And just because I’m feeling calm and Zen, doesn’t mean I’m not going about this whole project without a plan of action, a set of goals, and a few safety nets. My peaceful approach to what so many call a weight loss “battle” could be misinterpreted as a lack of direction. Further, it could be seen as a lack of fire in the belly. Not the case, and here’s why.
If you watch “The Biggest Loser,” you see a lot of extremes: a lot of yelling, a lot of crying, and a lot of yelling, followed by more crying and yelling and yelling, and then some commercials. [More thoughts on TBL – that’s how we in the business abbreviate the show – are in this post: http://wp.me/p17vVG-14] You also hear people saying things like, “I can’t believe I let myself go like this,” “I’m embarrassed to be in pictures,” “I’m not a good mom,” “I can’t go on like this,” and so on. The show chooses dramatic stories, obviously, and isn’t quite reality. It’s TV. But the impression we’re left with is that these folks are pissed off, shamed, depressed, and at rock bottom. Being at their lowest place has driven them to become driven – if you follow me – and we’re cheering them on as they lift themselves up. When you’re at the bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up, right?
Well … you can also go up when you’re not quite at bottom. So nobody has any excuses.
Whatever works for you, works for you. If you’re depressed/angry because nothing fits and you stand behind large objects in family photos, and if you’re depressed/angry enough to be thrust into action rather than muffled by the pervasive inaction that got you here in the first place, then go for it. For my part, I do much better when I’m working for positive reasons. Being angry never came to any good for me – except for a few well-crafted, irate Letters to the Editor over the years. Being pissed can come in handy every now and again. Mostly, I end up breaking stuff.
Why be angry and sad when you’re setting out on the greatest journey of your life? The journey that will save your life? You have a chance to make better and better choices that help you live better and better. There’s nothing to be mad about! Rejoice!
When I was working in the health and fitness industry, I counseled a lot of people who felt like they were at rock bottom. Their doctors had told them that if they didn’t get control over their eating, and if they didn’t become physically active, then they would die. They sat across the table from me, terrified and daunted, and I worked very hard to convince them to think about how much better they were going to feel, and how proud they would be of themselves, rather than on dire predictions. I encouraged them to make a step-by-step plan for changing their lives, not trying to overhaul everything at once, but taking on small pieces of the puzzle, one at a time. Anyone can make positive change. It takes tremendous work and commitment, and an ability to navigate around a host of variables that are beyond your control. But it is possible, with the right attitude and approach.
I’ll tell you the truth: the folks who planned well; who took setbacks gracefully; who were persistent, yet realistic; who found ways to enjoy new foods and new experiences of sweating; who celebrated small as well as significant milestones; and who focused on the positive aspects of a healthy life – those folks succeeded. The folks who came to the health club with heads down, feet shuffling; who chose to dwell on how long they couldn’t last in a Zumba class, rather than on how long they could last; the folks who still ate Big Macs because they “earned” them; the folks who hated healthy and active people, rather than working to learn from them – those folks didn’t succeed. They let fear and anger dominate their days, and they gave up after a few weeks (or sometimes after a few days). Because when fear and anger are on your shoulders all the time, who wants to continue? It’s much easier, and safer, to keep on keepin’ on the way you’ve always kept on, spewing excuses and not accepting responsibility for your own life.
These observations from the trenches, as well as my own experiences in Round One, have brought me to my present place of quiet resolve and ambitious realism. In the coming days and weeks and months, I’ll talk more about my goals and how I’m doing on them, and I’ll also offer ideas for how you can set and achieve your own goals.
And I’ll be honest (again): when I think about turning my lifestyle around and achieving my health goals, I admit that I feel weary – after all, this is Round Two, and if you aren’t careful, Square One can feel like a movie you’ve seen before, and you know the ending, but the middle is so tedious, but you still have to sit through it, and you’re thinking argh, did they even have an editor? Are we there yet? This is dumb I quit I want to watch TV I’m hungry …
Of course any Zen master knows that the journey is the destination. Grumble rumble, why can’t it be easy? Well, guess what. It’s not easy. But it’s worth it. So we celebrate the first step, and we celebrate Square One.
Happy New Year, everyone.