Monday, December 2, 2013

Broken Windows

Have you read/heard about the broken windows theory? A few weeks ago I was having a discussion with friends when this topic came up. I hadn’t heard about it until just recently but here is an explanation of it from the Wikipedia page:

“Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.

Or consider a pavement. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of refuse from take-out restaurants there or even break into cars.”

As it was explained to me, the general concept of this theory, my friend began to talk about what were her ‘broken windows’- the things in her life that could trigger further undesirable behaviors. For example; eating one ‘bad’ meal and using it as an excuse to make poor eating choices all day/week because of it.  You know, the whole well ‘the day/my diet/my point allowance is already ruined’ mindset that so easily takes over our minds after indulgences. I know I have felt that way, especially around the holidays…taking seconds or thirds during Thanksgiving dinner, feeling like I just went way out of control with my food choices, and then letting those decisions impact how I eat later that day and the following day and possibly even the week or entire holiday season. There have definitely been years where I spent the entire stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day just not giving a shit about my eating choices. You know, because it’s the holidays and that’s what you do…

For me, the holidays, and the food choices I made during them, used to be my broken window. Thankfully, that mindset has changed and now taking seconds on Thanksgiving doesn’t trigger additional ‘bad’ behavior food or otherwise. And in case you were curious, yes I did have seconds on Thanksgiving and even the day after when I ate leftovers. And I don’t regret that decision at all. I made sure to eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies, drink soymilk, eat a filling a nutritious breakfast – just make the best choices I could throughout the day- to ‘counteract’ those indulgences. And that worked. But only because I have taken away the power food once had over me.

And that’s a really big deal for me. Living a life feeling guilty about what I ate and why was not fun. I am thankful for gaining control over those thoughts and behaviors.

However, that doesn’t mean I still don’t have broken windows.

I do.

Nowadays, I am more likely to get sucked into the chaos of…chaos and let it pull me down. If the state of my affairs is overwhelming, then I will feel overwhelmed. The person I am now needs order in my life to be successful. I wasn’t always this way (ok, I probably was but never recognized it) but messiness, clutter, disorganization in my home can easily send me spiraling off course. Not saying that I am a neat freak, because I am not, but when a few items left to be washed in my sink turns into an entire sink worth of dirty dishes well then, the rest of my life kind of falls by the wayside too. Laundry piles up, I don’t make the best food choices (because I don’t have anything clean to cook with), I skip the gym (because I don’t have anything clean to wear) and my old TV/couch potato ways set in. And then, once in full blown couch potato mode, it’s really hard to push myself back into my normal routine. I literally have to dig myself out of the chaos I created. It’s not easy.

And because I know how quickly things can spiral out of control I try really hard to stay on top of my life, to keep it (somewhat) in order, and what needs to be done to do so. That means laundry and grocery shopping/meal planning weekly, kitchen (at minimum dishes)/general apartment clean up daily-when home, and setting realistic goals for being active/working out. This also means making time for schoolwork so I don’t fall behind- which of course makes me feel overwhelmed. And since  schoolwork trumps almost everything,  if I don’t stay on top of it means I will sacrifice workouts, cleaning, or cooking meals at home to make time for school, which albeit it at times necessary  is not really a good thing.

So this holiday season, as I prepare more for the time I will spend out of work recovering from my surgery versus the actual holiday itself, I will need to make sure I put my life in order so that way I don’t fall into the broken window spiral.

 I owe it to myself to do so.

 I have worked too hard not to.

Plus, if I know what my broken window is why wouldn’t I do everything in my power to fix it?

What is your broken window? What changes have you made to help repair it?