I have probably heard the phrase “lifestyle change ” a thousand times. I hate that phrase and if you ever hear it at the beginning of your journey (regardless of the destination) ignore it and run away. Here’s why: there’s a guy. ….we’ll call him Tom, he dropped out of school to work in a union factory for pretty decent money. The factory ended up closing down a few years after he started. Tom had no education and was at an 8th grade math level. Tom talked to a few professionals and they told him he needed a career change. He applied for a professional engineering and technology teaching position, landed the job in a brand new career, and is now enjoying a wonderful profession doing what he loves and making a very nice salary. Go Tom go.
See how crazy that sounds? Everyone knows that’s not how it works but for some reason we tell fat people “it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.” Last week I wrote about why diets suck and this week I’m writing about why “lifestyle change” sucks. Yep I know, I’m never happy. Looking back I know now that it is indeed a lifestyle change but at the time the entire notion of changing my lifestyle would have been overwhelming and I would have quit. In fact, I’m glad I never tried to change my lifestyle, I would have been done on day two. It’s really not that different than applying for a job that requires 6 years of school when you’re a dropout. Or giving someone a marathon training plan while they are trying to walk one mile. Last week I said diets are temporary and this week I’m saying “lifestyle change ” is overwhelming. So just what are you supposed to do?
Here’s what worked for me. You have to have a goal, a big goal, one that’s absolutely impossible. Kinda like what you would consider a “lifestyle change.” You set the goal and I guess it’s okay to be broad with it but this goal is not your focus. Wait, let me say that again, this goal or “lifestyle change ” is NOT your focus. The goal has one reason, and one reason only, to set your compass. You don’t know exactly where you’re going but you’re heading in the right direction and it may take a long time but eventually, if you keep moving forward you will get there. Once that’s done you only have one small thing to do, it can be really small. For me it was things like walking up 5 extra stairs, or parking at the end of the lot, or swapping 30 minutes of TV for reading, or cutting back my soda by 1 glass, or going for a 30 minute walk on Sunday…. I think you get the point. I actually started writing these little things down before I went to bed. The next day it would be a sort of mission for me to accomplish. I wouldn’t necessarily cross the missions off but I would hang on to them and repeat them daily until they didn’t make sense any more. The little missions were small (very small ) goals or I guess you could say…… work. The work made me leave my comfort zone slightly and each day the door opened a little more than it did the day before. Each small accomplishment gave me just enough confidence to hit it again the next day. As I persistently put more and more work into the missions my results became equally as persistent as my work. I really think the whole lifestyle thing gives us the perspective of this magical change. But if you think about it, is there really magic that can cause someone to wake up one morning and decided they will completely flip their life around and change the very nature of who they are?…………………. I found the magic, I still find magical “trick” every day and it is still changing me, perhaps now more than ever. It’s called WORK. (Period ) Work is the magic, it will take you to wherever you want to go. When you consistently and persistently put the work in, your habits start to change. When your habits change, your perspective changes, and gradually over time you will look back and realize that while you were so caught up in the work you never took the time to notice that you changed something that seemed unchangeable, your lifestyle.
As with most of my posts this reaches far beyond healthy eating. Remember that guy Tom? Well, that was actually me. I had no job, no education, and an 8th grade math level. One of the scariest doors I have ever opened was to a community college at almost 30 years old. Many of the courses I had to take didn’t even count for credit. I just trusted the process and worked. One course at a time, one semester at a time, and one degree at a time, I worked until I had four engineering degrees and three teaching degrees. And yes, I’m in a career and I love what I do.
I’m certainly not writing this for kudos or to gloat, the fact is I really could care less what people think of me. I’m throwing this out there because for most of my life I would see people that were “lucky” and people that got all the breaks. What I never realized is that these people found the magic, the very magic I had perfectly designed my life to avoid. …. work. When I embrace the work my habits change, when my habits change my daily life changed, and when my daily life changed, well, my lifestyle changed.
Hey, I put quite a bit of time into these posts and if they help even one person then I have accomplished my mission. Obviously the more people that can hear the message that change is only a decision away the better. If you could be so kind as to share this video with friends and family it would be fantastic. This project is only going to happen if people like you spread the word that it is out there. Thank you so much for doing that! It may save someone’s life.
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“Eat plants, move your body. All ya got to do is a little more than ya did yesterday😉 ”
Until next time,