Weight loss goals without a hot button is like a wish without a purpose. Until we have a strong ‘why’ for what we need to do, it is doomed to failure.
Healthy Tip of the Week #21
Your best friend calls and says, “I’ve got good news and I’ve got great news!” With no bad news forthcoming, you can’t wait to hear it.
“The good news is that a bunch of us from school are getting together for a reunion party in two weeks….and the great news is that your hot high school flame is going to be there and asked about you.”
This phone call either brings you instant excitement or instant panic. The chance to see some long lost school buddies and that special someone who used to make your heart flutter either exhilarates you or depresses you, depending on how you feel – about yourself.
For most overweight or obese people, this would not be the welcomed phone call it should be. The last time you saw these folks, you were energetic and vibrant and fit and healthy just like them.
But that bygone person has become older, lethargic and regrettably much heavier than the good old days – not at all the person you would like them to see all these years later.
You hang up the phone, too flustered to come up with a quick excuse as to why you can’t be there and too mortified of what awaits you in just two weeks.
You know that you can’t possibly lose enough weight in 14 days to significantly alter your appearance, so you already imagine all the phony polite smiles, hugs and handshakes that turn to whispers and snickers behind your back.
For the next two weeks, what should be a happy time filled with exciting expectations that can’t come soon enough is anything but. Instead, you are filled with dread and anxiety.
Warranted or not, this is reality for the majority of overweight and obese people. Perhaps it’s not our fault that others will judge us for our looks rather than our character, but nonetheless, the mere thought of such an event on short notice is highly stressful and catastrophic to our already low self-esteem. For us, it was a ‘bad news’ phone call.
Pride is a powerful emotion, much more easily bruised and hurt than strengthened. Unjust like a diet, which can be undone by a single day of bad food choices after a week of healthy eating, our pride can ride a wave of praise and adulation for weeks only to be shattered by a single derogatory comment.
We cannot hide our obesity for a single moment. That is the hell of it. We can hide only the inner hurt and distress that comes with it. That will be our turmoil in two weeks at the school reunion. There will be smiles all around, of course, but as their smiles mask their unstated surprise and disapproval of what they see, our smile masks the hurt and embarrassment we feel. In a sense, we are all phonies.
In the above scenario, the enemy seems to be time, so let’s play the what if game. What if you had eight months to prepare for your school reunion?
Would that ease your anxiety? Would you use that time to get on a health kick and do your utmost to physically resemble the person you were the last time you saw your old school mates?
If a school reunion matters to you enough, given adequate time, chances are you might change your eating habits and become active in an effort to recapture the you of yesteryears.
So the question becomes; why do we do this to ourselves? Even with something as important as our health, why are we resigned to the status quo of our obesity until moments of urgency occur?
Surmise it to say that the above real life example is frivolous compared to what could be. When it comes to obesity, a last-minute warning about a school reunion is nothing compared to a sudden deathly heart attack or a stroke that cannot be reversed.
But try telling that to the heavy-set person who is about to display his or her obvious personal failure to cherished peers.
HOT BUTTON HELP
So what are your weight loss goals and corresponding hot buttons? What event or happening would give you the sense of urgency to make every effort to get your health back? What matters to you enough to finally change the way you eat and treat yourself?
When it comes to the poor eating habits and lack of physical activity that got us to this unhealthy weight, until we find a powerful reason to want our health back more than we want to continue our path toward chronic ailment and the risk of death, we are unlikely to change our unhealthy lifestyle habits.
Here’s the absurdity of it all: Overweight and obese people know the harmful effects of our poor food choices and lack of activity and yet we continue on this destructive path like mindless zombies.
Given what we know these days about the harmful effects of smoking, is our food addiction any different than the nicotine addict who lights up a cigarette as he looks at a picture of a cancerous lung on the pack of cigarettes? When we see a char-broiled well-marbled steak, we know we are putting poison into our system.
Shouldn’t it be enough for us to know that what we put into our mouth, be it cigarette smoke or fatty foods, is slowly killing us? Apparently not. For some reason beyond comprehension, chronic ailment and even potential death are not motive enough for us to quit our unhealthy ways.
As we leave it to Dr. Phil to figure that out, it appears that we need something more immediate, something more meaningful to us in the short term than the possible future consequences of our actions.
So the life-altering questions are worth repeating. What is your hot button to keep you focused on your weight loss goals? What event or situation would give you the sense of urgency to do whatever it takes to finally get your health back?
Perhaps the above example of a pending school reunion would motivate you enough to take charge of your health. Since everyone is motivated by different things, let’s take a look at some possibilities:
- Marriage of a child – Your daughter or son is about to be married and you want to be the best looking mom at the ceremony or best looking dad to walk his daughter down the isle.
- Grandchildren – I know a lady who overcame cancer and is living with Hepatitis C, but it wasn’t until the arrival of her granddaughter that gave her the zest for living. And with two grandsons also now giving her joy and a real purpose for living, she has lost 50 pounds, looks great and feels better than she did more than 20 years ago. Sometimes, motivation must come from others.
- Dream vacation – After all these years of hard work, that dream vacation is fast approaching. Do you like the way you would look in swim trunks or a bikini on the beach? You have time to shape up before you ship out, but will you?
- Community Recognition – In a few months, you will receive public recognition for being a good member of your community. Perhaps you did an act of heroism or you were a leading volunteer for a big community event. When you receive that award, do you like the way you look or how that picture of you turns out in the newspaper?
- Family Reunion – This can be even more nerve-racking than a school reunion. Five months from now, do you really want your sister-in-law to get all the attention and plaudits for her looks while only the kids show interest in you as a hiding spot for hide-and-seek.
- Buddy system – Not everyone can find motivation on their own to exercise, diet and lose weight, so find a buddy with the same challenge and do it together. Maybe he or she has a good reason to shed pounds and while you help a friend get healthier, you also improve your health.
- Poor health of a loved one – My father was obese, became diabetic, lost his lower limbs and much of his sight before dying at age 68. I am now diabetic and trying to not follow the rest of his poor health example. Is there weight problems and obesity in your family? How did it affect their health and quality of life? If you don’t lose weight, are you at risk of following in their footsteps?
- Sex – I know a couple who were highly sexual and adventurous until their weight ballooned, curtailing their sexual appeal to each other. They let a few years go by until they came up with a great idea. They started to diet and walk together with the promise to fulfill each other’s sexual wish each and every time they lost five pounds collectively. It worked. Who says dieting can’t be fun?
- Health Scare – If one of the above scenarios isn’t enough to motivate you to get that excess weight off, or you can’t think of one on your own, then you may be playing Russian roulette with your health. Unfortunately, some of us need a health scare before we finally make our well being a priority. Regrettably, nothing turns our attention to health more than cancer, stroke a heart attack or diabetes. Does it really have to come to that for you?
Overweight and obese people need a hot button to help create serious weight loss goals and stick with it for the months required. A good hot button:
- Has to be emotional – Both sad and happy thoughts can be equally inspirational. Sad thoughts could be what may become of you if you don’t lose weight and achieve better health. Happy thoughts could be all the benefits and rewards you are reaping when you are healthy and fit.
- Must be personal and without limit – Trivial or ambitious, serious or silly, happy or sad, whatever hot button works for you is all that matters.
For maximum effect, you must think about your hot button often every day, especially on two occasions:
- Every time you go to eat something. Thinking of your hot button may empower you to make wise and healthy food choices at each meal and as you are about to snack.
- Each time you are inclined to take the easy way, such as drive to the corner store instead of walk or bicycle. Something as easy as walking up three flights of stairs rather than take the elevator can have a huge impact on your health.
Whatever your health hot button is, press it often every day to remind you of your weight loss goals and why it is that a healthier lifestyle is so important to you. It’s an easy and effective thing to do for the sake of your long term quality of life.
A healthy tip is easier to implement than a complete change of diet, so please share your healthy tips with our readers. Our blog’s mission is to help you improve your health, one easy-to-do tip at a time.