I meant to write this blog a few weeks ago when I infiltrated the Oklahoma Football watch party for the Army versus Oklahoma game (see picture below). A devoted Army fan, I went to the only watch party for the game put on by the Oklahoma Alumni of Austin. I and two other of my West Point alumni joined close to 200 enthusiastic OU fans.
I thought I would leave the game about after 20 minutes since Army was supposed to lose by 30 points. But I ended staying to the end. For those who did not see the game, it went into overtime! Even though Army ultimately lost, they gave the powerhouse Oklahoma team a run for its money. How were they able to do it and go on to have a top 25 season (please, please stay there and Beat Navy!)? There are three characteristics of the Army Football team that lead to success both on the football team and for those trying to get healthy:
Consistency – The Army football team does not have a lot of plays, but what they do have they run in a consistent manner. Each player knows exactly were to block in their Flexbone Triple Option set. This scheme is run only at the Service Academies and it requires discipline and consistency. Each player needs to execute flawlessly due to the smaller size of the players. This type of consistency also served me well as I lost over 170 lbs! I did not have a lot of plays in my weight loss arsenal but what I did have (tracking points, walking, mindfulness), I did on a consistent basis. Each day I tracked my food, walked at least a mile, and spent at least 10 minutes on meditation. Much like Army pounds the football down the field, I pounded away the pounds with consistent execution!
Persistent – The Army football team persistently pursues its playbook even when behind. They do not stop running and driving even if they have to catch-up. Passes are few and far between as they methodically drive down the field. They never stop pursuing their game plan. This persistence is also necessary to successfully restore your health. When I started out, I could barely walk around the block. But little by little, through persistence, I was able to workup to 50 miles in a single day. I did not do it in a week or a month but through persistent exercise over the course of a year and half. Be persistent like the Army Football team and stick to your plan. You will get healthy!
Attitude – The Army Football team stands undaunted against any foe as they demonstrated in the OU game. They stay positive even when facing incredible odds. Also, even when they come up short in the end (like they did in the OU game), they do not let it get them down. They just pick themselves up and win the rest of season, driving into a top 25 spot! You need the same attitude when tackling a weight loss journey. Setbacks will inevitably happen. Like the time you gain 2 lbs in a week because of work demands cut, or eat too much for Thanksgiving (while watching football no less). But at these times, it is important to have a positive attitude and continue marching to your goal, just like the Army football team marches down the field!
I would like to end with a rephrased Army fight song for those driving to their weight loss goals:
Every Saturday I do what I call the Texas Two Step. Regardless of my flight the day before (I usually get into Austin at 2 AM when working away), I always follow the same two step routine of success on Saturdays.
First, I go to the gym and either do the elliptical trainer and weights or I participate in group circuit training called Functional Integrated Training (FIT). This week it was FIT and we did a series of weights and aerobic exercises with the Bosu Ball. I was a little ragged because of the late flight but fortunately Uptown Funk was the ending song. I don’t know about you, but it is hard not to work out let alone dance when Uptown Funk is played.
Next I go to either the 8 am or 9:30 AM Weight Watcher’s meeting. It starts with the weigh-in and then a very informative meeting (this week on SMART goals and how they keep you on track).
I will end this week’s blog with two pictures from the Second Texas Two Step. I apologize for not smiling too much (still recovering from the flight). In the second picture, I tried to capturea picture in the WW room. It did not come out the way I wanted (note to myself – I need to learn to take selfies from my kids). But the message is important – Believe in Yourself. No matter your current health or fitness, you can do it with a little faith and love! Life is Attractive, when you’re Active.
There is a definite connection between body and soul. Be happy, feel better. Share kindness, win friends, and feel good. On the other hand, when you are stressed or miss your work out, it is not always easy to turn the other cheek. Common sense confirms recent studies that caring for others improves both the wellbeing of those you helped and your own!
I have struggled to learn this lesson over my 50+ years. I am naturally an intense person and a bit of a curmudgeon. A person that is sometimes not kind to others and in particular myself. Driven to achieve, I sometimes drive other people out and beat myself up. This often led to regret, guilt and more often then not an eating binge. A happy person is a healthy person and visa versa.
That is why when I started on my weight loss journey two years ago, it was just as important to cleanse my soul as my body. I took several measures to help me improve my disposition and correspondingly my health. This is what I did.
Write in my Kindness Journal – I journal six minutes a day in a Kindness Journal. It sets my goals for the day on how to be a better person and helps me vision the person I want to become. It also provides me a place to recognize those items the day before for which I was most pleased (being kind to myself) and reflect on those that were kind to me. Lastly, I set my intention on one kind or beneficial act that I will do to make the world better for others. I use this particular journal but you can use another Kindness Journal
Record happy thoughts in HappyFeed – Besides writing in my Kindness Journal, I record three things each day that I am happy about. I use the iOS application HappyFeed. You do not always have to write something earth shattering. Sometimes I write something like “I got 8 hours of sleep last night!”. The key is to dwell on what makes you happy whether than what makes you stressed.
Pray, Meditate and Give Thanks – When you are thankful, there is no room for worry. You feel better about yourself and also those around you. Also the Power of Thanksgiving can break through even the darkest hour. I spoke to this in the following blog. The Power of Thanksgiving
Help Others – Helping others has benefits for those you help and others. First, when you help others, you focus on them and not the issues that you are facing. Also, you are so preoccupied with the task at hand whether it is building a house for Habitat for Humanity or walking to raise funds to combat cancer, that you often do not have time to overeat.
Smile – The simple act of smiling lightens your mood and that of others. Better yet laugh, it is the best medicine as they say.