Losing Weight or Gaining Health
Do babies learn to walk or are they learning not to fall? It's a simple adjustment to the question, but makes a world of difference in understanding, from the perspective of the infant, what's really going on and how the brain is processing the experience.
My friend Vik Maraj, who I met at the Nexus North Design Lab, did an incredible talk at TEDx Edmonton in 2011 where he challenged us to look at the world and the future through the context of a reality where most babies are learning not to fall by holding on a past called "crawling".
According to Vik, Xavier King was one of two or three babies, out of 700,000 born in the U.K. that year, who learned to walk by the age of 6 months. He took a radically different approach to trying not to fall, in fact, he was truly trying to walk.
This notion, coupled with many of the things I'm reading in The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, the extraordinary fable by Robin Sharma, inspires me to change my perspective on my most recent battle of the bulge. Am I trying to lose weight, or am I trying to gain health?
By the one measure, I feel a numbing disappointment every time I step on the weight scale and don't see a drop. By the other, I feel a sense of gratitude and progress without having to place a numerical value on what I'm trying to do. I am, in fact, doing it. I am eating better, making healthier choices from sun up to sun down, going for nightly walks with my beautiful wife, feeling more comfortable in my clothes and in my skin.
It's a nuance, but an important one, rooted in the language we use to describe our experiences.
In my previous way of thinking, I was shooting for 180 pounds, my original target from 2011 when I was on the Ideal Protein program. That was the ribbon at the finish line in my mind. But it begs the question "Then what?". If there is an end to the battle, it suggests the beginning of something else, a return to old habits, dietary choices, and inevitably, an incremental increase of the numbers on the weight scale.
If my perspective - akin to shifting from learning not to fall to trying to walk - is about winning health, there is no end. Why would I want to stop something that makes me feel stronger, more comfortable, healthy? So, in fact, I've shifted my thinking from giving up things in order to achieve a weight target, to embracing things that add health and vitality to my life every single day. It's a simple shift in thought, but one that is another game-changer to add to Vik's list in his TEDx talk.
Sharma suggests a daily mantra to help guide the way to a radical shift in mindset. Perhaps mine could be something like this:
This is a GAIN HEALTH day. I will make choices that lead to looking great, feeling great and living great!
I wonder how many other elements in my life are about trying not to fall and holding on to a past called crawling?