Week 114: Transformation Rollercoaster

Transformation isn’t easy!

For around twenty years I have been part of transformations. In business settings I have helped use new technologies to change how people work. I have helped the government transform how they do business through new processes and technology platforms. Plus I have been part of transformation teams in retail organizations. So I have seen many transformation efforts from the inside.

Most recently I have applied some of the same techniques I used in business transformation efforts to my own personal transformation. By casting an aggressive vision, building a plan and staying focused on the transformation every day I was able to achieve success. I transformed from a 325 pound guy living a sedentary lifestyle with poor self-confidence and few goals to something much more impressive – at least to me. I have become a fit, active guy who sets and crushes goals daily and has published his first book.

Through all of my experience with transformation I have learned that it is full of unexpected setbacks. People get scared about the future and what it means to their status in the organization. Unexpected issues come up and turn into setbacks. Sometimes you even learn that your vision or plan aren’t right and you have to adjust.

Whatever the challenge it is a mistake to think that success in any transformation, especially a personal one, is a straight line. There are going to be setbacks along the way because nothing worth doing, especially if it is transformational, is worth doing.

This week I have had my fair share of successes. My weight has returned to my comfortable range. I achieved a new personal record in my bench press weight. Plus I “accidentally” ran my sixth half marathon on Sunday. I meant to run a ten mile training run and ended up doing a full 13.1 miles.

With all of this success there were setbacks too. I had a couple of hiccups in my day job that I need to fix. My weight is still higher than I hoped. I had an upward weight fluctuation when I expected to have a loss. I have a fair amount of pain after my surprise half marathon. I had a disappointing appointment with my doctor. Plus my Saturday media event didn’t go as I had hoped and I was disappointed in my performance.

The important part of any setback during a transformation journey is to look at the bigger picture. Are you still moving in the direction of your goal? If so, forgive yourself for the setback and work to learn something from it.

While looking at the bigger picture also spend some time looking for the positives within the setback. For example my event wasn’t exactly what I had hoped, that kind of stinks. But at the very end I connected with one person and truly helped him with his own journey based on things I learned during my transformation.

At the end of the day helping someone have an “ah ha!” moment that helps them achieve their goals is one of the best things I can hope to accomplish. So were those setbacks really that big of a deal after all?

Transformation isn’t easy! If it was easy everybody could do it and it wouldn’t be transformational!

My point is that your journey is going to be a rollercoaster ride full of ups and downs. It will certainly test your resolve and you may be tempted to quit – I certainly have been. But you have to keep moving forward if you want to achieve a transformational goal. Once you hit that finish line it will be totally worth the ups and downs.

Thanks so much for reading and for your support. I sincerely hope that my experiences and my tips can help you achieve your own big goals. If we work together we can build a world where goals never die of loneliness! 

Week 113: Special Invite for YOU!

This week’s blog update is a little bit different. This post is a special invitation for you to join me for an upcoming event on Saturday (8/24).

On Saturday Columbus’ local NPR station WCBE 90.5’s Ria Greiff will be recording a special episode of her show You Inc. at the Fitness Loft. This episode will feature an interview with me about my transformation story and how I used project management, a skill I already had, to accomplish my big goal. Check out the video for a sneak preview from my recent workout with Ria at the Fitness Loft.

This interview will likely be a different take on the story that I have been telling for the past 113 weeks in my blog. Listening to previous episodes of You Inc (all available on every popular podcast source) Ria really does her homework and goes deep with her interviews. I know some of what she wants to talk about but it will mostly be a surprise.

You Inc. episodes are usually recorded in the WCBE studios, but not this time. She is bringing her team to the Fitness Loft for a live interview event. This will be a public event and everybody is invited to attend to watch and to ask questions. You don’t even need to be a member to come in!

So please come join and support me during this event, I would love to see you there. Come in, have some coffee and join in the excitement and chit chat. While you are there I would be happy to answer your questions and sign your copy of Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year (available for purchase at the event). Plus all attendees will receive a free guest pass to The Fitness Loft where I have been a member for the majority of my journey.

More event information is available on the Operation Melt Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/OperationMelt/events/

Here’s the summary: 8/24/2019, 9a @ The Fitness Loft Columbus, 625 Parsons Avenue across the street from Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Can’t attend but want to hear the interview? Stay tuned for updates about when it will air and when the podcast will be available for download.

Thanks for reading! I hope to see you next weekend. Let’s keep working together to build a world where goals never die of loneliness!

Week 112: My Masterpiece

Nearly every artist has a masterpiece that they are working on perfecting. Authors have that great American novel. Composers have that major symphony. Sculptors have that one piece that they keep working on.

Regardless of the medium these masterpieces have many things in common. The artist feels a calling to make them the perfect encapsulation of their vision. They keep working on them whenever there is a free moment; sometimes at the expense of other responsibilities. Just when the piece is approaching completion the artist may find something that causes them to have to make major changes. There are often as many setbacks as successes. The whole process is maddening, frustrating and tremendously rewarding.

These great masterpieces are a labor of love and a continuing pursuit of excellence and fulfillment.

Why am I telling you this?

Every one of us is an artist working on our great masterpiece: our life. We spend every day crafting and perfecting our masterpiece to achieve our ever evolving vision. Only our own insatiable desire for excellence will suffice, nobody else’s view of success matters.

The fact that I am an artist working on a major masterpiece really occurred to me this week. The particular area of my masterpiece that I was contemplating this week is, of course, my fitness life.

I started my masterpiece with a huge block of stone and my vision was to craft a spectacular human form from that block. I started by making major cuts to unveil the basic outline of the human form I wanted. This was hard work but the results were unmistakable.

Before I knew it I had carved over 100 pounds of unnecessary stone away and the form started taking shape. Lots of enthusiasts of my art were impressed but not me. I still had a shapeless form in front of me and still had work to do.

Next I got busy with some more precision work sculpting more of the details. After two years I had cleared away even more excess material and had a clear shape that would have been a perfectly acceptable stopping place. But that wasn’t what I saw.

Nothing short of my vision was going to satisfy me and I wasn’t stopping. This became particularly challenging as my vision keeps evolving before my eyes. I think my vision for excellence is like the horizon, it just keeps hanging out there in the distance.

As I have continued working on the super precision work I have absolutely made progress. This week I noticed in my mirror that my shape had evolved a lot and I am very happy with many of the aspects. But it isn’t done yet.

Over the past few months I have struggled to be satisfied with “maintenance mode” and there are things I still need to fix. As I have been working on some of those things some other parts of my masterpiece have slipped backwards. Specifically my weight went up a bit as I work on shaping my muscles and some of my clothes have gotten too small though my weight increase has only been about 5 pounds.

This week I started refocusing some of my efforts working on my craft. I decided to switch back to some of the bigger carving tools to cut back on more of the excess material. Just for a couple of weeks.

I cut my calorie target back a bit to lose a couple of pounds. Plus I stepped up a little of my workout intensity to help too. These changes paid off quickly and I started seeing immediate results. So I can put these non-precision tools back on the shelf in another week or two.

Has anybody else noticed these flaws? Probably not but I am not doing it for them. I am doing this because I am not satisfied with my masterpiece and I know I can be better!

I haven’t stopped my focus on the precision work either. I am continuing to work on sculpting and shaping my muscles which are really looking great! Plus I continue to try to improve my performance and had a great 5k this weekend – that’s two 5k runs in 3 days with an 8+ mile walk in between!

When people ask me if I am satisfied or if I am done they are shocked when I say I am not. But my masterpiece needs to achieve my ever-evolving vision of excellence. If I know I can make it better I am going to make it better.

While the outcome and vision are important to me they are just a part of the story. Most importantly I am enjoying the craft and the journey. It’s not just about the destination for me. This is my art and I am going to be an artist!

Is it an obsession? Is it perfectionism? No. It is just a lifelong quest for excellence! Switching metaphors my masterpiece is an unfinished symphony and will be until the day I die. So my work will never be done!

Thanks for reading! I hop your masterpiece continues to take shape, moves towards your vision and that you enjoy the journey. If we all continue working on our masterpieces with courage, confidence and conviction we will build a world where goals never die of loneliness!

Learn more about my journey and how to use project management to accomplish your most important goals. Grab your copy of Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year on Amazon, iTunes or Barnes & Noble by visiting. https://OperationMelt.com/book/.

Fit to Lead: Eat Your Elephant

Fit to Lead is a weekly series sharing the leadership lessons that I learned from getting fit.

As I explain in my book, Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year, I have recently gone through a significant personal transformation. I attribute much of my success to my decision to leverage my years of project management and continuous improvement to accomplish my goal.

Throughout my transformation I learned that there are many important parallels between getting fit and becoming a good leader. There are also lessons that I have learned about fitness from being a good leader. In short there are significant synergies between fitness and leadership.

Fit to Lead is part of my quest to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

Eat Your Elephant

Last week I talked about why it is so important to be bad at things. It is important to be bad at things because it is when you are bad that you grow the most. Being bad at something means that you are pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Comfort is the opposite of growth!

My point last week is that it is good to be bad at things not to stay bad at things. Yes it is important to be bad at things in the beginning it is equally important to get better. If you stay bad at things you aren’t leveraging the opportunity to grow.

There is one clear way to get better at something. This saying is one of the core strategies in project Management and is embodied by a famous saying.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!

The best way to get better at something is to keep trying. Keep take small step after small step. Break your goal into bite sized pieces and start at the beginning.

In my book I talk about how I set a big goal, to lose over 100 pounds in a year. This was a big elephant that I couldn’t eat whole by any means. I was 325 pounds so a big bite wasn’t just out of reach it could also be dangerous. So I started small.

I started tracking what I was consuming and adding a little bit of walking into my daily routine before work. This turned into more walking. That turned into a little bit of running. That running turned into running my first mile. From my first mile I built to running my first 5k on the one year anniversary of starting my journey. Then, sixteen months into my journey, I ran my first half marathon.

I went from being bad at fitness to being an athlete by taking one bite at a time. I dedicated myself to trying my best every day and getting a little better each day. And it work better than I ever imagined possible.

This is how leadership works too, focus every day on trying your best and getting a little better. It is ok to start off bad and to make mistakes. But making the same mistakes and not improving is inexcusable. Staying bad and not getting better isn’t fair to you and it certainly isn’t fair to those who you lead.

How do you get better at leadership every day? There are lots of things in your control to make it happen.

Set short and long-term goals. Start by figuring out where you want to go. Set a SMART goal about what kind of leader you want to be and the skills you will need to develop to get there.

Practice. Find ways to practice these new skills at every opportunity. This doesn’t just mean trying to stretch your leadership muscles at work but also looking for non-work opportunities. Many organizations are looking for volunteers to step up and take the lead and make things happen.

Track progress. Since you have set SMART goals for your leadership you are able to measure how you are doing, right? So measure it! Track your progress towards your goal every day so you know if you need to course-correct or if you are on the right track.

Ask for feedback. Not sure how to measure progress, consider consulting the experts. Ask people for feedback on how you are doing with your leadership goals. Get this feedback from the people you are leading, your peers and trusted mentors. Feedback is a great way to track your progress.

Repeat daily. Finally, repeat this process every single day and keep getting better.

Thanks so much for reading this week’s Fit to Lead article. I hope that you continue to eat your elephant one bite at a time. When that elephant is gone, find a bigger one and start over. By working to improve our leadership together we can help build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

Week 111: Power of Habits

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

This popular quote, attributed to Aristotle, probably wasn’t originally intended to be fitness related. But it is strangely relevant to what it takes to get and stay fit. Through my weight loss and fitness journey the power of habit was extremely important to me. It remains just as important today.

As I like to talk/brag about I had a few major accomplishments throughout my fitness journey so far. I ran two half marathons and participated in multiple other races. But these big accomplishments weren’t how I got fit. I got gift, and stay fit, through small daily habits that really add up over time.

In this week’s update I thought I’d share a few of my daily fitness habits that have helped me be so successful. I am not saying that these habits will make you successful in your fitness journey but I am saying they will likely increase your probability.

I care. My most important habit that leads to my fitness success is that I care. My fitness is a priority for me every day I never take a “cheat day”, I never take a day off and I am always focused on making the right choices to live healthy. If you follow me on social media you know this doesn’t mean that I don’t have fun and don’t live my life but I am always aware of how each decision plays into my overall fitness picture.

I track. Almost as impactful as caring is tracking, I track everything, Everything that I eat or drink, gets logged in an app. All of my exercise and activity gets logged by my wearable personal fitness tracker. Plus because I wear the tracking 24 hours per day except in the shower, my sleep also gets tracked. I also weigh myself daily unless I am spending the night away from home. Many experts say not to do this and I can tell you it is maddening sometimes but it is a habit that has worked for me.

I reflect. Every morning I review all of the numbers from the day before and reflect on whether it was a good fitness day or bad fitness day. I do this while I am journaling each morning. This habit helps keep me focused and allows me to make little adjustments when needed.

I make informed decisions about food and drink. I like to eat and I like to drink and I do both often. But every time I choose to ingest something in my body I know how it will fit into my overall fitness plan. Because I am tracking everything I am able to pause before I choose and consider the calories, protein, fiber and sodium implications of my choices. Then I don’t hesitate to customize menu items to suit my preferences. Half portions (including half beers), sharing with my wife, alternate side dishes are all examples of the many special requests I make. Plus, if I have a question about portion sizes or preparations, I ask questions of my server. Yes this makes me a little more high maintenance of a customer but I also never send things back or complain unless it is really over-the-tops. I also make sure that I tip accordingly.

I get moving. Here is the habit that everybody tends to dread: I exercise a lot. I try to make sure that I am getting at least 30-60 minutes of exercise per day and know exactly where I sit because I track it. This may sound like a lot of work, and sometimes it is, but it is easier than you think. Some days my exercise includes a long run but that is usually just Saturdays. Some days include a sweat session at the gym with my personal trainer but that I also usually just once a week. I have shorter runs some days of just 1-2 miles including warm-up and cool down. You may be surprised to find out that the vast majority of my daily exercise is walking. Whenever I have any free time to do so I go for a walk. I usually grab my ear buds, put on a podcast and get out there for 30, 60, 120 minutes and go for a walk. I get exercise, I get to enjoy my surroundings and get to spend quality “me” time. You don’t have to be an athlete running a 5k or half marathon to get exercise, anybody can go for a walk. Every bit of movement helps and it all counts.

I share. My final fitness habit is that I share. I try to share a real-time glimpse into how I get and stay fit on social media. I share through my blog to help keep me accountable and to inspire, motivate and equip others with the skills needed to start and succeed at their own journeys. I talk to people and share my approach and processes. I even wrote a book to help share. The more I share the more I can help others and that continues to be a big motivator for me. I wish there was a job where I could take people walking and running, help them with their fitness and career and leadership journeys and get paid well for doing so. I feel so great when I am able to do these things.

Thanks for reading! I hope seeing some of my habits helps you build some good habits of your own. If we work together we can build the good habits that build a world where goals never die of loneliness!