"i'll start my diet monday" and other unrealistic expectations.

There’s a joke in my family that when I die my headstone is going to read “Kathy ‘I’ll Start My Diet Monday’ Escobar”. It’s true, I can’t tell you how many weeks I have said, “Okay, just a few more days of eating crap and not working out because I’ll start my diet Monday.” And Monday morning I wake up and drink 2 glasses of water and make eggs instead of cereal and swear that i won’t have another carb all day but by dinnertime I’ve already eaten two handfuls of chips and three cookies and somehow never made it to the gym and start to remember all the events and parties I have this week and how there’s no way I can stick to my plan. So I tell myself, “That’s okay, you can start again next Monday.”

The bottom line for me is that I have really, really unrealistic expectations. It manifests itself in all kinds of ways in my life. I think I can drive somewhere in 20 minutes when it actually takes 30 to get there. I think I can cram in 4 meetings in a day instead of 3 because I will leave a little early (yeah, I always end up leaving late). I think I can get a project done in an hour that ends up taking 3. It’s a problem I have been working on for years now and I wish I could say I have made a lot of progress.

I haven’t.

The one positive, though, is that now I am at least aware of it and can laugh at myself & realize the crazy. Before, I would be in total denial about it.

But why keep doing it?

Why keep repeating the cycle of insanity?

I could analyze it all until I’m blue in the face but I think the bottom line is this: I want to be able to do more than I can.

I want to be better than I am.

I want to have more self-control than I do.

I expect myself to pull off what I really can’t.

And in the end, all of the craziness usually just results in more craziness that never, ever leads to a better place.

I know that some of you reading will say “well, just stop doing that.” (think Bob Newhart, on of my all-time favorite clips)

If only those two words were easy to do.

My take is that my struggle is just a human one. We are bombarded with so many different messages from all kinds of angles that tell us that change is up to us. That if we just __________’d enough, we will get to a new place.

I don’t disagree that there are some really important spiritual and physical disciplines that can, indeed, move us to new spaces & places in our lives.

The problem is that change is usually so much slower than we’d like.

That it takes much more than a new year but actually new year after new year after new year.

That even though sometimes drastic measures are necessary, in the end real transformation comes from small intentions over a long period of time.

That we expect the road to be straight and easy and linear when it’s usually looks more like a roller coaster ride.

That what works for one person sometimes doesn’t work for another.

That being hard on ourselves and heaping shame for all our unreached goals usually doesn’t help.

That grace is easy to talk about and hard to embrace.

This post isn’t really just about New Years resolutions; I know a lot of you swore those off a long time ago (but I wonder how even if we say we don’t make them that the crazy list of stuff-we-want-to-commit-to have crossed our minds still?).

But just like the fleeting thoughts that come barging in during Centering Prayer, I am trying to gently send them on their way down the river so I can focus on what I need to really focus on–letting go of unrealistic expectations and just enjoying the present.

Being instead of doing.

Here’s my hope for those of us who know that “I’ll start my diet Monday” will never work this new year: I wonder what it would be like if we could be a little less hard on ourselves, more gentle.

A little more realistic, a little less living in denial. A little more graceful & a little less harsh. A little more silly & a little less critical.

A little more being and a lot less doing.

A lot more grace, a lot less mean. 

I love this quote from Anne Lamott a  friend shared this morning:

“This is what grace looks like: amazed gratitude and relief at your plain old gorgeous life. A willingness not to be good at things right away, to be clueless but committed; to make more messes and mistakes in the interest of living with spaciousness and a sense of presence; to find out who we truly are, who we were born to be, and to learn to love that screwed up, disappointing, heartbreakingly dear self of ours.” 

So that’s my hope & prayer for this year.

And no, I am not planning on starting my diet Monday (but it did cross my mind).


ps: This picture is from a crazy last-minute-see-if-there-are-any-seats-on-standby trip we took for new years eve to Hawaii, one of the amazing perks of being married to an airline pilot. It was the perfect way to end 2014 and start 2015.

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.


  • Wow. This is exactly what I’ve been thinking about as I think about setting goals for the new year. I struggle to know my limits and somehow think that by adding yet another “simple” step to my life, I’ll be transformed, physically, emotionally, spiritually, whatever. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Kathy – loving on people isn’t always quick or linear. And that’s where your heart lies. And we’re thankful for your time, your lingering a little longer, and that you’re so vested in relationship. Let all that other diet crap go. You can do that in Heaven, if we still need to diet there….
    Love you, Happy New Year!

  • Being more gentle with myself is such a good thought. To be able to love myself right where I am at is an authentic way to live. Blessings this new year!

  • Oh I like this so much. I already feel like I am starting this year better than any before, and it is like a veil has lifted. Like that long distance between the head and heart has intersected? Wish someone would have told me to be nicer to myself before? 😉 Oh man, it is such a different filter to feel like, “Yup, there I am, in all my humanness.”
    This year I am intentional about being kind to myself where I need it most, and less crabby mccrabberson where I perceive to have fallen short. To continue to grow in security, and to let jealousy have no more than a fleeting thought. To appreciate all the growth to this point instead of bemoaning what remains. 2015, here I come. 🙂 #peace


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