Sunday, March 30, 2014

How To Succeed at Weight Loss (And Anything Else)

Not a day goes by that I am not asked some variation of the following question:

"How did you lose all that weight?"

Everyone wants the secret.  "Tell me what to eat!  How much cardio should I do?  What foods should I avoid?"

So for the very first time, I'm going to divulge the secret weapon when it comes to weight loss and just about anything else in life.  Lean very close to your screen and take it all in.

The way to lose weight and keep it off forever is this:

Establish and follow a set routine.

Even though it might not seem like it, I know you.  I can see you, sitting in your house right now, almost as if a camera has been planted there.  If you are overweight or out of shape, what you are doing wrong is drifting through your life with no plan.  You are on the "grab something" diet.  You know the diet I am talking about.  "I'll grab something when I get to work.  I'll grab something on the way home."

What you are really 'grabbing' is chaos.  You live your life one minute to the next, putting zero effort into what you're doing.  There is no planning.  There is no structure.  And there definitely is not a routine.

I was recently watching a very old movie from my childhood.  I hadn't seen it in 30 years.  It was called "Iceman."  It's a fictional story about a science expedition that found a perfectly preserved 40,000 year old neanderthal caveman frozen in a block of ice.  They thawed him out and brought him back to life.  Go ahead, check it out.  It's on Netflix streaming.

One thing immediately jumped out at me in this movie.  The prehistoric man, upon being brought back to life, was placed in an artificial habitat (like at a zoo.)  What did he do?  Did he sit there and stare at the wall?  Did he cry about how he had no idea where he was and what he was supposed to do?  Nope.

He immediately went to work.  His first order of business was killing a wild pig for food that was roaming his habitat.  Then he went about starting a fire.  Then he collected everything he could find, laying it out in front of him so he could observe his inventory and figure out what to do with it.  He found berries to crush, so he could make ink to paint the cave walls to do his drawings.

In short, he was observing a set routine that ensured his survival.  If you are to lose weight and experience any chance at keeping that weight off, you must establish and follow a routine.  I'm not saying the routine can't change, but it has to be there.

Think about how we raise small children from the time they are a baby.  All successful mothers will tell you: set up a routine.  Schedule nap time.  Go to bed at the same time every night.  Kids like structure.  They will flourish.  Do the basics every day the same way, at the same time.  Do you think this need for structure and predictability goes away when we become adults?  It shouldn't, not if you want to be successful. 

Anyone that has met me or knows me in the last 4 years knows that my routine is sacred.  It is not to be interfered with.  There are non-negotiable aspects of my routine that keep me on the straight and narrow.  I must walk every day at least a few miles.  I must always pack my lunch and eat it.  I must eat every few hours.  Restaurants are not an option unless I absolutely have to.  I must drink water.

Remember: if you are going through life just doing whatever, then "whatever" is what you're going to weigh.  "Whatever" is how long you're going to live.  "Whatever" is how much success you're going to have in life.

You can do better.  I can do better.  But it all starts with a routine.  Once you set up your routine, you start to follow it.  Day after day, the routine will develop.  Then it will become second nature.  If your routine is a healthy one, good health will follow.

Like the caveman, your routine will become very ingrained in you.  You too will be pre-programmed for success.  You will do what you do automatically, because it is just what you do.  It will become second nature.

What's your routine going to be?