“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” -Albert EinsteinThis being the case, I am certainly insane. For the past twenty years I have gotten fat, gone on a diet, lost weight, lost lean muscle mass, and gained the weight back each time with a little more fat. Then each spring I would make a vow to get the weight off and keep it off and I would then proceed to repeat the process.
This May I found myself fatter than ever. I came home from work, sat in the La-Z-Boy, channel surfed for hours, drank a dram of top shelf rum so I could get to sleep, then drank four cups of coffee to get my heart moving in the morning. I began asking myself, ”Is this all there is? Is this what I will be doing till I die?” The classic midlife crisis.
I knew I had to make a change, but what could I do? I am a slow learner but after twenty years even I finally got it. Dieting does not work! If Albert was right, then I had to look for a new approach. I decided to put my master’s degree to work and research the problem. I found inspiration from Tom Fortuno’s Burn the Fat, Jeremy Likness’s Natural Physiques and FrankZane.com. From these great programs I learned the importance of goal-setting and visualizing.
I made up a goal card with several “I” statements; “I am leaner today than I was yesterday. I am buying new clothes since my old ones are falling off. I did more exercise this week than last,” et cetera. I found a picture of the most obese man I could find and put it on my refrigerator. I started to work out. Little things like walking a half mile took me fifteen minutes and made me winded. I started lifting weights at the health club four days a week. My diet got better. I made some progress, but after a month or so I hit a flat spot in my training where I made little improvement. I was discouraged and almost gave it up for the twenty-first year in a row. I decided to go back and reread some of the literature. I found this quote.
“The most powerful technique in the world for making rapid improvements in your results is self-image modification. Your self-image serves as the operating instructions of your subconscious computer and it controls everything you say, do, think and feel. In the absence of any deliberate change on your part, you will continue doing, thinking, saying and feeling very much the same things indefinitely.” - Brian Tracy, Author of Maximum Achievement
Think about what this is saying. “Your self-image serves as the operating instructions of your subconscious computer.” If you don’t change the operating system, you will fall back into your old ways and will be doomed to repeat your past mistakes. However, if you change the underlying program, then you will have no choice but to succeed.
As a high school wrestling coach, I have worked on doing this very thing with my athletes. Trying to mold their self image so that they see themselves as winners. For some reason I never applied the same idea to myself.
I put some photos of my ideal body image on my goal card. For me the great body builder and Mr. Olympia, Frank Zane, gave me motivation. I put the card in my wallet and tried to read it twice a day. I found the BeginnerTriathlete.com site and decided that doing a tri would be a great goal to focus on. This would bring out my competitive side. I logged my workouts and nutrition daily and put Frank there as a reminder. I log on every day and there is the picture of the new me. I am no longer a tired fat old man. I am a body-builder, I am a triathlete. No one else knows it yet but I do.
As of today I have lost 20 pounds of fat, I can run three miles and swim one. I look into the glass and Frank is looking back. Diet and exercise are my tools but a new self image is my operating system.