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.

What is happiness?

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.

The struggle with numbers..

Last week I talked about how my weight has crept up a bit but I wasn’t going to let a couple of pounds (that may be out of my control) take away my happiness – read Don’t Worry, Be Happy. This week I continued trying to diagnose the underlying cause with the help of my trainer and I was still a little frustrated by the numbers.

Throughout my journey I have written extensively about my numbers. I have written about good weeks and bad weeks being defined by whether the numbers are going my way.

This all got me thinking…. Why do I seem to live and die by my numbers? Why is it so hard to just be happy and not let the numbers have power over me? Why do the numbers mean so much? Is there something bigger at play here?

It’s not just a number, it is success…

I have started to realize that it is not just my fitness numbers, it is something a little deeper. I think my numbers struggle is tied to how I (and most of us) are motivated through our lives.

In school grades are a measurement of performance. You have to work hard to get good grades. Not that I really got good grades.

Then you go into the world of work and try to get the increasing job titles from specialist to lead to manager to senior manager to director to senior director and on and on. If there is a next you aren’t happy until you reach it.

With the job titles come the money. You continue measuring your income as a sign of achievement that makes you happy.

As your income goes up so does your net worth, unless you are taking on massive amounts of debt. As this number goes up you can afford things like the ever bigger and nicer houses and cars.

Plus I could go on and on about sports, video games, politics, social standing, well-kept lawns and many other examples of places that we measure success and progress.

We are taught from a very young age to measure our success through tangible achievments. And we have constructed many yardsticks to use to do this. Health and fitness numbers are just another one of these yardsticks. When the numbers are progressing we are winning, when they slip backwards or stagnate we are losing.

But that’s not happiness…

All too often we equate these measurements of achievement, these extrensic motivators, with happiness. Once you get to a specific job title, income level or goal weight you will be happy. No matter how much pain, sweat and hell you have to go through to get there. The journey is just the means to the end and it doesn’t matter if you enjoy it or not.

But this doesn’t work!

There are countless stories of people experiencing a mid-life crisis becase they have been so busy collecting achievements that they weren’t living their lives. They were terribly unhappy despite having all of the best tangible representations of success.

Happiness is not a number, it is not a tangible achievement and it is certainly not a goal weight.

So what do we do?

I have discussed many times that weight loss isn’t tied to any single secret, it is about a series of habits that help you maintain a blanace of diet, exercise, sleep, hydration and many other factors. We can apply this same metaphor to our happiness.

Setting goals, tracking progress, measuring and collecting achievements is important. I live my life this way every day and don’t ever see that stopping. But that alone is not happieness, though it contributes, and needs to be balanced with other things.

I know that I need to balance this tracking and achieving with other things important to me. I want to enjoy the company of those who I love. I want to help people. I want to laugh. I want to enjoy the journey and not just look at the activities as a necessary means to some end goal.

But that is just a starting point. I am going to need to spend some time over the coming weeks thinking about what all of those other components of my happiness are. I encourage you to do the same.

By continuing to focus on all of the aspects of our happiness we can consider the numbers in the broader context. This will stop any one or two numbers from having too much power over our happiness.

And I am sure that it is going to be just that easy… right?

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 achiving success with that goal it 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.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

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.

Weight increase, but why…

Over the past couple of month my weight has increased a bit. On average I am about two or three pounds above my pre-quarantine average weight. This puts me at the top or above my goal weight range.

I really don’t know what the source of my weight increase is. My average daily calorie intake has gone up about 100 calories (staying at home means grazing) but my daily exercise calories have gone up about 300.

On a new normal week I burn about twice as many calories as I consume usually resulting in a net calorie deficit of more than 9000 calories per week. Plus I am really KILLING IT with my ramped up exercise and setting new personal records each week in distance, steps, calorie burn and especially in active minutes per day.

Based on the numbers I should have lost a significant amount of weight. Alas I have gained and am not sure why. So I have consulted the experts and there are multiple potential causes, many out of my control, and no clear answer.

  • It could be over-training and under-eating.
  • It could be sodium intake.
  • It could just be a natural seasonal weight cycle.
  • It is very likely that I am at my lowest healthy weight and my return to weightlifting will only cause increases from here as I add muscle without losing fat.

Remembering why I started

I could easily become very frustrated by this. I have spent the past couple of years focused on making the numbers do what I want. Since the start of this journey I have usually been unhappy as the scale goes up.

I know that I am doing all the right things (mostly… I still make the occasional bad decision). I eat well and exercise very often. I am managing stress, hydration, macronutrients and everything else that I should be managing. So my weight shouldn’t be increasing, right?

This is when I think back to why I started. This whole journey started so that I could live my healthiest and happiest life ever. Guess what? That is exactly what I am doing every day. Am I going to let this struggle take away that happiness?

Turning to a familiar tool

My weight fluctuation situation reminds of a tool I have used many times during my fitness journey, leadership experience, mentoring, my career and many other aspects of my life.

Leadership coach Tim Kight is the creator of the R-Factor. The R-Factor became famous when Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes Football team employed it to help them win a national championship.

The R-Factor is based on a simple equation: E+R=O.

This equation means event plus response equals outcome. Put simply the outcome of almost any situation is within our control even when the events are not. We control how we respond and our response to any event is the key to the ultimate outcome.

My E. In this case I am already doing most of the things needed to manage my health, fitness and weight. But my weight is increasing a little bit.

My O. The outcome I am looking for is to live healthy and happy.

My R. If I get frustrated and unhappy about the weight change I won’t be able to achieve my desired outcome. So the proper response is for me to keep up the good work, keep celebrating my accomplishments and to enjoy the happy and healthy life I have built. I’ve earned it!

Said differently: don’t worry, be happy!

Plus, if I encounter any challenge responding this way, I can just spend time with the new kittens we added to our home this week. Max and CJ.

Always remember that the events in our lives may be out of our control but we can’t let that put our desired outcomes out of reach. Respond well and you are on your way to happiness.

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 achiving success with that goal it 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.

3 Years of Melting

Welcome to my weekly Operation Melt update where I share the ups, downs and lessons learned from living a post weight loss fit life.

Tomorrow is the third anniversary of my decision to change my life. To honor that special day I am taking a quick look back (including lots of photos!) at where I was, what I did and where I am today.

June 14, 2017

Looking back three years ago life was very different.

My forty years of obesity had reached a point where I my weight had climbed to 325 pounds. But I didn’t have any idea that my weight was that high because, despite being constantly embarrassed by it, I never weighed myself, paid no attention to it and was not regularly visiting a doctor. In fact I hadn’t been to a doctor for more than fifteen years. But my weight was an obvious struggle for my whole life since I was a kid.

While my weight was a problem it was really just scratching the surface.

My blood pressure was high and I was not aware of that. I was over-consuming food, especially unhealthy food. I was over-consuming alcohol. I was working more than sixty hours per week on average in a high-stress job and still wasn’t feeling like I was succeeding. Plus I wasn’t getting any regular exercise at all as evidenced by my phone tracking an average of 3000 or fewer steps per day.

I would even joke about my health and tell my wife to get ready for husband number two after I am gone.

Beyond the health situation I had also lost a lot of my self-confidence and wasn’t sure just where I fit.

Point of Decision

The next day I had my appointment with my doctor and he gave me a reality check about the current state of my poor health (read more: D(octor)Day: 6/15/2017). I finally let myself understand the realities of my situation and I decided I wanted to get better. I just wasn’t sure how to do it. That’s when I wrote this in my daily journal.

I really want to get healthier.  I hate being so overweight..  I hate not being able to buy clothes in normal stores and having to always be concerned about weight capacity on things like camp chairs.  I hate not being able to do things that I know Liz wants to do like horseback riding.  Plus I hate the little aches and pains, the terrible stomach and being so self-conscious all the time.  But, it is way too easy to keep doing what I am doing instead of fixing it.  I want to get better and have to challenge myself to do so.

This is when I kicked off my journey to get better and I decided to do it my way!

A Journey Begins

I wasn’t quite sure that to do at first so I just started while trying to figure it all out. A couple of days later a goal and plan emerged (read more: Let’s do this my way (with some help from Lord Kelvin)) My inspiration: a quote from Lord Kelvin.

If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.

I was committed to losing over 100 pounds in under a year.

I wasn’t going to consider fad diets, surgery or even giving up anything I liked. I was going to use project management, data and other things that were already a big part of my day-to-day expertise. Once I built a little confidence, and once people started seeing (and commenting on) my progress, I decided to go public.

Branding being one of my areas of “day job” expertise, I decided to embrace the comments of “you are just melting away” and the name Operation Melt was born.

OperationMelt.com

Then I wrote my goal on paper as a SMART goal and made sure it was relevant to my life by continuing to focus on why it was important to me to be successful. My “why” that I wrote down at the start of my project was:

I am focusing on losing weight, eating better exercising more and de-stressing is because I am tired of being so overweight.  It has annoyed me for years and I just have to address it.  The time is now because I hit an embarrassing level at 325 pounds.  Plus I am over 40 now and need to get into some healthier habits or face terrible consequences – my dad died at 59 after a really rough 10+ years of suffering, my grandmother died at 63 after years of suffering.  I don’t want this to be me.  Finally I want to improve my health and confidence and get out of my current job and and do something different where I feel successful.  Those aren’t directly related, but it is all about self improvement.

That’s where it began. I started tracking my food, eating healthier and exercising constantly.

I went to my boss and said that I was going to start working more reasonable hours, I didn’t ask permission, I just told her. Plus I ultimately, hopefully unrelated, left that company in a downsizing and took the opportunity to give myself a five month sabbatical which turned out to be an important part of reaching my goal.

June 14, 2020

Flash forward three years to today and the situation is very different!

I lost my 100 pounds in just nine months.

But I didn’t stop there. I went on to lose a total of 131 pounds before gaining some back by putting on significant amounts of muscle. In all I have achieved a body fat percentage of 13.5% which isn’t just fit and healthy, it is nearly high-performance athlete level healthy!

Exercise is now my #1 hobby and I love to move. I average ten or more miles of walking and running every day. I run races and have completed three organized half marathons and way more “just me” half marathons.

I went from 325 pounds to my first half marathon in just 14 months (read more: Week 71: 325 Pounds to Half Marathon)!

As the quarantine hit and work from home became an everyday reality I spent less time commuting and getting ready for work. I reinvested this time in my fitness and significantly ramped up my exercise via walking and running. I currently average around ten miles per day, 150 active minutes and almost 4000 calories burnt per day.

My health is always my focus and a top priority. I know exactly what I have eaten at any point in any day, how my calories stack up, where I am with key macros (protein, fiber, sodium) and how to “hack” any restaurant menu to make it healthy (at least healthier).

I have a wonderful personal trainer, Teresa, who has helped me achieve other athletic gains such as dead-lifting my body weight and increasing my bench press strength from 45 pounds to over 120 pounds.

Just to be clear, I have also never had a cheat day! I can do what I want any day and have built a lifestyle that doesn’t require me to cheat.

My confidence has gone way up and I have my voice, my passion and my calling: top use my numerous transformational experiences and skills to help people achieve their goals. The blog that I launched early in my journey has evolved into a platform to tell my story and share my point of view. I have a point of view that I am confident is worth sharing. I am a goal-crushing and project management evangelist and I know that I help people every single day. Not to mention the fact that I have written and published a book!

The increased confidence extends to my body and I no longer fear the whispers. I seek out clothes that fit and are sometimes even snug on my body. Let me just add that my body is far from perfect and impressive given the forty years of obesity that have left me with extra skin – I do not look like a man with just 13.5% body fat. But that is ok with me because I am happy with my body and happy with my life.

I am in tune with myself physically, mentally and emotionally and am always willing to be vulnerable, transparent and an open book if I think it can help. And I am always looking to help! That is why I have started evolving Operation Melt to be less of a celebration of me and my story and instead be a platform to help others. I am working on some new additions to make it even more valuable for you other goal chasers out there.

Most importantly I know I am an unstoppable force who is capable of accomplishing anything that is important to me. That’s something I simply wouldn’t have said three years ago.

Was It Worth It?

Here I am, three years after making my decision. The weight has stayed off. The athletic achievements have continued to grow. But it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, that is not the whole story.

When people lift weights to grow their muscles the process starts with a little pain. The current muscles essentially get torn apart so they can grow back bigger and stronger. My journey has gone through the same process and there has been pain as the muscles of the old me got torn away so the new me could grow.

  • I have experienced failures, setbacks and pain along the way. I have had several injuries and my doctor has told me that some of my recurring pains may just be a new “normal” in my life.
  • I have received my fair share of doubters, critics, eye-rollers, gossip and snickers from people as I pursued my goal.
  • I have been failed by my body, mind and emotions along the way and have shed actual tears. But I have also failed my mind, body and emotions and didn’t give them what they needed.
  • I have failed, disappointed and annoyed some people I care about and some have failed and disappointed me. And I have lost some friends along the way. This really makes me even more appreciative for the people who have stuck with me, supported me, listened to me and loved me through the journey.
  • I lost a very lucrative job because, in part, I refused to be all-in and make it the most important thing in my life.
  • I have spent thousands of dollars on proper equipment, my gym membership, my trainer and race registration fees.
  • I have had to replace my full wardrobe multiple times.
  • Parts of my life are significantly more complicated and I still am way too focused on the numbers every day.
  • I continue to have an unsettled feeling like I am right on the brink of a huge breakthrough but just can’t put my fingers on it.

With all of this pain along the way, I occasionally like to pause to reconsider if all of this was worth it. Was this the right decision for me to disrupt and transform my life?

I was going to give you a long, thoughtful answer to explain why this journey was worth it. But instead I will do it my way…

Was it worth it? HELL YEAH!

Tell Me What You Think

How have YOU learned to value and leverage your quiet time? 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.

Want my Operation Melt updates delivered to your inbox weekly? Make sure to add your name to my email list by clicking the Email List link above.

Want to 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 transformational weight loss story. After I achieved success with that goal it 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 goal is to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

Quiet Time… Lesson Learned?

Welcome to my weekly Operation Melt update where I share the ups, downs and lessons learned from living a post weight loss fit life.

Lessons Taught

In project management there is a process called “lessons learned” where teams conduct a review after a project to learn what went well and poorly within each project. These lessons are then applied to make future projects better. But sometimes find the same lessons learned to be identified over and over again. This has led me to sometimes refer to these meetings, in jest, as “lessons taught” meetings as a nod to our failure to truly learn these lessons.

This week it dawned on me that this same thing has been happening in my non professional life too. I sometimes need to learn the same lesson over and over again before it finally sticks.

So Much Noise

Like many of us my life before COVID was a constant stream of stimulation, information and noise as I balanced each of my different priorities. Career, fitness, life, etc.

Work time effectively starts from about an hour after I wake up and is all about getting ready, commuting, living the project manager life (lots of meetings, action items, emails, calls) and continues throughout the day and, sometimes, into the evenings. Constant stimulation, activity, noise, screen time and minimal whitespace.

Exercise time, which is another big portion of my week, is also full of stimulation, data, and noise. I always have music or podcasts going. Sometimes I have calls while walking. Then I have a constant stream of data into my brain like my pace, heart rate, distance, calorie burn.

My free time is pretty similar as I watch tv, go to restaurants to talk to people and have lots of screen time moments.

Never a Quiet Moment

All of this stimulation means that I have a life full of stimulation, or “noise.”

I was taught the value of quiet time during my sabbatical two years ago where I used the “me” time to accomplish many big goals.

I was taught this lesson again a couple of months ago when I decided to go for a few runs without music and just be with my thoughts.

Just a few weeks ago I even wrote about how I have learned to be a good listener to my body and mind / emotions / feelings. This comes from quiet time. (see My Hazardous Mistake)

Despite being taught these lessons many times I still haven’t learned them. And my life still was absent many quiet moments.

COVID Hits the Mute Button

In the middle of March I, like many of us, experienced the suddenness of COVID quarantine time.

This meant suddenly working from home full time. This work from home was initially just me because my wife kept going into the office for a bit. The work from home also meant far less time getting ready for and commuting each day.

At work, because my client is a healthcare system, my projects that are unrelated to COVID got a lot quieter. Meetings were cancelled and there was more wait time between activities.

COVID time meant quiet time for me. My work kept moving forward but there was a lot more quiet time. There was a lot more “alone” time through the day. I also reinvested a lot of my daily prep and commute time into ramping up exercise (walking and running) which meant a lot more “alone” time there too.

Quiet Time

This week it dawned on me just how valuable this quiet time has been.

I have had some time to reflect on the events of the past couple of years as I approach the third anniversary of the decision that changed my life. I have been able to work through some things in my mind that have been sitting there as barriers for a while. I have had an opportunity to plan some things and learn more about some topics of interest to me. I have identified some topics and events in my past that I need to really dig deeper into and write about so I can fully process them.

In short, I was re-taught the lesson of how important quiet time is. I am not saying that I have learned the lesson quite yet, but maybe.

I am going to continue to work to treasure my quiet time even as the world starts returning to normalcy. I may even make earbud-free walking/running more of a factor in my life so I can be with my thoughts.

Tell Me What You Think

How have YOU learned to value and leverage your quiet time? 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.

Want my Operation Melt updates delivered to your inbox weekly? Make sure to add your name to my email list by clicking the Email List link above.

Want to 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 transformational weight loss story. After I achieved success with that goal it 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 goal is to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.