It's that time of the year that most of us at least start thinking about goals for next year. I try to be realistic and not set unachievable goals like starting for the OKC THUNDER at point guard. Still, I usually struggle with staying connected to my goals.
If you are like me and are thinking about dropping about 20 pounds in the year 2017 (did not make it in 2016), one of the first questions to ask yourself is not what diet or exercise plan, but why. Why do you really want to lose weight? What is your true motivation?
The sad truth is that for most of us, losing weight because we know it will be good for us and improve our health simply isn’t enough for when times get tough and we are in the messy middle. The messy middle is when you have been at it for a little while but the finish line is still weeks if not months away. There is always a messy middle.
I have found that a major event in one's life is great motivation for about 6 months. Most of my patients who have had a heart attack or stroke are really motivated for rehab for about 6 months. Then the messy middle shows up. The pain and loss suffered becomes a fading memory and many revert back to the same lifestyle and habits that got them to the event in the first place. Their motivation wanes. Only about 1 in 7 will stay with it and change their lifestyles long-term.
I am the same way. I know that dropping 20 pounds will lower my cholesterol and improve my blood pressure. I know that I will feel better and have more energy. I know it all intellectually, but here I am again trying to lose those same 20 pounds from 2016. So what can I do to be that one in seven that sticks with it? Where can I find my motivation in the messy middle?
I think there is a lot that goes into reaching your goals. But, I believe the most important question is to ask why. Why do I really want to lose the weight? Yes, I know in my mind that it is good for me, but I have proven that simply knowing so doesn’t tend to motivate me enough in the messy middle.
I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I need something more tangible and more rewarding than simply knowing that it is really good for me, but that is the simple truth. I am a simple person. I need simple answers to the whys.
My plan is to set up some rewards along the way. I have not yet decided what they will be, but I know they will be simple. If I lose 5 pounds I will (fill in the blank). I am also going to set a timeline. I think a goal without a timeline is simply a dream; however, that is another topic.
I would love to hear from you if you have some good ideas for my simple solution for the messy middle. Also let me know if there is a certain health or wellness topic you would like to learn more about.