Give Generously, Not Just Money

Welcome to my weekly Operation Melt update where I share progress updates from my continued fitness journey and the important lessons it is teaching me about life.

Financial Generosity

In my life, I have consumed many meals made possible by public assistance and had at least one food bank provided Christmas dinner. I went to public school and had free lunches for many years of my life. I spent time in neighborhood community centers as a kid as a form of child care and education. I have also huddled around a kerosene heater in the winter when the gas or electricity was turned off.

These experiences, and many more, have taught me the value that nonprofit organizations can provide.

As I have aged and as my wife, Liz, got deeply involved in nonprofit management, I have also learned that individual generosity and support are a big part of what keeps these organizations afloat.

I am an advocate for financial generosity for charitable giving and beyond. For example, as a friend of many people in the service industry, I know how important it is to tip generously for good service. People depend on this money to meet their needs.

But my fitness journey has taught me how important it is to give generously in ways that aren’t financial too.

Going Public

Three years ago this week I posted the following message on Facebook.

This marked the first time that I went public with my fitness journey. The response and messages of support were phenomenal and still very much appreciated. But it marked another evolution in my journey too.

At the point I went public I was down twenty-five pounds and was really starting to visibly show my progress. People were noticing and quietly wondering how I was doing it. Then, when I went public, I opened the door for them to ask me questions and talk to me about my journey.

Once the door was opened to talking to me about my weight loss, lots of people did so. People wanted to talk about my approach, they wanted to talk about their own weight loss goals, they wanted to share their stories and they wanted advice. I started becoming a resource for people and was helping them achieve their goals. Which ultimately helped keep me motivated too.

I started giving very generously to people. I was giving my time. I was giving my knowledge. I was giving my vulnerability and transparency about my experiences. This led me to launch OperationMelt.com and ultimately to write my book to help people.

Giving Generously Every Day

I received a message from somebody who was a frequent reader of my blog and the told me “you don’t know how much you are helping people.” This is because the people who are getting the most value out of your generous giving may not always tell you about it. Your generosity is making an impact, it would be missed if it were gone but you don’t know.

The solution is to give generously every day without expecting to get anything, even confirmation or validation, in return.

In a 2019 Reflections on Leadership post, I talked about why I share so much content. There are many reasons I share, but the biggest one is because I want to help people.

I know there are people reading (yes, I look at the metrics) and I know I am helping. In my writing, my posts, my mentoring and my storytelling, I am always looking for new ways to add value to people.

How can you give generously?

Did you recently read an article that you found beneficial? Share it with people on social media or email it to a friend.

Did you find something inspirational online? Share it.

Has somebody asked you to be a mentor? Do it, give them your time and knowledge.

Do you have feedback for how somebody can improve? Ask their permission and tell them.

Do you have a story to tell? Tell it!

I want to hear from you!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s post, your goals or anything else on your mind. Send me a note via my Contact Me form above, on Facebook, on LinkedIn or via Instagram.

Get my Operation Melt updates delivered to your inbox weekly by adding your name to my email list by clicking the Email List link above.

Learn more about how I used project management as a tool for success in my weight loss journey? Pick up your copy of my book Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds In Under a Year.

About Operation Melt

Operation Melt started as a blog to share my personal transformation and weight loss story. After achieving success with that goal, Operation Melt has evolved into a platform that to help inspire, motivate and equip people to achieve their own personal and professional goals so they can live their best lives. My vision is to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

Not fun anymore?

Welcome to my weekly Operation Melt update where I share progress updates from my continued fitness journey and the important lessons it is teaching me about life.

Inspiration in Unlikely Places

I was watching Men In Black this week and a line that I had heard hundreds of times jumped out at me in a whole new way.

The two agents had just finished chasing an alien when one agent came to the conclusion that it was time for him to retire. Then he looked longingly at the sky and said the line.

“They’re beautiful, aren’t they? The stars. We never just look anymore.”

He had the realization that, because the stars are a sign of their work, they never just look and appreciate their beauty anymore.

They weren’t fun anymore.

Three Years of Work

I am more than three years into my fitness journey. This means three years of hard work and tracking my activities.

  • For three years, everything I have eaten or drank has been logged, tracked and evaluated in the context of the rest of my day. Then every day evaluated to determine if it was a win or a loss.
  • For three years, every walk or run has been tracked, pace monitored, calorie burn tracked and evaluated to determine if I am making progress.
  • For most of the three years I have closely monitored my weight and every increase or decrease evaluated to determine why.

Essentially, for three years, things that most people take for granted in their lives every day have become a form of work for me. I went from disregarding these things to making them my focus, to them becoming my hobby and then becoming an odd work/hobby mix.

Not Fun Anymore?

Because eating, walking and running feel a little like work to me, I don’t always have fun with them. But I have started making some changes to help make sure that I still have fun.

On a few occasions lately, I have gone for a walk and I haven’t tracked it as exercise using my fitness tracker. One example was when my wife, Liz, and I went out walking one evening this week to try to find the comet that is visible in the sky. We didn’t see that, but we did see both a raccoon and a skunk in our city neighborhood.

On my first day of vacation, I allowed myself to go way over my daily calorie target. This included Mexican food and margaritas for lunch and pizza and wine for dinner. This was on a day with almost no exercise.

During my average walk or run, I try to listen to inspirational or funny things to keep it light. I also try to stay in tune with my surroundings and environment by looking for cool things to take pictures of while I am out.

Plus, as my long-time readers and social media followers know well, I have never deprived myself of my favorite foods and beverages throughout my journey.

I have done an ok job with not getting burnt out with my journey but I need to continue to remind myself to have fun.

Remember to Have Fun

It is important to keep finding ways to have fun in everything you do, especially the things that feel most like work. Otherwise, you will get burnt out and give up. That’s not the destination that we want for anything that is important to us.

This applies to every aspect of our lives, not just our fitness journey.

When I was a kid and everybody was giving advice on how to choose a career, I heard one piece of advice over and over. People said to look at your favorite hobbies and passions and then figure out how to make them into a career. This advice is really a double-edged sword!

If you take something you really love and turn it into your job you risk wearing out your passion for this thing. You have to keep injecting fun and appropriate breaks into it to keep it fresh and attractive to you.

This same advice applies to lots of other things including your relationships with friends and spouses. When it only feels like work the passion can fade away and that isn’t good for anybody.

Go Have Fun Today!

Do you have a hobby, passion, interest or relationship that is important to you but has started feeling like work? What can you do today to inject some fun into it? Go do it today!

Now, excuse me while I go out for an un-tracked walk while eating a cookie. Then Liz and I will just look at the stars tonight by the lake as we prepare to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary on Tuesday.

I want to hear from you!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s post, your goals or anything else on your mind. Send me a note via my Contact Me form above, on Facebook, on LinkedIn or via Instagram.

Get my Operation Melt updates delivered to your inbox weekly by adding your name to my email list by clicking the Email List link above.

Learn more about how I used project management as a tool for success in my weight loss journey? Pick up your copy of my book Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds In Under a Year.

About Operation Melt

Operation Melt started as a blog to share my personal transformation and weight loss story. After achieving success with that goal, Operation Melt has evolved into a platform that to help inspire, motivate and equip people to achieve their own personal and professional goals so they can live their best lives. My vision is to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

I messed up and that’s ok

Welcome to my weekly Operation Melt update where I share progress updates from my continued fitness journey and the important lessons it is teaching me about life.

I messed up and that’s ok

You may have noticed that I tried some new things and made some changes in last week’s blog. I created new logos and social media content. I tried writing my post incrementally throughout the week and several other things. My goal was to keep things fresh, interesting and engaging, so I can connect my message with the greatest number of goal-chasers.

I like the results conceptually, but I messed up. My post was full of mistakes.

There was a misspelling in my logo. The image quality in my logo was poor. There was a misspelling in the social media post. There were spelling and grammatical issues throughout my blog.

These mistakes were a little embarrassing and I corrected the ones that I could after-the-fact but some couldn’t be changed.

Messing up on this post got me thinking and reflecting on the big lesson I learned from some other mistakes I made throughout my journey.

Not my first mistake, not my last mistake

As I reflect on my full fitness journey to-date it occurs to me that I made numerous mistakes. Plus I am sure that I will continue to make new mistakes.

  • I chose to start exercising with old, unsupportive shoes while weighing over 300 pounds and gave myself shin splints. This was a terribly painful condition that sidelined me for about a week and it was all my fault. (see Week 3: pain has an impact)
  • I have failed on some of my rest days and my nutrition causing unnecessary strain on my body during long runs and heavy workouts.
  • I often over-consume sodium and cause temporary weight gains that take time to work through.
  • I have caused myself unnecessary mental anguish many times by not properly anticipating some issues, not doing my homework, focusing too much on the numbers or not considering how far I have come. (see Shoulding all over my happiness)

These examples just touch on a very small sampling of the mistakes I made through my journey. But this same thing applies throughout other areas of my life too. I have made plenty of mistakes and failed many times in my life.

When I look in my rear-view mirror at my mistakes and failures almost all of them have one key thing in common. Each of my mistakes has taught me something and I was smarter after I made the mistake. In some cases these were lessons I would never have learned in other ways.

Said differently, I have failed forward.

Progress not perfection

The key life lesson learned from these mistakes is the importance of progress instead of perfection. There are countless brilliant thinkers who have discussed this concept and here is just one as an example.

Failure is success in progress.

Albert Einstein

In any activity that pushes you outside of your comfort zone or that pushes you to improve, waiting for perfection means that you will never achieve your goal. The only way to learn in many areas is to do.

The proper recipe for success is to start moving and take the risk that you will mess up. The act of messing up is really the act of learning. You are going to make mistakes, so let’s get going and make them as quickly as possible. When mistakes happen embrace the following steps:

  1. Forgive yourself and embrace the mistake as an opportunity
  2. Identify what caused the mistake
  3. Determine the lesson you learned and how to move forward
  4. Try to anticipate and proactively avoid the next mistake
  5. Celebrate the lesson learned

Then repeat until your goal is crushed!

Remember the classic saying: mistakes are proof that you are trying.

Where can you make progress?

Do you have a goal that you want to pursue? What steps would you take towards that goal if you weren’t afraid of failing? Take a step today and stop waiting for perfection. Progress is more important!

I want to hear from you!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s post, your goals or anything else on your mind. Send me a note via my Contact Me form above, on Facebook, on LinkedIn or via Instagram.

Get my Operation Melt updates delivered to your inbox weekly by adding your name to my email list by clicking the Email List link above.

Learn more about how I used project management as a tool for success in my weight loss journey? Pick up your copy of my book Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds In Under a Year.

About Operation Melt

Operation Melt started as a blog to share my personal transformation and weight loss story. After achieving success with that goal, Operation Melt has evolved into a platform that to help inspire, motivate and equip people to achieve their own personal and professional goals so they can live their best lives. My vision is to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

Misplaced Frustration

Welcome to my weekly Operation Melt update where I share the ups, downs and lessons learned from living a post weight loss fit life. Throughout my journey I have learned that living a life of fitness is full of metaphors for other areas of life. That’s what this week’s post is about.

Several weeks of frustration

Over the past few weeks I have wrote about my frustration with seeing my weight go up a few pounds. In my Don’t Worry, Be Happy post I discussed how I am choosing, or at least trying, not to let the numbers take away my pride and happiness. Then, in What is Happiness, I wrote about why it is so hard to separate happiness from the numbers and achievements.

This week I learned that all of my frustration was unnecessary and misplaced.

New Numbers Tell a Different Story

Every six months I work with my trainer to perform a couple of assessments to check in on my continued progress. In these assessments we measure body fat percentage and bicep circumference. These measurements are a broader indicator of my progress.

The last time we measured these items was in January and the results were very positive though, as I wrote about in Shoulding All Over My Happiness, I did my best to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. I was at 13.5% body fat which is at the top of the “athlete” range and far better than the average for my age which is 26%.

This week we reassessed my body fat percentage. After all my fretting and frustration about my weight going up, my body fat percentage is still 13.5%. This means that I effectively gained only an amount of fat comparable to the muscle I gained.

In short, most of the new pounds are muscle, inflammation and water. Any weight I gained was healthy and nothing to get frustrated about in the slightest.

Measure What Matters

It turned out that I was causing myself a lot of stress, frustration and anxiety by focusing on the wrong, or at least incomplete, measurement of progress.

Evaluating fitness based on day-to-day weight fluctuations is like evaluating a stock portfolio based on daily market performance. Yes, I can look at stock values every day but it will do little more than make me frustrated and I am not going to take action based on those daily changes. Performance over time is a far more important measurement of success, just like in fitness.

Similarly focusing on weight alone gave me an incomplete picture of my performance. Just like focusing solely on calorie consumption or solely on exercise. I needed to look at my weight in context with other things. Looking at weight solely is like somebody looking solely at their income as an evaluation of their financial health and ignoring their spending.

Making Measurement Work

Measurement of progress toward your goals is good. I believe that measurement is a critical component of success and that you are far less likely to accomplish your goal without measuring progress. But it has to be done accurately and responsibly by avoiding these common challenges:

  • Not measuring anything
  • Measuring the wrong thing
  • Measuring incorrectly, imprecisely or inconsistently
  • Cheating to make the numbers better, you are only cheating yourself
  • Measuring out of context or incomplete information
  • Measuring too frequently or not frequently enough
  • Setting incorrect expectations
  • Not celebrating successes
  • Not forgiving yourself for setbacks
  • Not expecting ups and downs or giving up after a setback 
  • Letting the numbers define you or control your happiness

If you avoid these challenges your progress measurement will help you reach your goals instead of simply frustrating you. I am proof that progress measurement is a powerful thing. But, as Peter Parker said, with great power comes great responsibility.

Tell Me What You Think

Tell me what you think about today’s post (or anything else) by sending me a note via the Contact Me link above or via a comment on social media.

Get my Operation Melt updates delivered to your inbox weekly by adding your name to my email list by clicking the Email List link above.

Learn more about how I used project management as a tool for success in my weight loss journey? Pick up your copy of my book Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds In Under a Year from Amazon.

About Operation Melt

Operation Melt started as a blog to share my personal transformation and weight loss story. After achieving success with that goal, Operation Melt has evolved into a platform that to help inspire, motivate and equip people to achieve their own personal and professional goals so they can live their best lives. My vision is to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.