The Ever Elusive Goal of Weight Loss

Borrowed from Lifestyle – News and Spirit

Weight loss.  It doesn’t matter where a person is, they are likely to hear some sort of message about weight loss.  Most of those messages are seriously unhealthy (i.e. weight loss “aids” and fad diets), but, in the U.S. at least, most of us do need to shed a few pounds for the sake of our overall health.  It’s not a matter of looking smokin’ hot, it’s a matter of reducing our risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and a number of other lifestyle diseases.  I, for one, see my own personal need to lose weight as a matter of doing what is best not only for myself, but for my family.  The struggle is: how does a person go about effectively setting and reaching this goal of weight loss?

At this point, I want to clarify that I am discussing weight loss for those that do not meet the medical definition for obesity (BMI of 30 or above/30+ pounds over “ideal weight”).  Those that are 30 pounds or more overweight should likely be working with medical professionals as there may be other health risks that need to managed while following a weight loss plan.

Now that we have cleared up the disclaimer, let’s talk goal setting.  The very first step is saying out loud or writing down your goal: I need to lose weight.  Once you have this, you’ll need to decide how much.  Without an actual number, your goal will likely feel impossible and never ending.  This leads to giving up.  In my case, I want to lose 20 pounds.  I don’t necessarily support putting a time line on losing weight so I won’t be saying that I need to have lost these 20 pounds by Valentine’s Day or anything like that.  This would set me up for failure, especially with my number two favorite holiday just around the corner: Turkey Day.  Instead, I know that losing 1-2 pounds a week is a healthy and sustainable weight loss goal.  I won’t do this each week because some weeks I’ll fall off the wagon for one reason or another, and water weight can fluctuate up to five pounds a day.  Remembering these things helps keep me from feeling bad about not seeing rapid, immediate progress.  In the case of weight loss, slow and steady really does win this race.

Now that I know how much weight I want to lose, I need to figure out how I’m going to do it.  This is going to be different for most people because everyone has a different relationship with food, different family food culture, and simply different lifestyles.  In my case, I already eat VERY healthy.  Not perfectly healthy, but to a degree that nutritionists would have little to suggest as far as diet change.  My problems are three-fold: portion control, no exercise outside my daily activities, and too much beer.  Now I have smaller goals to work on to get me toward my ultimate goal.  I will now be setting goals a week at a time that address my three problem areas.  So far, I have added some body weight exercises into my daily routine, cut snacking after dinner out (which leads to drastically reduced beer consumption), and I am exploring the philosophy of “mindful eating” (more on this concept at a later date.

Now, the ultimate marker of success with this goal is going to be my weight.  However, it is best to weigh one’s self only once a week and this change might not be immediate.  I know this because one pound of weight is equal to 3500 calories, meaning that I need to increase my exercise and decrease my caloric intake by a total of 500 calories per day if I am to lose one pound in a week.  This is likely to not be very easy at the beginning because I am working to change some pretty deeply ingrained habits.  How am I going to mark my success without fully relying on my weight?  Well, I am going to focus on the little things that I am doing and reward myself for doing those rather than just losing weight.  This is really about making a lifelong change and taking care of overall health, so only focusing on the number on the scale would be somewhat counter-productive.

There are many ways that a person can keep track of their goals and mark progress.  I am a pretty visual person when it comes to goal setting (I’m really big on keeping lists and marking tasks off as I go).  I was recently introduced to a FREE website, SlimKicker.  This site is really pretty fun because it turns your weight loss goals into a game format.  You can record various tasks and participate in challenges to earn points.  You set up what your reward will be as you reach new levels.  There are a few things that I don’t care for: there is no place to keep track of what my goals are and the nutrition tracking is cumbersome, but it still is an enjoyable way to work towards my overall goal.  If you are interested in trying it out and having some support, I can be found as MDFeats on the website.

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There are SO many ways to set goals and keep track of progress.  Care to share your method?

The Power of Intention

How often do you think about intention?  I’m guessing not very often.  Intention is very powerful and something that we should not neglect when working to make things happen in our lives.  First, the definition of intention as provided by the Random House Webster’s College Dictionary:

intention, n. 1. an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result. 2. the end or object intended; purpose.

There are two very important words in this definition: ‘determining’ and ‘purpose.’  If a person is to reach a goal, they must focus their intention by determining their purpose.  Certainly, I can have a goal of writing a book and becoming published, but why?  What is my purpose in working toward this goal?  Without the why I will have no motivation and no drive.  This will be evident to any who encounter my writing and will not provide positive results.

There are many who believe in the power of intention itself.  The idea is that one can influence results in their lives simply by putting their intentions out into the universe.  For some this is prayer, for others magick, and can even be as simple as writing the intention on a postcard on the fridge.  One cannot take a backseat to their goals; intention is everything.

I want to say only a small amount about this concept because I know that it is best understood when experienced rather than read.  I would like all that read this post to try using intention to manifest something in their lives.  There are many ways to do this, some of which rely heavily on spiritual belief systems, but others can be completely secular.  Those that come to mind immediately: prayer, candle lighting, meditation, posting “intention reminders” throughout the house, telling another person your intention and asking them to hold you accountable to it, and journaling.  Sometimes, just saying something out loud can make it that much more real.  By verbalizing our thoughts and feelings we give them life.

Try something listed here or develop your own way of focusing your intention.  There is no limit to this exercise.  Let us know what happens!

Learning to Adapt

As some of you may know, I had planned to do a full series on the Stages of Change model.  I started it, and as it turns out, it wasn’t really that interesting.  I know this because there were only two readers for three posts.  For all I know, it could have been the same reader.  Therefore, I have decided to move on.  One of the major tenets of my coaching philosophy is that our goals may change and that we have to learn to adapt.  Ok, so maybe that really counts as two tenets, but they do fit together quite nicely.  In the spirit of practicing what I preach, I offer you a completely unrelated post.

A reoccurring theme in my life is that of learning.  And thank goodness for that because in my personal philosophy I believe that we cease to live when we stop learning.  The thing that is so incredible about this theme is the sheer amount of that which I am learning.  When I stop to think about everything I have learned over the past several years, I can’t believe there is really any room left in my brain for it all.  I am learning how to be a wife, a mother, and a business woman.  I am also learning how to garden on a rather large-scale.  My knowledge of food preservation is also growing a great deal.  I am also spending some time getting to know myself even more because the roles I play in my life have changed drastically over the past four years.  It is simply amazing how much there is to learn and how much I wish to learn.

The interesting bit about learning is that it is not always experienced in the same way.  For instance, today, as I reflect on my learning journey, I feel excited and energized by my experience.  However, on the days my son is learning how to exert his independence by exploring all the drawers in my home, I feel frustrated by my experience of learning to teach him restraint.  It is a pretty broad spectrum of emotion that is experienced on the learning journey, but entirely necessary.  It is how we respond to these emotions that really shapes the learning experience.  I have found that it all really comes back to being patient.  I have chosen to do a number of things with my life that require a great deal of patience: motherhood, entrepreneurship, and homesteading.  I don’t think I have ever had to exercise this amount of patience at any other point in my life.

Some days when I am learning, I have minor meltdowns.  Admit it, you do too.  Those moments where words start flying out of your mouth that you seem to have little to no control over.  They are almost beings in their own right.    Hopefully, you have learned how to allow those meltdowns to only occur in the privacy of your own home, if not, I encourage you to find someone who can help you with that.  Also, if you have children, you may also need to learn how to stifle them until they are in bed, or at a friend’s house.  As we know, meltdowns are OK and forgivable, but not a really useful or productive means to dealing with life.  These moments of meltdown are when we need to lean on our partners and learn as a team rather than an individual.  For those of the sporting persuasion, I see learning more as a game of football than the 100 meter hurdles.

The experience of learning is as important as the specific skill you are developing.    That is a piece many of us forget.  It is so easy to forget because you are trying so damn hard to figure out how to teach your toddler not to throw food all over the flippin’ dining room…  That’s when you stop, and have a laugh with your partner about how silly it is to get frustrated over something so normal.  Most everything comes with time and it is important to enjoy the process of learning and growing.  In my life I am learning many new skills, but I am also learning lessons that just help me to become a better person, and isn’t that really what it’s all about?

Take a moment to think about a skill that you have acquired or improved recently.  What were the highs and lows?  Did you learn something about yourself in addition to the skill?  Share a bit of that story with us…we might all learn something 🙂

Anxiety and Fluffy Bunnies

I cannot think of any person that has ever reached a goal without some form of partnership along the way.  Partnership is an essential piece of everyday life and nothing would happen without it.  I grew up in a small, rural community on a cattle ranch and learned the value and necessity of partnership at a very young age.  My community would never have survived if it were not for the way that people would pitch in to make sure that their neighbors had what the needed.

Partnership is reciprocal and symbiotic.  It is not simply one person helping another, but each member of the partnership providing something beneficial to the other.

Now that we are through the fluffy bunny portion of my post, let’s get down to brass tacks.

Partnership is TOUGH.  Even the sweetest, most easy-going person in the world has odd little quirks and eccentricities that can get under a person’s skin.  The trick to a good partnership is being able to accept these quirks and eccentricities, while understanding that we have them too and working to improve on those that are detrimental to the process of partnership.

The main partnership in my life is that with my husband who is also the father of our child.  There is A LOT of give-and-take that happens in our partnership on a day-to-day basis, and we both realize this.  However, we both have aspects of our personality that clash, and they can clash hard.

My husband can be an anxious person.  I try to be sensitive to this, but sometimes my “pull-yourself-up-by-your-boostraps” self comes screaming to the surface and I am not as helpful or caring as I should be.  When he is having anxiety and having a hard time getting things done because of that, it can be very easy to fall into a space of, “I need you to be X,Y, or Z for me right now” rather than thinking of ways to alleviate his stress.  This is the point where any partnership will begin to suffer: it’s the “I-don’t-care-how-you-are-feeling-focus-on-me” point.

Everyone can benefit from learning to cultivate the skill that allows us to recognize when the other person needs more from us than we do from them.  Sure, my husband being anxious about something I feel is no big deal can be frustrating, but his emotional state is very real and can have long-term effects on his well-being.  Instead of viewing my husband’s anxiety as slowing down a plan I have made, I can consciously choose to view it as an opportunity for our partnership to grow.  Instead of becoming frustrated, I can ask, “what do you need from me?”

When faced with a problem in a partnership, the only person we can control is ourselves.  I cannot make my husband stop being anxious.  That is a skill he will have to learn and master for himself.  However, I can control my response to his behaviors.  If I am not the support he needs when he needs it most (and vice versa), we no longer having a functioning partnership.

Goals and dreams will remain unfulfilled if we do not have the support of others, but we also have to remember that our supports need us as well.

Do you have a frustration in a partnership that you are unsure how to handle?

Smile So Hard Your Face Hurts

I’m feeling particularly joyful today and want to talk about successes.  There have been some small and large successes in my life lately and it has gotten me to thinking about how people celebrate successes.  Celebration of success is so very important, even when we are talking about little wins like saving a few bucks at the grocery store.  I believe that is it imperative that we find something to celebrate every day.

Now, I’m not talking an open-a-bottle-of-champagne celebration, but rather small celebrations like calling your best friend to share the news, having a sweet treat, or putting a post-it up on the fridge.  We have to feel comfortable congratulating ourselves on good things that happen in our lives if we are truly going to be successful.   Really big wins like landing a big promotion, graduating, getting married, opening a new business, and etcetera don’t happen every day.  Those things take years of planning, preparation, and hard work.  It will sometimes feel like the ultimate goal is so far off that you can’t even visualize what it will be like when you reach your destination.  By celebrating the small wins on the way to the big one, we can get a taste of what we will be feeling at the end.  It is part of our motivation and inspiration to keep plugging away so we can finally throw a big party and spend all day smiling so hard our faces hurt.

If you are having a hard time finding ways to celebrate your small wins, try celebrating another person’s win.  If your partner comes home and has had a great day at work, say , “congratulations!”  Or if your child scores well on a test at school, tack it up on the fridge.  This will start to help you see how to celebrate yourself and can start building a culture of celebration in your family.

Don’t be shy, share a win with us!  What are you celebrating today?

How to Cure The Hiccups

I made it to yoga class today.  After a hiccup on Monday, it was nice to have everything fall into place and wake up my sleeping body.  I haven’t done any yoga in over a year, but it is just like riding a bicycle: once you are standing on that yoga mat, your muscles know what to do!  The instructor added a couple new poses to the flow and they were completely new to me.  At the end, she suggested taking home the ideas of flexibility and trying new things also mentioning how the two go together.  That got the gears turning in my head and connected up with my planned topic of “set-backs.”

Whenever there is a goal to be reached, the generally accepted practice is to make a plan to reach said goal.  For every long-term goal there are short-term goals and smaller steps that are part of the short-term goals.  The idea is that by mapping out all of these steps, a plan will be born that can be followed as a road map to the overall goal.  This is absolutely the way to go, but we so often forget that a lot can happen between Point A and Point B.  There are a lot of ways to describe what might happen on the journey (I used the term “hiccup” at the beginning of this post), but I’m going to use the term “set-back.”  Typically, if your work toward your goal does not go quite to plan, it is because something has gone awry.  We don’t dwell on occurrences outside of our plan that had a positive effect, but rather on those that slow us down or send us backwards.  We can choose to view set-backs in one of three ways: (1) negative (2) positive or (3) neutral.  It is VERY easy to go the negative route and become frustrated and discouraged.  It is more difficult to view them as neutral and just let the set-back go and move on.  It can be tough to turn the set-back into something positive, but this is where a person is going to experience the most growth and reap the most reward.

I have said this before: life is about enjoying the day-to-day experience of being alive.  This can be extremely difficult when faced with tragic or sad events, but there is always something to be learned.  If we never experience set-backs, we would never grow emotionally, socially, intellectually or culturally.  Set-backs often force us to be flexible and provide opportunities for us to try something that we never have or hadn’t thought of in the first place.  Set-backs also provide an excellent opportunity for you to reach out to your support system and seek out new ideas.  I experience set-backs on a fairly regular basis as a parent of a toddler, and this calls for much flexibility in my approach and a lot of calling on others for ideas.

I would like to call upon my readers to stop thinking of set-backs as simply negative experiences that make reaching a goal difficult.  Let’s begin thinking of set-backs as reminders: reminders that flexibility and openness can lead to creative new solutions.

Have any of you experienced a “reminder” that lead to something unexpected?

 

Patience

I plan to post just once a week, but this topic is weighing on my mind today.  Most everyone has heard the phrase, “patience is a virtue,” at some point in their life.  Some more than others if they have a particular struggle with this particular virtue.  I have heard this many times, and I think it might actually be the only virtue.  Why is it that our culture puts so much value on patience?  It seems rather odd to even ask such a question in a world filled with smart phones, diet drugs, and fast food restaurants.  However, there must be some value to patience if that colloquialism is so prevalent.

Perhaps patience is so important because we have forgotten how to be patient.  It is so easy to become aggravated when something isn’t happening as quickly or in the manner that you would like.  We’ve been conditioned to expect things yesterday and customized to our exact preference.  I find patience to be a major reoccurring theme in my life.  I become impatient with my husband, my son, and myself.  It often seems that after the moment of impatience passes, that I am able to see with clarity that events would have gone much more smoothly if I had just let things unfold as they needed to, rather than trying to bend them to my will.  Now, in general, I am a pretty easy-going individual and am able to take life as it comes, but just like many of you, when I’m in a hurry, in the middle of my own project, tired, hungry, etcetera, my easy-going nature can go on a brief vacation.

Lately, I have been reflecting on how practicing extra patience can make one’s life much more enjoyable.  It can be difficult at times, but I DO NOT enjoy being frustrated, aggravated, or angry.  Those three emotions do not bring me any closer to my goals and often set me back (granted, reacting to them in a proactive manner does help).  I am working on taking a moment to pause when I begin to feel impatience creeping into my consciousness.  In that pause I can ask myself, “What’s the rush?  Does this change in plans really matter?  Is my impatience doing harm to someone else?  What can I find to be joyful about in this moment?”

If I am a true believer that life is a journey and that true joy in life is to be found in our daily living, why be impatient?  It is the times that plans fall apart, your day gets interrupted, and the instruction booklet goes missing that we are truly living and likely making memories we will never forget.  Approaching life with the attitude that there is always knowledge to be gained or a lesson to be learned can help turn impatience into something that, at the very least, doesn’t make you want to poke your eyes out.