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Wow. As of today, it has been eleven months since I started this journey, which is terrifying for reasons related and unrelated to my weight loss program. But as the one-year mark nears, I am both proud of the progress I’ve made and positive lifestyle changes I’ve implemented, but also a little disappointed that I didn’t accomplish more.

So, it occurs to me, maybe I need to engage in phase two. Honestly, I never considered that there should be a phase two until a week or so ago. I spent last year in a state of recovery. I was so out of shape, so down and out–physically and emotionally, and in such a destructive relationship with food, I needed time to remember not only how to be healthy but to feel healthy. Walking a couple of blocks no longer sounds like a chore. (Yesterday, I went for an hour long walk just because it was nice outside.) Taking the stairs isn’t a last resort anymore. And I’m back to my root opinions on food, so most junk food grosses me out, and vegetables aren’t a chore but rather a requirement in my day.

Those are basic goals that I didn’t even consider because they seemed so obvious. But really they did take a long time to fully accomplish. And, of course, there were setbacks. Moving. The holidays. Maintaining a social life with my naturally skinny, junk food loving friends that is still conducive to my body’s needs. These have been significant hurdles that took time to master. In fact, mastering them (or not) is pretty much a weekly struggle.

But I think I’m there. Almost there, at any rate. I’ve learned what is important to my body, and what isn’t as much. For instance, though I am committed to eating clean, I realize now that avoiding dairy like it’s poison is just going to encourage retaliatory binging in the future. So if I want to put cheese on my taco salad, I might as well just do it. Better than eating a pile of nachos a few days later. (Obviously).

And working out is the same. I don’t need to train for a marathon or a body-building contest, but I also can’t count wandering through the grocery store as going for a fast-paced walk. I need to treat my body like a belonging. Like something that belongs to me, for which I am responsible, which it is and I am. It’s mine, and I need to take care of it.

So now, that’s what I’m doing. I still hate diet culture. So much of it seems like a marketing scheme that has very little to do with sustained physical health. But I’ve gotten to a point where it’s time to up the stakes.

In order to do that, I’m trying to indoctrinate other aspects of my life with health-related information. For instance, lately I’ve been reading “dieting” materials. I’ve been getting emails from sparkpeople.com for years, but recently I’ve started actually reading the materials, instead of letting them fester in my inbox. And, whether through kismet or some kind of error in the Postal Service, we’ve started receiving Self magazine at my house so I’m reading that too.

The point of this new indoctrination is to get agressive. I’m too complacent. I need to start treating this process like a mission, not just a vague goal. It’s not enough anymore to just eat healthy and see what happens. I’ve gotten used to eating healthy. I need to step up the game if I want to achieve anything else. The speed of my weight loss slowed significantly in the fall (and then it stopped all together for about a month), and I think it’s because I wasn’t challenging myself anymore.

So now I’m ready for a new challenge. Work out more. Be stricter about avoiding the bad foods. Eat more vegetables than anything else.

These ideas are not new. They are not innovative. But it’s still amazing to me how much clearer I can see the process now. I’m really hoping that the last month of year 1 is the most successful month to date. I think it will be, now that I have all this practice under my considerably-smaller-than-last-year’s belt.

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