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Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Six Steps to Effective Change


I serve in a leadership position in my church. Because of this, I get to visit local churches and listen to the stake presidency give a different talk on the same scripture each week. Last week I wasn’t feeling very good about myself. I couldn’t find the notebook I usually bring to church to take notes so I grabbed an old one off my shelf. When I settled on the pew and opened the notebook, I saw that it was from five years ago and the struggles that I had five years ago I still struggle with! In fact, if anything things are now much worse. About the time that depressing realization hit, President Brennan held up a little card that has our stake goals written on it and said, “You may wonder why our goals are the same this year as last, but until we have seen real, measurable improvement we need to continue working on our goals.” And it hit me, I don’t need to be sad or discouraged, I just need to have measurable improvement.

I need to change and fortunately, years ago I took a workshop on how to create effective change and according to the class, you need six things:

1.       The belief that it’s worth the cost.
2.       Knowledge—you need the knowhow.
3.       Friends who love you and support you.
4.       A changed environment (because right now, your environment is perfectly suited for your current lifestyle.)
5.       A reward system.
6.       An action plan.

I’ll admit I struggle number one the most. Ten years ago I successfully lost the 15 pounds I had gained with my twins and I kept it off for many years. But after the weight loss, other than dropping two dress sizes, my life wasn’t really any different. The people who love me love me whether I’m big or small. I still have the same chores to do when I feel ambitious and the same books to read when I feel like lounging. And so when life got busy, crazy and stressful with a houseful of teenagers combined with a four year long stint as a relief society president I regained the fifteen pounds plus nine more.

But now the last of the teenagers are walking out the door. My life isn’t busy, crazy or stressful—in fact, at times it’s boring and empty. Instead of a noisy tribe sitting down at the dinner table, it’s usually just me and my husband. I need to decide what I want this next chapter of my life to look like…how I want to look and feel and I decided that I need to leave this depressing middle-aged slump and abandon the lumps that have grown around my middle. Is the size 6 important? Not really. I could set down my battle with lumps, turn my generous backside on it, walk away and say I don’t care. But somehow the depressing slump and lumps are connected—I need to abandon the slump and get excited about my new (somewhat empty) life and fill it full to the brink. By pulling myself out of the depressing slump—I will also get rid of the twenty pound lumps.
So—recommitting to my six challenges necessary for effective change, here is what I did and what I’m doing.

1.       A belief that your goal is important. See above.

2.       Knowledge—you need the knowhow. Although I feel like I’ve been a student of weight loss for many years, I recently committed to a daily reading of health books and articles. Even if it’s only one page a day and even if I don’t totally agree with the diet, just getting into that “my body is a temple and needs proper love and nourishment” mind frame is important for motivation. I also made a doctor’s appointment—just to keep it real.

3.       Friends who love you and support you. I have this in abundance, but I need help so I recently found an online challenge group of dieters that communicates daily and signed up for the next session that begins on March 18th. So excited.

4.       A changed environment (because right now, your environment is perfectly suited for your current lifestyle.) We have a cupboard full of granola bars, nut bars and fruit snacks. Since these snacks are for my teenage daughters to take to school and since once I eat one granola bar I want to eat three, I moved the entire contents of that cupboard to the trunk of my daughter’s car. One granola bar isn’t a problem. Three granola bars tell a different story. I bought protein bars for when I need something sweet. Unlike the granola bars, I can’t eat more than one protein bar without feeling ill.

5.       A reward system. This is another struggle. I have a hard time rewarding myself without guilt, maybe because I already think my life resembles a pleasure cruise. So I borrowed something I saw on Pinterest. I took two pretty glass cylinders and put twenty pennies in one. With each pound lost I move a penny into the other cylinder. Not a penny is lost or spent—only pounds.

6.       An action plan. My plan is simple. 1200 calories a day. Actually eat sixteen to seventeen hundred calories a day and burn 400-500 calories a day. I’ve been a runner most of my life and my four mile run is a little more than 400 hundred calories, a five mile run is 500 calories. You get the picture.

Did you notice how the action plan is the last—and actually the least important? Life and weight loss are really just head games. 

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