Taking on an endeavor like losing over 200 pounds is a daunting task. It is a lot more than merely going on a diet and taking on an exercise plan. For me, it meant a complete lifestyle change. In order to ensure that I had an increased chance for success, I created some tools to help in the process. Nothing new here. Most of these are common-sense.
- Made My Plan Public
I told everyone about my commitment to losing weight. This helped with two things:
– It enlisted support of others. A life-changing transformation needs all the moral support it can get from others around you.
– It made me accountable – I am a man of my word. If I tell someone I am going to do something, I do it.
- Reinvented Myself / Stopped Identifying With Obesity
After struggling my entire adult life with attempts to lose weight, I realized that I had to change my life, not merely exercise and go on a diet. This had to be a commitment to a lifestyle change in order to be sustainable. Part of that included my identification with being obese. Over the years I had taken on labels like “Big Mike” and “Big Guy”. When a person identifies with labels it may influence their behavior. Kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
This idea is a little complex and I plan to write more about it in a future article. In it’s simplest form, I do a lot of self-talk. Coaching, pushing, and motivating myself out loud even. I also try to eliminate words like “can’t” from my vocabulary. It’s amazing just how changing a word or two in a sentence can not only alter it’s entire meaning, it can drive you in the direction you need to head. For example, most obese people would say, “I want to lose weight.” It is when they can say, “I am going to lose weight,” that real change can happen.
- Focused On/Association With the End Goal
I associated my losing all of the weight with winning the lottery. In other words, if someone told you that if you walk every day and cut back on what you eat gradually for a year, you will get $10 million. It is that mental association which gave me the drive to push myself when I didn’t always feel like it. All I could think about was being “normal” sized. And in the end, I found that being healthy was even better than having $10 million.
- Always Improving / Trying New Things / Adapting
My journey was a far from perfect process. I continually tweak my routines, try new exercises and eating plans, and observe the outcome. And it is a journey, not a destination. Many people focus only on the end goal of losing all of the weight, which is only part of the story. This leads me to my next point…
- Focused on Sustainability
I knew that once I lost the weight I needed to focus on never going back and what it takes to do that realistically. This is the part where I have seen many people fall back. They relax and go back to their old habits. This is a life-long commitment and I learned another key thing:
I never really beat obesity, I had to learn techniques to manage it.
Another thing that keeps me going is when I discovered that inspiring others motivates me even more. It is such a reward to know that I can share my gift with others.
- Small Changes Lead to Big Results
This is one of my central principles. I knew that in order to change my behaviors and habits I had to gradually make small changes over time. I used an app to log all of my food and as I lost weight it gradually reduced my caloric needs.
But Mike, you lost 200 pounds in 11 months…
True, and I would not tell you that this is realistic for most people. What it did prove is how driven I was once I started to get momentum with my weight loss. I will expand more on this idea in future articles, but suffice it to say I learned that your body and mind need time to adapt to the changes you are making.
There were other tools I used, but the seven above were some of the more significant ones. Most of these concepts can be used for any type of change you want to make in your life, not just weight loss. Having a long-term game plan as you embark upon a life-altering change will set you up for success.