B is for Baby Steps

B.  I had a lot of thoughts about B.  Namely things like B is for Bacon, and Butter, and Burgers, and Brownies, and Brown Sugar, and …. You get the picture. 🙂

And then I got a private facebook message from a dear friend.  This friend and her husband, like so many of us, have battled their weight and a myriad of related health issues as long as I’ve known them.  Things like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. with the odd malady like rheumatoid arthritis thrown in there to add excitement (as if things weren’t difficult enough).  My friends’ husband’s blood sugars have been off the charts lately and she is beyond concerned about his health and is trying diligently to change those things she has some control over–like their family meals.  Here is a portion of her message from last night:

Girlfriend, I need some advice….How do you get your family on the same bandwagon as you? HaHa I know!!! I am just frustrated with the fam not wanting to change eating habits, especially (name of her cute husband has been removed to protect…well, me 🙂 ). I tried a different stir fry tonight with beef instead of chicken it turned out good. But while I was fixing it everyone was complaining. But then (cute hubby) wanted 2nds, uuggh!!!” and “I ask myself ..why does it take me to cry and throw a fit before they take me serious??? Just struggling tonight, I am probably not making any sense, oh well.”   

B is for BUMMER!  Sad for my friend.  And, I’m at a bit of a loss for suggestions that will be helpful.  That is why I am bringing this to you.  You see, I’m single.  I struggle with eating in social situations and sometimes it is a bit difficult to bring things up with my extended family, but I get nothing but support when I do.  They are even willing to try what I am doing on occasion.  It’s just not the same as trying to help an immediate family member(s).  I’m not responsible for fixing anyone’s meals but my own. I need your help!  Do you have some advice for my friend?

My advice would be this:  Baby Steps (B=Baby Steps).  I think many of us like our routines.  They are comfortable.  That is why they become routine.  And, when you get to the point that your blood sugar is out of control and your blood pressure is off the charts, it is quite possible that you (and when I say you, and also mean I) have taken up residency in the land of very bad habits.  One definition of habit that I recently read is “an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.”  I think I would remove the word “almost.”

So many of my habits, especially those surrounding food and exercise are seemingly “involuntary.”  They have become entrenched in my everyday routines and I simply do them without much thought. Trying to flip those routines to include the opposite of what I have been doing is very overwhelming.  Especially when  I don’t feel well and I imagine that compounds when there is major push back from those with whom you live. (Side note rant:  I don’t say that as a means of excusing bad habits, just a simple statement of what is–an explanation if you will.  And in my book, the different between an excuse and an explanation is action.  If one talks about not feeling well and being overwhelmed and then does nothing it is an excuse.  If they explain that they don’t feel well and that they are overwhelmed and then they still take action–totally just an explanation of what is and what they need to overcome.  It’s like saying, “See this mountain? It is in my way and I need to get to the other side.  Here are the things I’m going to do to get over that mountain, and then doing those things.” If we weren’t trying to do something about it then maybe the excuse word would apply. But we are making our way up that mountain, so its totally just description of the terrain.”)   I have to be very deliberate about operating outside of those entrenched, seemingly involuntary habits.  And…there are many of them.  Trying to change more than one of them at a time is daunting.  And I can’t imagine how much more daunting it would be if I were trying to change the habit of my family all the while dealing with their resistance.

So, my dear friend, I think you are doing an amazing job.  From our recent conversations I see you trying to work more healthful food into your family’s diet.  I see the concern that you have for making things better for those you love and I applaud you.  I know that you don’t feel well and that makes it all the more difficult.  My heart breaks for your current dilemma.  However, I know that you are strong and resilient!  I believe with my whole heart that you can do this if you take it one step at a time.  I know that is hard when you see someone you love suffering. And you are scared!  And you realize that things need to change but you can’t find the right way to get the whole family to understand the importance of making these changes.   I know that you want to make 100% of the change at once so that you can see him progress and feel better.   I know you fear for his life.  But…make the changes one at a time so that they are sustainable and your family isn’t overwhelmed.  Be a good example in the things you are asking of them.  They will come around.  And who knows, once you have a succession of baby steps you may find yourself (and your family) speed walking or even running (metaphorically).  One of these days your family members will start to notice that they feel better and they will be on board with the new eating habits you are trying to instill. 

I wish I had something more concrete to offer you. I hope that my friends reading this post who have dealt with similar situations will chime in and offer you some useful advice.  I’m sure many of them have been where you are now.

I love you girl!

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