I've done a lot of soul searching recently, wondering about what I've acheived, what hasn't worked out. One thing that stands out to me is that I've really embraced the principle of Smarter goals. As I've matured I've simply focused more and more on the principles of smarter goals in a sub conscious way. Over time it's become clearer to me that a big reason many of us find it so difficult to achieve the balance in our lives that we crave be it, work life balance, the right body weight or something else, is that there is so much pressure to get this nirvana now.
'Smarter' goals is actually an acronym which stands for
- S - Specific
- M - Measurable
- A - Achievable
- R - Realistic
- T - Time Based
- E - Exciting
- R - Recorded
So how do smarter goals help?
Lots of reasons really and each person will find a different way to use them. For me I use them a lot to break down huge tasks that seem impossible into smaller ones that I feel I can achieve. The goals can be things like losing 2 stone, like being fitter than I've ever been or getting a much better job.
There is so much I can say on this topic because I've been doing this for so long but it's probably best to just let this come out in separate posts over time. For now I want to talk about the insipration for this post and that is about how this can be so useful for people trying to gain control of their bodies. Those who aren't happy with their lifestyle or weight. I can't promise to fix everything but I do feel so much more in control of things these days than many years ago and I want to share some of what I have learned.
So why is it such a difficult thing to control our own weight?
Well I think the first thing is that it's really difficult at times. Not always but often we have periods where everything becomes too much. At these times it's really difficult to focus on controlling our weight because we have too many other things to deal with. Secondly it's not something we're taught at school. We learn to read write, do maths and how the solar system works but we learn next to nothing about how our bodies work.
There's plenty of information out there about how we gain weight, what we can do about it and how it fits our lives but we don't get to learn any of this at school, so we have to learn it outside. We don't know who to trust and a lot of it conflicts with itself. So it get's pretty overwhelming.
Finally I feel there's been a huge change in the last hundred years. Humans have evolved to hunt and gather food. For millenia humans have had to go and find food, prepare it and then eat it. Much of the evidence indicates that we were just designed to be good at doing this but that we actually need it to function properly and stay healthy. Well these days, particularly in western cultures we just don't need to. If we so desired we can even spend entire days without leaving the house, ordering all food in. The hunter gatherer process isn't needed.
Many of us, including me have spent a long time in this new way of life and you get used to it. We don't know any other way because we don't need to. We do realise it's not the best thing for us but it's fun. There are so many other things to be doing than walking around supermarkets and actually buying food, so many better things to be doing than going for a walk in the pouring rain and getting soaked.
Turning my own life around wasn't actually that hard it just took time for me to figure out the way I wanted to live it and what choices were right for me. I'm still learning but enjoying the journey for what it is. What frustrated me for a long time and what made me feel isolated was that every health guru I spoke to or every set of experts seemed convinced that there is only one way to become healthy and that involved eating around ten tons of fibre and a gallon of water every hour. Not exactly the most exciting thing in my view and deep down I never felt I could stick to this very rigid view of what being healthy is and how it brings about weight loss.
As a quick side note this is part of the reason I went and got a degree and did 'A' levels in this field. I like to know how things work and I had this burning desire to understand the body well enough to decide for myself how to make my body and my lifestyle work for me. I'm glad I did because now I have many years of experience behind me that has made me a lot more confident in blazing my own trail. I am now at a point where I can explain the reasons behind what I see and feel which is very comforting.
So to put it simply I often feel the concept of losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle is presented as such a dramatic and extreme process that I can only 'keep up' with it for a few months until I'm burned out.
So what did I do. To apply smarter goals I had to address the idea of perfection. I had to accept tt's not achievable, at least not now. It's too big a change. Let's break it down into smaller goals that are acheivable. Why not just figure out what I eat right now and what exercise I do and then spend say three months trying to be a little better. Not completely change my life, just a bit better. Atleast if I do this for three months I have a realistic chance of sticking with these changes for the rest of my life. So any improvements I do make I'll keep. Rather than making all sorts of changes and then just falling back into my own ways. This inspired me because it felt realistic. I wasn't going to completely change my life in a crazily short space of time. I was going to make a few changes over a realistic time and hang onto them.
That's what I've been doing for many years now. I've tried all sorts of different fads, simply as a learning experience. The point was not to change myself completely but to learn from them the good and the bad so that I know much more now than I did then. I've gotten used to having lots of short, simple goal, things I want to achieve.
Like finding distractions. One of the biggest barriers to losing weight is the constant temptation to eat. Some people are fantastic at not eating but then they aren't generally the ones who put weight on so that's great for them. For me once I start thinking about food it's just a matter of time before I do eat something. The nature of hunger is unfortunately that once you start eating you can trigger your hunger cravings in just ten or twenty minutes. Then also you'll starting up a daily cycle of being hungry at that particular point in the day. So how do you break this cycle. My answer, find lots of things I love doing that don't involve food. If they take place away from food like playing tennis or walking then all the better. Why does this work. Well thinking about food is the start of the problem. So why not get yourself interested and excited about something else. That way food then has to compete with something genuinely exciting. Sure you could both eat and walk or whatever it is you're doing but that's when you need to be strong. The thing is you're enjoying what you're doing so it gets easier. Particularly if you're not able to get to food because then there's no option. You quickly find that the craving goes away and you forget about it. And forgetting about needing or wanting to lose weight and remembering to spend your time doing the things you love is the best thing I have learned to do these past few years.
Ok so I said i could waffle on on this topic and I certainly have. So I'll leave it there and no doubt return to it in due course.