Highlight Reel or One-Hit Wonder

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.

A Moment to Brag

May I please have a moment to brag? Ok, some of you may think that this entire site is me bragging, but that’s not the case. I want to talk about my story for a second.

My story is impressive! I lived a life of obesity from the time I was a child until after age forty. Then, after reaching three hundred and twenty-five pounds, I made a decision to change my life.

I set a big goal, or a BHAG for you Jim Collins fans. I was going to lose over a hundred pounds in under a year despite not knowing how to do it. Bigger than that, I was going to lose the weight my way and was not willing to give up things that I liked so it all had to fit into my plan.

I turned to the things I knew to achieve my goal: project management and data. I lost twenty-five pounds in the first six weeks of my project and just kept going. I just melted away, which led to the title of Operation Melt.

I reached my initial goal of losing one hundred pounds in just nine months but didn’t stop. At the pseudo conclusion of my sixteen-month journey, I was one hundred and thirty-one pounds down. I had also become a runner and finished my first half marathon just fourteen months after weighing in at over three hundred pounds.

In addition to the weight loss journey, I also started a blog to help people and wrote a book to do the same. Plus, I built confidence and really transformed my life.

But, that was then.

I know my transformation was impressive. I have heard that from many people who followed along and supported me through my journey. I am also impressed with myself. It made me feel really good hearing all of this support and knowing so many people were impressed by me.

Importantly, this happened at a time in my life where I really needed that validation. Sometimes you get what you need, right.

I am now more than two years past the point where I reached my weight loss goal. I lost a job during my journey and am now in my third job since I started my journey, so I have had two new sets of coworkers since starting my journey.

Between the job change, the world changing from COVID and a variety of other factors that I might discuss in a future post, I have lost many friends. This means that many of the friends I have now are different than when I went through my journey.

All of this means that I am meeting lots of people. These are people who didn’t know me before I started or during my journey. Those who have stuck with me through the journey are likely burnt out on hearing about it too.

This means that my journey is no longer impressive to most of the people in my life today.

The Al Bundy Effect

If I continue to assume that people are going to be impressed by the journey that I completed long ago I risk becoming Al Bundy.

For a little background, Al Bundy was a character in the sitcom Married With Children, he was the dad of the family. He was very unhappy with the turns his life had taken. He was a star high school football player and believed he could have been a college and pro football star. But a broken leg ended his football days and he was stuck in a life he hated. But that is just setting the stage and isn’t 100% relevant to my point.

Al Bundy always looked for the opportunity to tell people about his high school accomplishments. He was proud that he scored four touchdowns in a single game. He knew that was impressive in high school and still bragged about it every day at least twenty years later.

Al Bundy was trying to impress people he met by living in the past and hanging onto his past accomplishments.

If I continue to think that my impressive weight loss journey will still impress people today as much as it did when people watched me melt away I am just Al Bundy living on my four touchdowns in one game. Yes, some people will still be impressed, but it is in the past and nowhere near as relevant as it once was.

Highlight Reel vs. One-Hit Wonder

It is great to be proud of our accomplishments, we all should be. We worked hard to accomplish big things in our lives and they are important. Nobody can ever take away the accomplishments that make us proud of ourselves.

But we have to make a choice about our biggest accomplishments: highlight reel or one-hit wonder?

A one-hit wonder will have a single big accomplishment and try to build their lives in that one event. They are the Al Bundys of the world telling everybody about their four touchdowns in one game. They live only in the past and may not accomplish much after their one big hit.

The other option is that our accomplishments can become part of our highlight reel.

A highlight reel shows the best moments for an athlete (usually) and the best athletes have a long highlight reel. The long highlight reel is because they keep having new highlights all the time. They don’t rely on a single accomplishment as the highlight of their performance or career.

Choosing the highlight reel approach is harder for sure, it means we have to keep producing additional highlights. This means we need to work hard every day to keep growing, developing and performing. This is uncomfortable and it is definitely hard to do.

While creating new highlights is hard, it is also rewarding, helps us to live our best lives and is continually impressive. It also keeps is from always living in the past and lets us control our inner Al Bundy. That’s totally worth it in my book!

What choice are you going to make? Are you going to work hard and achieve a new personal best or are you going to live off those four touchdowns in high school football?

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’m Drawing the line!

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.

Bad Measurements

Sometimes the things I measure don’t go the way I want them to go.

My weight is up…

Rain kept me from running…

My run was slow…

I over-consumed calories…

I couldn’t lift as much as normal…

All of these things are real things that have happened to me over the past few weeks. So, as you would expect because of how numbers-driven I am, I was pretty frustrated when each of these things occurred. Nothing feels worse than eagerly stepping on a scale or finishing a run and looking at the result only to be disappointed. It sucks!

But each of these metrics is likely to fluctuate from day to day so there is a better approach to prevent this daily frustration.

Nerd Alert: Charts and Graphs

Being the data nerd that I am, I have recently created 2 spreadsheets with corresponding graphs.

The first compares my weekly calorie consumption vs. total weekly calorie burn vs. average weekly weight.

The second spreadsheet captures my total weekly running distance as well as my fastest and slowest run times through that week. Year-to-date 30 weeks have elapsed so I have quite the sampling of data and it tells the story about how much things change from week to week.

In addition to the weekly measurements, I added one more important item to each graph: a line. On the first graph, I added a line that tracks my rolling weekly calorie deficit (calories consumed minute calories burned). On the second graph I added a line tracking my rolling average miles ran per week and another that tracks my fastest run per week.

By looking at these trend lines I have learned a lot about these measurements that were so disappointing when I looked at a couple of bad days.

I am actually continuing to run more miles week over week. This especially increased when the COVID lockdown started and I reinvested my work prep and commute time into my exercise goals.

My average weekly calorie consumption has increased since the COVID lockdown in March. But my weekly calorie burn has increased by twice as much as the consumption. So I am not only maintaining a strong calorie deficit each week but I am overdoing it which likely has actually led to my weight increase. Counterintuitive for sure, but I need to start eating more each week… of all the bad luck, right?

My runs are not getting slower, but they also aren’t getting much faster. I am consistently (over the past 3 months or so) averaging a pace of between nine minutes and nine-and-a-half minutes per mile. I am happy with this pace, but would like to see continuous improvement. Unfortunately, I heard that we lose a little speed every year after age forty, but I refuse to accept this.

Lines vs.Points

What I have learned through this exercise is that we need to keep the right perspective on points versus lines. An individual data point is important. It tells a story. My weight today reflects my choices from yesterday. Ironically enough, my running speed today also tends to reflect my choices from yesterday. These individual measurements, these points, are very important.

Individual measurements, single points, are not sufficient by themselves. To really understand performance you need to look at a line. A line tells the story of performance over time which is way more important than any one point on that line.

Without looking at my lines, I would not have really known if I am getting slower, lazier, fatter, weaker or any of these things. Ok, that’s not a healthy way of looking at it, but it made me chuckle a bit so I liked it!

But lines are comprised of all the individual points so they are still important because the points are what I can manage every day.

What do your lines say?

Do you have a goal that you are pursuing? Are you tracking your progress? What does your trend line tell you?

Are you trying to become a millionaire? What does your net worth trend line say? Ignore today’s measurement, it could be heavily impacted by day-to-day changes in the value of your investments. What does the line say about your net worth over time? Is your net worth increasing over time?

Are you trying to lose weight? Today’s measurement from the scale will be impacted by yesterday’s food, drink and exercise. What does the line tell you? Is your weight decreasing over time?

When you are chasing a goal, every single measurement point matters. But individual points don’t tell the story. When you start looking at the line of your points over time you can really see the story unfold before your eyes. This may mean that you need to make a change and take action, then do it. The line may also tell you that you are on track despite one bad day or week. Wouldn’t that be nice?

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.

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.