POD #13: The Power of Your Identity
What a timely prompt, because I was really thinking about this today as I did my water jogging class. Like, Tara might have been in my brain when she wrote it out, because even her example is spot on. I love the quote from Tony Robbins “The #1 way to change your behavior is actually to change your identity.”
A year ago I decided that I was going to lose weight. I am morbidly obese. I am healthy, so I have justified that despite my weight, I really have no reason to change. Until last year. I purposed in my heart that it was time for me to eat healthier and be more active. I had played around with dieting for decades. Read the book. I knew the tools. I analyzed the why behind my weight. I even knew what I should be doing. Yet, I didn’t consistently do it.
Last year, January 4th, I joined Weight Watchers. I was committed to the program, and it helped that each day and then each week I go to start over. I am task oriented, so really it helped. I was very diligent to use my points to the fullest, and although I could have something, I quickly learned that I didn’t like to waste points for certain things. I lost thirty-three lbs. before I took the next step and started exercising.
In April after my mother passed away, I joined the gym. I reasoned that I could take the time I had spent with her, and at least use 30 minutes to an hour to step up my weight loss. By September, I had lost fifty-three pounds. I was in the pool at the gym regularly – two deep water running classes and swimming other days. I was walking a lot more and taking the stairs at work. One month I didn’t take the elevator at all. My husband and I would go for walks around the community walking trails. I was enjoying things.
But I never changed my identity about it. And so for the past eight months, I have been loosing the same ten pounds over and over. The gym cancelled one of my classes, and my schedule got busy so Saturday morning is the only time I exercise. I walk a lot at work, but I do good to get 8,000 steps and my goal is 10,000. And food, well I tell myself the point amount, but there are weeks I don’t track and days I binge my whole weeks points. Then I tell myself, I will start back over tomorrow.
That is what I was thinking about this morning as I did my water jogging. I was questioning why I got of track and why my behavior is not lining up with what I say I really want. But the truth is I do not identify myself as a fit person. Yes, healthy but not fit.
As I think about the identity aspect of change, I am reminded of an assignment I had in college to attend an AA meeting. As I sat there at an open meeting, the lady sharing shared my story. I mean her experiences mirrored mine, as if we had done it together – yet the difference between us – I had never identified as an alcoholic. It never crossed my mind, until that moment. I realized in that moment the power of how we see ourselves.
My identity is wrapped up in roles – a mother, a wife, a Social Worker, a volunteer, a Christian. My life activities are wrapped around those identities. Only recently have I even begun to explore what I like outside of those things, but even those are tied to activities – writing, reading, relaxing.
Right now the shift in my identity that I want most is to be fit. I don’t just want to be healthy, I want to thrive. I want to be active and enjoy activities that are physical more than I enjoy sitting in front of a television with a bag of popcorn. I want to run a 5K instead of just barely finishing it because I had the keys to the car and couldn’t call the people waiting for me at the finish line to come get me. I want to wake up early and start the day with exercise in addition to my time with God. I want to be in tune with my body. I want to increase my endurance, my strength and my flexibility.
I want to enjoy healthy food. I made a lot of changes when I joined Weight Watchers, changes that have stayed. I want to like vegetables more and be more adventurous with my food instead of eating the same things every week. I want to practice portion control and eat slower instead of filling my plate and racing to be the first one done.
I want to stop talking about it, and do it. I want to do it with consistency and with discipline. I want to make being fit a priority instead of an option. I want “fit” to be part of my identity instead of something I am striving for.