I'm taking it... step by step!

Well there's a bridge...
...and there's a river...

Only kidding -- I do love that Whitney Houston song, but that's not what this blog post is about. Next week is the one year anniversary (August 28th, 2012) of me joining Weight Watchers... I am also one week off cigarettes. A year, a week, a day... I love measuring things in terms of time. Time is a funny beast - it can pass in the blink of an eye or drag its heels kicking and screaming as you wait for the clock to hit home-time.

Everyone is familiar with all those inspirational quotes you see all over Facebook and Blogs (and here) such as 'Start today and you'll see results one day sooner than if you start tomorrow' and stuff like that but this one has always stuck with me:

Time is funny. Like our goals we see time as unbounded. Our goal might be to 'Lose Weight' and the time frame will be 'Straight after Christmas as there is no point starting now with my birthday and Christmas and Halloween etc coming up'. I tend so set generalised goals - without a start, middle or end point. Goals that are either hit or not hit. I never set ranges for Acceptable, Ideal and Exceeds all Expectations. The Skinny Doll posted something really interesting on her blog recently:

If you lost 1 lb a week by the time New Years Eve hits us.. you would be 1.5 stone lighter... and if you lost 2lb a week... you would be 3 stone lighter.. 

The Skinny Doll has a point! I joined WW at the end of August and was 3st lighter starting 2013. Time passes regardless of whether you have set a goal or not, so use your time wisely. Imagine if Today-John had the opportunity to sit down to have a conversation with 12-month-ago-John. Would I have believed that I'd be 7st lighter?... that I would be training for a Marathon?... that I wouldn't be smoking?... that my waist would go from 38 inches to 30 inches? 

No more than the smoking (now I know that is only a relatively new change but still). I only started seriously thinking about giving them up in the past two to three weeks. Last Monday I decided I was going to quit on Wednesday at 6.30pm. On Tuesday I decided to quit as soon as my pack was finished. 

If I am honest, it REALLY wasn't a great time to quit smoking... I'm currently 2lbs off my Target Weight, and everyone (even people who don't smoke) says that when you quit, you put on weight. This is Reason #1 why last week wasn't a good time to quit. Secondly, myself and my other half were heading to Limerick to spend the weekend in comfort. I knew there would be drinks, I knew there would be food, I knew there would be relaxation. This is Reason #2 why last week wasn't a good time to quit as relaxation and comfort trumps everything else really.

We were also booked in for an overnight babysitting last weekend. There is Reason #3 right there - I can barely mind myself let alone two boys (3yrs and 2yrs). I'm sure a cigarette would be have been a welcome 5 minute breather away from the screaming, Play-Doh throwing, boys. Lastly, we had friends over for dinner on Sunday night which is Reason #4 for not quitting last week. It would have been nice to share a smoke with them.

Now... If I had listened to myself and any one of those "reasons" which I had formed in my head, the week would have passed in a blink and I wouldn't have given up. I'd still be smoking today, thinking about when I was going to give up. I can guarantee I would have another list of reasons for the coming week/month. I replaced the word 'Reason' with 'Excuse', which really washed the truth out of my situation.

Excuse #1 - I'm nearly at my Target Weight
Bullshit! What difference does it make if I am at my goal weight but have lung cancer? Or if I hit goal weight, then quit smoking and put on weight.

Excuse #2 - I want to have a nice weekend:
Whatever! I'll have a nice weekend regardless of whether I am smoking or not. Yes, I might be a little on edge but the person I am spending the weekend with will understand what I am going through.

Excuse #3 - I'm babysitting and will need a 5-min breather:
Pathetic! I can take a 5-min breather at any point as opposed to have a 'legitimate' reason to leave for a few minutes (obviously leave the boys in the care of another adult - I'm not irresponsible)

Excuse #4 - I want to be able to have a cigarette with my friends:
Same as #2 really

Looking back at my Weight Watchers journey, if you had asked me one week in 'Do you consider yourself healthier?', my reply would have been: NO. If you ask me the same question now 'Do you consider yourself healthier?', my reply is: YES. I wonder at what point did my NO change to a YES? Was it 1 month in? 3 months in?

If you asked me now, 'Do I consider myself a non-smoker?', my answer is NO. I hope this to change to a YES but I don't know at what point in time my mind-set will change. No more than with Weight Watchers, I have always taken it one step at a time. Day by day... week by week. By repeating small efforts (for example opting for salad with a sandwich instead of the chips or persevering through a 5-min craving for a cigarette), I feel I have moved baby step by baby step along the path towards my goals.

Time is going to pass regardless. I'm disappointed with myself that I let my entire twenties go by as an overweight smoker. That (the past), I cannot change and will never be able to change. What I can change is who I am from today onward. I became the person I am today by taking little tiny baby steps... step by step. 


  1. Great post John. There's always going to be an excuse. A party, a buffet, a BBQ, Christmas, Patrick's Day, ah sure it's Easter, Halloween, REWARD! People told me I was insane to stop smoking before I got married - "you'll put on weight, you wont' fit into your dress, leave it until after the wedding, it's too much stress" - but when I was ready, I was ready. I did put on weight, I got a bigger dress. Simple as that. I'm incredibly happy I was stopping smoking almost 3 stone lighter though, because even though i did put on weight, I didn't put it on to the point that would have tipped me up over 17-18 stone as would have been the case had I not lost a few stone beforehand. I think when you know the time is right for something, you just know it. I'm really disappointed that I made myself unhappy through most of my teens and twenties too, but hey - the only way is up from here. The thirties and forties will be brilliant! I think we can surprise ourselves by how much we are actually able to do. Also I really want to watch The Preacher's Wife now.

    1. Thanks a mill for the comment Sharon! I agree with you on the 'There is no right time' philosophy - if we were waiting for the right time to do anything, we'd still be waiting.

      I actually think quitting (nearly 2 weeks now) and being so close to goal will keep me in check. When I cross over into goal, I'll be smoke-free and healthier!

      As for the Preachers Wife... so do I now :) Date?

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