Archive for the ‘motivation’ Category

Data, not an indictment

So yesterday I decided that the game was up.

I was going to re-establish a relationship with my scale (a daily one that requires at least a single moment of one-on-one time) and with my handy dandy calorie counter (LoseIt).

Mainly, I decided to do this to establish a little accountability.

What I didn’t expect to find was compassion.

Calorie counting, day one: without changing a lot about the way I eat, I rang in at right about 1600 calores. The big difference though was that I actually did about 45 minutes of cardio for the first time in weeks (this put me at about 800 calories below my budget for losing a pound a week).

I got up this morning and stepped on the scale.

Up. And not a little up, but a lot up. Up 1.8 pounds to be exact.

Normally I would have been really upset; and ironically I wasn’t as upset as I was yesterday.

Instead, I was amused – if not a little resigned.

Obviously, I did nothing in a 24 hour period that should have caused that big of a weight gain (even if it is just water). So, that was obviously her – my body, doing her own thing.

I didn’t get mad; I didn’t burst into tears.

In fact, I smiled indulgently (if not a little maniacally).

There was something freeing about that unexplained and unexpected weight gain. I simply logged it, noticed the spike, and read the notification. “You gained 1.8 pounds. You’ll reach your goal of losing 28.2 lbs. on Dec 11, 2012.” Though December 11, 2012 may seem like a long time for someone who went from a size 4 to a size 10 in less than three months, what I really thought was: Promise?

I’m curious (if not a little apprehensive what tomorrow will bring) and this way, by facing it instead of merely crying about it and pretending it’s not happening, I’ll know. And I’ll have plenty of data for my endocrinologist for the next time he asks how everything is going.

Poem of the Day – “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou

Someone read this poem to me the other day – someone who I consider to be a phenomenal woman, a woman who spends a good deal of time inspiring other women (and probably men) to be as phenomenal as well. I thought I’d share and also store it here., so that when I began to doubt myself – in any realm – I can remind myself that I, too, am phenomenal.

Phenomenal Woman

By Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman” from And Still I Rise. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, Inc.

Yes, It’s True – I Changed the Tagline

I was reading a book the other day on the law of attraction (don’t ask!) and it stated quite simply a principle that I have heard, yet stubbornly ignored, my whole life: you get what you focus on.

Or, to put it another way, that to which you give your undivided attention grows.

In this particular book, there was one line that struck close to home. It said very clearly – if you focus on losing the last ten pounds of fat or body weight, your body will automatically create situations for you do that. In other words, if you focus on losing the last ten pounds, you will always be losing the last ten pounds – because “the law of attraction” will bring to you that thing upon which you are focused.

In order to get what you want, you should focus on what you want – not what you don’t want.

In fact, the authors go on to say that you should live your life as if the thing you want is already true (which, in my case, is a flat, toned, size two tummy) and feel all of the good feelings (which, in my case, is confidence, higher self-esteem, higher sense of self-worth, accomplishment, health, pride, etc) that you feel now that that thing that you want it actually true.

Make sense?

Well, I stepped on the scale today.

And despite that I am only about a half size up, I have gained 16 pounds since last March.

Yes, you read that right, meaning that once again, I have 8 pounds to lose (which is pretty darned close to 10) if I want to get back down to my desired goal weight of 140.

Argh!

Believe it or not, I decided not to beat myself up over this.

Instead, I thought about that book.

And I asked myself what I’d really like to happen – to keep losing the last ten pounds or to have a flat, toned size two tummy.

It’s a no-brainer. But just for those of you who know that I have a history of being dedicated to struggle, I did indeed choose the latter.

And I imagined how much more secure, happy, comfortable, confident, and energetic I would be if it were true.

So, from here on out, it’s going to all be about getting my flat, toned size two tummy and letting the last ten pounds take care of themselves. And, as always, I’ll keep you posted.

Namaste.

Sometimes showing up really is the hardest part!

I spent four hours yesterday trying to convince myself to go the gym. And failed.

I actually started over there a couple of times, but every time I did, something more important came up (like playing yet another game of the New Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook). I won’t provide a link, because I don’t want to be responsible for anyone else’s downfall!

When I realized that I was never going to knock my mother off the board (and having received not one, but two notices that I had played 20 games in a row), I decided that enough was enough. I was going to go to the gym. I got so far as picking up my bag when the justifications started.

“There are people with swine flu at the gym. If you go to the gym, you’re going to get swine flu!” (A stretch, I know, but it held me at bay for at least 20 more games, er, I mean minutes).

“But my leg feels so good after yoga this morning. Do I really want to mess it up by going to the gym?”

And then, on my way to the gym: “I forgot my heart rate monitor!”

Taking a deep breath I forgave myself for being a baby and accepted that fact that I really didn’t want to go to the gym – or so I thought.

The reason why I am telling you this story is twofold. The first is simply to get those of my friends who think I am a total exercise junkie off my back! 😉 The second, is to let you know that when you really don’t want to do something, it’s okay not to do it.

Okay, maybe it’s threefold, because I realized – once I was miles away from the gym – that I had hit an internal wall of resistance. And with temporal and spatial hindsight, I realized that everything I had tried to accomplish yesterday was stymied.

Does anyone ever really need to play 60 straight games of Bejeweled Blitz? No, not ever. Did I? Oh, yes. And maybe then some. And did I at least knock my mother off the board? Not even close.

So what was going on?

I had a lot of emotional anxiety about a couple of things going on in my life and, like I used to do more often than I do now, I dealt with it (or not) in my choices about food and exercise. As it turned out, I didn’t exercise at home either; I simply ate Chocolate Velvet So Delicious straight out of the carton just minutes after telling MJ to leave me alone for an hour because I “wanted to exercise.” Ironically, I did want to exercise; I just couldn’t make myself do it.

My subconscious mind was definitely in control yesterday and it drove all of my good intentions and so-called will power right off the cliff!

Last night before bed, I went up early and did a little 15 minute meditation program to promote clarity, before crashing into troubled, integrating dreams.

This morning, without giving it too much thought, I rolled out of bed and hit the yoga mat. Then, without changing clothes, I packed my gym bag full of work clothes and drove straight to the gym.

I had a great workout. It was fabulous. It reminded me why I like going to the gym.

Morals of the story:

1) If you just can’t do it, forgive yourself and let it go. Don’t beat yourself up, which will inevitably invite you to overeat or eat something that takes you further away from your health related goals.

2) When you’re having an off day (before it turns into an off week or even an off month) ask yourself what’s really going on. Is there something going on in your life that you’re using as an excuse to not show up? If so, is it something you can change or is it just something you need to let go? Or were you really just tired and didn’t want to go to the gym?

3) Get a good night sleep and do whatever it takes to get up and show up.

In my case, there was no way that I was going to sit in my office all day in my sweaty yoga clothes and even though I could have just taken a shower at the gym and gone to work, that really would have been ridiculous. Even more ridiculous than playing 60+ games of Bejewled Blitz!

Cardio, How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways

Up until about a month ago, I was a self-proclaimed cardio queen. Spinning, NordicTrack, StairMill, Elliptical, you name it. If it moved, and got me to move faster, I was all over it.

Somewhere along the line – somehow – I gave up on cardio and became a yoga junkie. Now, I had been trying to get into yoga for years, but I didn’t realize that to do so would undermine my first and (so I’d always thought) my truest love, that is, cardio.

So early on in this blog, I said that the reason that I started blogging was to “remind myself of what I know to be true.” Today I am going to remind myself (and maybe you as well) of why I love cardio (and maybe why you do too).

And I am going to do this so that when I forget, as I have forgotten in the recent weeks while I have been focused on making micro adjustments and opening up my chest, I can go back and remember. Hopefully, just the act of of writing this down will get these reasons back into my consciousness and, given that I am such an abysmal typist, into my body!

This morning, after much negotiating, I decided to hit the NordicTrack and just go for it. I put on my favorite music and hit it for about an hour. This is what I noticed:

  1. It really feels good to move my body.
  2. I like the way it feels when I’m sweating the toxins of the day (or in this case, the week) out of my body.
  3. I love knowing that I am training my heart to be more efficient.
  4. Now that I know that it’s cardio exercise that allows your body to absorb calcium into the bones, thus preventing osteoporosis, I enjoy imagining actually feeling my bones getting stronger.
  5. I love how my body feels when I stop.
  6. I really enjoy the slight fatigue I feel in my limbs after a good cardio workout, even though my mind feels alert and refreshed.
  7. I’ve noticed that I often get my best ideas in the morning while I’m doing cardio – no doubt due to the increased oxygen flow to the brain.
  8. I get to feel superior when I write -500 (or whatever it happens to be) into my daily calorie/food journal.  (Today it was -754 since I followed up my cardio with 30 minutes of resistance training.)
  9. I get an amazing sense of satisfaction from knowing that by strengthening my heart (see #3), I’m making it easy for every part of my body to get the blood and the oxygen it needs.
  10. I love contrasting where I am now with the unhealthy (but nonetheless intelligent, creative, and determined) teenager that I once was who couldn’t make it up a half flight of stairs without panting.

As I sit here compiling this list, I realize that I could go on for a really long time.  There are many, many reasons why I love cardio.  But the main reason I love cardio is because I love myself.  And engaging in cardiovascular exercise is a great way to take care of my most valuable resources – my body, my health, my mood, and my emotions. 

So with that said, I’ll just leave you with my Top Ten.

Hopefully when I get up tomorrow, I will remember my list and I won’t have to argue with myself, I’ll just do it.  Because as is the case with most things that are good for me, showing up with 75% of the problem.  Once I get going, I’m golden.

What’s your compelling reason that gets you out of bed and into your exercise shoes in the morning (or to the gym after work)?  I’d love to hear it!

p.s. Hopefully I’ll figure out a way to love both cardio and yoga, as one is the perfect complement to the other!

Regaining momentum (and finding my focus)

Maintaining positive momentum is absolutely crucial when you’re trying to achieve or maintain a goal.

When you have positive momentum, it’s just easier to do what’s right. It also tends to easily and effortlessly override both internal and external sources of resistance. You know the ones, the little voice that says, ‘Well, you’ve already blown it, why not?’ Or the well intentioned friend who offers you a brownie to help you ‘feel better.’

Further, when you have positive momentum, you know deep down inside that you will be successful. It’s not a matter of if, it’s just a matter of when, which is in and of itself an incredibly powerful personal resource. It really is as simple as that.

What’s equally simple, though it doesn’t seem like it when you’re in the thick of it, is that the opposite is also true of negative momentum. So if you ever find yourself in a back slide situation (or a tail spin) such as the one that I was in night before last as my vacation wound itself to a close, it’s crucial that you put on the brakes, turn it around, and pick up speed (heading in the opposite direction, of course) as soon as possible!

One way you can put the brakes on negative momentum and start creating (or rebuilding) your positive momentum is to focus on the positives, while keeping the negatives in perspective.

For example, it is true that while I was on vacation I picked up a few bad habits: I got sloppy with my food diary, I started taking small bites off of MJ’s plate (“just to taste”), and I found myself with a glass of California red wine in my hand on more days that I didn’t! I also didn’t get nearly enough sleep! Now any one of those transgressions has the potential to undermine a maintenance program, let alone a program designed to actually release weight! But add all four of them together? It’s no wonder that my clothes are a little tight!

But that said, there were also a lot of things that I did right. And given that I have a 10 hour travel day yesterday, my goal for myself was to set forth an honest accounting of all of the little things that I did right as well as the relatively small number of pretty big things that I did “wrong.” And my definition of wrong here is that they simply derailed my health and fitness goals. And, I can tell you right now that the list of rights overshadow the “not quite rights.” But it was important to include both so that I can remember what I need to keep doing as well as what needs to get ditched or modified now that I am back home.

As my mother is so found of telling me (and I am even fonder of ignoring), life (and any other important transformation) is really about the journey as opposed to the destination. That may be true, but I’ll tell you one thing: I’ll be much more appreciative of maintenance once I make my way back there! Because despite my earlier post, maintenance is looking (and feeling) pretty darned sexy, in comparison!

Just one more note about forward thinking, positive momentum, and focus. Peak performance coach, Anthony Robbins often tells a very funny – and profound – story about his experience learning to drive Indy 500 cars. My relative lack of charisma aside, the gist of the story is this: when you lose control of your car and you start heading toward the wall, whatever you do, do not look at the wall. Allow me to repeat:

DO. NOT. LOOK. AT. THE. WALL.

If you look at the wall, what happens?

Simple, you hit it!

So, when your momentum starts to slip, put your attention where you want to go (i.e. I am a firm, fit fabulous, four!) and just know that eventually, with enough sustained, positive momentum (which, of course, may mean changing tracks on occasion of you find yourself in a rut) you will get there!

I’ll post my list of rights and not-so-rights later on just to give you a better idea of the types of things I consider to constitute success. Did I have any “perfect” days in the course of the last two weeks when it came to food and exercise? No, not really. But I did have thousands of successful moments and, after all, isn’t that what vacations are for?

Finding the “Why”

The other day someone asked me why I was so motivated to maintain my weight release (or, using more conventional terms, weight loss).  Now they didn’t come out and just say, “Why do you want to not regain your thirty pounds?”  It was more along the lines of, “Why are you so committed to exercising, when you’ve already reached your goal weight?”

I sat there for a moment stumped, because I really hadn’t thought about it in a while or, to be honest, ever! I used to have a really good list of reasons why when I first started changing my body three years ago, but I hadn’t really given it much attention – if any – since I had achieved my goal.

Before I tell you what you what my “whys” are regarding my body, let’s spend a couple of minutes on why the “whys” – no matter who you are or what you’re doing – are critical.

When you have a clear reason why you’re doing something the following are true:

  • You’re more likely to accomplish it.
  • You’re better able to garner support from those around you.
  • You feel better about sticking to your goals, which, subsequently, boosts not only your self-confidence, but also your self-esteem!

When you don’t have a clear reason why you’re doing something, the converse it true:

  • You’re less likely to accomplish your goals
  • You encounter more resistance from those around you who don’t understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.
  • You become resentful about the ongoing discipline being successful requires, which undermines not only your progress, but also your self-discipline, your self-esteem, and your day-to-day mood!

The point of this being, it’s just as important to know why you’re doing something as it is to know what you want to accomplish, because the why is the motivation, the fuel, the justification, the reason you’re doing what you’re doing.  Knowing the why and being able to articulate it to others, as well as to yourself, is crucial because recent scholarship in teaching and learning suggests that 30% of the population are why learners.  This means that 30% of your potential sources of social support tune you out if you start with the what.  So, if you say, “It’s really important to me to drop this weight,” and someone says, “Why?”, you need to be able to tell them.  Because if you can’t, they won’t hear anything else you have to say about you and your weight and fitness goals.  And just imagine what might happen if you yourself is part of that 30% that needs a compelling motivation before they can learn (or act)!  Trust me, find your why and learn to articulate to yourself, as well as to others!

So just to give you an idea of how to get serious about finding the why, let me tell you how I rediscovered mine.

Basically, I waited until I had a chunk of time with no distractions.   I got a blank piece of paper and a pen (I chose this method as I tend to self-censure if I’m typing in a way that I don’t when I’m writing by hand!) and wrote at the top: Reasons Why I Want to Maintain My Current Weight and put the date on it.  I sat there for a moment, looking at the blank sheet of paper – and actually drawing a blank – until I came up with a reason.  And let me just say, as soon as the ink hit the paper, it was like a dam had broken.  In less than 10 minutes, I had come up with over thirty reasons – some of them better than others in the cosmic sense – of why I was truly and unequivocally committed to maintenance.  (Interestingly, I also gleaned some insight into why I don’t like the term “maintenance’, but that’s another post!)  And, just in case you’re wondering, since I’ve done this, my commitment to maintain has gotten stronger and I’ve been able to marshal more support from my already super supportive partner, MJ.

I’m not going to write out all thirty, but I’ll give you a few examples just to give you an idea.

Reasons Why I Want to Maintain My Weight (July 21, 2009)

  • To avoid re-injuring my knee
  • To have more energy
  • To be healthy
  • To get  compliments (sad, I know)
  • To be a better role model for my Little Sister
  • To feel good about myself
  • To succeed
  • To wear fun clothes
  • To be able to wear whatever I want
  • To not have to re-buy all of the clothes I’ve gotten rid of

You get the general idea.  As I said, some reasons are better than others, but I put them all down.  Notably, and somewhat ironically, this list isn’t that much different than the one I had made three years ago entitled “Why I Want to Lose Weight.”  What does that tell you?

If you’re trying to accomplish something – anything! – and you haven’t gotten real on your whys, I highly recommend that you sit down with a sheet of paper (or at the keyboard) and do this simple exercise.  It’s easy.  It’s quick.  And it is guaranteed to get you where you want to be.  Or, if you’re in my position, it’s guaranteed to keep you there!

Let me know how it goes!

Moving Toward v. Moving Away

I’ve been doing some learning about the way people make transformations or change in their lives. Typically people are motivated by their hopes and aspirations (that is, what they want to happen or that which they are moving toward) or their fears and frustrations (that is, what they don’t want to happen or continue happening, or that from which they are moving away).

As a general rule, people are much more likely to be motivated by their fears than by their aspirations. Part of that may be that they are unable to fully realize or envision their aspirations, whereas it’s much easier to imagine their greatest fears (especially if they are already living them).

When I started my weight release journey three years ago, I had a really hard time envisioning what I wanted to accomplish. Then, one day, I was over at a friend’s house and I was looking at a selection of framed photos of her around her living room.

“See, I was thin once,” she said matter of fact-ly. “When X is over, I will be again.”

I was floored. And jealous. And, in that moment, it hit me why it’d been so hard to visualize what I wanted. I had no pictures of myself as I wanted to be!

Now, when I was in Weight Watchers, my leader used to talk about visualization and about how you should find the body of your dreams from a magazine and then put your face on it. I also remember thinking: Give me a break!

When I realized that part of my inability to visualize had something to do with never having seen it (what can I say, I’m not a visual person), I decided that I was going to take Judi’s advice, albeit some twenty years after I first heard it. But I didn’t do it using magazines and scissors, I did it via modern technology. Five cheers for photo manips!

The first thing I did was find the photo. I ended selecting a stock photo of Jillian Michaels. I then had Michael take a picture of me standing in the same position, with my head tilted just so. He then used Photoshop (or some other similar software) to create a photo that we joking call KJillian!

The first time I looked at the photo, I had to look away. I thought, ‘How embarrassing.’ In fact, it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that it literally hurt to look at it. Seriously, the dissonance was staggering. I literally had to keep it in a manila folder on my kitchen counter. However, over the course of a week, I got used to seeing myself like that. And as the image became more familiar to me, it also became more believable! Eventually, I put it up on the refrigerator.

Just as an aside, my little sister came over, looked at it and then looked at me and said, without batting an eyelash, “How did your head get on Jillian Michael’s body?” I told her. “Cool,” she said. Apparently not so embarrassing after all.

If you don’t have a picture about what you want to achieve (either in reality or in your mind’s eye), create one. Seriously. I’ll admit: thought it was the cheesiest thing in the world when it was first suggested to me, but it was incredibly powerful. In fact, it got to the point that when I would take pictures of myself (in similar clothes and in a similar position), I thought that they looked odd, which motivated me to move my reality towards the image in my head.

The same thing is true, by the way, if you have an image in your head of what you don’t want to be; you will become that. Remember, the one of the strongest human drives is self-consistency! My problem was, previously, that I saw myself as heavy or as someone who was 30 pounds overweight, so that’s what I created (over and over again). Bottom line: get rid of the bad images and bring on the good – even if you have to stoop to using Photoshop to do it!

Now that I have a solid image in my mind of what I want to move towards (that is, my head on Jillian Michael’s body or something similar), I sometimes also use moving away from – especially when I need a good kick in the pants, like a I did the day before yesterday, when I just could not get myself moving.

First, just writing that blog post helped, because I hate to admit that I can’t do something.

Second, I have a pair of pants that I bought at a consignment store. Technically they fit; however, I would never go out in public with them fitting the way they fit at the moment. Ironically, they are the smallest pair of pants that I own, but they make me look huge because they’re so tight.

Essentially, these are the “get leverage on yourself” or the “moving away from” pants. I put those on (to say that I just slipped into them would be a bald faced lie!) and all it took was five minutes standing in front of the mirror to get me down on the NordicTrack, followed up by my moving towards: Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred.

Are you a moving towards person or a moving away person? If you are primarily one, I strongly suggest mixing it up when you need a little extra motivation!

And if you don’t have a picture of what you want to achieve, get one – even if, especially if, you have to make it yourself!

Singularly unmotivated

It is July 1st and 66 degrees outside. We’re being pelted with rain and it’s unlikely we’ll see the sun.

So far I have bargained with and cajoled myself to get up and do anything — Nordic Track, Yoga, K-Bells, Thirty Day Shred….anything to get my body moving. Heck, stretching would be an improvement and I know — at least in my head — that I’d feel better for the expended effort!

But, alas, so far three loads of laundry, putting away clothes, putting away dishes, and making a salad are my only accomplishments.

Vacations are hard for the workaholic. I do much better (food- and exercise-wise) with an externally imposed schedule. But, then again, who doesn’t?

If any one has any words of motivation or suggestions in general, I’d love to hear them.

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.

Jillian’s version of losing the last ten pounds

Today in my in-box, I received my daily message from Jillian Michaels:

FRIDAY: FEELING GOOD

How to Take Off Those Last 10 Pounds
You know what I like to call those last 10 or 15 pounds that won’t come off no matter what you do? Vanity pounds.

The term describes our desire to lose weight that, as far as our bodies are concerned, actually feels healthy. Today’s society pressures us to want to look a certain way, so for aesthetic reasons we try to be thinner than our bodies want us to be. Personally, I have gained and lost the same 8 vanity pounds more times than I care to admit.

Losing your first 50 pounds might have been tough, but believe me, dropping those final few stubborn pounds is a whole different challenge. The body struggles to hold on to that last bit of fat for survival purposes.

Now, don’t get me wrong — you can lose the weight if you want to, but it will require you to muster a tremendous amount of restraint and willpower. If you’re really up for it, do the following for 30 days:

1. Cut your sodium to 1,000 mg a day.
2. Drink at least 80 ounces of water daily.
3. Cut out processed foods.
4. Abstain from alcohol.
5. Train at 85 percent of your MHR (maximum heart rate) for 1 hour 5 times a week.

You can do a lot in 30 days — in fact, I can pretty much guarantee you will lose at least 5 pounds. And you’ll feel like a rock star!

Although I didn’t sign up for the full membership on Jillian’s site, I do find the daily messages to be inspirational and full of good information. If you can put up with a having another message in your in-box, it’s a good resource, not only for food, but also for exercise, and (now) information regarding hormones and their effect on your metabolism.

Men’s Health

Every year, MJ comes home with a “popular magazine” as his way of tuning into what’s going on in the world. Last year it was Cosmo (which we read together on the couch and laughed so hard we couldn’t take it anymore)! Thank God mother never let us have that in the house. Harlequin Romances, yes. Cosmo, no.

This year, it was Men’s Health, which, as it turns out, is the male version of Cosmo. Seriously, it was all about sex, nutrition, and exercise. And, more to the point, the headlines were almost identical: 125 Best Foods for Men, No-Diet Weight Loss Plan, 30 Red-Hot Sex Secrets, Strip Away Stress, 7 New Rules of Money & Women, Great Abs Made Easy, Melt Away Pounds! 15-Minute Fat Burners, Look Your Best Now! Interestingly, they also have a number of “Short Order Cook Recipes.” They’re obviously designed to impress a date, but they look pretty good. There are also a couple of other random tips in there that I may pass on later.

But the most interesting thing in there by far was an article — that looks like it be part of a series — called, It Works for Me: Master Your Domain.

This segment, or this month’s feature, was on actor Tyrese Gibson.

“Tyrese Gibson, star of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, gained weight and lost motivation. To right himself, he first had to change everything around him.”

On Maintenance:

“He lost his sense of consequence, he says. It’s easy to do: Accomplish something and your attitude can go from I’m working hard for this to This is mine. Do that and you’ve already failed. A boss doesn’t promote you because you did work hard. A woman doesn’t love you because you were devoted to her. They want you in the present and future tense. They expect you from here on in to work hard, to be devoted. Start coasting and you roll backward.”

On Modeling:

“We men have to put our pride and egos and just say, ‘You know what? I need help,'” Gibson says. “Bring something to the table. To somebody who has the keys to whatever door you’re trying to go through, say, ‘Look, man, I have five keys of my own, but I’m trying to figure out how to get these other keys.’

Think of of it this way: Every man is surrounded by better men. A man who’s more financially secure than you are can teach you something, and chances are he can learn something from you. So approach him. Collaborate. Successful men aren’t symbols of your inferiority; they’re examples worth engaging.”

On Upgrading Your Peer Group:

“The five people you spend most of your time with will dictate how far your life and career will go. Slobs will make you a slob. Gibson loved fried calamari, and he had friends who bought it for him all the time. But if you’re friends work hard and eat right, you’ll be embarrassed to eat fried anything around them.

It isn’t easy to switch friends. Gibson knows that. It took him months: less time with this person, more time with that one. Scoops of fried calamari gave way to scoops of tuna on lettuce, now his regular lunch. Guys at the gym taught him new exercises. He runs five miles a day on a treadmill. He lifts regularly.”

I liked this for a number of reasons. One, it reinforces things I already know, which is always good. But, two, this series also gives us a chance to model someone who has been there. As embarrassing at it may sound, something tells me that I may have to start spending more time at Borders lurking in the magazine section!

Sudden Realization

I have been so focused on this leg of my weight release program –that is, releasing the last 10, that I sort of lost sight of the fact that in the last three and a half years, I have let go of close to 40 pounds! I’m not sure why I was thinking about it, but it hit me this morning walking into town. I just stood there. I then reflected on and celebrated the accomplishment that actually was.

I also realized why it is that people whom I haven’t seen lately (or that I see only rarely, but who nonetheless have a fixed notion of what I’m supposed to look like) seem so genuinely shocked when they see me. I tend to blow them off, because to me the changes have been minor; they seem minor because I’ve been working on this for a heck of a long time. And for the most part — give or take a few notable setbacks — the progress has been slow and steady.

Trying to get a little perspective on this, I pulled out my “bra and underwear/before” pictures that were taken in February 2007 — scary! All I have to say about that is, go me! (That, and I hope to God no one ever hacks into my computer!) Hidden tip: if you haven’t been keeping pictorial evidence of your weight release efforts, start! One, it’s a great motivator. Two, and perhaps more importantly, it can be a valuable reality check for when the changes slow down to a seemingly invisible crawl!