Prepping for the New Year: Resolutions, Big Bang, Kaizen
I’m pretty pumped up going into the New Year. Depending on exactly how much I weighed, I’m down 70-80 pounds from last year and 80-90 pounds from two years ago. Still have a fair bit to go of course, but feels great. (Not my picture, but I could make one that looks just like it…)
As to next year, obviously got the marathon thing going on and continuing my progress. But no New Year’s resolutions here. Haven’t made one in years and years. Never got into the concept that on this day things will be completely different from yesterday. The old big bang approach to change.
If I’ve commented on your blog, I’ve probably mentioned continuous improvement at some point – applying the Kaizen business process to weight loss.
If you’re like me, you got this way over time. You have lots of interlinked habits and decision making tools that helped you get this way. It’s probably not a matter of fixing one or two things and poof – all better! I’ve been there.
So why insist on going from A -> Z in one giant leap? It’s an easy yard-stick to come up short against especially early on. “Dammit, last week, I was eating 4,000 calories of soda and processed food a day, and today on Plan X I was only supposed to eat 600 calories of celery and exercise 7 hours a day. But instead I ate 3,400 calories of some soda and some processed food and some celery and got 20 minutes of exercise in. I’m a huge failure!” Cue end of fad diet and resumption of fatty ways.
Not only is it hard, heck, you may not even know all the things you need to change on Day 1. Why not celebrate the improvement of 600 calories and some celery instead and a little exercise? And as I’ve commented, some of these highly restrictive plans can leave you unprepared for maintenance after you lose the weight. Lose it and gain it back. Been there too.
I may have lost most of the weight in the last 6 months, but it was the 18 months of modest change I made that laid the ground work. I cut out 95% of the soda I drink (I pretty much only drink diet soda now when there are no other choices). But it wasn’t big bang. I was drinking 4-6 sodas a day. I started by eliminating one of them. The last two went at the same time, but that’s the momentum effect.
I started working out again 2 years ago. 20 minutes easy pace on the elliptical on the lowest resistance couple times a week plus some light weights.
Started watching what I was eating a bit. I cut out my mid-afternoon snack of chips/pretzels/etc. Started eating more salads – with too much dressing and toppings, but hey got me used to the concept of having a salad. Eating at taco bell a lot still, but a little less of it. Stopped having sausage/egg/cheese sandwich couple of mornings a week to just once. Replaced it with a bagel/cream cheese. Was still way too much of the wrong stuff. But it was less of it comparatively.
All those things helped for when I made the bigger changes. More fruit. More veg. Eat less period. Drink more water. Get rid of the bagel. Cutting the sugar/whole milk from the coffee. Continuously increasing intensity and amount of cardio workouts. Re-evaluating the weight training for goals.
I know cold turkey works for some people, but it doesn’t work for a lot of people. So instead of starting on Day 1 by measuring your current imperfect self to a hypothetically perfect you – take it one day at a time. Are you doing better than yesterday? If so – be happy. Internalize that change. And then make another one when that one is bedded in solidly.
(Just um, don’t go too slow either ok! You can go faster than me!)
Good luck all of you with however you plan to go into 2012. And have a safe New Year.