The Grace of Small Victories

I started writing a blog post last week entitled, "Stuck." Because that was how I was feeling. Very, very stuck. Stuck in this weight loss journey, stuck in what I was eating, stuck in the habits I was trying to develop and cultivate. I wasn't ready to give up, but I was discouraged and tired of feeling like I was getting nowhere fast. 

And then I did my Saturday weigh-in and was utterly surprised when I was down another 2 lbs. I measured all the parts I've been measuring and had dropped between 1/4 and 1/2" of an inch on three of the four (my thighs, I am sorry to say, have decided to put up a fight, but this is a marathon, not a sprint, so we'll see who wins in the end). And suddenly I didn't feel as stuck anymore. 

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

Pondering this mental switch, I began to reflect on the fact that one tiny little positive change, one little step of encouragement in the right direction, really does wonders for your perspective. Instead of feeling like denying fleshly cravings and losing sugar wasn't worth my time, I suddenly felt like what I was doing was worth it. It made it easier to say no, easier to reach for the water bottle rather than the coffee pot, and easier to enjoy the freshly ground peanut butter on one slice of the Keto bread. 

Telling myself "no" to a few little things that I had been, unwittingly, using as comforts suddenly felt worth it in order to reach a bigger goal of feeling healthier and liking what I saw in the mirror a little bit more. It was a small victory step that surprised me in its weightiness. Mentally, it was the boost I needed to keep going and not give up. 

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There are all sorts of things that we give up on in life. Challenges to read a certain number of books. Goals to walk a set number of steps. Plans to visit new places, see new things, and try new foods. Or even the intention to forgive past wrongs, break bad habits, or avoid making the same mistakes over and over again. 

We start out strong - we read the first book, we walk the first week, we download the Airbnb app, and we make a list of new restaurants to try. We have every intention of forgiving that person we've been holding a grudge against...until we see them. We make it a day or two without spending money we don't have on stuff we don't need. We stand firm in our resolve...until it's been a long day, a bad week, or a hard month. And then we allow the negatives to overwhelm the positives. 

When it's been several days of not making time to read, it's easy to just throw in the towel and say, "Oh well, I might as well not even try at all," and then pick up your phone and start scrolling through your favorite social app. 

After feeling like you've denied yourself of everything you wanted for a week and then the scale says, "Nothing's changed. Nice try. Thanks for playing," it's not surprising when we shout, "Why even try?!" and wheel into the local coffee shop for a high calorie beverage or stop for doughnuts. 

Or when you extend the hand of love and friendship to someone and get kicked in the pants for your troubles, or get burned again when you lower your guard, daring to hope that this time something will be different, it's not surprising that most of us say, "I knew it," and shut the door to ever trying something like that again. 

So what do we do? Do we give up? Do we cave and then kick ourselves a little bit more when the scale moves up, when the bank account is at $0 but our closets are full of cloths we don't wear, when nothing at all changes and this year begins to look exactly like last year? No. That's when it's time to look for the positives.

Small steps, sometimes so infinitesimal that they'd be hard to see without a magnifying glass, are the small victories that help keep us going. If I was only focused on the numbers on my scale, I would probably have given up by now. But because a friend suggested that I also measure inches (which I've never done before), I knew that even though it felt like nothing had changed, things actually were happening. You wouldn't believe how excited I got when I was down a measly quarter of an inch. But, on the small victory side, I wasn't up a quarter of an inch! 

And when that person disappoints you again, when they fail to show up or they break their own resolutions, instead of shutting down, why not do a little self-reflection? What failures would you like people to judge you by? My guess is...none. Rather than judging the parent/friend/child/sibling/co-worker by their failures to live up to their own expectations, let alone yours, why not consider extending grace to them? You might be surprised. It could be just the boost of encouragement they need to pick up their pieces and try again. Don't blow them out of the water. Give them a small victory. 


  1. Needed to read these words this morning…I’ve been ‘stuck’ so will keep on keeping on.


A reminder: there are more than 400,000 words in the English language, please use them wisely.


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