Monday, September 15, 2014

Walt Disney and John Wayne Give Great Advice

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney

I remember when I needed to wear size 3XL scrubs. I was miserable, but I had given up. I assumed I was just destined to be fat. And it was embarrassing to work in an ER and be nearly 300 pounds. I wanted to weigh less, but I was afraid to try, because I was afraid to fail. Again. I dreamt of being “near normal”, of wearing clothes that did not come from a “Big and Tall” section of the store.

When I finally made the decision, my wife and I started a “diet”. We lost weight, for a while, and then we predictably put it back on. Finally, in May 2011, I decided that enough was enough and started using LoseIt and she started using Weight Watchers. We both realized that if we didn’t take action—now—things would only get worse, until very bad things began to happen.

We were both committed to our goal, and yet we were both scared. We were worried about what our friends and relatives would say, but the compliments and the sharp little attacks, such as, “Oh, so you’re trying to lose weight again, hm? What makes you think it will work this time?”

We were afraid of failing.

We didn’t stop. We lost weight. We donated clothes as soon as the no longer fit. We have supported our local Goodwills with all our donated clothes (and we shop there, too.) We got more active. I started walking and discovered that I enjoy it. I bought a Fitbit. My wife got active with DVD exercise routines and yoga.

And the losses continued. We continued to be afraid of failing, of reverting back to our old habits. We developed a habit of planning a week’s worth of meals, and buying only what we need for the meals. We got into the habit of walking our dog once or twice a day. We started parking as far from the entrance to stores as possible and getting extra walking. I stopped using elevators.

We continued have successes and we continued to be fearful of this being only temporary. We solidified our habits, sort of making them institutionalized. We developed a grocery shopping list that I have on my computer to make shopping more efficient. We have our weekend routine of hitting various thrift stores together. We eat meals together when my teaching/clinical schedule allows it, sitting at the dinner table, not in front of the TV. We get up early in the morning to walk and workout. We eat a hearty breakfast and I prepare every day. I pack our lunches and snacks for the day.

We stopped feeling “fear” about slipping back. We were too focused on our plan to have time to worry. We just kept on doing what was working. Life became routine. Weighing and measuring food was normal. The losses continued.

And then I hit my goal. To reinforce my commitment, I tattooed a phrase on my right wrist, forever reminding me to never quit. (An explanation of the phrase can be found in a blog post from January 19, 2012.)My wife continued to lose weight. Fear of failure subsided, but was replaced by eternal vigilance. And the fear of regaining. I continued to weigh/measure my food, and log everything. I still do, and plan to continue until the day arrives where I am unable to care for myself.

My wife’s losses have eclipsed my own. Her success has been remarkable and serves as my inspiration. She is my hero. My maintenance for 16+ months serves as her inspiration, as validation that successes can be realized. She calls me her hero.

We started this journey out of fear. We feared what could—no, what would—happen if we left our habits and practices continue unchecked. In the ER, I cared for people who had heart attacks and strokes. Diabetes and high blood pressure were common conditions. I was afraid of that. Moreover, I was afraid that when I had my heart attack—not if, but when—I would be that patient who required a “team boost” because I was too heavy for two people to move in the bed. I was ashamed of myself in advance.

Fear propelled us into action, and helped to keep us on track. Our fear of failure was great. It was not great enough to prevent us from quitting, but it was great enough to serve as a light whip at our backs.  We used it to motivate us, not to cripple our efforts.

Our dreams are coming true, because we were not too afraid to act. We had the courage to succeed. As David Joseph Schwartz said, “Do what you fear and fear disappears.”

John Wayne said it even better: “Courage is being scared to death...and saddling up anyway.”

Note: the links to LoseIt and Fitbit are my affiliate links. That means if you click on those and buy one (or both) I will receive a small commission. It does not change your cost at all, but it will help me continue to provide recipes and advice here and in my podcast Make Your Someday Today

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