. It took months, but I started noticing the difference and other people noticed it as well. I’m sure that, had I been more consistent, I would’ve seen those changes sooner. Toward the end of 2016, I joined a weight loss challenge at work (money is also a tantalizing incentive!) and won.
This morning, I received an invitation from my colleagues to join the upcoming weight loss challenge and I realized—kind of like when Forrest Gump realizes he no longer wants to run across America—that I’m done. I don’t want to lose another 15 lbs. I just want to maintain and be healthy. The habits of eating healthy and staying active are now part of my routine. This is it. This is Future Self. And I am so thankful.