On January 5, a number of colleagues and I started a weight loss challenge. The competition would be replete with tired false self-motivation, old platitudes, and false starts, but I pushed my usual standards aside in favor of a new concept. This time, I was already self-motivated. I decided to change one small thing.
To date, I have lost 20 pounds, hit and worked through at least one difficult plateau, and seen at least two weigh-in periods in which I lost at least 7 pounds. I have dropped one waist size, lowered my blood pressure and cholesterol, and have more energy. I find my racquetball game improving and see the possibility of returning to near the weight I was when I wrestled at William and Mary. So what am I doing differently?
When I sit down for a meal, or have an opportunity to splurge, I simply ask myself to make a very simple decision to stay disciplined long enough to choose what to eat. I also make sure at least one meal every day is a tasty salad. The beauty of this method is that the longer I stick to it, the more invested I am in ensuring the next interface with a decision is advantageous. Even though making many small decisions becomes second-nature, it does not get so easy I can stop thinking about it. I have to remind myself frequently to maintain discipline, and not get over-confident. It would be easy to get cocky, and forget that calories don’t care about my confidence. They respond only to controlled management.
So I attribute my success in this competition, in which I have remained in no worse than second place, to NOT having to co-exist with some enormous, complicated diet program, or special food system, or even enormous amounts of exercise. Nope, I just make one small decision, up to five times a day (lasting about three minutes per day, in total). So requiring that level of discipline in such short bursts, mentally, is really easy to accommodate.
So far, I think I have made 180 small decisions. Of those, more than 90 percent have been good decisions. So 160 times, my system has worked for me, and 20 times I blew it. Or so it would seem. But upon closer review, six of those have been intentional “pressure release” choices, made intentionally. After each of our twice-monthly weigh-ins, I purposefully enjoy a really delicious, unhealthy cheesesteak. Its a small decision to not be too hard on myself.
Will I win? Is this a defensible long-term strategy? I don’t know and right now I don’t care. The absolute beauty of this new technique is that I don’t have to worry about either of those things. They will take care of themselves. All I need to do is keep spending one minute at a time, three t0 five times per day, making good calls. Time for breakfast.