Time Investment + Habit Change = Exponential Return

I don’t think it matters if you are a medical professional or working fast food, we know what is good for us.  If we know, why don’t we do the right thing for our physical being?  Is our daily activity habitual?  I know mine is.  I find great comfort in routine and this was one of the reasons beginning the journey to health was difficult.  We struggle as human beings to see outside our current space.  So how can we change where we are?  When was last time you decided to do something different?

The payroll company I work for is in the process of a major software upgrade.  The functionality of this upgrade is unbelievable at times.  I am sincerely excited about the possibilities this brings!  My excitement does not out way my hesitation and often frustration!  I know how to utilize our old software and can manipulate data to meet client needs efficiently and without hesitation.  My point is that what I have been doing day in and day out is what I am holding on to even though if I spend one day figuring how a new function works it may save me the equivalent of three days in just the first month.   As a result, my return is 3 times my investment.  If this were a financial investment the answer is simple.  As a time, investment it is a bit more difficult.  Last, as a change in my routine it can be outright nerve wracking!

Now let’s point this idea at health.  With today’s hectic life style and high stress jobs time is precious!  We work all day and when we get home we want to spend time with family or quite frankly, just relax!  Time and effort spent today, tomorrow and the next day will save you wayyyyy more than time in your future.  Focusing on Health Treatment today rather than Disease Treatment tomorrow saves you and your loved one’s time, stress, money and pain (physical and emotional). 

Excess weight causes a plethora of trouble down the road, but I am just going to focus on one aspect because of how tangible it is.  The general idea can be expanded into all the other troublesome realms of excess weight.  Throughout our lives we put stress on all of our joints and they slowly breakdown. Excess force (from weight or overuse) causes the tissue to breakdown faster than is natural.  As the tissue breaks down you feel PAIN!  Very strong, physical, tangible PAIN.  Right now, my own mother is not able to walk because of the pain associated with arthritis in her hips.  She is now experiencing a very real result of prolonged excess force placed on her joints.  The only way to relieve pain is to lose weight but, when you cannot move how is that a possibility?  Her time, her life and her money are all wrapped up in excruciating PAIN!  This is not a life that I want for myself or my family. 

I know that if I am not healthy now I will be spending my retirement in a chair just like my mom.  I want to be traveling world enjoying my life with my partner!  I want to be able to spend time with the younger generation of my family and be able to keep up with them.  Don’t you?  Many of you have children and your future will have grandchildren.  Do you want to be able to play with the kids, enjoy life and all it has to offer?  If so, then you must take steps NOW!  Your future depends on it!  Your family’s happiness in the future depends on it!

Build a Foundation

I have been working out for years on my own with the thought process that it isn’t that complicated.  I chalked up my many injuries to lack of coordination without connection to any suspicious underlying dysfunction.  Currently, I am healing from bi-lateral patella-femoral syndrome, something that was totally preventable (come to find out).  Now that I am studying to attain my NASM personal trainer certification I am learning all about core and joint instability and how it triggers injury. I believe there is a general misconception that strength = health.  Until recently it was my personal misconception.   

The NASM model begins with stability before moving on to strength and only after you are proficient in strength exercises do you move on to power related workouts.  I enjoy weight lifting so I have focused on that.  My personal trainer got me involved in power related workouts.  The problem is that I do not have the stability to be doing these types of movements. After what I learned this week and with my current injury I am going to step backwards and focus on balancing out my body first.  It’s like I built walls without first laying the foundation and many times my walls have fallen in with the slightest jolt.  Before I rebuild my walls this time I am going to be sure that my foundation is strong!

Phases of Progress

Phase 1: Start with small things

Phase 2: Change habits one at a time

Phase 3: Investigate your physiology and trouble shoot

Phase 4: It’s time to hit the gym hard and count calories or points or carbs….just count.

Phase 5: For me, skin removal!  For you, this may be irrelevant.

Phase 6: Finding new interesting physical challenges, just make it fun for you!

Phase 7: For me, helping others to achieve!

When you begin the path to health you can find endless amounts of literature with titles like 30 days to your bikini body or 10 days 10 pounds.  You will also find a plethora of miracle diet plans, pills prescriptions about specific foods not to eat.  If you take pieces from everything you may find something sustainable until then it is important to understand that you don’t get directly from 300 pounds to 160 by doing the same things the whole time.  Often the quick fix can make things worse in the long run because by taking extreme measures all at once you cannot sustain the changes.

Weight loss has many phases and they are unique for all of us.  When you are beginning “Morbidly Obese” small changes can make a fast yet manageable result.  For me, this phase was from 300 to 250 pounds.  I analyzed my diet, activity level and medications.  At first, I was in such bad shape that the medications had to remain but by the time I lost that first 50 pounds I was off the primary weight gain related substances.  I investigated dietary changes I could manage and stick with and began moving my body more.  It worked!  I lacked funds to attain any expert help or even join a club, so it required more patience than anything.

The next phase required more work, walking combined with less fat and sugar was not enough.  I had to find the next set of changes.  I took everything up a notch by adjusting my actions every 14 days.  One small change I could stick with for 14 days and then another small change.  The key was I had to change my habits.  I think this was the hardest part of the entire journey because progress was sluggish resulting in waning motivation many times.  It took me a year to lose 15 pounds and it was discouraging! 

I had to seek out the expertise of a Naturopath to begin making real progress again. For me stage three began and ended with specific medical guidance.  Tests were completed that western medicine does not support.  With the results of the tests physiologic repairs were made.  Hormones were balanced specific to my needs and my adrenal glands regained enough function to make a difference.  They will never function at 100% again but through very tightly managed adrenal rehab I was able to regain 40% function.  These major adjustments resulted in another 45 pounds loss that led into the more active areas.

Once I reached 195 pounds it was time for phase 4 to begin. Challenging workouts at the gym early morning and again in the evening while watching what I was eating.  It may seem like this would be more difficult than earlier phases but by this time it was fun, and I was mentally ready to challenge myself.  I was doing cardio and lifting weights and seeing less weight loss but my body shape was noticeably changing, and it was changing quickly.  I had to stop focusing on the scale because the numbers were barely budging even though I was dropping pant sizes.

Phase 5 was something that I never thought I would do.  I was disgusted by the idea and told everyone I would NEVER do it.  Weight loss was to get healthy no for esthetics! After I had so much skin hanging off my midsection and could no longer see a belly button I developed a disdain for my new body.  I was more self-conscious than I was before I lost the weight and I looked fat even though it was just loose skin.  I ended up last year having major plastic surgery to remove all this excess.  It took so much preparation but was necessary to move forward (there will soon be multiple posts related to surgery).

Now I am in phase 6 were I focus on real fitness goals and less on the way my body looks.  Obviously with greater fitness comes more muscle toning and fine tuning the body but it is the farthest thing from my focus.  I hired a trainer to get me started working out in new ways.  It has worked immensely well!  I had no idea I was capable of the things he has taught me to do.  The first time he told me about squat jumps I could not get my feet to get off the ground.  I never would have even heard of them without a trainer.  The number of things that the trainer has introduced me to will keep me challenging myself for a long time! 

The 7th phase will be when I am able to transfer what I have learned to help others regain their health.  To motivate without judgment and constantly encourage.  Once I complete my trainer certification my focus will always be positive and to support the mental/emotional struggle as much as the physical.