Family insights — it’s not enough to want it

Last week, while visiting my parents, we went to a family funeral. The deceased was the mother of my mother’s sister’s husband. Or, to put it another way, she was the grandmother of my cousins, though she, herself, was not my grandmother.

The last time I saw some of these cousins — sadly enough — was at our grandfather’s funeral last August.

There, at the wake, one my cousins, referred to me as Skinny Minnie — in a good way. And she kept eying me suspiciously and mouthing: How did you get so skinny?

Well, that was 10 months and probably close to 15 pounds ago.

This time she came up to me and said, “I would love to be as thin as you.”

I smiled, thanked her for the lovely compliment and then said. “It’s not that hard, but it is a daily chore.”

And, she smiled — though hers didn’t quite meet her eyes — and sighed. “But it requires a degree of self-discipline that I just don’t have.”

My gut level reaction, which often gets me into trouble, was: Then you don’t want it bad enough!

But, given that she had just lost her third grandparent in less than a year, I kept my mouth shut.

I’ve thought a lot about that exchange. I’ve thought about why it is that some people (myself included) have decided that it’s no longer acceptable to be overweight (often to an unhealthy degree), whereas others are willing to live with it even though they want to change. I’ve also realized that some people just don’t care. Even though they are heavy, if not morbidly obese, they are seemingly okay with their limited physical ability and (in some cases) their deteriorating health.

Essentially, our exchange reminded me that it’s not enough to simply want it. You have to want it bad enough to actually do something about it. My cousin wanted to weigh less, but she didn’t want to have to do anything to make it happen.

When I first started this leg of my weight release program — about three years ago, when I was 40 pounds heavier than I am now — someone (that is, Tony Robbins) gave me this piece of advice.

1. Set a real goal that is motivating. Don’t just say you want to lose 10 pounds, because that’s not compelling. Say you want to lose 20 pounds of fat so that you stop having knee problems.

2. Make it a must! This means that you make decisions regarding your health and fitness that are every bit as binding as the decisions that my cousin makes when running her business or raising her child. You have to convince yourself that if you don’t do it, then something disastrous is going to occur — that is, your physical equivalent of bankruptcy! For me, it was the fear of knee replacement and/or carrying that 40 pounds into my forties. For others, it may be the nightmare of hypertension or diabetes.

3. Take quick and decisive action. As soon as you define that clear and compelling goal, take immediate action! It could be something like joining a gym, calling a friend and telling them that you’re going to lose 30 pounds of fat come hell or high water, joining Weight Watchers, or starting a new exercise program. But do something immediately! Do anything! Don’t just make the goal and hope it will happen, because that’s not doing, that’s wishing!

It’s not enough to want it. You have to want it bad enough to actually do something about it. Hopefully, when my cousin’s ready — if she ever gets ready — she’ll set a goal, make it compelling, and do something about it. Because, truly, it’s the only thing that’s going to get you where you want to be.

Update:

Thanks to a dissent from a reader, it’s also occurred to me to add that you don’t have to want it.

It’s perfectly fine to like yourself the way you are. In fact, it’s probably the best way to go.

Not everyone needs to be thin; in fact, being thin or skinny (God forbid) was never a particular goal of mine. However, regardless of size, I do think that people should try their hardest to be as fit as possible given their own particular set of circumstances.

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1 comment so far

  1. […] Dissent of the Day (Title borrowed from Andrew Sullivan) Posted June 29, 2009 Filed under: dissents | In response to my previous link: Family Insights: It’s Not Enough to Want It […]


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