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How I thought myself thin

I made the point in a previous article that to a degree you think yourself thin.

Here is a technique I used to keep myself focused on my weight loss goals. It may sound like clichéed pop psychology to some of you, but bear with me. This really did work very effectively for me.

Some time ago I stumbled upon a piece of motivational writing that suggested a simple approach: Write about your future in present tense as if it has already happened. Then read through it once a day.

I decided to break it down under three headers:

  • What I want my life to be
  • How I need to live today to achieve this
  • How the world will tell me I am achieving my goals

I also decided that absolutely no negative statements would be allowed. This meant eliminating my tendency to focus on what I couldn’t do or couldn’t eat.

It took a while to write something that felt right and sounded authentic. I think I went through 15 or 20 revisions over the course of a week.

I ended up calling the end result my Personal Health Resolution. And I did read through it almost every day for a couple of months. I decided to set no other goals for myself. All I had to do was read about the future I had imagined for myself.

It is interesting how this prompted me to take little steps every day, and how this in the end resulted in a lot of change.

I am pleased to be able to report that my Personal Health Resolution is nearly all reality. As far as my 7-year old son is concerned, Daddy is still fat. I also have a long way to go before I would describe myself as a proficient tennis player. But I am otherwise living the life I imagined for myself.

Here is the Personal Health Resolution I ended up with. If you decide to write for your own, leave a comment and tell us about it.

PETER’S PERSONAL HEALTH RESOLUTION

What I want my life to be

  • I am agile, flexible and free of mobility impairments, discomforts and aches
  • Exercise is an enjoyable social activity I share with my family and friends every week both at home and when I travel for business.
  • I am a proficient tennis player who plays every week, sometimes several times a week.
  • I am comfortable in my skin and wear summer clothes and swimwear confidently.
  • Food is a guilt-free enjoyment that comes free of worry about weight gain.
  • I enter men’s fashion shops with confidence knowing I will find clothes I like in sizes that fit me.

How I need to live today to achieve this?

  • My diet consists mostly of meat, fish, eggs and vegetables.
  • I avoid grains and sugary foods as well as drinks that contain calories.
  • I eat when I am hungry and I eat until I am full.
  • I am the guy who gets local friends together every week to play basketball in the local park.
  • I take part in weekly tennis classes and I play matches with friends once a week.
  • I adopt a mindset and a daily routine that makes it natural and easy for me to get 8-9h sleep almost every night
  • I experiment with foods to develop meals I really enjoy eating whilst achieving my health goals
  • I study exercise and nutrition to improve the effectiveness of the daily habits I adopt.

How the world will tell me I am achieving my goals

  • My doctor tells me she is impressed with the health improvements I have achieved and with my insights into human health.
  • People start saying things like “What happened to you? You lost a lot of weight!”
  • People start seeking my advice on how to loose weight and improve their health.
  • I get invited to participate in sports activities I didn’t get invited to before.
  • My son stops saying “Daddy, you are really fat!!”
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Successful weight loss – it’s the thought that counts

“You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act. It’s a habit”

Aristotle

Weight loss is not just about what you eat. The way you think about food, exercise and why you want to loose weight is at least as important.

To turn my health around, I realised I had to address my mindset and consciously change the myriad of little decisions I make every day about what I eat and drink.  Your health is a reflection of your habits, and these in turn are a reflection of your thoughts, attitudes, beliefs and emotions.

So, how do you change all this?

Everyone is different, and my example does not apply to everyone. But here is what I did:

I FIRST ADDRESSED MY SELF-MOTIVATION. I started by confronting my personal inertia and developed a technique to keep myself motivated and honest. This technique helped me make a subtle but profound shift in my thinking. It became more about the differences weight loss would make to me rather than the weight loss itself.

I RESOLVED TO DO MY OWN RESEARCH. The diet and exercise regimes I have tried in the past did not work very well and made me miserable and vulnerable to colds and flu. I told myself this time would be different, and I began to question everything I had been told about healthy living. This led me to explore the writings and research by serious minded people who offer an alternative viewpoint on human health. Many of these take an evolutionary perspective on health, which means they look at the life-style and diet of hunter gatherers for clues to how we should live and eat today.

I MADE EXERCISE PLAYFUL AND SOCIAL. Instead of being a means to an end or a chore, I turned exercise on its head. Exercise became something I would be able to do and enjoy as a result of loosing weight. I also chose to do social activities over solitary ones. I play a lot of basketball and tennis now. My level of proficiency in both games is no more than mediocre, but I enjoy the camaraderie and I have fun.

I will explore each of these three topics in more depth in separate articles. The main point I want to make is that to a degree you think yourself thin. You need to get your head right if you want to loose weight.

Often the epiphany that makes people change their life-style is some kind of dramatic or threatening event. It could be that a person close to you got seriously sick or even died. Sometimes it’s a medical test that says you are sicker and in more trouble than you thought. I hope that neither is the case for you, but in some ways these dramatic events make it easier to change your mindset. If you don’t have any of these things driving you, in some ways you it’ harder to get and maintain your motivation.

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