By now most of us have heard that those who persevere are the ones who finish the race, but the question remains, what race are you running? It’s one thing to have a goal in mind, but if you haven’t mapped out a specific plan to get you there, the odds are stacked up against you, before you even begin.
In The Ultimate Weight Solution: The 7 Keys to Weight Loss Freedom, Dr. Phil McGraw writes, “Because I have counseled so many overweight patients, I can tell you with absolute certainty why some people stay fit and others do not. If someone is successful in keeping weight off for five, ten, twenty, or more years, they have carefully planned, thoughtful goals that they hold to and live by.”
The Bible also reminds us to carefully consider our plans before we set out to build: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’” – Luke 14:28-30.
In that passage, Jesus was pointing out the cost of being a disciple. Life will offer us a thousand and one reasons why we shouldn’t follow Christ, but those who have built their faith upon conviction won’t give up because they have counted the cost before hand and their eyes are fixed on the goal ahead. As the apostle Paul wrote, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:13, NIV. I often refer to Paul’s writing to the Philippians since he so vigorously writes about the pursuit of God. Can you imagine the excitement that letter brought, when by the hand of Epaphroditus it was first delivered? Rejoice in suffering! Stand fast in the Lord! Press on in faith!
The refreshing and empowering words can revitalize any life when we put them into action. And the same action can be applied to all things that we set out to do. As Solomon wrote, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might!” – Ecclesiastes 9:10, NIV
Therefore I’ll ask–do you have a recipe for success? Have you carefully considered your weight loss goal, and detailed the means you’ll take in getting there? If you haven’t taken that very important step, I urge you to grab a pen and a paper—a pretty little journal if you have one—and answer the three following questions in detail:
- What is the final goal or goals that you hope to attain? (Weight loss, better health, release from the bondage of food, more energy, etc.) Without a specific goal in mind, it’s nearly impossible for one to attain it. Be specific. If you want to lose weight, then decide on how much you are hoping to lose, and when you hope to reach this goal.
- What do you hope to gain by reaching this goal? (I’ll feel younger, gain respect, feel accepted, look beautiful, etc.) Answer honestly; and don’t worry we won’t peek at your answer! 🙂
- What is the cost? What is it going to take in order to make this change? Are you on a specific diet plan? Do you have an exercise routine that you plan to adhere to? If drinking more water is important, mark that down too. Carefully consider the changes or additions to lifestyle that you will need to make in order to reach this goal, and write them down. Be specific. Include things that you need to eliminate, and things that you need to incorporate.
The ability to envision our goal and the means of getting there brings us that much closer to achieving it. Once you have decided exactly what your final goal will be, we can start breaking it down into smaller attainable pieces. For example, if you want to lose 50 pounds this year (lets make it easy and round it off to 52 pounds in 52 weeks) we can do a little math and conclude that your focus for each week will be 1 pound. That’s it—1 pound per week! 100 pounds? Then you’re still only looking at 2 pounds/week–which is an easy enough goal to achieve–if you have counted the cost and are willing to adhere to the plan.
Too often dieters will say, “I want to lose weight, so I’ll start cutting back.” And that’s pretty much the end of the plan. Believe me, if our sweethearts show up with a box of chocolates this month that we mindlessly munch on as we’re watching TV, “cutting back” may not hold the same definition that it held the day before. Without a set plan to adhere to, we tend to negotiate a bit too much with the stomach, and when that happens we all know who wins out! If we accept those chocolates with the foreknowledge that a small treat after dinner is in line with our plan, we don’t have to negotiate, we can rely on knowledge rather than impulse. Two chocolates come out the the box, and the rest are put into the cupboard until the next day. This doesn’t mean that we have to start counting calories, it could mean envisioning the size of our meals and the frequency of them before hand, then sticking to the plan. This is where wisdom takes over and willpower takes a back seat.
The same thing can apply to exercise. The familiar line, “I plan to exercise more often from now on!” What does that mean? “More often” can mean once, or it can mean daily. If you leave that choice up to whim, chances are you’ll opt for the minimum rather than the maximum workout experience. Be concise. Develop a plan that you will stick to. For example, if your plan is to walk for 45 minutes five times a week, map it out by deciding ahead of time when you’ll schedule your walks in, where you’ll be walking (treadmill, outside, etc.). And if you can find a partner, then jot down whom you’ll be with. By scheduling a time we move it into our life and begin to shift things around it, rather than trying to squeeze it in where it fits. Priorities have a way of squeezing out the less pleasant activities, unless we make it a point to prioritize them.
In a recent interview with Larry King, actress Ricki Lake, famous for losing over a hundred pounds and successfully keeping it off for over a decade said, “It’s all in moderation; I think it’s being consistent; I think it’s being conscious of what you put in your body. There’s no magic pill, there’s no secret—it’s hard work and being consistent.” She added, “Any diet works, I’ve done them all. If you stick to it, they all work. But you have to stick to that plan.”
The “plan” makes us conscious and aware of what we’re putting into our bodies and how we are taking care of them.
Till next time ladies, stick to the plan, and Live Well!
©2008, Darlene Schacht
*We advise that you always consult your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program.