The last time we talked, I took you on a trip down memory lane by revisiting the story of the tortoise and the hare. I challenged you to not be the hare and rethink how you approach weight loss and maintenance. The hare was short-sighted and that ultimately costs him the race. Don't let that be your story. (Click here to read part 1.)
Today, we pick up where we left off by concluding our discussion on inconsistency and revealing the third fatal flaw. Grab a cup of tea, have a seat, and take this in – it is about to get real.
Inconsistency – Part 2:
Here is the problem: Inconsistency is a sneaky son of a gun. He enters your life without you even realizing that he is there. To break the cycle you must learn how to recognize him and stop him in his tracks.
Have you ever heard a little voice in the back of your head say something like “I’ve been so good, I can afford to slack off a little” or “I’ve had a long day. I’m going to skip the gym today and get an extra one in this weekend.” What about “I know eating my eating has been a little off this week, but going overboard here and there won’t hurt.” Sound famillar? Don't worry; I've heard those voices too and gave in more times than I care to admit. Now I know better.
Here's what I've learned: a streak of good performance – whether it is a week, month, or a year – can be dangerous. Success sometimes tricks us into thinking we’ve arrived. We believe we are "fixed" and start making concessions. Those concessions are what set us up to fail. Things like deciding to eat a bag of chips with your salad, picking up the old habit of dipping into the office candy jar, or deciding to skip a planned workout or two. Its seems so harmless at the time but all the while the subtle process of self-sabotage has begun. Momentum is going in the wrong direction and it's only a matter of time before disaster strikes.
Stop letting yourself off the hook! I know - it can't be that simple. But think about it, succeeding isn't always complex; many times the solution is simple. It's the execution of that solution that is not so easy! So if you have trouble holding yourself accountable, ask someone you trust to be your accountability partner or hire a coach. But whatever you do don’t listen to the voice; he is a trickster.
Lack of Focus:
We all have goals that we want to achieve, but let’s face it; it can be difficult to hang in there for the long haul. We start off with good intentions but can’t seem to follow through and stay focused for very long.
Confession: I stink at it too.
My ability to focus on health and fitness is pretty high but make no mistake about it there are areas I'm not so disciplined in. Why is it that I am able to be successful in one area but not the other? The truth: Sometimes I think like a sprinter when I should be thinking like a marathon runner. Sigh. It all comes down to endurance.
It's tempting to think that people that are successful in an area that we are struggling with have some incredible superpowers. Or that what they do must be so different and so far-fetched that we can’t possibility hope to replicate it. But is that conclusion is flawed.
Those that are successful in health and fitness feel the same boredom and lack of motivation that everyone else feels. They don’t wake up inspired and excited every day. Some days they don’t want to do their workout or eat healthy just like everyone else (ask me how I know!). What makes them successful is their ability to stay focused despite how they feel. They've learned not to give their emotions a vote.
Anyone can work hard when they feel motivated. Much fewer can stay focused when they are bored, when the work is hard, or when they’re not getting the results they want. Are you willing to work even when the scale doesn’t reward you? Life has taught me that it’s your ability to work when work isn’t easy that makes the difference.
Accept that success is a process not an event. If you take a closer look at the people that are successful in losing the weight and keeping it off, what really sets them apart is their commitment to the process. They fell in love with the process of eating healthy and exercising consistently, not because they loved the work but because they loved how the process made them look and feel.
The Bottom Line
If you want to join the winner’s circle and lose it for life, you have to fall in love with the process of becoming a better you. It’s not just about getting it done, you must want to become. It's about becoming the type of person that does the work. It's not enough to dream about the result. Dreams only work if you do.
I must confess, I haven't fallen head over heals in love with the process of changing in the areas I am struggling in (yet), but I'm working on it and my coach is guiding me through the process.
Why do I have a coach? Well, I've come to realize that the only way to stop going around and around in circles is to summon up the courage to get off of the merry go 'round. The problem: even though I'm tired of going in circles, it's not so easy to get off. As crazy as it sounds, it's actually easier in some ways to stay put because it's comfortable. I need someone to nudge me and hold my hand while I step down. I love working with someone who's already been where I want to go; it's a big part of why I am making progress.
If you'd like someone to hold your hand - someone who has been where you are and found a way out - help is just a click away. Click here.
Let's get this done in 2015,
"You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can
change your direction overnight."
Do you remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? You know, the one where the tortoise challenged the hare to a race and to the hare's surprise the tortoise crossed the finish line first? Yeah that one. Well, I recently read an article that boiled the hare’s demise down to three critical flaws. As I read I quickly realized that this story does a good job of warning us of the potential pitfalls in our journey to become healthy and whole.
We don't want to end up just like the hare – deflated and disappointed - so let’s take a look at Part 1 of a 2 part series that explains how these fatal flaws end up stalling our progress.
Have you ever noticed that once you get on a good streak that is when you let your guard down and slowly but surely things start to fall part? That's overconfidence at work. Unfortunately, one good week, month, or even one year isn't enough. This is a life long journey so you can never allow yourself to think you are “safe." Why? Because then you start thinking that you can take your eye off of the ball, it hits you square in the head, and the next thing you know, you are lying on the floor!
There is a reason that alcoholics call themselves “recovering alcoholics.” It is because they realize that change is a process, a journey, and just one sip can spiral them back into the person they once were. They don't think of themselves as “former alcoholics” because that minimizes their addiction and would only set them up for failure. It is the same with us.
Food for thought: According to a recent study, we think about food an average of 15-18 times a day. You read that right 15-18 times a day! So best case scenario, if you are on a 5-6 small meal a day plan, you’ll think about food 10-12 times more than you are actually supposed to eat. And I’ve never seen a study recounting how often we think about physical activity. With the exception of fitness fanatics, I’d bet those thought counts are very low or non-existent :). With those types of odds can you really afford to take your eye off the ball for either? I think you know the answer.
Change what you tell yourself. Instead of telling yourself you want to lose 20, 30, 50 or even 100 pounds, say you want to maintain weight loss of that amount. This sends the signal to your brain that the finish line is at the gate of eternity. Period. End of story. Having that type of mindset is critical because tons of people lose weight and later regain it. Losing weight is not the ultimate victory, being able to keep it off and keep all of the associated benefits – more energy, better mental clarity, laser focus, better sleep, etc.- is. You need an “ING” goal that can be accomplished (maintaining a healthy weight, staying off medication, etc.), but NEVER achieved. It may sound like semantics, but there is a huge difference in how your brain processes a reaching goal and a maintaining goal.
Inconsistency is a behavior issue brought about by a mental attitude. Yup, pause and think about that. Inconsistency starts in your head.
At the beginning of a transformation journey it takes the form of a very optimistic voice like “If I can just get off to a good start, I’ll be good” or when given some friendly advice the thought process is “It (weight loss) can’t be that difficult" or “I’ll figure that (detail) out later.” Due to this faulty thinking pattern we don’t really give any serious thought to the transformation process. The result? You don’t set up systems like planning and preparing your meals on Sundays. You don’t create your exercise schedule (complete with days AND times) in advance because “I’ll figure that out as I go.” And when life hits, ‘cause it always does, you end up going back to your default behavior – the very behavior you are trying to avoid. Shoot!
Can I let you in on a little secret? Winging it may work for a select few things, but it will NEVER work with food and fitness. In general, what doesn't get planned simply doesn't get done. Think I'm over-exaggerating? Look around the house, how many uncompleted projects are there? Ones you've said you’ll get around to but never have? Now ask yourself. Why aren't they complete? Here’s why: there’s no appointment. There’s no day and time by which it has to get done and so it sits waiting for you to “get around to it.” Is it important, sure, but it’s not urgent. It’s not screaming for your attention like your email, Facebook, Twitter, hanging out with your friends, work/school assignments, or community commitments. So it’s not getting done. It's time to stop the madness.
Get a grip and make planning and preparing a part of your weekly ritual. Your ability to achieve the life you want lies in your ability to change your daily routine. And let’s face it, life is busy, hectic, and many times unpredictable! Having to make decisions in the moment is very, very risky. Here’s another secret: Motivation is strongest in the morning and fades as the day progresses. What does that mean for you? Any decision that has to be made after 12 noon is infinitely harder. This is why you succeed at having a healthy breakfast, start to backslide at lunch and end up completely off track by dinner! You need to make it easy to succeed and hard to fail by making decisions in advance. I recommend planning your meals at least 2-3 days in advance. That means on Sunday you're planning your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for Monday and Tuesday, throw in Wednesday too if you're an overachiever :).
If you are further along in your journey, the stinking thinking sounds a little different, but we’ll get to that in Part 2.
In the meantime, I challenge you to hold a meeting with yourself:
Until next time,
coach tam's Blog
40-something who loves food, fitness, and fun!