Groundhog Day

Although over three weeks removed, I wanna talk about Groundhog’s Day.  Not so much the holiday (really, is it a holiday?!), but the movie.  And, although delayed, I didn’t wanna wait 49 more weeks before sharing the wisdom that’s found in this classic.

(To my wife: I know you think Groundhog Day is a terrible movie, but you’re wrong.  According to the American Film Institute, it is the 34th funniest movie of all time.  Two other websites had it ranked 18th and 5th.  Fifth!)

If you’ve not seen the movie, do.  Until then, here’s the premise.

Weatherman Phil Conners, played by Bill Murray, is sent to cover the weather in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania on Groundhog Day.  Upon awaking the following day, he discovers it’s again Groundhog Day.  Ultimately, he finds himself inexplicably living this same day over and over and over again.

If you’ve seen it, have you ever wondered how long Phil was stuck repeating the same day?  According to the director, Harold Ramis, Phil was stuck in Punxsutawney purgatory for no less than 10 years.

In one of many recurring scenes, we find Phil at a piano lesson.  The first time he’s in this scene he’s no clue how to play.  But as the movie progresses, even though it’s his “first” day at the lesson, he’s better and better.  (“Mr. Connors, you say this is your first lesson?”  “Yes, but my father was a piano ‘mover’, so . . .”)

Now, how does this apply to us?  After all, we’re not reliving the same day over and over.

Lemme present this to you, though.  Are our days really that different from one another?

Most of us wake up, perform a similar morning ritual, go to work, do some stuff after work, go home, do some stuff at home, perform a similar evening ritual, and go to bed.  Wake up, repeat.

Granted some of this “stuff” changes, but even though Phil relived the same day over and over, he still had some freedoms, too.  He could’ve done whatever he wanted, yet he chose to learn the piano, sculpt ice, and save people from death.

Where am I going with this?  Well, when it comes to improving our health, fitness, and nutrition, we’ve a similar opportunity as Phil.

What if we approached our fitness and nutrition the same way?  Instead of beating ourselves up or throwing in the towel simply because we didn’t get things perfect, what if we realized that each day, although not the same, was new?  A new day to try to be better.  A new day to practice a new habit.  A new day to discover what works and what doesn’t.  A new day to figure out what’s really important and what’s not.

I’m gonna assume you eat lunch every day.  And although you may go to different restaurants or pack different foods, I bet there’s only so many in your rotation.  But what if each day you did a little better?

Let’s say your typical lunch consists of a burger, fries, and Coke (which is Southern for soda).  You pick it up from drive-thru and eat it in your car, returning to the office with a stomach ache and regret.

So, you wake up the next day.  “What?  I get to eat lunch again!?”

This time you grab a burger, a few chips, and a diet Coke.  You take it back to the office.  And although you still work on your computer as you eat, you’ve made progress.

After some time, you’re no longer surprised you’ve an opportunity to eat lunch every day.  Unsurprised, you plan.

Over the weekend you cook up some burgers of your own with lean ground beef.  You eat it on a whole wheat bun.  Instead of eating at your desk, you eat in the breakroom with your co-workers.  Although you may still be somewhat distracted, conversation forces you to eat more slowly.

Eventually (whether weeks, months, or years of “practice”) you go bun-less, alongside a salad.  You’ve replaced the diet Coke with water.  You take it outside and get some fresh air while you enjoy your meal . . . slowly and mindfully.

You then begin to do this with other aspects of your day.  Perhaps you wake up earlier to get in a quick workout, make a healthy breakfast, or pray and meditate.  Perhaps instead of staying up late to watch another episode of something, you take a warm bath or read a novel before going to bed.  Instead of “waiting” on your kid(s) to finish their karate or dance lesson, you go for a walk or prepare your menu for the week.

Phil ultimately became a different, better person by changing how he lived each day.  What if you changed how you lived each day?  I’m pretty sure you, too, would be a different, better person.  But it won’t happen overnight.  Give it time.  And perhaps, one day, you’ll end the day saying, “This day was perfect.  You couldn’t have planned a day like this.”  To which Phil and I would reply, “Well, you can.  It just takes an awful lot of work.”