Key To Success #9: Get More Out Of Life
Last week’s discussion of chapter 8 ended up with some thoughts about putting ourselves first and making our health and happiness a priority in our lives. So I had to laugh this morning when I cracked open chapter 9 and discovered that it’s all about … taking care of ourselves and making ourselves a priority.
Last week’s key – Face Life Head On
– evolves naturally into this week’s – Get More Out Of Life
The chapter opens with some questions that I’d like all of you to ask yourselves:
How’s the balance in your life? Are your days filled with ‘shoulds’ as opposed to desires? In other words, how much time do you spend doing things you feel you have to do versus things you want to do? Do you put everyone else’s needs first, always leaving your own concerns for last? (p 259)
Many of the maintainers studied in the book faced life head on, asked themselves these questions, and decided that they weren’t getting enough out of life and that they needed more fulfilled, balanced, and happy lives.
So what does getting more out of life have to do with maintenance? Experts say that many overweight people have lifestyles that are loaded down with ‘shoulds’ and obligations. On the surface, taking care of everyone else’s needs first doesn’t seem to have a lot to do with food. But when your own needs end up always being last, it’s easy to seek immediate gratification from food and to use it as a reward or treat.
The message of this chapter is that losing weight is only a (small?) part of a necessary process of sorting through personal issues, reordering priorities, taking care of ourselves, and making many positive changes that, on the surface, don’t have much to do with eating or food. For some successful losers, these changes happened before weight loss; for others, the changes happened as the weight came off; and for a third group, it was a cycle of changes motivating weight loss which, in turn, motivated changes.
The chapter includes a section that delves into the ‘Self-Esteem Connection’ (p 267-8) It’s probably no surprise to any of you, but a good concept of self and a positive attitude are associated with losing and maintaining weight. For some maintainers, the improved self-image predated the weight loss and for others, the weight loss resulted in the improvement in self-esteem.
So there’s clearly a link between self-confidence, self-esteem, self-image and successful weight loss. How can we improve our confidence and self-esteem and feel better about ourselves? The next section heading says it all:
START LIVING NOW
Stop waiting for that day when you reach your goal weight and ‘life will be perfect’. Nope - buy the new clothes now
, get your hair highlighted and your nails done now
, – you deserve them! Dr. Joyce Nash recommends that you ‘close the gap between the person who you are and the person you think you should be, your ideal.’ (p 270) Pick a realistic ‘ideal’ and start living like that person now – today – and quit waiting for the day that you’ll be ‘thin and perfect’. (I can assure you that thin may happen but perfect never will
Strange to say, the answer to successful weight loss and maintenance may lie in developing a more fulfilled life instead of finding a perfect diet and exercise plan. The book cites two studies that honestly surprised me:
The women who lost weight and kept it off were more likely to have developed lives outside of their families … significantly more maintainers had salaried positions in addition to their jobs as homemakers. Researchers …found that well over half of their female maintainers, while heavy, had been full-time homemakers. 'The years between the ages of 18 and 35 were characterized by marriage, childbearing and rearing, semi-reclusion in the home … and weight gain.' (p 272)
There seems to be a correlation between having a life revolving around home and kids and being overweight. Wow – that was my former life! Fortunately, the answer isn’t necessarily to abandon ship but instead to find new interests, hobbies, pleasures, activities, and friendships that get you out of the house. The book suggests making some lists as a way to get started on a more fulfilling lifestyle:
- A 20 Small Pleasures List – simple things you enjoy, like planting your garden or visiting a friend or walking the dog
- The Three List Strategy – start each day by listing what you have to do, a few things you want to do for yourself, and what you can postpone. Do what you must, then do some things for yourself, and blow off the rest.
- A Things I’ve Always Wanted To Do List – Learn to play the piano? Go blonde? Get a massage? Sky dive? Learn yoga? Travel to Greece? Remember, we’re not going to wait until we’re thin to do them. Make a list and do them now!
It should go without saying that none of the pleasures and rewards on the lists should be food!
The biggest reward cited by maintainers in the book was new clothes and I’d have to go along with that as having been my biggest reward
The chapter closes with a section about how relationships can change – both positively and negatively - as we make changes in our lives, reorder our priorities, and put our needs first. It can upset the dynamic in our families and friendships, as I know many of you have experienced.
The chapter ends with a paragraph that I’d like to leave all of you with:
If you stop allowing your weight to get in the way of a more fulfilling life, as well as feeling good about yourself, the need to use food to enrich your existence will diminish. Then you can get on with more important aspects of life - those things that make it worthwhile to maintain whatever weight you choose. (p 282)
Let's talk about changes we've made or want to make in order to have more fulfilling lives. What have you always wanted to do that you've been postponing because of your weight? Or do you find yourself turning to food less and less as you get more out of life? How have changes in you affected your relationships? How has weight loss affected your confidence and self-esteem - or was it the other way around for you? Everyone's story is going to be different - tell us yours!