World, meet Loki. He’s being shy…
Like myself, Loki is a creature of habit. One of his habits is chasing shadows. I’ve not seen anything quite like it from a cat before. In the morning I come downstairs and Loki sprints full speed to be in position, then chases shadows around while I put shoes on, warm up, whatever. This video is actually a mild episode, but it gives you the idea.
As I watch him chase but never catch, I started thinking about how we do the same thing in life. We chase after an ideal, without having an actual plan to get there or what we will do if we do manage to catch it.
Like most people, I’ve spent a lot of time over the years chasing big dreams. As a kid, I was going to be a scientist, a rock star, an athlete… As an adult, I have dreamed of different jobs, a ’68 Camaro… We all have these big dreams, but why do some people achieve their goals and others do not? It’s not a trick question – the answer is hard work. Sure, luck plays a part, and knowing the right people can make a difference. In the end, though, if you aren’t willing to put the effort in, who you know and all the luck in the world won’t make you truly successful.
Your health and wellness journey is the same thing. You can WANT to be fit and healthy – that won’t make a difference by itself. Trust me, I know – for years I WANTED to be in better shape, but I never did anything about it. People try diets and pills** and surgical options – and they work to some extent. However, if you don’t change your habits, you won’t change your results. Roughly half the people who try one of the surgical routes do not keep the weight off after 24 months. Reasons vary, of course, but a big part is that without changes to your diet, your mindset, your workout habits – you are just patching the problem. You are chasing shadows.
** When I started my journey, I began taking Contrave, an appetite suppressant. It helped me not be hungry all the time, but it didn’t change my desire for food. I still wanted to eat at all hours, snack on things that weren’t good for me, etc. and had to fight those urges. I took Contrave for several months, then went off it and continued to lose weight. The pills helped keep my appetite down while I rebuilt my habits and mindset; I would never say they did nothing for me. They did not change me; they did help me to change.
Progress, not perfection
When people ask me how I lost weight, the answer is some variation of “so it turns out, if you eat less and exercise more, that actually works.” People laugh, and usually say something like “what else you got?” Yeah, I get it. That is the actual answer though: using whatever tools work for you, make the change and put in the effort. You may not see all the results you want to see; life happens. Medical issues pop up, financial issues arise, things change, we hit plateaus. If you hit one of those obstacles, step back and regroup, find help if you need it, then go forward again. There is always a path forward; that’s the shark mentality we talk about with 1DOS. Progress not perfection is a real thing.
If you are going to the gym regularly but not changing your diet, that’s probably not going to get it done. Everyone is different, and you may be able to get away with that for a while, but at some point you will hit a wall – you can’t outwork a lousy diet forever! If your diet is good but you aren’t getting stronger or more fit, you probably need to change your exercise routine. This spring I was putting in work, but not developing upper body and grip strength like I wanted. I made changes, adjusted my plan and I can see the difference.
Set big goals, and then set about making them happen. Get help where you need it – whether it’s a workout buddy, a trainer, medical professional, an expert at your local running shoe establishment. Beat each step along the way. Stop chasing shadows – go catch them!
June 9, Warrior Dash with my local friends. Looking forward to this one! Then June 23, the whole family heads to Chicago for the Spartan Super (and my son Alex’s Junior Spartan!) and the second annual 1DOS Sharkfest. Gonna be a great summer!