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Bigger Than You Think

Thank you for reading this week’s Operation Melt update.

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 to help inspire, motivate and equip people to achieve their own personal and professional goals so they can live their best lives.

I am trying to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

Throughout my journey, I have learned that many life lessons can be learned by getting fit. This week I am sharing another installment of Fitness Lessons are Life Lessons.

Cocktail Time

This week I am going to share a life lesson I recently learned while drinking a cocktail. Here’s the story…

I love bourbon!

Throughout my weight loss journey I decreased (didn’t eliminate) my consumption of other higher calorie and fast drinking beverages and shifted more to bourbon; this increased my knowledge and appreciation of it. Over time, I have become quite the collector and enthusiast of bourbon and enjoy how much variety there is in flavor by just adjusting a few ingredients. Plus it is truly an American classic beverage (yes, based on lots of other whiskey varieties from other countries) and uses simple ingredients like corn.

When fall rolls around I get pretty excited to start drinking one of my favorite bourbons, Knob Creek Smoked Maple. It has a delicious, well-pronounced maple flavor and smokiness that lives up to its name. Plus it is a little lower proof so it is a very smooth bourbon. The flavors in it fit perfectly with the season.

Throughout the COVID quarantine time, I have increased the number of creative cocktails I make at home instead of going out. Some of my go-to cocktails have been the Manhattan (always one of my favorites), the Boulevardier (like a Manhattan with Campari instead of bitters) and the Negroni (like the Boulevardier but with Gin). I don’t make them a lot but enjoy trying my hand at learning new tasty beverages.

Mixing It Up

I talk a lot about trying new things and taking risks even if you may fail. I recently did this on a small scale by trying a new cocktail recipe of my own creation. A smoked maple Boulevardier.

  • 1-2 parts Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon
  • 1 part Campari
  • 1 part sweet vermouth

I stirred the ingredients together in a cocktail mixer and poured it, strained, over an artisan ice cube.

The result was, well, just ok. Despite enjoying all of the ingredients I did not really enjoy the combination because the bourbon and the Campari were too sweet together. So I took a very small risk and failed.

My failure was even bigger than I thought.

Calories: Data is Still the King

After all of this time in my weight loss journey, I still track and manage my calories.

For the past 1200 days, every item of food or beverage that I consume has been logged in my app. I also track all of my exercise and calorie burn to ensure that I am staying on track from a daily net calorie perspective.

After 40 years of not managing my calorie consumption, it takes some time to get it right. So I rely on tracking data to ensure I am achieving the right balance in my life instead of relying on auto-pilot to get it right. I don’t foresee stopping this any time soon.

After 1200 days of logging everything I have done a good job with getting into a routine. I eat and drink many of the same things regularly so I just re-log the item that I previously consumed versus calculating the total calories in each dish.

This re-logging approach applies to cocktails too. I assume that a Manhattan is a Manhattan and a Boulevardier is a Boulevardier. As long as I get the total quantity right (a 4-ounce vs. 5-ounce vs. 6-ounce drink), I assume everything else is a wash.

These assumptions and shortcuts are a dangerous way of self-sabotaging.

Checking My Math

Back to my mediocre Smoked Maple Boulevardier. As I was drinking my creation and being disappointed by the flavor combination it occurred to me that I wasn’t exactly sure how many ounces my drink was so I wasn’t sure how to log the calories in my app.

For 1200 days I have been assuming most of the Boulevardiers I drink are four ounces and around 188 calories. But this time I wasn’t sure because I wasn’t sure how big the jigger was that I was using to measure the ingredients. I assumed it was a one-ounce pour but I wasn’t completely sure. I decided to check my math.

I measured my jigger so I could build a custom food in my app using the real measurements for this drink. I filled it with water and poured into a measuring cup and that’s when I learned that it was an ounce-and-a-half pour. I was surprised to learn that I had fifty percent more bourbon in my drink than I thought. And this was just the start of my surprise.

Then I went looking for the actual nutrition info for each of the ingredients and this was another surprise as each one had way more calories than I thought.

It turns out that my 188 calorie drink was actually almost 500 calories! That was not a pleasant surprise. And the timing wasn’t great either because, just the week before, I had learned that one of my favorite 75-calorie cookies was really a 200-calorie cookie.

Bigger Than You Think

Multiple items I have been consuming were bigger than I thought they were. This is an unfortunate conclusion for somebody who closely manages calories each day an relies on this for maintaining my successes.

I learned that I had been under-estimating and over-consuming for a long time because I was relying on assumptions versus doing the work. Who knows how pervasive this problem is and how many of my most common foods I am under-estimating. I concluded that I either need to improve my measurement precision/rigor or create more of a cushion in my diet to accommodate my under-estimation or both.

More importantly, I reminded myself, once again, about the dangers of trusting my health to auto-pilot. Even though I spend lots of time caring for my health I was cutting corners on an important piece of the puzzle: accuracy.

Things have a habit of being bigger than you think. Your portions are bigger. You are spending more money on junk than you think. Your screen time is higher than you think it is. The amount of time you are spending sitting instead of exercising is higher than you think. If you aren’t measuring, you are guessing and probably guessing wrong.

The more you trust the important parts of your life to auto-pilot the more likely it is that something is bigger than you think. These things add up quickly and are tremendous risks to achieving our goals.

Stop coasting and start taking control!

What things in your life are you trusting to auto-pilot instead of taking control? Where can you take a simple step, measure and make sure that you have all the facts? By turning off the auto-pilot you don’t know how much faster you can achieve success.

I Need Your Help

Before you go I would like to ask you for a favor. I can’t build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness on my own. Please consider helping your friends find today’s post by following me on Facebook, on LinkedIn or via Instagram and share today’s post to your feed.

While you are at it, 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,

Thanks again for reading today’s post and here’s to achieving your most important goals!

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Published in.My Journey UpdatesFitness Lessons are Life Lessons