Some say the key to weight loss is reducing calories while others say exercise is the key. Both are important but for me be the key to weight loss is controlling negative thoughts. A positive outlook and a can-do attitude works wonders on both your body and your soul. It has in my case! In the past three years, I have been able to shed over 170 pounds and a lot of mental baggage by doing three simple things.
1. Stop Negative Talk. The very first thing you should do when striving to lose weight and be a better leader is stop the negative talk. You need to replace the words can’t do with can do. Also, you need to stop the practice of “worst casting”. This is the racing voice inside your head that blows the simplest setback into a full fledge downward spiral. Here is an example of thoughts in my head before I learned how to tackle it.
“This project is not going well. But I am the only one that can do it. I need to work to at least 10 PM to pull it out or it will not get done. I am so tired. Need some energy. But if I take a break I will never pull it out. And then everyone will come after me. How can I get some energy to keep going? Grab a cup full of peanut M&M’s and another cup of coffee and I will make it. I am still too tired but worth a shot”.
This my friends is how I gained over 80 lbs. in less than a year. I worst casted myself into weight gain! I reveled in being the Iron Man that could beat Murphy and stop disaster from coming down upon us. But in truth, Murphy’s law (Everything that may go wrong will go wrong) was not in play. Instead, I was being both a pessimist and an arrogant leader not trusting of the collective wisdom of the team. It was only when I had faith in myself, a clear realization of the situation, and the belief in my team that I could break the cycle of worst casting.
So here is how the sound of the voice in my head is now. “The project is having some problems but we can tackle them. But I am still so tired. I will call up my team to see if they have some ideas. Then I will take a walk and clear my head. We will then be able to solve this tomorrow. [Don takes a walk]. I came up with three ideas that will solve this by leveraging the ideas from my team. I am energized. I write an email, set the plan for tomorrow and go to bed!”
See the difference. When I let the negative talk dominate, I worst casted myself into eating M&M’s, sitting in a chair, losing sleep, and not engaging my team. I was still able to overcome Murphy’s Law because it was not really in play! Also, I did it by force rather than smarts. When I stepped back and stopped the negative thoughts, I exercised, engaged my team, got some sleep, and came up with a better solution with a cleared head. First rule to weight loss and leadership – stop the negative thoughts in your head.
2. Take a Walk. I already alluded to this in rule 1. When your mind is raising and your feeling stressed, don’t reach for a Whataburger – take a walk! Preferably outside. It will do three things for you. First, it will destress you and calm you down. Especially if you are out in nature and you can hear birds singing and smell the flowers. Second, it will allow you to catch up with your thoughts and put them together in coherent patterns. One thing that really helps on this second one. Listen to a relevant audio book. I cannot tell you how many times I solved the latest problem or come up with a blog story. Third, it will allow you to capture ideas in a less rushed manner. Nearly half my blogs and many of my work solutions start the same way. I am walking around Town Lake listening to a self-help or sometimes a philosophy book. An idea or a solution pops in my head. I press the button on my iPhone and say Siri Take Note. Then I record the idea and use it when I get home. It is a great way to solve problems and write great blogs (and often to scare the person walking beside you!).
3. Be Kind. The last thing to defeat negative talk, work inefficiency, and weight gain is KINDNESS. Be kind to yourself. You are doing the best you can. Be kind to others. Often, they are doing the best they can and if they are not, you need to help them achieve their potential. I will not lie to you. Kindness is something I am still working on. It is hard to tackle 50 some years of being a driver and a bit of curmudgeon. But more often than not, you can kill the problem with kindness. And shed the weight by being kind to yourself as you move to a healthier you.