My Final Weight Loss (part 4)

In earlier posts, I discussed my motivations to get started, pairing vision with goals and incorporating a program which supports real life. Here’s the final fundamental for me:

 Pursue health with support, encouragement and accountability.

 I knew I couldn’t do it alone. There are plenty of people who are highly disciplined – who can take a book or program and work it, all by themselves. I had to admit, that wasn’t me! Even today, after years of success under my belt, I need reminders, ideas and renewed motivation. I very rarely miss a weekly meeting (led by my wife, an added bonus!)

 When my wife and I restarted Weight Watchers, we were signing up for an atmosphere of learning, challenge, encouragement – and not a small dose of accountability. There’s something about stepping on a scale with someone on the other side of the desk that gives enough of a dose to make me want to do well! Their statistics actually say that there is a great difference in weight loss when people actually come every week to face the scale. A favorite phrase from our first leader was, “the scale is not about failure, it’s just feedback.” It’s that small dose of accountability that sort of sums up my choices for the last 7 days. It’s a gentle reminder that weight and health aren’t about hoping and dreaming that I’ll “get there” – it’s about measuring how well I’m doing with new habits.

 Weekly meetings offered us insights from fellow travelers. Some had been “at goal” for months or years and continue to come to be encouraged and encourage others. They’re great teachers and idea generators. The meetings offer insights into the program, into food, into navigating the minefield of a food-obsessed culture. They also provides the encouragement of “good job!” at the scale and in the “celebration time” in the meeting (applause for losing another 5 pounds, getting to 10% goal and the like).

 The other huge part of the final fundamental – my wife and I worked the program together. Two people agreed on and pursuing the same goal is powerful. We started together, continued going week in, week out, when there were “ups” and when there were “downs”. We stayed on the pursuit of health at home; cooking better, agreeing on which restaurants we’d no longer frequent or which foods (French fries for instance) we’d never order in a restaurant.

 Support, encouragement and accountability made the difference when I was motivated; they were more critical when I wasn’t. We challenged either other saying: “we can do this” or even “remember what we decided.” (see the post from 7/7/12: Can you motivate others?)

 So, if you’re ready to embark on a healthy weight loss journey, I’d tell you: get the support, encouragement and accountability you’ll need. Get it before you begin. It could be a spouse, friend, sibling, parent/child team. It can come from a coach as well. We get excited everyday to offer just those elements to our clients. Call us and we can discuss your vision and goals.  

 Thanks for reading my account. I’d love to get your comments!

My Final Weight Loss (part 3)

Incorporate a program that supports real life!

I’ve talked about what got me moving toward health and healthy weight – then about my vision and different kinds of goals.

Then I had to think about the approach or program to use. We live a food culture of extremes. At one extreme is our obsessed with food; at the other, an obsessed with losing weight. The time of the year often finds us drifting from one to the other! It’s as if we lope from the latest fad restaurant (or our favorite fast food fixes) to the newest kind of gym, or supplements or shakes and cleanses, or best-selling diet book, hoping “this one” will finally do it for us!

A few times a year, over the decades, I experienced the desire to lose weight. Every infomercial sang to me its enchanting tune that goes something like, “We guarantee that in 30 days….” The variations are endless. Come here. Inject this. Buy this equipment. Drink these 800 calories. Order your frozen dinners here.

I had my own versions. Nothing from this food group. No sweets for a month. Fiber capsules before every meal! The vast majority of programs function on some level of deprivation. I knew deprivation! Deprivation by nature and definition always left me wanting — for more! I’m 6’1” – sometimes I was actually active. I needed fuel! And without exception, deprivation diets over the years had the same impact on me. Depleted, hungry, sometimes irritable, even light-headed. I’m convinced that my body physically and mentally rebels at deprivation – and cravings then begin. It certainly seemed that way after a few dozen failed experiments!

We chose Weight Watchers. We’d been before (just hadn’t continued after some initial progress). Why Weight Watchers? One fundamental: they encourage you to learn to make good choices about real food in a real world everyday. They know you have work, play, kids, busyness, buffets, break room treats, meetings and travel. As a pastor I had breakfasts and lunches with people, meetings and potlucks to sort through. We had people in our home for meals and went to others’ homes.

A “real life” program is one that doesn’t just “work” for the first month or two. It leads you to engage in new choices and habits for a lifetime. I learned the power of healthy choices. I tracked what I ate. I fueled up and stayed fueled up with healthy snacks during the day and evening. We learned again how good whole foods taste. My wife and I cooked healthy food for adult children and many others and watched them eat it without reservation. I learned to navigate the minefield of restaurants and menus on the American food front. I learned that health is a long-term (lifetime) of daily choices. I’d been making some good, some not so good choices, for 5-plus decades. It was time to get real; Weight Watchers helped us at the beginning and still does (my wife Patty now leads WW meetings!). Inputs from a variety of sources propelled us forward toward a lifetime of better health. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s going to support real life!  

The final installment next: Pursue health in the context of encouragement, support and accountability.

My Final Weight Loss (part 2)

As I said in the first post, I was motivated; my “light bulb was on”.

But then what? How could I (and how can you) keep motivation going in a tough area like weight loss? Four fundamentals began working for me. The first one today.

Think through, and write down, a mix of goals (short-, mid-, long-range) alongside your long term vision.

Many people approach weight loss with just one goal in mind. “To lose the weight.”  There’s another version that’s even less effective. It’s some version of “I want to lose 20 pounds before the wedding/reunion/vacation, etc.”  The first goal is too fuzzy; it just won’t take you very far toward a healthy weight. The second revolves around an event — an event which, as it fades in your rearview mirror, will likely take your goal with it! A key problem with the second kind of goal is, we’re just wanting to “look good” (for others, or for the pictures). Once that “limited vision” goal is achieved, the desire well may be to go celebrate!! In my case, celebrating would have meant plunging into the old food habits!

Habits aren’t sustained if clear vision and appropriate goals don’t support the habits!

My vision was that my wife and I attain the best state of health we could reach for the rest of our lives. A fundamental commitment we made to each other with regard to Weight Watchers was “we will not quit.” We agreed this time we’d stick, even after we had early good results (or even if we didn’t some weeks!) We were on this journey toward health for all of life. We wanted to feel better, sleep better,  move better and enjoy physical activities. So we studied and read about the benefits of appropriate weight and good food. We read about the liabilities of some of the things we’d been eating! Our vision became more and more compelling. We watched shows like “Biggest Loser” to stir motivation. Those activities buttressed the vision and kept us wanting it!

As the vision developed, I had appropriate goals. Weight Watchers encourages steady — not steep — weight loss. Most “diets” revolve around some version of deprivation. A couple of problems with deprivation: one is the rubber band effect. We “bounce back” toward consuming what we missed during the deprivation phase. And two, healthy habits are never developed. You can’t live “real life” with “real food” with that approach (more about that in the next post). What I experienced was not deprivation! I quickly discovered that whole foods not only tasted good, they satisfied much longer and did not leave me hungry like “diets” do.

My weight loss goal was a half pound to 2 pounds per week! The philosophy I heard was, “you put the weight on over many years. The body is unlikely to allow you to suddenly reverse those decades in a few weeks or even a few months.” Eating is a highly complex human behavior. So my goals were often simple short-term ones, like “the next 5 pounds in _____ weeks” or “20 down by the end of the year” and so on. It was slow but steady. Many weeks I made it; sometimes not. There were plateaus; but again, there was no magic date looming in the future. (Once, after a cruise and an “up” day at the scale, I reminded my wife, “That’s just a snap shot, not the whole movie!”)

And there were sweet mileposts all along the way. The pants I had to donate; going from XL shirts (or bigger) to L’s; a lady at church asking my wife, “Is Dean sick? He’s really losing weight!”

At one point I even had a goal for someone else (something we coaches don’t recommend!). Mine was, I wanted to hear my doctor say something good without me fishing for his comment. This was the physician who earlier prescribed for me a blood pressure med for my borderline hypertension. Then came the day when he took me off of the drug! And he said, “This is really good; it’s so rare for people your age ­­– with most, I’m adding drugs, and here I’m taking you off of your only one!”

So, your vision will move you and excite you about a long term objective. But you need to remind yourself of it often — I certainly did, in restaurants and at people’s homes  for lunches or dinners; when we traveled; when I was faced with a plate of cookies or brownies at a meeting. You simply have to have the vision in front of you often: so…picture yourself fit, trim, moving, exercising well, feeling great, fitting into new clothes…whatever it takes to keep you going. Think of the powerful health benefits you gain for yourself. Weight Watchers leaders often say, “nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels.” I love that!

So, if you’re at the starting line, think long-term with a powerful vision, and rehearse it often to yourself.

Then, add short-, medium-, and long-range goals; as you reach them they will propel you forward!

The next installment: Use a program that supports real life


My Final Weight Loss (part 1)

When my wife talks about motivation (some have it, some don’t) she says, “The light bulb has to go on”. That means, without the right combination of motivational factors, in areas like weight loss, things may start well, but all too often there’s no follow through. It had been that way for me most of our married lives, when it came to my weight. Over the years, I had gone up and down, but in the last decade, the trend was decidedly upward! At 6’1” I finally topped out at somewhere north of 270 pounds.

I managed to hide some of it on my tall frame, but certainly not all of it (not that hiding it is a good thing). But one day, the light bulb burned! Looking back, there were multiple factors. Like many people my age, there were the common growing health concerns (borderline high blood pressure, heart “flutters” and other symptoms related to stress).

I was in my late 50’s. Suddenly one day, I realized that within a decade of the age I was right then, my mother had confined herself to a wheelchair, largely due to weight. Other family medical history was not good. So I took a look back and gained motivation.

I also took a look in the mirror. That was a reality check. I was a pastor – I stood in front of people every week as a teacher – and an illustration of…of what? I was certainly not an illustration of self-control, nor of being a good steward of the body and health God had granted me to that point. I also took a look at the future. Healthcare was the topic on the national scene and it became clear to me that whatever the future of healthcare in the United States, we had one choice: as we faced our senior years we should aim at being as healthy as we could be!

I picked up the phone and dialed my wife. When she answered, I said, “We need to go back to Weight Watchers.” She told me later, “I rolled my eyes when you said that.” Nevertheless, we went. We started the journey, not simply to lose weight but toward being “as healthy as possible for our lifetimes”. We’ve never looked back.

Having lost and kept off about 57 pounds what would I recommend to anyone wanting to pursue a healthy weight loss “for the last time” — getting rid of excess pounds and keeping them off? I will offer you four fundamentals over the next few posts – I’d love to get your feedback on your own journey.

“…something else is more important.”

Ambrose Redmoon said it — “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important.”

Progress invariably demands some form of courage. It may not be courage as we’ve thought of it before, but consider how often we stop short of what we really want —

  • To start the business long envisioned
  • To step up in the relationship where there has been passivity
  • To get serious about God and spiritual life
  • To get off the couch and pursue a lifetime of health
  • To get freedom in finances 
  • To pursue leadership opportunities

We stop short because the “something else” of Redmoon’s statement is not in view. What I don’t envision clearly, I will not value greatly. 

The need, as January begins to wind down, is a “vision” inventory. It’s taking some time, perhaps on a weekend to begin to list, qualify and describe what’s of greatest importance, to rehearse for myself, why these people and values are important — then of course, to set out the courageous stands or acts or habits which now will begin to support those values. 

As coaches, we go through the same process ourselves, regularly! And we’d be honored to spend some time with you (at no cost) to ask some of the questions which will help you get to what’s of supreme importance to you, in this year and for the sake of planning. Call us jot us a note today.

Why Do I Wait?

Samuel Johnson said, “He who waits to do a great deal of good at once, will never do anything.”
What’s going on behind my hesitation, what fuels my unwillingness to pull the trigger on what appears to be the best course of action to achieve a goal? I’d suggest the following, all of which I’ve experienced:

1. Fear — fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of people, fear of leaving my warm blanket — the blanket of what I know and am comfortable with — right now. The problem with warm blankets? Security is mostly a myth. And — what I fear often precisely describes the area in which I need to grow! But fears are real and must be addressed, one by one. Write them down. Talk them through with a friend, mentor or coach. Pray about them! Then — lay them to rest! You’ll find that most fears begin to lose their grip in the light of truth, analysis and conversation.

2. Adding something else to a jammed schedule. The task ahead might be massive. Very likely, if it’s a good goal, it will be large! And my calendar is packed. I like the feel of a few holes in the schedule which “I can call my own.” The issue here is one of value. I’m comparing the value of wanting “my time” or “maintaining current commitments” to something less real. To determine value, I need to ask, “what’s the preferred future (the vision, the goal) worth?”

Every decision I will make involves a trade-off! It’s the principle of “always doing what I always did…” and expecting more/better/different. A trade-off requires that I must give up in order to move out. I must “lighten the load” (time/commitments/activities, all of which might be very enjoyable) in order to pursue the best. With what might be large goals, have someone help you think through appropriate bite-sized pieces you can add to a schedule while you begin removing items of less value.

3. I don’t see the road clearly ahead. I don’t have a plan. I don’t know about you, but hesitation is often, there’s no clear way to go, so I stop right where I am. And wait for…well, just wait! The need, of course is a plan. But plans rarely fall from the heavens; good plans develop out of process, they accompany movement, they are the product of an engaged heart and mind! So engage! Read. Listen. Think, pray — and get with people who are growing! Your coach can help you step by step with plan development, as you move in the direction in which you want to move.

Your coach will also remind you regularly that what you really want won’t arrive if you wait where you are.


Questions for ’13

It’s not uncommon to stand on the edge of a New Year with either too much in view or with so much on your plate that you have a tough time knowing which concrete goals to set for the year ahead.

If you’re not sure,  try answering the following questions:

1. How do I want to be remembered (as a spouse, parent, leader, follower, etc)?

If this year were to determine your legacy, what would you like it to reflect?

2. At what level of “fitness” (physical, relational, spiritual, financial etc) would I like to end 2013?

Take one or more of the areas and start putting numbers or key words beside them. That becomes the framework onto which you can then begin to build some healthy goals.

And, if you need help asking yourself some of life’s hard questions, or you need someone to bring support, encouragement and accountability into the process, call us. We love looking ahead at the transformation that a New Year’s goals can bring!