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” (www.intel.com).
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:
- We admitted we were powerless over food — that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- 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.
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:
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…. 😀