It feels good to cinch up a belt that used to be too small and to slide it over to the third notch. That happened to me this morning, and as I said, it feels good. It’s a sign of progress.
I don’t go in for quick-fix diets these days, I don’t get sucked into promises of easy weight loss—you can have your beach body in just three short weeks—you can lose ten pounds in two weeks—you’ve seen the ads. To begin with, I’ve never had a beach body, and that isn’t my goal. And I know from past experience that if you lose ten pounds in two weeks, you did it with an eating plan that isn’t sustainable, and when you get back to normal, those ten pounds will come right back and then some.
Years and years ago, I tried Slim-Fast and lost weight—like ten pounds in two weeks—but you can’t keep that up, and it turned out to be a waste of time and money. Then I met a woman who had lost a lot of weight by eating nothing but a bowl of Cheerios for breakfast and lunch; out of ignorance and desperation, I tried that, too, lost weight, and gained it right back when I quit with the cereal. I mean, how many Cheerios can you eat, anyway, and what kinds of vitamins are you forgoing with that kind of diet? Also, I saw that woman about a year or two after our conversation, and she was as fat as ever.
Adjusting my lifestyle to eating low-carb/high protein works for me, but it works slowly. I might lose two pounds a week, or one pound, or as is the case lately, half a pound. I weigh myself every day, and the act of standing on a bathroom scale and waiting for the number to appear can be discouraging when I don’t see immediate progress. Whatdaya mean I didn’t lose a single ounce when I drank eight glasses of water and ate only foods on the list for two solid days!! I can shout at no one but my own reflection in the mirror above the sink.
But when I need a belt and, just for the heck of it reach for one I believe to be too small, and then discover it not only fits, but I can slip the thingy into the third hole, I know I’m making progress. And it feels good.
Most of what I do doesn’t always provide clear signs of progress, like checking tasks off of a list. I typeset e-books for Husbands company, and the files are organized by months in which they will be released. When I finish one month’s worth, I think I’ve done something, but then I see the next month waiting, and the next and the next, and it goes on and on. I listen to audio books while I work, and I've been through Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop and David Copperfield and have just begun Moby Dick. After that, I might listen to War and Peace, and I bet I still won't have finished this job.
When I help plan promotions for orchestra concerts, I have no way of knowing if my work has made any difference in ticket sales. More recently, I have been helping to organize a dinner/dance event that is meant to be a fundraiser for the orchestra, and we sent out our first announcement weeks ago. It’s my job to collect reservations, and watching them come in has been like watching a faucet drip, one that has a new washer and only drips occasionally when someone neglects to turn it off all the way. Whole days will go by without one person calling for a seat, and it feels as if my efforts are a waste of time. Why bother, I’ve been wondering lately, when clearly no one wants to come to this damn dinner/dance?
The event will go off without a hitch, I am convinced—because otherwise I would just give up completely. But when I can put on an old belt and discover it finally fits again, and fits wells, I can see progress.
Sometimes that one single sign in one single area is all we need to keep moving in all of the other areas, no matter our tasks.