“Change is painful, but nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.”
Mandy Hall, Master Chef
One year ago, a beloved family member faced a pivotal moment in his life when a routine check-up with his physician revealed the early signs of fatty liver disease, a consequence of his fast food diet. At 39 years old, he was carrying an extra 150 pounds and felt the full weight of his self-imposed limitations. He battled fatigue, joint pain, and restrictions on his life, such as avoiding air travel and shying away from international work opportunities. He was on two blood pressure medications, a CPAP machine, and had grown severely deconditioned, with limited exercise tolerance.
Staring at the stark evidence of his condition, he made a life-altering decision that day. He told his MD that he would return in three months and, if he hadn’t shed any weight, he would consider taking the new GLP-1 medications, such as Wegovy.
The first step he took was to eliminate diet sodas and snacking. He committed to planning and preparing his meals, tracked his dietary intake using a mobile app, swore off eating out altogether and avoided eating out of a bag, box or bucket. He read many books and found The End of Overeating the most helpful in describing what he was up against. He initiated a gradual walking routine, just a few minutes each day at first. He became acutely aware of his tendencies to stress-eat.
Three months later, he had already lost an impressive 40 pounds. His renewed sense of vitality and early success propelled him toward a healthier lifestyle. Building upon these modest yet sustainable changes, he has shed a remarkable 144 pounds in the course of a year. Celebrating his 40th birthday with a piece of cake, he now walks five miles daily, is free from medications, with his liver function normalized. He also discovered a newfound appreciation for foods he never thought he’d enjoy.
His remarkable transformation is rooted in several key principles of habit science:
- Personal Motivation: His journey was fueled by a deeply personal motivator – the diagnosis of fatty liver disease. Without that, change is unlikely.
- Small Changes, Big Impact: Modest, sustainable changes compound over time, reaping substantial rewards.
- Early Success: Initial victories served as a catalyst for further progress.
- Better Systems: He interrupted unhealthy eating habits with effective systems that served him and rather than fixating on goals, he concentrated on the daily systems.
- Consistency Over Dramatics: Gradual and steady practices beat dramatic, unsustainable changes.
- Physical Activity: We can’t inhabit these bodies and not move them. Incorporating movement into his daily life became necessary, do-able and satisfying.
- Personal Policies: Creating personal policies, such as only eating off a plate, reduced decision-making fatigue.
- Toxic Food Culture: Recognizing the invisible influence of the environment, he saw the toxic food culture he was living in and the importance of planning meals.
- Habit Change is Internal: Transformation and self-regulation are primarily inside jobs.
- Belief in Change: People can change. They really can.
This incredible journey serves as a testament to the human capacity for change and the profound impact of small, sustainable habits on one’s overall well-being and quality of life.
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Why it is so Easy to Overeat
David Kessler Interview
Book recommended above-he has several long-form interviews on YouTube. Highly recommend.
Become the CEO of Your Whole Life:
Life Design for Wellbeing
(For Women Who Do Too Much- Men are welcome too!)
Free webinar I am doing on October 17, 2023 @ 12-1 PM EST. Sign up here
A Thoughtful Procrastination Researcher
Tim Pychyl on why we procrastinate (it’s not laziness!) and and how it can harm us.
We know all this, and a good reminder.
There are many ways to be smart, and its not the chicken model of leadership.
Stay Well, Eileen