Changes Big and Small

I’m inspired by this lady’s story: How I Lost 140 Pounds. Yolanda started with small changes, after coming to the realization that she needed to make big change in her life. Here are some excerpts:

In November 2009, I attended my 10-year high school reunion and had a great time catching up with old friends. But when I looked at pictures from that night, I was surprised and embarrassed by how big I was compared to everyone else. I weighed 271 pounds.
That’s when I realized I needed to do something about my weight, but it took a few months to start.
My favorite TV show was The Biggest Loser—seeing how hard they trained spurred me to exercise. As I watched it, I walked in place. During commercials I counted how many sprints I could run across the first floor of my house, then I would try to beat that number during the next break.
To change my diet, I focused on making simple swaps instead of counting calories or grams of fat. I traded ground beef for lean ground turkey. I started using skim milk instead of whole, ate whole-grain sandwich rounds instead of white bread and replaced chocolate ice cream with low-fat chocolate pudding.
In five months, I lost 50 pounds and had the confidence to join a six-week boot camp with a group of coworkers.

She goes on to describe other activities she added, and how her faith spurred her on. For motivation, she says, “As I lost weight, I donated my too-big clothes to Goodwill and treated myself to a few outfits.” I believe her story is all about how small changes can lead to big changes that lead to long-term health and happiness.

You might think the following anecdote completely different, but I think it’s related. I recently read the book, The Brain That Changes Itself, and I learned that making a seemingly minimal change can increase your chances of aging well. Author Norman Doidge described, for instance, that if you are strongly right-handed, try using your left hand instead. I thought, “I couldn’t do that. I’m so right-handed, I’m not even safe!” Reading further, Doidge recommends attempting it for only 15-minutes at a time at first. So I’ve begun to use my left hand to pick up pins around my sewing machine and from the floor. The author maintains that doing the same type of thing regularly — such as a crossword puzzle — doesn’t use different parts of the brain, so we need to alternate completely different activities. I use the crossword puzzle analogy because isn’t that the advice we been giving older people to stave off memory loss? Personally, I know I’ve got to come up with something other than picking up straight pins — it simply doesn’t take me 15 minutes to fetch errant pins! Perhaps I’m avoiding more exercise!

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