Do you document your victories?

Recently, I’ve been seeing a nutritionist.

Behind those words are a ton of baggage. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that I’ve spent a lifetime trying to lose weight, and asking for help has never really been my strong suit. Lately, I’ve found myself more willing to forgive myself for these so-called “failings,” and it’s an empowering place to be. I hope that some of you get to experience it. Maybe it’s being in my 40s, maybe it’s living at the beach, maybe it’s a new job…who knows why, but it feels good.

Anyway, I’ve been seeing this nutritionist, and it’s been great. There’s something very powerful about having someone whose sole job is to help you make good choices, who is totally focused on you, and your needs. It’s amazing, to be honest.

And it’s working.

As she and I chatted today, in between sharing recipes and laughing over my attempts to avoid fast food, she dropped this little query:

“You’re doing so well with this. Do you document your victories?”

I blinked a bit, and thought about it. I definitely use this blog to document moments in my life (publicly), so why not this? I guess the answer is that I’m not interested in sharing too much about how many pounds I’ve lost or what my sugar levels are. Frankly, those things are no one’s business but my own.

Also, I fully understand that the ability to see a nutritionist, have a health care plan that pays for it, and shop for anything but the cheapest foods is a privilege that a lot of people don’t have. So it feels a little icky to proclaim a “victory” when I have so many tools and people to help me.

Still, her question made me think about what victories I do, despite those reservations, want to document. So here are a recent few.

Getting to the top of the Lake Blanche trail

Lake Blanche, Utah. Elevation: Approximately 8,800 feet above sea level.

This hike was tough for me.
A) I eventually made it up, thank goodness
B) I didn’t cry en route (yeah!)
C) I only apologized once for my slowness.

Those were all victories, and the view was icing on the cake.

Climbing up Elephant Rock

At the end of a gentle, pleasant 3.5 mile hike outside of Salt Lake City, Elephant Rock sits.

When you get to it, Elephant Rock is below you, down a steep slope. When my friend started down and asked me to come along, I looked at the slope and I won’t lie, I got nervous. He scrambled down like the mountain goat he is, and I tiptoed my way down, inch by slippery inch. I arrived at the base of the rock feeling a little shaky. The top of the rock required a bit of scrambling, and at one point I mumbled “maybe I’ll just stay here and not climb up.” My friend would have none of that, so up I went, trembling the whole way. With a little help, I got up there, and could literally feel my ankles shaking in my shoes. When my friend said “doesn’t the view make it worth it?” I wasn’t quite sure I agreed. But once I got the adrenaline under control, it was pretty awesome being up there.

So I count that as a victory.

My last victory is not as easy to quantify. It involves my Christmas tree.

Just over a year ago, while on an epic trip to the Smoky Mountains area, we visited the Biltmore Estates. It was late October, and they were putting up Christmas decorations. I was a Scrooge about it, grumbling that I didn’t have the Christmas spirit “yet” that year.

If I’m honest, I never got that spirit last year. I was too tired, too stressed, too unhealthy. It was a struggle to put my tree up and summon enthusiasm for carols and cards and really… for anything other than cookies.

So I found myself pleasantly surprised this week when I dragged a box of decorations down and put up my living room tree. I had a plan – I pulled out only the silver and blue decorations, and proceeded to deck my fake tree with it’s “ocean” themed sparkle. It came out nicely, as you can see.

What’s not on that tree is as telling as what is. I have a marvelous collection of ornaments of great sentimental value, going all the way back to the 1990s. I love them. Each one has a story and and a memory of people or an event in my life that I treasure. They’ve made past trees a lovely mishmash of sparkle and nostalgia.

But this year, for some reason, I didn’t want them all on my living room tree. No, this year, I wanted to make my tree something pretty and sparkly and alive, one that doesn’t dwell much in the past, but is fixed firmly in the now.

In chatting with my nutritionist, I recently confessed that the holidays have always been a mixed bag for me; navigating them while single, and staying positive, takes some effort. And then there’s the food. So much food, most made and shared with love, but my goodness…it’s everywhere. I’ve always dreaded the food portion of the holidays as much as I love all the yumminess, as it was pretty much a guarantee that I’d undo any good I’d done for myself that year so far.

But I feel differently about this year. I hope I can convince my mom to bake cookies with me next weekend, and I have no guilt about that. I will also take she and my dad on a long walk in the nearby park. I plan to enjoy my turkey dinner…and to run a 10K that morning. Things are just different this year. I feel pretty sure that I won’t undo my good progress because I like the way my good progress has made me feel, and I don’t want to go back.

As I hung my pretty sparkly ornaments on my tree, taking all the time I needed to find that perfect place, I found myself thinking about the folks at the Biltmore who decorate dozens of trees each year; there are so many they have to start in October. I wished we could go back and revel in the decorations. I pondered the so-called Christmas Spirit. How it’s lovely when you have it and when you don’t, it can seem cloying and overwhelming.

I felt like I was channeling Dickens when I thought “Well, I will hold the Christmas spirit in my heart for everyone who can’t find it this year. Because some other year, I may need them to do that for me. “

That moment was a victory, and I’m grateful for it. I’m grateful for all of them, and all that they signal about what I hope is to come.

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