Goal Setting and Changing My Thought Process – Diet Day 62

This weight loss journey has been very educational both from a physical and a mental perspective. I went into this fairly naïve having never tried to lose weight before. I guess I thought that I would just cut down on what I was eating, maybe exercise a little and the weight would magically start falling off.

That is after all what we are led to believe from the countless television commercials showing someone extremely obese who is transformed into a living stick figure who is now the spokesperson for some kind of diet program.

Over the course of the past nine weeks, I have begun to see a difference in how I look and how I feel but this journey has led me down a path that I really had not anticipated. Accompanying the weight loss program was a book with a simple title of “Dr A’s Habits of Health”. My expectation was that this book would be a sales tool where the good doctor would recommend a series of supplements and vitamins to take. I could not have been more wrong.

The book was written by a doctor who spent a lot of time seeing the results of poor health. He then made it his life mission to try and get people to be healthier. At first I dreaded the thoughts of having diet homework but the more I read from this book the more interested I became. I found that I was not as interested in the text from a weight loss perspective. Instead this manual has begun to give me a clearer perspective into who I am and how I think.

Within the text Dr. A talks about the human experience and in particular about goal setting. From a very early age I have been very goal oriented. I have always looked at my life as a linear progression and used goals to attempt to measure the success I have accomplished. At times the goals were simplistic such as just getting out of bed or surviving a day filled with monotonous meetings that seemed to last an eternity. At other times the goals were more profound such as becoming a better husband or father (two goals which I have yet to master by the way).

My goal setting and tracking were never something that I learned or that I articulated in a detailed and scientific manner. Sometimes it was simply a mental note to myself of things I should work on or assessing how well something had gone.

With the Habits of Health book I have begun to learn that my attempts at goal setting and measurement were somewhat counterproductive to actually reaching the results I wanted. Like a lot of men I am a problem solver. This is both a positive and a negative thing.

On the good side I fix things whether it be rewiring an electrical socket or eliminating a dripping faucet (yeah I suck at plumbing but my heart is in the right place). On the negative side I am sometimes like a bull in a china closet and leap into things where I probably shouldn’t. I’ve also learned that regardless of what an impressive collection of tools that I have, I never seem to have the right one to do the job I have undertaken.

When it came to weight loss, I was really outside of my element and have quickly realized that I had no tools (right or wrong) that I needed to be successful. Furthermore being goal oriented and a guy I was going about it all wrong.

Setting a goal to “lose weight” or “don’t eat junk food” while noble is not necessarily the right way to go about it. I had no idea that there was a hierarchy to setting goals in order for us to accomplish the things we want.

Like building a house, you need to have the proper foundation from which to build. These foundational goals are the long-term things that you want to accomplish. For example, my long-term goal should not be that I want to lose weight by cutting down on junk food. Instead my over-reaching goal is to live a long and healthy life. Once I understood that I could then set up primary goals that talked about how I could accomplish my foundational goal.

The primary goals would be things such as finding balance between work and home or being able to participate in activities with my children without being adversely affected by physical limitations that may come because I am overweight.

Finally there are the secondary steps that are the day-to-day decisions that will help me to accomplish the primary goals that will lead me to reaching my foundational goal. Laid out in this manner it was clear that I had been going about this all the wrong way.

I had set problem-solving goals that once reached were put onto the back burner and subsequently forgotten. My male personality was actually leading me down a path that once I reached a certain point in my weight I would stop what I was doing and potentially go back down the path that led me to gaining the weight in the first place.

I now have in front of me a new set of challenges that quite frankly scare me to death. I have to reprogram myself to set my foundational goal with the understanding that being healthy is not a destination but a journey in itself and one that will need to stay with me for the remainder of my life.

I should not be looking at this as a milestone whereby I will lose the necessary weight and go back to my old self but rather I need to adjust everything I am doing to support this new healthier lifestyle.

Putting things in this way I can hopefully adapt to not only losing the remaining weight I want but also maintain that afterwards to keep me on the path towards being thin and more importantly better physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Losing a few pounds is the easy part. Adapting myself to maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy outlook on life is much more important than a number on the scale. Who knew that making the decision to reduce my weight would end up on a path to better understanding who I am and who I can become?

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