Shoulding all over my happiness

This was week 135 of my Operation Melt journey that started with my goal to escape obesity and lose over 100 pounds in under a year. I launched the Operation Melt blog as a way to share my journey to both keep myself accountable and to help you as you work to crush your own goals. My hope is that something that I am doing will inspire you to try, will motivate you to keep going and will equip you to succeed in your own journey.

Shoulding all over my happiness

This was a big week in my journey. This was the week to check in on some big measurements: my body fat percentage and my bicep circumference. I started taking these measurements in August 2018 and have tried to remeasure them every 3-6 months ever since. But it has been about 7 months since my last measurement. So I was pretty anxious to see where I was.

The result: 13.5% body fat and 13+ inches bicep (though we have to redo that next week because that doesn’t seem right as it is smaller than last time). Just for record-keeping purposes my first body fat measurement just 17 months ago was 17% and bicep was 12 inches though likely impacted by some fat in the area that is now gone.

My trainer and I discussed my body fat percentage and agree that I probably won’t see much more decrease past this point. That is, of course, unless I tried to become a competitive body builder and I will not be doing that.

My 13.5% places me firmly in the “athlete” category and is called “lean” (significantly below “ideal” which is positive) on other charts for my age. It is a staggeringly great place to be and I am proud of it. My body fat percentage puts me in the top 6% of American men in my age group and the top 10% amongst those half my age. The average American man has a 28% body fat.

This is a great representation of all of the hard work I have done over the past 135 weeks and should be a reason to celebrate, right? For most people it would be a reason to celebrate but I made a big mistake. As I was looking for information about what 13.5% body fat means I decided to click on a suggested search.

“What does 13.5% body fat look like on men”

Seems innocent enough so why not. That is when I started seeing pictures of men with 13.5% body fat. They look like athletes. Well-sculpted abs. Clearly super fit. Very muscular bodies that any man would be happy to have.

Then I looked in the mirror… the man I saw looking back at me looked nothing like those photos of other people at my same body fat percentage. I don’t look how I should look.

Suddenly I wasn’t happy or proud of my accomplishment. I let one of the biggest happiness killing words in the English language bring me down. Should.

The world “should” is a way of undermining your accomplishments, achievements, status and happiness. It is a way of comparing yourself to others that suggests that you are broken or have failed if you aren’t meeting some expectation. It applies to all aspects of our lives including health, wealth, career, your car, your friend, your marriage and any other area where we are being told we aren’t good enough. It is a really dangerous word and one that we each need to keep in check.

In my case, despite 135 weeks of amazing effort resulting in an unbelievable transformation, I was suddenly disappointed because I was shoulding on my own happiness.

I also wasn’t being fair to myself when I took a big should on my accomplishment. You know why? I bet you that none of those other guys I was comparing myself to were obese for their whole life. I bet none of them got to their 13.5% body fat just 135 weeks after being 325 pounds. I bet none of them lost over 40% of their body weight in 14 months. So I am also guess that they don’t have to deal with the extra skin that comes with that rapid transformation.

Yes, I look just like those guys, but you can’t see it because I am carrying around a reminder of where I came from. Kind of a strange trophy that commemorates my accomplishments. Will that ever go away? Probably not without surgery and I don’t think I am willing to do that.

Even without the extra skin situation why do I care? Why do I need to look like somebody else? My journey is different. My accomplishments are different. My goal needs to be my own happiness and not Joe Fitness Model’s abs.

I need to start sporting more of a take no should attitude, even from myself.

Thanks so much for reading. I 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!

Quick note: I didn’t invent this concept of “shoulding on yourself” but I am super thankful for whoever did. I love the wordplay.

Why maintenance is tough for me

This was week 134 of my Operation Melt journey that started with my goal to escape obesity and lose over 100 pounds in under a year. These weekly blog posts are about continuing to hold myself accountable while sharing my journey with you. My hope is that something that I am doing will inspire you to try to crush your own goal, will motivate you to keep going and will equip you with some additional tools that have helped me manage my journey.

Why maintenance is tough for me

I had a friend who was in a job where she was a little frustrated. It seemed like there were tons of unrelated projects going on without a solid strategy behind them. She talked to a mentor to both of us and he asked a question that has resonated with me for years. “Are you building something or just doing stuff?”

This friend likes when her efforts are focused on creating something important versus just spinning her wheels on day-to-day activities. That is why she was feeling frustration with her job at the time.

I am essentially wired the same way. I like to know what comes next and that I am focusing on step one that leads to step two and ultimately that I keep progressing. I have been this way since college and have always been focused on the next step. You can call it goal-oriented, you can call it competitive or you can call it whatever you like. But I like moving to the next step and the next step after that and have historically been very impatient about doing so.

In last week’s blog post I announced that the theme of my 2020 Operation Melt journey would be to start focusing on being more content with where I am, stop worrying about fixing what’s broken but continue trying to improve myself daily. I have been thinking about this theme this week and considering some other realities.

I lost no weight in 2019 and am starting 2020 slightly heavier, with substantially more muscle, than I started 2019. I have pretty significant daily weight fluctuations, though I have stopped weighing myself daily starting in 2020. All of these facts tell me that I am likely at my lowest sustainable weight and my weight loss days are officially done.

This makes my 2020 theme even more important and even more challenging. Maintenance is a bit of a mental struggle for me.

Each week I am pushing myself to exercise harder and harder. I am diligently logging and tracking my food. I am reviewing all of my data daily to see what insights I can glean. All of this takes commitment and it takes time. Some people may even say that I am obsessed with it – though I wouldn’t go that far. It is just important to me.

During my weight loss journey all of this daily commitment was building towards my big goal: lose over 100 pounds in under a year. Once I hit the 100 pounds it was building to the goal of seeing if I could get consistently under 200 pounds by the end of the year.

Last year, when I first switched to maintenance mode, I gained a little weight so all of the effort was focused on getting back down to where I had been. Though I never got back to my original low weight point for mostly positive reasons associated with developing my muscle mass. But I was still focused on moving towards a goal.

Now that 2020 is here, and I know I am at my lowest healthy weight, my daily commitment feels more like I am just “doing stuff” instead of “building something” and that’s my struggle with maintenance.

Maintaining is not as sexy as losing. You don’t see the highly motivational daily progress. You don’t get the compliments and support from people around you for not letting yourself gain weight. It also gets even harder when you are diligently tracking your food and somebody asks “oh, are you trying to lose weight?” No, I am not trying to lose weight, but I am trying not to lose ground on my hard-fought achievements. But that isn’t something that everybody understands.

I think there is a clear solution for this but not an easy one. I have to continue giving myself goals to achieve so I am still “building something” but they can’t be weight focused. It is going to be a challenge to rewire my brain to enjoy maintenance but I am up for that challenge. I already rewired my brain to like kale so I know anything is possible!

I just need to stay focused on my 2020 theme: start enjoying, stop fixing, continue growing.

Thanks so much for reading. I 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!

New Year, New Goals

This was week 133 of my Operation Melt journey that started with my goal to escape obesity and lose over 100 pounds in under a year. These weekly blog posts are about continuing to hold myself accountable while sharing my journey with you. My hope is that something that I am doing will inspire you to try to crush your own goal, will motivate you to keep going and will equip you with some additional tools that have helped me manage my journey.

New Year, New Goals

First post of 2020 so you know what that means… time to revise my annual goals.

After the past two years of aggressive personal goals and lots of transformation it is kind of tough to decide how to approach this year. Yes I have a ton of things I would like to accomplish but I don’t really look at those as goals big enough to set for the year. I am thinking that I want to do something a little different.

This year, instead of creating a laundry list of goals that I am chasing, I am going to create a theme for the year. The theme for the year is kind of a goal (though not a SMART goal) but it is bigger than that. My 2020 theme is a lens through which other goals, behaviors and decisions can be made.

I am still working to perfect it but, for now, my 2020 theme will be: start focusing on being more content with where I am, stop worrying about fixing what’s broken but continue trying to improve myself daily.

I know it is a mouthful but it is something meaningful to me. I want to spend 2020 working on enjoying what I have accomplished over the past couple of years of transformation. This is contrary to always being focused on fixing some problem with myself that exists only in my mind. But I also have things I want to accomplish and don’t want to be complacent so I want to continue working to improve myself. This improvement is less corrective and more of a “good to great” approach of getting to the next level.

My 2020 theme is also a great reflection of the balance that I want to always strive to maintain in my new healthy life.

Some initial examples of how I want to translate this theme into behaviors include:

  • I am going to stop weighing myself daily and switch to 2-3 times per week.
  • I am going to continue running races and working to improve my running but will not set a specific goal about how many races I want to run or specifically how much I want to improve my time.
  • I am going to focus on being more deliberate about my posture.
  • I am going to work to be more deliberate about recovery time.
  • I am still going to track my food but won’t get upset if I go a little over my calorie target within a single day, it is the week that matters to me.
  • I will work on updating the design of my website and my social media posts.
  • I will complete a first draft of my second book while continuing to get the work out about my first book.
  • Through all of this I am going to continue looking for opportunities to add value to others.

The list goes on but all of the behaviors or intentions for 2020 all connect back to my theme. By focusing my 2020 energy on this theme I can make this the greatest year ever!

Just to be clear… don’t call it a resolution!

Thanks so much for reading. I 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!

Link: Write Down Your Goals

T’is the season to set new goals. One way to help make those goals successful is to get them out of your head and onto paper. Just writing down your goals increases their rate of success by more than 40%. Wow!

Just imagine what happens if you make them SMART goals, write them down, tell somebody else and manage them as a project… you would be unstoppable!

Read more in this article from Inc. Magazine.