As a kid we did the family road trip to Florida every year, and the frustration and excitement of finally getting to Disneyworld mounted with each mile marker we passed as my brother, sister and I took turns asking “when are we gonna get there?” As a mom, I now realize how incredibly annoying that question is.
The journey to Disneyworld provides more important insights to the weight loss journey than you might realize…
Disneyworld is a dream destination, just like your goal of being 30 pounds lighter. A dream destination is anywhere you’d love to be but is so far away. Any journey to a dream destination requires a series of steps. In life, we often focus so much on the destination that the journey itself gets out of focus. We aren’t sure of the first step. We don’t know what to do when we’ve gone off track. We spend a lot of time lamenting on whether we will ever get there. We are paralyzed by a wrong turn. We get discouraged, give up, turn around, and go home.
On the way to Disney we are much smarter, we bring a freakin’ map.
Consider the Google map of directions from Boston to Disneyworld. When on a long road trip like this, what do you focus on? Silly question, of course it is the line in the directions that comes up next. When you have accomplished that line (Head Southwest on Tremont street), you move to the next one (Turn right on Marginal Rd). In fact, your GPS screen might not even show Disneyworld until you are a few miles away, but you still trust that if you keep moving through these steps, you will get there. For some reason with weight loss, we are so much less confident. We make wrong turns, and then call the entire journey into question. Imagine that you turned Left not Right onto Marginal Rd? What would you do? Turn the car around and go home? Of course not, you would figure out a way to quickly get back on track. In fact, has there EVER been a time when you had a map on a trip but got so lost that you canceled the trip and went home? Probably not.
Why do we treat the weight loss journey differently? Three reasons. Are any of these you?
1. I Don’t Have A Map. The first reason we might treat the weight loss journey differently is because we don’t actually have a map. Not having a map means that you really aren’t sure what the steps are to your weight loss goal. You are driving around aimlessly. You don’t know how much you should be eating, what you should be eating, how much to exercise, the type of exercises to be doing, how you should be structuring your day, etc. If this is the case, I encourage you to seek assistance from a weight loss expert such as a dietitian, certified trainer, Weight Watchers, or psychologist who specializes in weight loss. Ask that person to help you draw up a map. But once you have your map, be sure not to do the next two things…
2. I Have A Map But Decided To Take A Short Cut. The second reason we treat weight loss differently is because we get lured into “shortcuts.” Some guy on the side of the road says, “hey, you want to shave 10 hours off of your trip to Disneyworld? “ And you say: “YEAH!” …and next thing you know, you’re in Ohio. No offense to Ohio, but it’s so far off the track. In weight loss terms, this means you got lured into a fad diet or other weight loss scam that promised big things only to end you up further from your destination than you started. Lucky for the guy on the side of the road, you are too far off track even to find him and punch him in the face. The lesson here is to stay the course, don’t believe in shortcuts, because THIS guy will get you every time.
3. I Have a Map, But I Don’t Use It. This is the person who has the full set of directions, but doesn’t always refer to it. They question the directions upon making a wrong turn, “oh forget it, let’s go home, I’ll never get there!” They get impatient with the map part way into the trip, distracted or too busy, and then try to wing the rest of the trip only to end up in Ohio “I was on track, but then I got distracted and stopped using the map, now I’m way off course!” Or, they are overwhelmed by all the directions on the map, so pull over and just stare at the Disneyworld pamphlet, feeling sad, “Oh, how I wish I was in Disneyworld. I just don’t know how to get there!” In all of these cases, the person is focused too much on Disneyworld and the if/when they’ll get there and not focused enough on the steps. Each step is straightforward, there are just a ton of them which makes it all seem so difficult. The objective is to trust the map and that each step is nudging you closer to where you want to be. In fact, it is best to put the destination entirely out of your mind and focus only on what needs to be done to accomplish the next step. By focusing too much on the destination, you miss out on the lessons and experiences the journey has to offer. Look around, enjoy what is good about right now, and learn from your wrong turns so that they become fewer.
Live in your moments, don’t get stuck on an imagined future endpoint. The journey really is the destination. If you are on your way, then you have arrived. If you live a healthy lifestyle, you are exactly where you planned to be. Your weight, your cholesterol, inches around your waist, etc…are all just mile markers, guideposts to let you know you are going in the right direction, but none are the destination itself. The only real goal is progress.
In the weight loss journey, each day is a line on your Google Map. What does your Google Map say for today? It is your exercise agenda, your diet agenda, your sleep agenda, your stress reduction agenda. Put the steps in your calendar. Focus only on (and enjoy) the leg of your journey that is TODAY. Otherwise instead of Disneyworld…
…you might end up in Ohio.
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