As a kid this message was drummed into us that when we go to the beach, you had to swim between the flags. It is now preached on telly and at school. WHY??? We all know that any beach which is patrolled by lifeguards, that if we get into trouble, they are there to support us, help us and ultimately save us. For me at this stage of my life this is a perfect metaphor for what I am doing on the 12 WBT.
Michelle Bridges is my lifeguard and the 12 WBT program is my yellow flags. Whilst I stay inside the program and follow it, what Michelle says will keep me on track and safe. As soon as I get cocky or think I can swim outside the flags I am in trouble. Especially at this early stage.
For 15 weeks now I have been swimming, probably only paddling between the flags, not really brave enough to venture out into uncharted waters for fear of what may happen. This weekend was the first time I decided I could step outside the flags. Now this was not planned or my intention, but when is life 100% planned. Yes I know Michelle tells us to plan our week out and look out for RED FLAG days or events.
This weekend was certainly one of the RED FLAG events, my wife's 40th birthday party. Knowing this we had planned to drink vodka lime and soda rather than beer and/or wine as it is lower in calories. We were also drinking from large tankards (well it was a pirate themed party and pirates drink from tankards) which had approx 300-400 mls of soda water each. This made sure we were not going to back to quickly for our next drink. So we were trying to minimise any damage. Whilst this is theoretically outside what we are trying to do by sticking to the program, we look at this as teaching us about how to change for the rest of our life not just 12 weeks. Sunday means back on it, no grog, clean food, busting my butt burning calories and becoming the person I am proud of and whom my wife and kids will be proud of.
The big concern for me was that there was a lot of party food there that we had catered for the rest of the guests and probably not enough clean food for us. When this came out it seems I must have swum into a rip and was dragged outside the flags and couldn't help myself. OH OH, where is Mich now? No helping me now, I am swimming in the part of the beach not patrolled. I was pretty good early on, but as the night wore on I ate some party pies, sausage rolls, a mini quiche, chips and even had a few beers. Now none of this is the end of the world, there are no horseman of the apocalypse riding through my back fence, but it does highlight to me that if I decide to step outside the program and have a night off to a certain degree, I still need to be conscious of everything that goes into my mouth and how much of it.
I am not admitting defeat. I have not fallen off the wagon. I am not a failure, by writing all this down and admitting it. I am human and we all have nights off. Yes I ate some crap food and diverted away from my initial plan with my drink by having a beer which I had denied myself for 15 weeks, but I am able to recognise it, own it, accept it and know that when I am working my arse off for the next three days that I am still a new person, changing my life, my kids lives and my marriage. I take responsibility now, where as in the past I didn't care, probably would have opened another beer Sunday afternoon and did it all again.
I am not perfect, far from it, but I am a better version of the person I was 4 months ago and getting better by the day. Anyone struggling with their own journey and reading this, just remember, YOU CAN DO IT AS WELL!!! How badly do you want to do it though. We all have bad days but it is how we recover from them and bounce back that define us and how we improve on our chosen path.
Everyday the flags will move to the safest part of the beach, just make sure you move with them and you will be looked after. Follow the program and it will work for you.