This Time It Will Be Different, Right?
The day I reached 200 pounds was one of the happiest days of my life. The day I reached 300 pounds was one of the saddest days of my life.
Growing up, I was thin–and I mean thin. I was always tall, but for my childhood and most of my adolescence, I was painfully underweight. And because I was tall, often boys shorter but stockier than me took great delight in bullying me. I guess some people like to chop down the tallest tree they can find…
How I longed to bulk up! All the other guys could get the girls’ attention through physical prowess; I had to hope they liked a sense of humor. At 17, I was 6’5” and weighed 165 pounds.
And then I hit a growth spurt and I hit the weights and I hit the carbs and protein. Finally, on one magical day in 1992, I finally reached my goal of 200 pounds. I watched with joy as my weight kept climbing–to 215 and then to 235–and that’s where I thought I was most effective at the two most important things in my life at the time: playing basketball and getting girls.
“Son, one day you’re going to want to lose that weight,” my father had said to me as he watched me drink weight-gain milkshakes and peanut butter sandwiches. Feh! What did he know?
Cut to 2007, I’m 32 years old and weigh 305 pounds. Damn if the old man wasn’t right again…
Suffice to say, I was miserable when I was overweight. My friends delighted in fat jokes, and I ashamedly had to shop at Big & Tall stores. You see, my habits had changed in my late 20’s. I went from being very active with running and basketball to eating at McDonald’s twice a day while sitting on my butt for a living.
As the brilliant author and speaker Matthew Kelly says, “Our lives change when our habits change.”
So, you’ve made a resolution, and you’ve told yourself that this is your year; this time, you’re actually going to follow through.
Remember the famous line about “insanity” and doing the same thing over and over again?
When we change our habits, we change our lives. Change is a process, not a destination. Your goal is the destination; the process of developing successful habits is the journey. Too many of us fail in our resolutions because we fail to invest time in the change process. Most experts will agree that, generally, habits are formed after roughly 21 days of repetition. That’s three weeks of doing something different before it becomes second-nature.
Do a quick exercise: pick up a pen and write your name. Now, put it in your “off” hand and do it again. Awkward? Felt strange? That’s what change feels like. Imagine if, every day for three weeks, you spent an hour writing with your other hand. By the end of three weeks, your writing wouldn’t be perfect, but it would be much more legible, and you’d be much more comfortable doing it.
Maintain your commitment to long-term change by starting a new habit. When I got into the habit of eating healthier and exercising more, I lost the weight. It didn’t happen overnight–and I’ve had my “ups and downs” with my weight ever since–but I’ve never come close to the dreaded 300, because I spent time developing better habits.
Start a new habit today, and then do it the next day, and the next, and again..
…and I’ll see you in 21 days…