One of the first questions I ask new clients is “How much do you weigh?” This question is reserved for the part of the interview when I actually get them to say that they want to lose weight, working through the euphemisms “tone-up,” “get back in shape,” and “feel better” until they get to the REAL reason they’re in the gym. I almost never get a straight answer. It’s usually something like, “I used to weigh 120,” to which I respond, “So did I. How much do you weigh now?”
See, the past is the past. What you did in the past certainly affects what you can do today, but is rarely a predictor of what you will actually do. You are older now than you were then, almost certainly fatter, and you probably have “deserved” your way out of a few too many workouts. So, we start with a clean slate. We start with today.
I have always liked the Buddhists. At first it was the haircuts and the cool clothes, but more recently, I have come to like the idea of being present and mindful. Thich Nhat Hahn (It took me like 10 minutes to spell it right, and don’t you dare ask me to say it…) talks about our obsession with the past and the future, and out total disregard for the present. Funny, because the only one of the three we can affect is the present. You already messed up a bunch of stuff in the past, so put it behind you – you can’t un-mess it. In the future, you’re going to be better looking, richer, and smarter, right? Not unless you do something about it right-damn-now.
Also, you’ve got to take control of the things you can really control (yourself), and relinquish control over those things you can’t (everything else). So what if your wife bakes brownies at 9pm? Is it really her fault if you eat them? So what if your kids are begging you to go to McDonald’s? Even if you’ve not yet explained diabetes to them, it doesn’t mean you’ve got to get a McFlurry. Cultivate will. Make decisions in favor of your health. We talk a lot about how each decision either moves you toward or away from your goals. Only by making mindful choices that you’re certain will lead you in the right direction can you actually change your course.
You’ve got to stay on top of it, too. We hammer pretty hard against the idea that you “deserve” things. Just because you ran 4 or 5 miles doesn’t earn you half a pan of brownies (and I speak from experience.) Let’s see…4 mile run – burn 400 calories. Eat half a tray of brownies – take on 1700. Deserve too many treats and you’re gonna diminish your ability to run. OK, so you only do it once a week. Plus a glass of red wine to help you relax after sitting around all day at work. There’s your 3 pounds a year per person that Americans are expected to put on in the next decade. In ten years, and you know it’s coming like a runaway train, that’s 30 pounds. It’s going to take the world’s best trainer and a panel of nutritionists two years to get you back to today’s weight.
If you like where you are, build a house there. But if there are things you need to change, change them now, not tomorrow, because it’ll never be easier than it is today.