seems impossible to count how many choices each individual makes a day,
maybe even within an hour. Just the decision to count choices is a
choice itself, just as reading this article is a choice. Choices we
make impact our lives and sometimes the lives of others. We can have
the best intentions when we choose something and yet the outcome can be
devastating. Making choices can be empowering or debilitating,
exciting or frightening yet regardless of which end of the spectrum we continually make them.
For a word that only consist of six letters, “choice” and terms inferred by
it span the dictionary.
series we will use the dictionary from A-Z and look at the effects and
consequences of “choice/s”. Bi-weekly we will post a submission related to
invite you to participate and submit a word related to choice/s.
“A = Accountability”
and choosing equals accountability. As individuals when we make
a choice we become accountable for what we chose. A friend of mines became
tired of going to work daily. She chose to take a few days off by
calling in sick. When she returned to work after three days her
employer asked for a release form from her doctor. Needless to say she
did not have one. Her employer wrote her up which resulted in a
disciplinary note in her employee file. How angry my friend was – all
she wanted was some time off work. Her employer held her accountable
for her choice.
back on your life, your month, your day, or even your last few hours. Look
at your choices and your accountability. Did you choose to give a friend a
ride? Then you are accountable to them to show up. Did you choose to work
or go to school? Then you are accountable to their requirements. Did you
choose to get a driver’s license? Then you are accountable to the state and
the rules that govern driving. Did you choose to get married, have a family,
date, or have friends? For each of these options you are accountable to
someone else because of your choice.
being accountable to others is important – it is vital to look at the
choices you make that make you accountable to yourself. Did you make the
choice to eat healthier, to exercise, to strengthen your relationships with
family and/or friends, or to put your needs before the needs of others?
Being accountable to ourselves and prioritizing ourselves is important. How
accountable are you to yourself? Do you follow through with things you
chose for yourself or do you only feel accountable to things related to
others? Let me encourage you to be accountable to yourself. Make choices
that empower and support you.
to set aside time for you and engage in things that support your health and
happiness. Maybe it’s eating a salad instead of a piece of desert, maybe
it’s doing five squats instead of sitting through the commercial, maybe it’s
standing outside in the sun instead of sitting in the house, maybe it’s
meditating instead of talking on the phone. Make a choice and then hold
yourself accountable to yourself. If necessary, keep a log book of your
choices and when you achieve them. Reward yourself for following through.
For you are the most important person in this process
“In the end that was the choice you made, and it doesn't matter how
hard it was to make it. It matters that you did.”
“B = Benefit, Boundaries, Burden”
and choosing quickly made me think of three words starting with B and I
wanted to mention them all. There are Benefits to us making a
choice, the benefit is that we are the ones behind the decision. Using our
own power and will for our life we get to choose. This means we can set the
Boundaries for that choice. Boundaries can include things like who
else we want to be a part of our process, how much we are willing to share
and how much we are willing to commit to it ourselves. But when we make a
choice we also have the Burden. The burden of the consequences when
we do something different or continue our current behaviors.
Personally I decided two months ago to “choose me”. That means I decided I
wanted to eat healthier, exercise, and lose weight. I had the benefit of
making that choice myself. Next I set up the guidelines or boundaries for
the process. I decided what days I would work-out and who I would tell
about my choice so they could emotionally support me. I set my boundaries
for the gym on how hard I will exercise and the minimum amount of time I
would spend on cardio and/or lifting weights. When I go to the market I
really use my boundaries, what will I buy, and yes that soda and donuts are
calling me! For eating I set my boundary allowing myself two days where I
can, with moderation, eat something sweet or drink a soda. My burden is
that I am pushing myself to exercise and forcing myself to eat healthy. My
burden is being accountable to the people that I included in my process. My
burden is giving up time in front of my television to walk the treadmill.
My burden is denying myself instant gratification of sugary foods for a long
term goal of becoming healthier.
choices can be different. Some people for weight loss choose to eat their
same foods just half of their usual amount. Some choose to remove carbs
from their diet, some only drink water. Whatever you decide, when you
choose remember the B words. Look for the benefit, boundaries, and burden
and make your choice. Choose what you believe will work for you.
"C = Courage & Consequences"
takes courage to make a choice. Courage because when you choose you make a
declaration to yourself and sometimes to others that state your intention.
This means you “put yourself out there” which can feel good when you first
make the choice, but what if things do not go the way you planned? That
leads to consequences – choosing has consequences. When I declared to my
family that I would lose enough weight by my birthday so I could get a naval
ring they laughed. I was committed and I stuck to my choice. For the first
few weeks I was motivated, then I started to get back into my old habits.
Needless to say my birthday came and I hadn’t lost any weight and I did not
get a naval ring. My consequence – to myself I failed to reach my goal, to
my family they asked “what about that weight loss and naval ring?” It did
not feel good to have to admit that I had not followed through. I had the
courage to make the choice and even declare it, then I had to face the
consequences. Knowing that there are consequences should not stop us from
having the courage to make choices. There are times we will be able to
achieve our goals and times we will miss our mark. Yet ask yourself this
“who better to make a choice for me….then me?” And know that you are strong
enough to work through the consequences of your choices.
"D = Decisions & Disappointment"
and choosing equals decision making. This starts from the moment we awake.
We have all heard it said that we can decide what kind of day we will have
based on our perception. If you wake up and think “today is going to be a
great day” that doesn’t mean you will not have challenges that day, but it
does mean that the attitude you meet them with is positive. For some of us
visiting a grocery store requires us to make a lot of decisions. When I see
the produce section I know what I need to get, yet somehow I become more
interested in the section with the chips and soda. Decisions… when I am
focused I make better decisions – I know that if I put the unhealthy food in
my house I will at some point eat it, so I bypass it. When my decision
making is clouded, especially with the days’ stress or something I’m unhappy
about – I make my way to the chips and soda. Later when I physically feel
my bodies response to what I ate i.e. my feet are swelling from the salt, my
stomach aches from eating too much, or the sugar in my system is affecting
me – then I experience disappointment. I am disappointed that I did not
make a better decision. When we choose it is good before making the
decision to think ahead and look at the possible consequences, this could
help us from suffering some disappointments.
is empowerment. In “Courage and Consequences” we asked who better
to make a choice for you than you? That’s empowerment, that you
make the choice. When others make our choices for us then we live
by default – we are actually living their life and not our own.
When we make the choice we are living the path that we select. When
you are empowered you can accept your successes and your failures
knowing that you put the plan together and you worked your plan.
This doesn’t mean that we will not invite others to participate –
but even in us inviting them we are choosing, we are empowered.
Empowerment is talking to your doctor and asking questions, it is
taking time for yourself to honor yourself, it is operating from the
knowledge that you have your best interest at heart and you will
work hard for you.
– actively choosing to do something that requires you to
stretch yourself, to do something different means to put
faith in yourself. Faith that you will have the will power
to stick with it, faith that you will and can break the
cycle you have been in. This can be a little scary because
there is a part of us that wonders “what if I fail?”
Failure is thought of as negative.
Yet it just means that something we tried did not work.
Failure is actually an opportunity for us to try again.
When we try and aren’t successful or we fail, we get to
learn what worked and what did not work. We gain
perspective. Failure should never mean that we lose faith
in ourselves or what we want to achieve. Failure may teach
us that we have to try another method, push a little harder,
deny ourselves something, or even reach out for support. In
making a choice – both faith and failure are important parts
of our journey.
= Goodbye, Grief, and Gentle"
a choice means saying “goodbye” to something. When I chose
to drink more water, I vowed to say goodbye to the four
daily glasses of kool-aide that I love so much. Saying
goodbye can be difficult especially when it’s to something
that we like to do and are accustomed to doing. Saying
goodbye is not only something done in word, it also requires
action. When I said goodbye to my four daily glasses of
kool-aide I actively started drinking water.
If you are a
person who does not do well with change then saying goodbye
will be even more difficult for you. There is an amount of
grief that comes with saying goodbye. We are losing
something and there is a sadness we feel. Sadness? Why
would anyone be sad about giving up something that’s not
good for them? Why not? If it’s something that you are
accustomed to and comfortable with you can feel just as sad
as giving up anything that you cherish. Regardless of how
easy it may sound in a television commercial – changing a
habit by giving up something is hard and we can grieve for
So, be gentle
with yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to
completely give things up in a day, a week, a month, or even
longer. Be gentle with yourself – celebrate the one hour,
the one minute, or whatever time you did successfully say
goodbye. Be gentle with yourself and know that for whatever
change you are focused on making; cooking healthy, eating,
exercising, or anything else that is different from what you
were doing – it took years to develop the habit and it may
take a while to change it. Be gentle and know that it
doesn’t mean that you aren’t strong or committed – it means
that you are human.
Honest, Hurt & Help"
we make a choice, it is best for us to be honest with
ourselves. Honest about what has gotten us to the place we
are at and what is required to get us to the place we want
to reach. That honesty is not always easy. It can require
what feels like tearing ourselves down. When I looked at
why I am overweight I had to honestly say it’s in part
because I did not eat correctly or work out. I enjoyed my
sweet foods and sitting on the couch. I used being tired,
busy, and stressed as my reason for not exercising. I said
I didn’t have time to do better. But the truth is – I could
have eaten better and worked out. The truth is I did not do
what was best for me.
can hurt. It hurts to tell myself that I am here because of
me. Yes, for some there are so many other factors, i.e.
thyroid issues, medical issues, etc., but what about when
it’s due to the choices we have made? It hurts to look at
myself and admit that eating a row of cookies helped me get
here. It hurts to admit that I did not choose my health
enough to workout at least just 15 minutes a day. It hurts
to know that I know what I need to do but I lack the
motivation to do it. And then to hide the hurt – even from
myself – I eat.
require help. Reaching out to someone else to say “I need
help.” This can be a doctor, a family member, or a friend.
It’s admitting that we are people and we all need someone.
Maybe it’s someone we talk to on the phone and we encourage
one another or hold one another accountable to our goals.
Maybe it’s someone we can walk with or workout with. Maybe
it’s just someone to hear our truth and not judge us but say
“I love you, and I’m here for you.”
H – is one
of the hard ones for choices. This honesty, hurt, and
reaching out for help all go to our human core. Yet
hopefully our ability to be humble in our effort to get
healthy will help us embrace all three (honesty, hurt, and
help) so we can make better choices for ourselves.