I recently had a follow up appointment with Jeanne after she had been traveling for quite some time. She was awarded a contract which essentially was her dream job. The work was an exciting, values driven project that offered her the opportunity to work with very talented, innovative, and inspirational people. The project, however, was on a tight timeline and involved a great deal of travel and time away from home, and very long days—up to 18 hours on some days. She was thrilled for opportunity, but also knew it would be a lot of work and a lot of stress.
Prior to starting the project, we talked about the best way to manage her self-care, nutrition, and fitness plan during this time. She knew losing weight would be challenging, not only with the long days and difficult schedule, but also knowing she would be forced to eat out frequently because she was on the road and had many business meals. We planned how to fit in exercise, meditation, getting adequate sleep, and eating healthy when eating out. We worked out how she would best manage her nutrition under the circumstances. Her goal was to maintain her weight during this time.
When I saw her back, she was able to maintain her weight! She noted that the period was even more stressful than she anticipated, and the long days even longer than she thought. She was unable to exercise most of the time that she was on the road because her work days went from 6 o’clock am until late into the night and began early the next day. When she was home, however, she got back into her exercise routine, and was able to go back to her healthy eating plan prior to leaving again for another long stint away.
Losing weight during this time would be an unrealistic goal, and would likely add more stress to an already stressful time. Setting a goal of maintaining as much self-care as possible and eating as healthy as possible helped her to keep on track and keep positive. She might have gotten into a rut of negative self-talk and disappointment, but instead, she was able to reset her priorities to fit the situation at hand. She could celebrate and enjoy the project, stay healthy, and put her weight loss on hold until the timing made better sense. She might have gone completely off track and gained a lot of weight during this period. Instead, she ate in a healthy way that supported the long days and hard work, and she maintained the weight loss she already achieved.
Sometimes as we assess our wellness, we have to shift priorities. During the Holidays, for example, our priority may have been connection with family and friends. Connection often means travel, meals out, and foods that are not our usual and may not be as healthy. We are on someone else’s schedule and may not be able to exercise regularly, like we usually do. We must, for a period, shift our priorities, and know that we will get back on track when we can shift our priorities again. The measure of success in this case is making those connections that mean so much to our emotional health and well-being.
For Jeanne, this project became the priority, so she maintained as healthy an eating, sleeping, and fitness plan as she could, but the work took center stage. The work she did on this project will have lasting impact and is a reflection her energy and passion. Now she is ready and excited to shift back to focusing on weight loss.
What a great success story!