I reached a personal milestone this morning and it gave me pause to think about goals and how we reach them. When I started this journey in January, I set my weight loss goal at 175 lbs. It was a nice, round number and represented a significant reduction from my weight at the time. At my heaviest I was around 240 in my early and mid 20s. Those pounds were purely the fault of the excess and gluttony that accompanies the undisciplined through university. A diet of cafeteria and take out food, plenty of drinking, and smoking ensured I would spend my college years living in an uncomfortable balance with myself.
After I got married I fought with my weight. I was your prototypical IT worker, I sat at a desk all day and rarely exercised. The most walking I got in was struggling from my desk to the area where the smokers congregated outside. It wasn’t pretty and I knew it. I’m not sure what finally clicked for me but one day I knew that something had to change. I wasn’t prepared to quit smoking yet but I did cut out the worst part of my diet and fought my weight down into the low 200s. The problem was I had swung the pendulum back the other way. Instead of switching to a healthier routine, I was content to drink coffee for breakfast, coffee for lunch, and supper. Any of us that’s tried it knows that starvation is not the ideal weight loss program. You just yo-yo back and forth uncontrollably in a vicious cycle of loss and gain. By the time I arrived at this January I was eating according to conventional wisdom and my weight had stabilized around the 195 mark. Viewed in the context of my previous highs a decade ago this was good but I knew it wasn’t the best I could be.
It’s funny, the only other significant goal I reached before this morning was quitting smoking. I was your typical smoker for so long, hating myself for doing it but never really having the will to stop. I would look at myself in disgust night after night, promise myself with great fortitude that I would quit, and then get up the next morning and run to my pack of cigarettes. It was brutal. What finally got me to quit you ask?
I went crazy.
Yes, you read that right.
I went crazy.
Now the mental health advocates aren’t going to like that but it’s how I describe a period in my life six years ago. I suppose if you pushed a therapist for a diagnosis (I never did really push mine. She wasn’t “that kind” of therapist.), they would have probably said Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Agoraphobia. The name didn’t really matter. All that mattered was that I didn’t really want to do much but sit on the couch and watch TV or lay in my bed and sleep. So if you’re a smoker with a pervasive worry about even stepping outside your door, guess what happens? Being crazy overrides your desire to smoke. Funny how that works huh? The meds I was taking at the time also had the nice side effect of taking the edge off of the residual withdrawal symptoms. So when I did finally work through all of it and get myself back together I wasn’t a smoker any more. Sometimes you just have to be open to what the universe offers you.
Which brings me back around to today. Over the course of this rambling post I let the cat part way out of the bag so if you’ve been reading closely you’ll already know. When I stepped on the scales this morning I was 174.5. Half a pound under my weight loss goal. You see, when I set that goal in January I did so with the idea that it would be nice to reach “someday”; may be a year or two down the road. I had no idea I would reach it in 5 months and probably could have reached it faster had I come to a Paleo / Primal lifestyle much sooner than I did. I’m so happy with how far I’ve come so quickly using a method that doesn’t require some great, personal sacrifice in starvation, bland food, or destroying my body through excessive exercise. If you’re looking to change the composition of your body, I am a firm believer that this is the way to do it. I’m not a trainer, I’m not trying to sell you something. I’m just an average guy that used to eat the wrong things, smoke too much, sit too much, and that was briefly crazy for a year. If that sounds like you (plus or minus the crazy part) and you want to make some changes in your life, there are a list of books and blogs on the right hand side of this page that can help you get started. Once you’ve made the commitment to change, have the means to change, and set the goal you want to reach, there will be no stopping you. There’s no stopping me now. Why would I ever want to go back?
I don’t know what your goals are, you might simply be vaguely discontented with your life and ready to change. Don’t be afraid to make a commitment today to make that change in your life. If I can do it, anyone can. And I really mean that. Before January I would have laughed at you if you said I would weigh 174.5 by the Memorial Day weekend. Put your heart into it, start by doing one thing (anything), and make that change. But do something. You can read tips and tricks forever but they won’t change you. You have to do the work and I know you can.