Some people want quick fixes, but you build a road to success with lifelong changes. If only I had learned that before I made myself miserable.
I remember starving surrounded by food. I was 16 and working at Marti’s Restaurant in Yakima, Washington in the middle of a beautiful summer.
I wanted to get in shape so I had a simple solution: don’t eat. I was quite successful at it. I had the willpower of a moose*. Even though I received a 40% discount on all food, I remember sitting in a booth on my break nibbling on a croissant. Like a hamster with a food pellet, I would break off a small piece and try to make it last for much longer than the laws of physics would allow.
Although I lost weight, my victory was short lived. I eventually gained it all back. I wanted success with a quick fix, and wasn’t looking for success with lifelong changes.
What We Want
We are all built having this crazy part of us with two competing goals. We want to have the delicious food from PF Changs and we want to keep the money in our wallet. We want to have the pizza and the six pack abs. We want to have our cake and eat it too**. It’s like if Sophie’s Choice*** was between having it all or having it all.
Unfortunately (or, probably more accurately, “fortunately”), life doesn’t work that way. We don’t get something for nothing. Everything has a cost whether we see it or not. We are always paying for what we want, we simply may not always know the currency; it could be time, money, dignity, or any number of other things.
If we know this we can reach success with lifelong changes.
We may find free pizza, but when we take a slice, it costs us a little of our health. We may have been given someone’s old computer to use, but it costs us in time and frustration to operate it. Sometimes the costs are worth it, but they still exist.
The costs are not necessarily unpleasant. We have good friendships because we pay in time and attention we are willing to give. We have a good job because we invested in our skills when we could have been out having fun. Often the costs are some we are happy to pay.
At the same time, everything has a cost. This doesn’t change. And with that knowledge we can reach success with lifelong changes.
So often I hear about people making temporary fixes: a weekend getaway to fix a marital problem or a diet to lose a few pounds. These are great ideas but if they are the only solution without a long term plan, they will eventually have no real effect.
If you want to have a good relationship with your spouse, there is a cost involved. You need to invest time daily, not just for one weekend. If you want to be healthy, there is a cost involved. You can’t just go on a diet then go back to normal when you lose the weight. You have to eat well and be active almost daily.
You find success with lifelong changes. You find success not with big, temporary changes, but with small, constant changes you make for a lifetime.
You don’t eat salad for a week and go back to eating burgers everyday. You come up with a sensible eating plan that includes foods you enjoy that are good for you.
I didn’t get this when I was starving myself at 16, but many years later I discovered it. I have since changed my lifestyle and have lost the weight and kept it off for sometime. I did it with lifelong changes.
If you want to live a better life, don’t go for the quick fix. You find success with lifelong changes. Then you live a life that’s more valuable than any price you can put on it.
* I’m not sure if moose are known for willpower. Perhaps they just do whatever the flip they want. If that’s the case I had way more willpower than a moose. They still had me beat on antlers.
** This expression puzzled me for the longest time. Of course I want to have my cake and eat it too. How do I eat it if I don’t have it? It wasn’t until a few years ago (yep… it took me that long) that someone pointed out that it meant you want to have the cake uneaten for later consumption and at the same time eat it. How does such a confusing saying become so well known?
*** Sophie’s Choice is a movie where a woman named Sophie has to make a difficult choice. At least this one’s clearer than the cake thing.
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