A Month to Live

This is a long post, but I believe it is an extremely valuable one – Please don’t skim it, Read it! If you don’t have time to read it all now, book mark it and come back.  I feel that the action plan at the end may help you in some meaningful way, and the message as a whole will resonate with you… then again, I could be a long winded sandbag not worth paying attention to… :o)


I used to go to a mega-church in Columbus Ohio where the pastor would say “you are facing a strategic inflection point in your life!”   He is a very ‘energetic’ preacher, but my point in bringing it up is the concept of a ‘strategic inflection point’.  Intel’s Chairman, Andrew S Grove defined a Strategic Inflection Point this way: “that which causes you to make a fundamental change in […] strategy” (

When you hit a strategic inflection point, you change – period.  You may not change for the better, but you will change.  Here is an example – your platonic best friend of the opposite sex just asked you out on a date – you can say no, you can say yes – but either way your friendship will never be the same – you are at a strategic inflection point.

In my life, I’ve often wanted a change regarding my weight and health, but I’ve never had a force that caused me to make a fundamental change in my strategy or approach to the issue.  It is my opinion that change rarely occurs without this force or event.  The idea that being overweight is simply a  matter of self control is wrong – ‘Pulling one’s self up by one’s bootstraps’ is in my opinion, a myth.  Let’s be honest, I have a hard time reaching my toes, I don’t think I’m going to ‘pull myself up by the boots’ anytime soon.  So how do we get to a strategic inflection point?

Honestly, I don’t think it can be manufactured.  But that doesn’t mean you are stuck where you are either.  The truth is, reading this blog might be your strategic inflection point!  The first few steps in the Overeater’s Anonymous 12 step program are these:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over food — that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

If we were left with only the first step, the entire path would be hopeless – but there are 12 steps, and its not hopeless.  I am powerless (no bootstraps!) over food, but there is a Power greater than me than is not powerless.  The first two steps are (in my opinion) purely informational.  You have to read them and accept them.  There is nothing for you ‘to do’ regarding them.  I am powerless and I have a higher power that is not.  The action begins when we hit step 3.  This is the step were I believe we face the strategic inflection point.

Once you realize you are unable to fix this problem yourself and concede that there is a God that is able – you can either accept His help or reject it.  Its a difficult world for the atheist – for they reject the idea that there is help beyond ourselves and are left with only their bootstraps.  I however made the decision to turn my will and my life over to God’s care.  Before you read any further, please understand that I’m not talking about religion or any particular faith and it is not my goal to sway your beliefs in anyway outside of the general framework that a higher supernatural power exists and is willing to help you.

Step four in the process, the searching and fearless moral inventory, is why I started this post.  I have been so focused on my weight and my food addiction that I was missing the bigger issue.  I abuse myself in more ways than overeating.  I do eat the ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ foods as well as massively overeat – but this isn’t the beginning and the end of my self destructive behavior.

One way of thinking of the bigger picture here is to image a great car (whatever your dream car would be); Now think about putting the worst fuel into the tank you could find.  Sure the fuel would be an issue – but what if you also never changed the oil or aligned the tires?  What if you never checked the coolant or replaced burned out headlamps?

If you did that for a year or two or ten – and the engine knocked and backfired and everyone could see how poorly you abused the car – Do you feel changing the quality of gasoline you put in the car would fix everything?  Certainly not.  In addition to depriving my body of the proper nutrition (fuel) I have abused myself in the following ways:

A Mind Deprived

I deprive my mind of real stimulation.  I watch hours of mind numbing television most days.  Maybe you don’t struggle with TV, but instead mindlessly surf the internet for hours or play video games.  Any activity that you do while doing nothing and thinking little, deprives your mind of the ability to be stimulated.  I’m not suggesting that you should never watch TV or play a video game, we all need occasional down time – but your mind needs stimulation as much or more than you need exercise and spending hours in these ‘down time’ activities is abusing your ‘car’.

A Body Depreciated

I deprive my body of daily activity and exercise.  If you do spend a lot of time in the ‘down time’ activities, you are certainly doing this one as well.  Setting on the sofa while watching two hours of TV does nothing to help your body burn the calories you put into it or stay fit and healthy.  I often excuse myself from exercise because I’m ‘too’ busy.  But ask me about the new American Idol season or the latest Biggest Loser episode and you will find that I had time for hours of television this week.  Check my twitter account and you will see I had time for surfing the web and tweet’ing too.  Not getting up and moving every now and again is abusing your ‘car’.

A Soul Displaced

I sleep 3 to 5 hours a day most days, occasionally getting six.  We all need sleep!  Saying to yourself that you “aren’t wired that way” is like saying “I eat a large pizza all by myself because I’m not wired for only one slice”.  I have deprived myself of sleep for over 15 years.  I used to brag that I lived off of 3 hours of sleep a night through college; I may as well said “I ate a dozen doughnuts a day for years!”

According to the Center for Disease Control and prevention (CDC), You are ‘wired’ for 7 to 9 hours of sleep a day – assuming you are an adult human being.  Sixty Minutes recently aired an episode called “Sleep Research, Happiest Country” where they report that cheating yourself of even one and a half hours a night greatly reduce your ability to think, interact, respond, LIVE!  If you are ‘living’ off of 6 hours a night, you are abusing your ‘car’.  You DON’T get your best work done at night unless you get your best sleep during the day – working late, watching TV, even running on a treadmill INSTEAD of sleep is a BAD IDEA.

A Plan for Restoration – A MONTH TO LIVE

I am finally realizing this path is “not a diet, its a lifestyle change” – a cliche that usually has me rolling my eyes; however there is so much more to taking care of my body than simply eating right that I now understand the cliche rings true.  We are just a few days away from February – the shortest month of the year – and I have a plan; I want YOU to join me too!  A few days ago, I posted this tweet on twitter:

crazy idea – replace TV with books, soda with water, late nights with early bed times for the entire month of February: anyone wanna join me

I was amazed at the instant responses that I got.  Everyone said some variation of “I can’t do early bed times”.  While I personally think sleep deprivation is very likely the most perilous of our bad behavior, I have an idea that will allow you to S L O W L Y make progress in these areas without drastic change, drastically fast.

Join Me

Can you join me in making February A MONTH TO LIVE?  Just one month in which you truly LIVE.  We often think ‘to really live’ means to indulge ourselves, but this is wrong thinking – to truly LIVE we must treat ourselves with the respect our Creator intended (In my particular faith, we are ‘made in His image’).  Here’s how you can join me without taking that drastic plunge – Pick ONE of the following goals and do it for ONE of the weeks in February (a Week to Live):

  • Drink Water (no other beverage choices – including Alcohol)
  • REPLACE TV with Reading (I don’t mean just don’t watch TV – actually READ a book or two)
  • Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each day (naps DO count, 7-8 total hours, I don’t care when you get them)
  • Burn an extra 500 calories – Let’s get up and MOVE, PEOPLE!

My personal goal is to do all four for all four – but I would love to know you guys are with me, even if its only one of the goals for one of the weeks – or all goals for one week – or one goal for all weeks – any combination you like.  I also plan to put them in the following priority in case I am forced to choose between them:

  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Water
  • Read

I don’t really see myself having to decide between water and sleep, but I may have to decide between working out and going to bed – and I have already decided that my sleep is more important.  Now, I’m not going to bore you guys with daily posts saying “man, it was hard to drink water today” or “My wife was watching my favorite TV show but I had to read a book” – but if you are interested in that kind of banter, I am going to blog it using the awesome micro-blog Twitter.

If you don’t have a twitter account, you can also read my tweets (micro-blog entries) on my Facebook status.  So feel free to add me on either site (or both!).  If you are a BLBE member, tweet me so I know you are there – if you put #blbe in your tweet, other BLBE members will be able to follow the conversation as well.

WE CAN DO THIS! Leave me a comment and commit to a week – just let me know what your combo is (which week, which goal) and I’ll bug you throughout that week…. 😀

34 thoughts on “A Month to Live

  1. Oh alrighttttttttttt. 🙂 I’ll commit to ONE WEEK of getting the 7-8 hr sleep fest 😛 When do we start this? February 1st?

    I already drink 3+ litres of water a day, so I’m kinda squishing around in my “boots” as it is. I already have a goal for February to get another book read, so I’m with you on that one.

    I’m with you about the whole ‘bootstrap’ thing…I’ve yanked on those straps so many times, they are now the size of long skinny shoestrings…..not happenin’!! A lot of me has changed in the past year……and now I’m working on making changes to me that I WANT to have happen! Not being controlled by the circumstances around me is a big part of my changing.

    Here’s to a February to Live for!!

    1. Miragi, You Rock! Thanks for jumping in – yes, Feb 1st is the starting line. Do you know what book you are going to read? I’ll tell you what, you get 7 to 8 hours a day for a week – and if you don’t feel better, have more energy AND get more done during that week – we’ll both go back down to the 4 to 6 hour sleep schedule? But if you ARE more productive, feel better, and have more energy, then you stick with it for another week?

  2. I’m in! Water (already do that) exercise(do that too) read (check) early bedtime….needs some serious work! Looking forward to the challenge

  3. Great post, Dale. Absolutely inspiring. Count me in–all four weeks, all four goals. Except I can’t give up my morning coffee. I don’t know if that’s against the rules or not, but you don’t want me hanging out with you if I can’t have my coffee. 😉

    1. Cindy – four for four!!! Awesome! Don’t worry about the coffee, any change from status quo for me is good – I’m guessing water all day with coffee in the mornings is still a positive move for you too…

  4. Great post. 4 for 4. I spend too much time vegging in front of the TV, and have at least 4 books in various stages of being read. Time to finish them.

  5. I’m on board….

    Let’s see, I already try to go to bed at 10pm so that I can get a good 8ish hours before my alarm goes off at 6:30 and I get up to walk at 7am… so we’re good there.

    I’m on book #3 for this year. Just started reading Captivating. The first chapter is already making me feel free. I blogged about it the other night. (Shameless plug!)

    Still walking, with some alternated jogging, every morning unless it is raining or below 25 degrees. This month I’ll add in some abs in the morning with my stretches.

    WATER! Water will be my challenge. I make to vows to replace other drinks like coffee and soda because I am caffeine dependent and you don’t want the people I work/live with hunting you down…. But I will endeavor to add in at least 64 oz of water daily if not more.

    Woo hoo…. bring on February! We can do this!

        1. Thanks for the tip on the caffeinated water… though I do find the thought a tad bit disturbing…. 🙂

          Thank you for the reprieve on the Super Bowl. I was going to take it anyway! I have to cheer my Ben on to victory over those dumb birds. 😉

  6. Dale,

    I love your idea. I wish you well in your pursuit.

    I guess I’m already on a track that’s similar to it. Since November, I’ve lost nearly 30 pounds. I was at 220, now I’m at 190. I hope to get my fat % in the 12-range. I’m currently at around 20, so I have a way to go.

    As for diet, I only eat healthy foods–no processed sugar, junk food, white flour, carbs (as much as possible), processed food, etc. I also exersize 3-4 times a week. I drink fresh fruit and vegetable juice (Jack LaLange’s thing), water and decaf tea (no sugar or cream). I do have an occasional Newcastle, too. I’m not ready to give up Ohio State basketball, the Super Bowl and 24 on TV, but I could easily lose the rest of it. I’ll go along with the plan with the noted exceptions. It’s been almost three months on my plan, and so far, so good. I think if I can get through the holidays on this plan, I can get through anything. I think I do very well on the sleep front. I’m in bed around 9:30 every day, and usually don’t wake up until 6 or so. I also think I do pretty well on reading. I’ve been trying to learn a new language (Mandarin), so that’s been a source of academic consumption. Anyway, I think I’m close, but your suggestions are apt. I’ll take it a bit farther.

    I think I would like to make one sidebar comment. I admire and respect your faith, so what I’m about to say is not intended to be critical. Indeed, what people believe and however they live their lives is fine by me. My brother was a missionary in Africa, so I see the power of faith, even if I don’t share it.

    Anyway, here’s my comment. I made these changes on my own. Sure, my wife has been supportive. I’m thankful for that. I have a highly supportive coworker. She’s helped. I also hired a personal trainer. Without question, he’s been part of the solution. Still, this was my deal. I woke up one day and said “enough.” That did it for me. Like most problems in my life, I caused them and it was up to me to fix them. For years, I was stupid about how I ate. Recently, I got wise. I think I’ve always had power over my life, certainly food. I was just too lazy, undisciplined and stupid to know it. I took the easy way out. I stuffed myself with potato chips and pizza because it was easy and because I didn’t want to admit it was wrong. If your faith has brought you to a good place, I commend you. My faith in myself has brought me to a good place too. I think someone can get there either way.

    That aside, I think you’re doing the right thing. Think of this, you’ve lost 19 pounds so far. Think about carrying around a 20 pound briefcase all day and night, then one day simply dropping it. How great is that? Now, imagine when the number goes up to 50, 100, 137. I’m sure you have imagined it, but it’s still worth stating. It will be amazing.

    1. DOH!!! I forgot about the Superbowl… I’m going to make that an exception for anyone that wants to take it. The water think is really meant to replace soda and sugar drinks – if you do fresh fruit juice – I wouldn’t recommend changing that anyway.

      Congrats on your success – regardless of where you found the inspiration (we could talk for hours I’m sure on the matter, but let’s save that for another day!)

      I want to say genuinely, thank you for the encouraging words. You are someone I have continued respect both professionally and personally.

    1. Deb, Thanks for joining…

      I don’t think I can say it enough – I’m blown away by the amount of support I’m seeing on this endeavor… and yes – GO CARDINALS!!! 😀

  7. Hi ! I think that the only I don’t do is drink water exclusively. I have 1-2 cups of coffee many days, or 1 c. of coffee and 1 diet soda on the very rare occasion. I don’t drink anything with sugar, and I think that I do it more to have the taste of something other than water in my mouth. *laughs* I think that I could give up my coffee for a month.

  8. Hey, why not? Four for four, I say – although, maybe not completely…

    I need to drink more water, but I don’t think I can completely give up the odd diet soda just a couple of times a week and my Saturday shopping trip cup of coffee. I will resolve to drink 2 litres of water per day, though.

    500 calories per day – bring it on! Walking, dancing, shopping and maybe I’ll even hit the gym a couple of times a week, lol.

    I’ll get through at least one book during the month. I have a whole room full of them just waiting to be read, so I’m spoiled for choice.

    I could use more sleep, too, so I’m in for that one as well!

    I’ve shifted a few pounds already this year, but it’s always nice to have other people on the journey to a healthier life with you.

    Good luck everyone!

  9. I commit for the next 3 weeks so till Feb 20th to do the following

    1. Drink water, tea, juices NO POP

    2. get 7-8 hours sleep nightly

    I need this both for my overall health but to help me heal from my tonsilitis which I have now. In this month I’ve lost 11 lbs so far

    1. Lorrie – Welcome Aboard! Look for upcoming posts with ideas on how to accomplish these goals – “A Month to LIVE” is really getting some attention…

  10. Wohooooooooo Dale!!! You are so right about all of that! I’d be happy to commit to the sleep, exercise, hmmmm…reading (do blogs count?? :-D) and oh about the water, does herbal tea cross the boundary of “only water”?

    1. Angie – thanks for joining! As far was tea or juices are concerned – I am not going to, but many others have said they are. I plan to break the TV ban so that I can watch the Superbowl. 😀 The real point is to make it a Month of living in a way that doesn’t abuse your health – so if you already drink water everyday and still want your morning tea, coffee, or juice – go for it!

  11. I am already 3 for 4 sort of…

    I sleep 7-8 hours a night, I drink water all day and have just come off a water fast so it wouldn’t be hard to keep it up. I don’t watch TV but I do game. I just got a new game and I have been playing it pretty hard. If I can suspend my account so I don’t get charged I am on board.

    I have advertised you several places though.

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