Mindset 2020 : Ode to April 2020

Ode to April 10, 2019

April tenth two-thousand nineteen, an important date because you were my focus, you were my aim, you were my initial measure.

I made a decision to live differently in 2019. I wasn’t going on a new diet, I wasn’t joining a new gym, or starting a new trendy exercise program…I was going to change the way I live. I wanted to be healthy and fit and active and ALIVE! I wanted to live with purpose, for a purpose, on purpose. These were big open-ended goals and I wasn’t exactly sure how it would unfold, but I knew it would be different.

Coach Brian McMillian mentioned the virtual weight loss challenge groups he leads. I was such a skeptic of trying. I had every excuse in the world. I couldn’t conceptualize how a virtual group worked and what we would be doing. For whatever reason, I decided to give it a try, what could it hurt?

One task at a time, I began renewing my mind and changing my perspective. I was not immediately “good” at any of it. I knew I COULD learn and that I WANTED a true change in my life. I didn’t have a step tracker or a food scale or an app for tracking food intake. I didn’t realize the importance of being mindful of my daily activities. For me, mindfulness was the first step; awareness of what I did and didn’t do was huge for me.

The group programing helped me self-evaluate, to develop set points, to set goals, to track my habits and develop new habits. None of this was “easy.” An honest review of oneself is NOT easy. To be honest with myself meant I had to acknowledge my shortcomings, fears, and insecurities. Notice that all these changes were IN MY MIND…these changes were not a list of foods to eat or avoid, but perceptions and mindset.

Within 10 days, I had a Fitbit tracker to record my steps, water intake, sleep, nutrition, and exercise. I started slowly. As part of the daily programming, I watched videos on topics from nutrients to neuroscience. I began taking a picture of all my meals and snacks and loading them into the group app. I was bringing awareness to what I ate. I recorded my steps and sleep and water which again, brought mindfulness to these areas.

After two weeks, I was taking weekly progress pictures in my bathroom mirror. This was perhaps the most awkward thing for me. I didn’t want to see myself because I didn’t really like that person I saw. It also felt a lot like a mug shot.

I continued to listen, to read, to participate, to complete the tasks, to post, and to log my new “lifestyle.” I still wasn’t “good” at it, but I kept going. I was rewarded by the app entries and seeing the progress of weight loss. I was slowly but surely becoming a better me.

By week eight, I didn’t even mind taking the progress pics anymore. I enjoyed seeing the transformation. I also invested in a body composition scale and a few small weights for my home. I was eating so much smarter and felt like I was eating more than I ever had in my entire life. I wasn’t hungry and my sugar and alcohol cravings were basically gone.

I learned and I exercised. I took it all ONE DAY AT A TIME. I started searching out additional exercises to do for specific areas of my body…thank you, Pinterest! Results were everywhere. I was feeling better, exercising more, and I was now meal/food prepping on Sundays.

I was also growing spiritually and emotionally. I completed the daily journal and meditation tasks. Focusing and once again bringing MINDFULNESS to these areas caused me to do more of it.

I noticed the group tasks becoming new habits and set points in my life. Getting 10,000 steps a day became my new norm.

April 10 marked my 100 days to a better me. Physically, I was down 20 pounds; body fat went from 24.5% to 17%; gained muscle mass; and lowered my resting heart rate. The internal changes can’t be quantified so they are harder to explain. I know that I have become a better version of me for my family, colleagues, and friends. I am better able to serve the causes I am passionate about. I have more energy and am more positive.

As we approach 2020, my plan is to continue the course. I am finding new ways to challenge my mind and my body, new things that are NOT easy. I want to continue to grow. I want to be stretched to the very best me I can possibly be. Just like last year at this time, I don’t have a firm plan and outline, but I’m working on it and I know that it will develop as I continue in the virtual challenge groups.

Dr. Bridgette Walker

Associate Professor and Graduate Program Lead
College of Education, Athens State University