I have had an ongoing discussion about health and weight for a long time with a few of my good friends. Despite likely being completely tired of hearing me complain how hard it is to stick with something, they continue to listen (or pretend to!) to advise, and to be supportive. They have their own challenges -- none of us claims to have it all figured out. I suppose that's why we're good for each other.
One idea that is intriguing me is examining the goals that I'm setting and figuring out what benefits I get from NOT obtaining those goals. Sounds confusing, right? But it is actually pretty simple and I think a smart way to figure out what is standing in my way.
It goes like this:
My goal is to lose weight and in general, be more fit. Why? Well, I think I'd just feel better overall if I dropped some pounds. Plus, I love getting dressed when I am fit. I love being able to walk into any store and having lots of things look good right off the rack. Plus, life is easier when you are healthier. While there is nothing wrong with me now (well, I am overweight on the charts), I can look and feel better and possibly prevent health issues from getting worse if I become more physically fit.
In order to do that I should:
- Exercise daily
- Eat better
- Stop drinking
So now I'm supposed to look at these things I should do and describe the benefits I get from NOT doing them. (Still with me?)
1. Exercise daily.
When I don't exercise, I have more time to do other things I like more. Like writing, reading, cooking, being with my husband and kids, or doing nothing at all. I'm a big fan of not always being somewhere or doing something. Sometimes I just like to be off the grid. Seems to me like regular exercise takes up a good chunk of time between getting there, going to the class and then showering and moving on. And when you're working full time and have responsibilities that start the second you get home, it feels like an indulgence (a bad one, not a good one) to spend that time exclusivley on yourself. The bottom line? When I do spend time at the gym, I feel guilty like I'm wasting my time when I could be doing something more productive or helpful to the family.
2. Eat better.
When I eat poorly, it's more about time & convenience than anything else. I really like to cook but sometimes I don't have the energy to shop for all the right stuff, do the prep and the cooking, then clean up. I love good food, but I just get lazy -- and convenience food allows me time to do other things and get out of the kitchen.
3. Stop drinking alcohol
You know when the doctor asks you how much you drink? I would say socially. I don't have alcohol daily, but I do enjoy adult beverages. Giving that up means giving up something that makes me relax. I love taste of wine (especially with cheese and bread) and I enjoy the way that people let their hair down when they meet over drinks. I don't want to miss out on that interaction that doesn't really seem to happen over coffee.
So, then the next part of this is to see if any of these *benefits* are worth more than the actual goal.
- Exercise doesn't have to be all or nothing. And it can be social. And I think that's what I crave the most is the social aspect of it. By signing up for classes with friends I can get what I want out of the time. Or I can do it with the family. Now that it is warmer out, I feel much more inclined to do something active outside, so let's cross that benefit off the list. I always feel so much more energetic after I get out and get my heart rate up.
- Convenience is a big benefit, but I really can find convenient healthy options to eat for those times that I don't want to be bothered cooking, so I can cross that off the list.
- Drinking isn't all or nothing. I can just have 1 glass of wine for every two glasses of water. I don't need to drink, I just like to do it. So that's a crappy excuse. No one cares if I drink when we go out, in fact, I have several friends who have given it up to lose weight. I just enjoy it, and I don't overdo it, but it probably makes sense to save it for special occasions.
So I can clearly say that the benefits that keep me from reaching my goal are not worth more than the benefit of achieving the goal of losing weight and getting more fit.
I just have to make it easier to avoid the benefits that I get from not keeping the ultimate goal front and center. That means making myself more accountable -- to me. This requires more thinking.