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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

the experiment: how to reach a goal

You don't set out to lose 100 pounds. Even thinking about this is unfathomable. Last October I set a goal: Lose 100 pounds. I wasn't sure how I was going to do this but I put it out there into the universe. I believe that in order to make something happen you have to say it out loud. 

And so last October I started small because thinking about losing 100 pounds was just not something I could do. I set small goals. Today, 10 months later I am sitting here at my desk, proud of an accomplishment that I wasn't sure I could do. If you have a goal -- buying your first home, getting your degree, having a family, you can do it. You just have to set yourself up for success. Here's how: 

1. Set the goal and then break it up into sections. 

For me, it was 10 pound increments. I didn't think about the bigger picture. I just knew I had to lose 10 pounds and that seemed manageable. When you succeed in reacher a small goal, it makes the big goal seem possible. 

2. Make your goal public. Be accountable.

I knew that by posting my weight loss on Facebook, that I was accountable. Whether I lost or gained, I posted it on Facebook. Sometimes, when I plateaued and I just wanted to dive head-first into a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, the only thing that kept me from doing it was the thought of posting a gain publicly.

3. Call in the big guns.

Let's say you want to become a lawyer or an ultrasound technician or a chef. You need training. You could look this information up online but the smartest thing you could do is talk with an attorney, ultrasound technician or chef and find out how they did it. They have the experience. They can tell you which schools you should consider. They can give you invaluable insider advice on how to achieve your goal.

When I plateaued and wanted to give up, I spoke with Chris Powell (twitter: @realchrispowell), trainer and star of "Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition." I asked him what I was doing wrong and how I could shake things up. He's the expert. He gave me the exact  insight I needed to restart my weight loss which propelled me to the 100 pound mark.

4. When you want to quit, take a 5-minute time-out.

There were many times, many many many times along this 100 pound adventure when I wanted to stop. It was too hard. I like cheese too much. I hated working out blah blah blah. I remember one night when I logically mapped out what I would do now that I was going to stop this weight loss thing. Life would be incredible and I could have mac & cheese again. I would have all this free time if I stopped working out. I was giddy with the thought of no longer depriving myself. I was ready to go to the market and go crazy loading up my basket with all the stuff I stopped eating.

Then I closed my eyes. I remember sitting quite still on the floor in the sun. It was a cold March day but the sunbeams were bouncing off the hardwood. I remembered every single morning that I went out there and climbed hills in the rain and the early mornings I went to the gym and swam and lifted weights. All of that would have been for nothing if I quit. All that hard work just gone. So I decided to give myself 5 minutes. If I still wanted to quit in 5 minutes I could. I sat still with my eyes closed and thought of every moment that felt good over the past few months. Every time I put on pants that were too big, every time I was able to lift heavier weights, every time I choose wisely.

I still wanted to quit after 5 minutes so I gave myself another 5 minutes and another. At the end of 20 minutes I had remembered how strong I was. Maybe on another day I would quit, but today would not be the day I quit. I found that by telling myself that I could quit but first I had to wait 5 minutes and that took the pressure off. Every single time by the end of 30 minutes I was ready to keep going on the positive route.

If I had given in while I was in that frenzied moment of "I HATE THIS. I AM QUITTING!!!!" then that one day of going off my program would have turned into two days, a week then I would hate myself for quitting. Being proud of yourself beats that unbearable feeling of failure.

5. Think of future you.

Every single time I stepped out our front door with my headset on and my running shoes laced up, I thought of future me. I listened to the same music and I imagined myself running easily. I could see exactly what I wanted future me to look like, to feel like, to be. I held her, I held ME in the front of my mind. I wanted to be that person I imagined I could be.

What is your goal? What do you want most in life? Do you imagine perfect Sunday mornings walking to your favorite brunch spot with your life partner? Is your biggest goal to hold your baby close to you? Do you want to look out at your parents as you walk across that stage to receive your diploma?

Imagine it. Close your eyes and see it happening. What are wearing? What kind of day is it? Is it sunny? Who is there with you. When you replay a scene over and over especially with the smallest of details, you create the pathway in your brain that will make it easier for you to see this goal play out.

See, here's the thing: Life is incredible. It is. What I can tell you today, on August 13th is that when you reach a goal, it changes you. You become more confident. You smile more. You make people feel good by the energy you put out there and in turn people react to that positive energy and you are surrounded by more positive energy.

What do you want? Go get it. And if you need encouragement, I'm right here.

You've got this. 

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