By Guy Lawrence
“Give me a lever long enough and I could move the world.” – from Archimedes.
Me: “I would like to do that at some point”.
Me: “Ummm… soon?”.
The conversation at hand was of the topic ‘vipasinna‘. Where one basically sits in silence for 10 days to quieten the mind. Clearly the words came easily, giving myself the comfort of the idea that I would do it ‘one day’. And for that moment, the idea of ‘one day’ sat well with me. It gave me the sense of gratification that I was going to take action on something at some stage. I felt committed without the commitment. I had happily tricked myself and it was like buying organic chocolate instead of a Mars Bar.
This conversation started to magnify what I was hearing in the gym too.
If only I could find the right weight loss program. I want to lose weight. I want to eat healthier. I want to stop drinking for a month. I want to exercise more. I should do this or I should do that. It’s seems as human beings we easily should all over ourselves. A common theme I was beginning to hear more and more (including my own head).
With many great intentions for a healthier existence or improvement, it is certainly a human trait for a constant tug of war. But as long as we point ourselves in the right direction, even it’s 3 steps forward and two back, we are still moving forward right? Which is better than standing on the spot.
So ask yourself honestly
Do you really want to lose weight? Those few extra kilos. Run a charity race? Improve your diet? Get lean this summer? Have that beach look? Run faster? Lift more? Live a healthier lifestyle? Create new habits? A life with more purpose? Be more grateful?
If you had the ultimate weight loss program, would you implement it correctly and follow it through? From my experience, it’s not the weight loss program that’s the problem, it is the person applying it.
All these wants can lead you to a healthier more vibrant self. If you answered yes to all of the above but are struggling to get there, then maybe it’s time for a different approach and get some leverage – emotional leverage, which is working for me every time.
Be careful though, as I have seen this happen quite often – A person stops questioning things too much, they stop thinking, quieten the brain and just start doing the five things I have listed in this post, and before they know it, they’ve turned themselves into a ferocious health monster!
1. Create Pain
Think about this for a moment. As human beings, we tend to move away from pain with more intention, than we do moving towards a more pleasurable experience that we want. We tend to tread water and stay in our comfort zone no mater how murky the water is, as apposed to swimming towards new waters that bring change, but along with change comes a sense of uncertainty. Usually we only start swimming when the pain becomes unbearable, or we do things without real purpose and intention behind it.
i.e. If I asked you to run 100m as fast as you can, the chances are you would do it, but not to your greatest ability. But if I pinned two dozen prime rare steak pieces all over you and let lose a ravenous pit-bull terrier that hadn’t eaten for a week, do you think you would run faster? Of course!
But the pain we have is never short and sharp like the dog chasing, it’s usually slow and gradual. A far off distant distant drum beat that’s so faint you can hardly hear it. But the pain slowly builds like a pressure cooker and finally one day it explodes. That distant drum beat becomes so loud it feels like someone is beating it on your head and this jolts you into action!
I believe in each and every one of us, there is a tipping point that moves us to greater health (or anything for that matter). That tipping point usually comes from a painful experience. A ‘that would be nice to have’ turns into a ‘must have’ from one decision. The decision only takes a moment to make, but for some, a life time to get there.
Here is the most important point I am going to make – Why wait for the pain to arrive? Create the pain now. Uh?
Time and time again I see people who leave their health until it’s a major threshold and that drum is beating so loud they finally want to create change. But by hitting the fast forward button and bringing the circumstances to the forefront, it’s usually just a slap across the face as apposed to a sledge hammer.
So how do we create the pain?
First thing you must do is be brutally honest with yourself and not camouflage the truth. This is probably one of the toughest things you will have to do, but worth it. As humans we have a tendency to justify our actions daily. But ask yourself this: Would you rather be right or happy?
When I was sitting on the fence regarding the detox I underwent, I finally had some tests done to see where I was at. I knew they wouldn’t be great, but as usual, the longer we leave it, the worse it gets. I also knew if I didn’t like the results, it would be the kick-start I needed to get the detox under way, as it was quite a commitment.
So let’s say it is weight loss you want to achieve and you know deep down there is a fair bit to shift. We all know the complications and connotations that being overweight can have on the body over time, and when that time comes how painful could that be?
So time for honesty. Take a full length photograph of yourself in your swimmers or underwear (only has to be for your eyes only), front, side and back. Remember, brutally honest right?
By doing this, it will give you a different perspective of yourself. There’s no hiding now. I know by this point you may rather stick needles in your eyes, but what are the true consequences if you don’t? Smaller pain now or bigger pain later? Which one do you want. The ostrich head burying approach will only work for so long before someone comes along and kicks you up the ass!
Parting with hard earned money is another great motivator. Not a member of a gym? You could pay for a membership for 3 months. If you are a member but you are not utilising the facilities well or just stuck in a rut, hire a personal trainer for 3 months. This money well spent will magnify the pain if you don’t begin to follow through to an outcome deep down you truly want.
2. Set Goals & Visualise
Goal setting sounds as exciting as reading the NY Times financial review, but when implemented correctly, it has a very powerful effect on one’s self. There are dozen of books written on the topic, and this is a great article to read too. So one I’m not going to go into to much detail with.
In the meantime, is there something you can commit to? A weight loss challenge? A fun run? Something with a timeframe. When I did my detox my Naturopath told me I needed to commit for 6 weeks. This instantly gave me a timeframe.
If you need to lose 10kg, how about 1kg a week for 10 weeks? That’s realistic and achievable if you are committed.
Still not convinced? If you want to know what commitment is, you should watch this video interview here. My friend Kelli was diagnosed with a brain tumour and not given much hope. So the next time you catch yourself complaining about it all being to hard, you should put yourself in her shoes. You will soon find that your goal will probably feel very achievable and the excuses you make are futile.
So once you have made pain your friend, you must set an achievable goal with a timeframe.
But not only do you have to set a goal, you have to visualise yourself already achieving it. As you can imagine, there are going to be many hurdles and you will be tested every step of the way to achieving what you want. So when faced with these hurdles we can either look for obstacles or opportunities.
By continually visualising yourself already achieving what you want, you will be training the most powerful resource you have – your subconsciousness. This will then enable you to see opportunities arise when previously all you could see were obstacles.
To help this process, place your goals or images/pics somewhere you will see them constantly. Bedroom mirror, fridge, toilet door. I have even known someone to laminate their goals and hang it up in the shower! Just do whatever works for you, as long it keeps you on track and moving forward. But make sure you follow this process through!!
Just remember, if you are sailing to Tasmania in a head on wind, you don’t turn around and go back, you adjust your sails accordingly.
3. Reference Point
Once you know what you want to achieve, you have to create reference points along the way of your committed timeframe and record as much information as possible. If you don’t do this, how do you know if you are making progress?
By now you should know what you want, but you also have to know where you have come from and also be able to track your progress along the way.
You could have a diary dedicated to your weight loss plan. You have probably jumped on the scales to see what your weight is. But this only tells a small part of the story. Break that weight down. Measure your body fat %. Calculate your muscle mass kg. Measure body girth circumferences. (If you not sure how to do all this, pop into your local gym for them to do it).
See how many push ups or sit ups you can do in a minute. Test yourself once a month.
You have taken a picture of yourself, why not take one once a month to compare any body changes. Nothing will give you more motivation than seeing your body shape changing in front of your very own eyes.
Keep a food diary. Write everything down that goes into your mouth. You could even keep a photo diary. Take pictures of the foods and drinks you have for a couple of weeks and track your progress. If you are not hitting your targets, you can look back at what you have been eating to see if you are sticking to the plan.
You have to make your goals measurable. The more data you collect the better and the more it will help you along the way.
By this point, if you have followed through with the first three principles wholeheartedly, right now you should be chomping at the bit with all the momentum you are gathering. But for this momentum to last and if you are to go the distance with any weight loss program, ignore this word at your peril: Proximity.
This one can be a slightly delicate topic, and for me, one that took a while in life before the penny really dropped. But once it did, it had a MASSIVE implication on my direction in certain aspects of my life and the environment I put myself in on a daily basis.
Simply put, the people and the environment you surround yourself with will have a major impact on whether you follow through until the end or not.
A fantastic form of leverage is to spend time with someone who has achieved what you want. Someone who will make you raise your standards. We generally shy away from people like this, but it’s a must if you wan to achieve a different result.
When I migrated to Australia five years ago, I was fearful of the ocean. Here I was living 500 meters from the beach and not even able to swim a lap of a pool, let alone get amongst the waves! But this was something I wanted to overcome.
I started meeting a mate of mine for swimming, but he was not a very strong swimmer either. Before we knew it, we were talking each other out of it and coming up with great excuses. It all came down to FEAR.
As great as my mate is, he was unable to push me because he was suffering the same problem. Eventually I got so desperate and determined, I walked into the local surf lifesaving club and asked what it took to be one, at this point, this was WAY beyond my wildest thoughts, and the bottom line was, if I was willing to commit, they were willing to commit too. So I went for it.
The next thing I knew, I was surrounded by people who had been involved with beaches and surf rescue for most of their lives. Every time I wanted to back off or didn’t have the belief I could get through my bronze medallion, there was someone there to tell me otherwise. Because of this I passed and it challenged me every step of the way, but it is still one of my greatest personal achievements to this day.
There’s a saying in South America: “burn the ships”, because that’s what the settlers did when they arrived and there was no turning back. And to get what we want, I feel sometimes that’s what we have to do in life to get there. So ask yourself… have you burnt the ships?
Be careful of who you surround yourself with and make no doubt about it.. Proximity is power.
5. Go Public
The final piece of the puzzle is to go public. By this I don’t mean walking down the high-street with a megaphone or telling your mates how you are to undergo a healthy lifestyle change at a party over some extravagant dessert your eating, but actually putting it out there to the world by any means possible that connects us in todays society.
Do you have a Facebook profile? You could tell your friends and family what your about to do and then update it every day. If you are shy, not to worry as most people won’t actually give a shit, and the ones who do will support you and give encouragement. I think we can spend so much time thinking what others think, it holds us back. But if everyone is thinking what others think of them, then nobody is really thinking about you are they? Are we really that important to be consumed by other peoples thoughts?? Probably not….. and if they do judge you it’s only fleeting at best. So don’t sweat it and just put it out there, because the world will keep turning whether you do or don’t.
You could blog your progress. You can set up a simple blog within 15 minutes these days. When I was about to do my detox, I decided to blog it. This made it VERY REAL. It was the final tipping point and it helped get me through. Not only did it get me through, I had a lot of fun doing it! People got very curious and what surprised me most, there was a lot of support and talk around the topic as others began to look at what they were doing daily too.
The bottom line is, if you are going to do something about it. TELL EVERYONE!
If you read this post to the end:-
a. You’ve got to much time on your hands
b. You actually can relate to the points I have made and know that not only can they be applied to a weight loss program, but any parts of your life for that matter.
If you are struggling with your weight or health. My view is that it’s 80% attitude and 20% applied knowledge. If you find yourself saying mmmmm that’s an interesting post, but do nothing, you have simply learned and not applied that knowledge.
So when in doubt, just do something… anything… but just do SOMETHING. If you do this, the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place in ways you could have never imagined, and before you know it. You’ve turned yourself into ferocious health monster.