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Progress not Perfection.

30 April 2021

One of the bedrock principles of AA is progress, not perfection. We do our best, as much as we can, sometimes we fail, sometimes we quit, but for the most part we move forward towards better lives and more peaceful, serene existence. I’ve mostly succeeded at that throughout my sobriety, and one of the other bedrock principles – practicing the steps of AA in all of our lives – has enabled me to establish a life I enjoy, feel at peace in, and enjoy the fruits of accomplishment in. I’ve become a goal-setter and achiever. Not always, not successfully every time, but I’ve learned how to make progressive improvement in crucial ways.

Today, I am in the midst of weightloss. The reason, fundamentally, is that I went to the doctor after a year of the pandemic, and while I hadn’t put on weight, a few of my blood numbers were trending in the wrong direction for a person at severe risk for metabolic disorders like diabetes. So, I decided on the spot that I had to do something serious. My consistent exercise is no longer doing the whole job, and I need a way to maintain my heath that doesn’t rely exclusively on every-lengthening endurance athletics.

That means losing weight. I know it’s fashionable these days to say people can be healthy at any size (and surely, a few can), but generally speaking, excess weight comes with health morbidities, and I was, 40 days ago, somewhere between 20-30 pounds overweight. So I set a goal of losing 23 pounds, which would get me to a nice round number, and reassessing. Technically speaking, I’ll still be slightly overweight if I reach that goal, but I think I will have made a dramatic change in both health and appearance.

So for the past 40 days, I’ve been limiting myself to 2125 calories a day, except for Saturdays when I increase my calorie budget to account for my long run. This has been very effective. I am down 12.5 pounds in 40 days, and my belt is in danger of needing new holes soon. I’ve taken a few specific steps designed to help with the weightloss beyond the calorie budget:

  1. I record every calorie I eat, by logging foods
  2. I exercise in moderation – not extending out my weekday runs beyond 3 miles
  3. I added strength training to maintain muscle
  4. I eat less dense calories (fatty meat, baked goods) in exchange for voluminous ones

For the first week or so I was routinely hungry. Now, I am generally not, except before mealtimes, which it makes sense to be hungry for. I have changed my relationship with food: instead of eating whatever I want whenever I want and trying to run off the excess and failing, I am constructing an intentional, meaningfully nutritious diet that I enjoy eating and deviate from for treats according to a plan and schedule.

I’m very much at peace now with this system. It’s working, I’m enjoying the sense of a little more control over my diet and health. I’m hopeful of a dramatic change in my appearance, and of fitting into my fancy Philadelphia suits again. And I’m succeeding – slowly, steadily, and with purpose.

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