Change in 2017: Crawling, Then Walking | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Change in 2017: Crawling, Then Walking

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Amber Helsel

It is finally 2017, and I know we've all been waiting.

While I didn't make my goal of losing 50 pounds in 2016, I did do something that I haven't done since before my first semester at the University of Mississippi: I lost 20 pounds. It's been a while since I've seen my current weight, and it feels nice.

But ever since Halloween, I've been stalling. It started with eating too much candy and then snowballed into eating too much food around the holidays.

As far as I can tell, I've been maintaining my current weight, but ever since my last weigh-in in November, I haven't seen much progress (though I'm glad the scale isn't rising). And except for the occasional run, I haven't really exercised. I have managed to curb my junk-food-eating habit for the most part, though I do have weaknesses, including cheese crackers, and my new favorite indulgence, gelato.

While my weight is something that's on my mind this year, it's not the only thing I'm focusing on. I'm trying to change a few bad habits, including my recently developed love of binge-watching anime for hours on end when I should be doing a thousand other things. That's a tough one because I tend to get sucked into whatever I'm watching. I'm also looking to do bigger stuff than I did last year. One of them is probably going to be one of the most adult decisions I've made thus far: buying my own house—that is, if my credit score lets me.

So God willing, 2017 is a year of change for me and hopefully for others, too. As we move forward in the new year with whatever changes we make, we should keeping this idea in mind: There's only so much of life that we can control.

If you didn't know this, though some people who know me have probably guessed it, I'm a control freak—not in a "I want to make everyone do as I wish" way (I mean, sometimes I think that would be nice), but I'm more of a control freak in that I like to know what's going to happen. I don't like unanswered questions or leaving things unfinished, but so much of 2016 for me was about unanswered questions and figuring out how to deal with situations like that. So much of it was about trying to figure out how to move forward, taking control of what I can and letting go of what I can't.

It's hard, but I'm learning, and I'm also learning about the degree of control I do have (It's both more and less than I think) and by extension, what I want to have control of right now, like my weight and fixing my bad habits.

I think learning about your circle of control and influence is a huge part of living a successful, happy life, and it's helpful in being able to control how much anxiety you have about certain things. A good example of this is the approach I and hopefully some other people have taken to dealing with the pending Trump presidency: I understand that I have little to no control over that, so I try not to worry too much. Really and truly, only a select few have control over most aspects of the presidency.

That doesn't mean we should sit idly by. We should be vigilant and fight back when necessary, but we should also keep going with our lives. We should be angry; we should talk about what's happening, and we should learn how to reconnect with each other. But we should also be present in the moment, be present in our lives. Time and life doesn't stop just because Donald Trump is president, and it's a waste of life, breath, energy and time to worry about it.

Plus, worrying helps little to nothing. It just prolongs whatever you're worried about. Worrying less is easier said than done, but it does get easier the more you try.

So if my purpose for a lot of last year was to figure exactly what it means to be in control—and to let go when I can't be—I think my purpose this year is to actively apply that to my life. That's why I'm looking into buying a house. It's time to take ownership of what I can. It's time to take my dreams and goals and actually put them into action. I mean, I'm sure I'll still be lazy, and I'll probably still binge-watch anime whenever possible, but it's time to figure out how to take everything I'm interested in and want to do and make it work together—and even maybe figure out how to take my bad habits and somehow combine them with good ones.

For example, instead of worrying about being too lazy while watching TV, I've started doing other things along with that, like re-organizing my dresser or painting. Often, I don't do that much work, but I manage to at least get some done. And here's the kicker: A small portion of my binge watching has actually inspired me to start doing things. The anime "Yuri on Ice" helped me decide to start working out more, and one called "Barakamon" has given me some creative inspiration.

Resolutions are great, but I also think we should be cautious. It's easy for anyone to believe that they're going to be able to turn a complete 180. But you'd have to completely switch your personality to be able to make resolutions happen instantly. I can't do that, and I have a feeling that other people would have trouble, too. It's 2017, but I'm still loud, lazy, occasionally obnoxious, still incredibly self-conscious. But taking baby steps is at least a start. You have to crawl before you can walk and then run, right?

Demon Lady of Food and Assistant Editor Amber Helsel loves art, food, cooking, fencing and more (she has too many hobbies and interests to keep up with). Email story ideas to amber@jackson
freepress.com.

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