Weight Loss Tip Booklet - 151 Simple Ideas

Complain, complain, complain…

My, but we’ve become a grouchy lot, haven’t we? Maybe it’s climate change, or the economy; who knows? It could be the alignment of the stars for all I know, but we’ve got our cranky pants hitched on and we’re wearing ‘em a little too snug around our sensitive parts.

Okay, maybe YOU are not cranky, but many of us are, and if you won’t own it, I will.

I’m at the supermarket loading up on low-calorie, high-fiber, sugar-free, non-fat, no-taste foods that I force down my gullet in order to keep my weight in check. I really want chocolate, french fries, and chips; but that’s not happening, so I’m feeling deprived. Adding insult to injury, I don’t have time for this errand, but since my refrigerator resembles an arctic cave, I’m cooling my jets in the check out line. The lady in front of me waits until after the clerk has totaled all her groceries before she takes out her checkbook, enough of a trigger to kick my internal curmudgeon into overdrive, “Hey lady!” the voice in my head screeches. “You didn’t realize you were going to have to pay for this before hand? Couldn’t you have check ready when you got in line … besides you’ve never heard of debit cards?!!”  Since I won’t comment out loud (I’m too “polite”), I roll my eyes, exhale with exasperation (making sure she hears it), shift my feet restlessly, cross my arms, and set my attitude to low burn.

Or have you ever had your cell phone drop a call? Jeeze! That irks me! It wasn’t even a particularly important call, and to be honest, I didn’t want to talk to him anyway, accidentally selecting ACCEPT instead of DECLINE because the layout of the phone is so stupid. Nonetheless, I’m now heavily vested in commiserated about how his 62-inch 3-D TV’s glasses suck. Really? That’s your grievance? There are people who would love simply to witness a sunrise, and you’re grouchy because your nifty cool absolutely amazing invention doesn’t come with rechargeable batteries? I mean, come on!  Yet, I’m empathizing — at least until his call explodes in a burst of static and I detonate a blast of curse words at my phone, cellular carrier, and even the government for allowing such inferior systems to get to market.

Time for a chill pill; on the grand scale of life, most of what rankles us is not even a blip on the radar screen of “real” problems; it’s microscopic. Half the time, we don’t even remember it long enough for it to survive the ride home, let alone why we got so upset in the first place; yet we’re singing “ain’t it awful” with the volume on full.

I’ve got a phone in my pocket that connects me to anyone on the planet, lets me watch family movies, listen to music, and take photographs. It’s got more power than the entire computer system on the Apollo space crafts; and I have the gall to launch a hissy fit because I have to push REDIAL? Or I complain about having to drop a few pounds — while half the planet would beg for what I throw away? Spoiled, you’re table’s waiting.

We don’t live in a golly-gosh-gee-willikers fog of happy thoughts and pink ponies; I’m not saying that either. Sometimes, life is tough, sure.  But equally true is that most of our “problems” are better than what most of the people on most of the planet face most of the time.

For that I need to be mostly grateful.

About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and the CDO of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a website for people and organizations who are frustrated with making promises and are ready to make a change. Sign up for his free newsletter at the site or friend him at facebook.com/thistimeimeanit. He is also available for coaching and speaking engagements at 707.442.6243 or scottq@scottqmarcus.com.
I’ve heard tell that dog owners (or “guardians” as some prefer) look like their dogs. I did not realize with how much haste that transpires.

We have been considering adopting a dog for a few years. As with any important project, we began by identifying what we wanted. One, he must be a rescue dog. Two, she must not be bothered by our two cats (of course how they respond to the dog will be their decision). Three, we wanted a smaller dog that had some personality but was not hyper.  Those were the “must haves,” the remainder were “would likes.” We surfed websites, monitored our newspaper, and checked shelters and animal control with regularity.

Welcome “Jack.” He’s a five-year old mini-Schnauzer with a persuasive, mostly subdued personality who loves our backyard, follows me like a shadow, is housebroken (yay!), and even understands some commands, allowing me the option to train him even more; something I wanted. While I write, he has already taken to lying in his bed, apparently content to watch me type. (I guess he’s hard-pressed for entertainment.)

As for similarity — although I did not think of it when I picked him up; he already resembles me (or I do him). His hair, although dark of base, is basically “silver,” slightly disheveled, and he sports a gray goatee in need of a shave. More striking is that he is also into yoga; I’ve seen him doing “downward facing dog” repeatedly. (Insert rim shot here…)

The one attribute of which I am NOT fond is that, although he slept through night one without incident, he is evidently an early riser, quite contrary to myself. A perk of self-employment with one’s home as the office, is the ability to grab a few extra winks each morning, since my commute consists of four stairs. Alas, I fear those days have passed, as Jack is part rooster, prone to rise with the sun (especially ill-fated since this is summer and first light is unfortunately early).

Therefore, today, I awoke far earlier than was my pattern. My wife, snickering wickedly, commented, “Looks like your days of staying up late are over.”

Growling (yet another similarity with a dog), I dragged my carcass from my bed to begin this new, unexpected routine. Change had once again scampered into my life, this time in the form of a twenty-pound canine that could not wait to take a walk. “I must teach him the command, ‘sleep,’” I wearily lamented as I secured him in his harness.

But that’s the way it is, isn’t it? We make our plans and move forth into the yet to come. We believe we’re in control — but it’s illusion. Life steers; we are passengers. Whether changing how we eat, seeking mental health, developing relationships, financial planning, or simply adopting a furry friend, the results of our actions cannot always be predicted nor controlled.

So, once again, I am fine-tuning to the unexpected, a progression without end, and one in which we all engage non-stop. Sometimes, the adjustments are painful; other times, thank God, they are minor. Yet it is unavoidable.

I detest getting up early; it fouls my mood.

But, conversely, I can be buoyed by the outpouring of warmth from this newfound community of “dog people,” which has already been as heartwarming and loving as the joy elicited by Jack when I reach for his leash and we head out into the (too early) morning. It’s my choice.

Now, which one of us is really training the other?

About the author:  Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and the CDO of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a website for people and organizations who are frustrated with making promises and are ready to make a change. Sign up for his free newsletter at the site or friend him at facebook.com/thistimeimeanit. He is also available for coaching and speaking engagements at 707.442.6243 or scottq@scottqmarcus.com.
I’ve had a revelation.

Since the “great recession” of 2008 (which appears to still be in process) came trampling through our economic landscape, I have been — like so many others — waiting and hoping for the rebuilding. When will things get back to how they were? Can we soon return to easier times of job security and stable wages? My ship is weary of white caps; I long to navigate calm seas. When can we be there?

While pondering such issues, it fell hard on me, like a load of gold bricks sold on many radio talk shows as a “hedge against hard times.” The economy — and our lifestyle — will NEVER return to how it was. The “good old days” (such as they were) are in the rear view mirror and we have no reverse gear. We cannot turn around and they will not come back.

That's an upsetting — some might say "terrifying" — concept. Never again will we be able to conduct our lives and businesses like we did “back then.” What we are now experiencing is — and will continue to be — the “New Normal.” Until our last days, and those of our grandchildren, “different” will be “ordinary.” Future generations will study the heyday of the 1990s and early 2000s much the same as we picture the gay 1890s or the early 1920s; wild, excessive, booming — and only imaginable as images in history books.

I don’t mean to be a downer, but it’s time we bow to an ever-apparent reality and accept facts for what they are, not what we long for them to be. Denying the obvious delays the inevitable, which furthers great hurt and denigrates our lives. Striving to maintain an illusory status quo by rejecting reality prolongs its effects; and makes worse the pain.

Having said that, I do pride myself on being positive, while understanding that the set up of this column might appear less than optimistic. Yet, it can be. Due to this unhappy situation in which we find ourselves mired, we are becoming more resourceful, better planning our expenses, accepting gratification in that which we took for granted previously, and we are contributing more to our local communities.

These are wonderful changes. Many considered getting “more involved in our communities” or “cutting back on frivolous spending” numerous times before. However, until now, the pressure was not convincing enough to force action. “One of these days…” has arrived. It is today.

Significant change is always born of fear, force, or pain. No one gets up one morning, totally content with life, and says, "Let me see how I can change it.” Rather, when circumstances become too uncomfortable, we decide to do something different. The great recession has inflicted much fear and great pain, and has forced upon us harsh change. Although things will never be as they were, we overlook that they can be better. We will have tools and techniques never before considered. We will at some point re-establish equilibrium. Our world will forever be altered; yet it will also be unique with a new set of advantages and benefits; unknown to us today, but surely waiting over the horizon.

The quicker we accept that there is no turning back, the speedier we will face the future — and the faster we will experience these new advantages.

Some might disagree with my analysis; I accept that. However, should I be off track — and society does return to “how it was” — there’s is no down side, for if we adjust, we will be healthier and stronger for having worked together and supported each other through these times.

About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and the CDO of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a website for people and organizations who are frustrated with making promises and are ready to make a change. Sign up for his free newsletter at the site or friend him at facebook.com/thistimeimeanit. He is also available for coaching and speaking engagements at 707.442.6243 or scottq@scottqmarcus.com.
Most of life is done by rote.

For most of us, alarm clocks buzz the same time every morning. The average grocery store stocks over 38,000 items; yet the standard shopper goes to the same store every week, usually on the same day, and chooses from the same few dozen items every outing. We become brand loyal, eating our meals at approximately the same period every day, leave for work at a uniform time, drive a standard route, and return home at a consistent hour every night. Evenings consist of consuming one of a few “favorite” dinners. Entertainment consists of books or magazines from a few select genres and a stable of favorite authors; or maybe a regular line-up of TV shows, which we watch while sitting in “our usual place,” and snacking — or not — on the same foods we had yesterday at the same time. At day’s end, we retire at the same time, even sleeping with the same person (hopefully), only to repeat these patterns come dawn.

This is not to suggest we are unimaginative, bland, nor boring; rather to illustrate that we are creatures of habit; no if’s, and’s, or butt’s about it.

Reality is these habits make life easier. Picture the above scenario where every single day consisted of an entirely new routine. Exciting? Sure — for a little while. After that, just plain exhausting.

The downside of a life assembled on a foundation of habits are the “side effects;” those unexpected results of our patterns. Make no mistake however; they are every bit as much a part of the habit as are the results we seek.  For example, if I’m bored, I eat. If I’m angry, I eat. If I’m sad, I eat. It’s a common routine. It allows me to feel better fast. After all, chips or ice cream not only alleviate boredom, but also go a long way toward holding negative feelings at bay — for the short term. The side effect is a weight gain. I get to feel good quickly, for the simple price of obesity long term.

Conversely, some people read a book when bored; when sad, call a friend; and when angry, take a brisk walk. (There is a clinical term for such folks: “Skinny.”) Whereby their habits also provide comfort, the side effects are healthier. Should I long for such results, I must also develop similar habits.

The thing is that it’s extremely difficult to “drop” habits. Since their sole purpose is to fill voids, simply abolishing them make those holes more painful. This in turn, triggers the very behavior we were trying to banish — which puts our actions at odds with our feelings. In a case like that, emotions almost always win out and the habit — and its side effects — strengthens.

To break this cycle, one must replace the offending behavior with a counterproductive one. So, rather than saying, “I won’t eat when stressed,” develop a plan, such as, “I’ll take a walk when stressed.”  Providing you don’t also grab a candy bar on the way out the door, the anxiety is still diminished — without the pesky side effect. Yes, feels awkward at first (because it’s not yet a habit), but given a few repetitions, it eventually forms a new, healthier, habit.

We never really get rid of habits. We put them in cold storage; we can thaw them out whenever we choose. Unfortunately we do that more times than we consciously choose, which is yet one more habit we can change.

About the author:

Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and the CDO of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a website for people and organizations who are frustrated with making promises and are ready to make a change. Sign up for his free newsletter at the site or friend him at facebook.com/thistimeimeanit. He is also available for coaching and speaking engagements at 707.442.6243 or scottq@scottqmarcus.com.

I am a perfect-o-holic.

Sure, I know it’s folly; yet I can picture that magical happy place where all goes according to plan and everything works out as I imagined. I have a plan.

Today, I become the pinnacle of modern workplace efficiency. Without exception, every single solitary item on my to-do list will be accomplished — even those lingering on the pad since ‘07. Phone calls will be returned in a timely, upbeat, eager manner, complete with all the necessary and required information at hand. Today, every goal will be exceeded; every deadline shall be beat. Should I spot a customer, client, co-worker, or vendor, I shall stretch out a warm enthusiastic hand in friendship, greeting her with passion, warmth, and energy; developing the ultimate positive reputation. Today, all reports will be finished on time and with precision. Today, the five-year backlog of filing shall be ended. Facebook farm games, really cute cat videos on YouTube, and forwarded emails with titles like “LOL! OMG! You’ve got to see this!” shall not deter me from my mission. I am a rock. (I shall be so effectual that I will have even had enough spare time to properly arrange my computer’s desktop icons in perfect order. After all, I owe it to myself to have some fun.)

Moreover, I will not ignore my most important relationship. Mark this date; for it is when I became the perfect spouse. Should my loving wife require assistance, no matter what else I am doing, I shall immediately — sans attitude, of course — cease all other pursuits, and lavish upon her all the attention she so richly deserves. As illustration of how central is our shared life, I will make time to clean the bathroom, prepare dinner, wash the dishes, pay the bills, and even massage her aching feet, expecting nothing in return. Today, I am the perfect husband.

To achieve these lofty goals, I must reserve time for me, for should I falter, all who depend on me will be let down. Therefore, I shall rise with sufficient time to allow for hours of meditation and soul centering. After which, I shall adorn myself in a made-in-the-U.S.A. fashionable, waterproof, breathable, sweat suit with state-of-the-art walking gear. To which, I will attach a heart monitor, fire up some inspirational music, grab the walking weights, and tread briskly for miles; assuring my heart rate remains in its ultimate target range the entire time.

Upon returning home, I shall shower in purified, alkaline, ionized microwater, and then prepare the most important meal of the day. My healthy breakfast consists entirely of 100% organic, all natural, unprocessed, non-fat, free-range, locally grown, high-fiber foods. Further ensuring complete balance, I masticate each morsel 32 times, one for each tooth.

This will be my new dawn, my genesis, my beginning. All will be perfect!

Before the rooster crows, I am gently roused by my ascending, progressive, Tibetan chime, Zen alarm. Noticing the early hour, the stars against the dark night sky, and picturing all I will accomplish this perfect day in perfect order — I jerk my certified organic ivory-colored, imported, Egyptian cotton blanket over my head, slam the snooze button, muttering, “Yick, there’s always tomorrow,” just like I did yesterday.

A thought crosses my somnolent synapses, “Maybe, this all-or-nothing attitude is overwhelming and holding me back? Would I be more productive if I set more realistic goals?”

Pondering the revelation, I realize that if I did, I’d actually have to change. Why would I do that when everything’s perfect?

About the author:  Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and the CDO of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a website for people and organizations who are frustrated with making promises and are ready to make a change. Sign up for his free newsletter at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com or friend him at facebook.com/thistimeimeanit. He is also available for coaching and speaking engagements at 707.442.6243 or scottq@scottqmarcus.com

What really matters is usually right in front of us

Imagine what life would be like if we each lived exactly 100 years — to the day. From the moment of birth, barring accidents, you knew the exact minute of your death. One some levels it could be reassuring; however, as the calendar years passed, it might get a little freaky. There would be no doubt about how much time was left on your clock.

With that as the backdrop, pretend you are now 99 years and 364 days old, it’s your last day on the planet. You have all the knowledge you can possibly acquire. Whatever you have attempted is considered complete. Your trials, tribulations, and triumphs have left their marks. Lessons have been learned. Knowledge has been acquired. Whatever else you had planned will remain unaccomplished. There is nothing left to do but look back and analyze the story of your life.

Your time has come.

Using that scenario, suppose you could “send a message” back to the real-life YOU of today, the person reading these words this very minute. You would say, “In your remaining years, always remember and stay focused on what rally matters,” and you would list those top priorities so present-day you wouldn’t reach the end of life filled with regrets for being out of alignment.

In an exercise to establish priorities, I have conducted an activity like this with audiences of all shapes and stripes, estimating the total number of people who have done this with me to be several thousand, maybe more. Some have shared their answers; it is not a surprise that almost all are priorities such as: take care of my family, have faith, be healthy, treat others well, smile often, love deeply, or improve my community. I am reassured that I can count on the fingers of one hand when someone shared a dream like “bright red sports car” or “a hot babe.”

I find this wonderfully reassuring because I interpret these hopeful results as meaning that we, as a people, do seem to have a good direction. I think what happens is we get so mired in the day-to-day muck, we forget the big picture. We have our nose so close to the grindstone and our back so bent with our labors, that instead of focusing on what matters, all we get are sore lats and a flattened proboscis.

How often do we not even notice something wonderful that's right in front of us? As example, for Valentine’s Day, my wonderful wife arose first and hung a bright red, shiny banner proclaiming, “I love you forever” at the entrance to our living room. Shortly thereafter, oblivious, I staggered out of bed and wandered into the living room, not noticing it, even as it almost brushed my head. I did observe something that needed to be put in the kitchen so I dutifully picked it up and left the room; still unobservant. I poured a cup of coffee and returned to the living room. I am embarrassed that I had still not noticed the banner.

My wife, upstairs, calls out, "Happy Valentines Day Honey,” assuming of course, that with three trips to the living room, I must have seen her handiwork.

I replied, "You too honey."

She says, "What did you think?"

"About what?" I call back.

She says, "You didn't even see it?"

"See what?"

How many things of beauty do we miss each day, because we forget to look at what really matters? I am keeping my eyes more open today.

About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and the CDO of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, a website for people and organizations who are frustrated with making promises and are ready to make a change. Sign up for his free newsletter at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com or friend him at facebook.com/thistimeimeanit. He is also available for coaching and speaking engagements at 707.442.6243 or scottq@scottqmarcus.com

There was a cosmic event last week. For the first time in 400 years, one could view a full lunar eclipse on the Winter Solstice. If you were crazy enough (like me), you even went outside in the cold and stared up at a reddish, glowing moon. (What was really a cosmic event was that it was clear enough on the normally foggy Northcoast to actually view it!)

At precisely 12:01AM January 2, another cosmic event shall occur, although it happens annually. Step outside at that moment and you will hear a giant clunking sound rumbling across this wide land as the consciousness of the population shifts from “how much can I indulge?” to “how can I undo what I’ve done to myself for the last two months?”

To capture this public consciousness, you will be inundated with experts telling you how to stick to resolutions and providing all sorts of tools to assist you in that noble quest. Advertisements for in-home gym equipment will converge on you. Infomercials will scream (falsely): “LOSE WEIGHT WITHOUT CHANGING YOUR HABITS.” The back page of periodicals will sport a full-page banners proclaiming: “SECRETS THE WEIGHT LOSS INDUSTRY DOESN’T WANT YOU TO KNOW.”

Simply put, these are gimmicks. Remember the adage, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

Reality is that we are where we are because of what we have done so far. Period. If we wish to be somewhere else, we must do something else. No matter how loud the scam artists scream from the rafters, nothing changes if nothing changes.

If one were to look at the construction of our lives in the same way a contractor might plan to build a barricade, things make sense. Each brick is carefully chosen, sized, and cemented in its space. Over time, an entire, structurally sound wall is formed and the structure evolves into a fine fortress, secure in it’s ability to prevent intruders. However, it can also hold us prisoner.

Although our bricks are made neither of quartz nor clay, we are architects; our building blocks are the actions and thoughts we have used and reused over the decades. As illustration, the block entitled “celebrate” is often located next to the one labeled “eat.” The unit holding down “take a walk” is entitled “stay comfortable.”

Resolutions fail because we try and remove too many of bricks at once. “This is the year I’m going to lose 20 pounds, stop smoking, exercise daily, stress less, and spend more time with my family,” we proclaim. It’s not that these are unworthy or unachievable goals; it’s that they are so interwoven into the wall of our life that we have to demolish the whole entity simply to move forward. To drop some weight, I must re-learn how to celebrate, shop, and handle my emotions. If ceasing smoking is the objective, I must find a substitute when the habit calls, develop support, and learn rearrange my life so a new option is always at the ready. Every change requires a series of others to support it, a cascading effect. Stated else wise, I cannot demolish my wall, I must substitute each brick with a fresh one or my entire existence feels like it has literally fallen apart and I rush quickly to rebuild it.

To get past this Catch 22, think smaller. Resolve to pick the ONE thing that matters most and agree to repeat this action every day NO MATTER WHAT. Once you have cemented that in place, add on to it.

Success is built in small steps; failure collapses all at once.

About the author: In 1994, after a lifetime of obesity, Scott “Q” Marcus lost 70 pounds and assists people and organizations who are tired of making promises they have continually broken but are ready to change. He can be reached for coaching, consulting or presentations at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com or you can find him at www.facebook.com/scottqmarcus or @iMeanItThisTime
The common, accepted portrayal of a happy, joking, and supportive family joyously celebrating around a food-laden Thanksgiving table is definitely not a universal reality.

Some families despise the ritual (and aren't too keen on one another either); yet they meet year-after-after out a sense of guilt or tradition, jabbing each other with passive-aggressive verbal stabs. Even within families that are indeed content overall, certain members of the clan might resent, or even dislike, one another. They hold grudges over past transgressions or historic bitterness stalks silently beneath a transparent veneer of tranquility.

I point out these realities not with intent of injecting an unpleasant aftertaste to Thanksgiving dinner, nor as some sort of post-apocalyptic view of the holidays. And to be honest, I also do not know percentages of "unhappy" versus "happy" families; maybe it's minuscule; possibly it's everyone but you and I. Yet it is true. Moreover, to focus on "how many" bypasses the greater issue: we cannot release these strains until we acknowledge they exist. Once there, we discharge them with a type of thanks.

"Thanks," you might ask with understandable confusion; "Why would one give thanks for an irritating collection of boorish relations with whom I'm forced to endure boring football games and overcooked turkey?"

In the traditional sense of "giving thanks," you wouldn't. However, when one expands the concept of thankfulness, we realize that gratitude and forgiveness are actually the same act. All that differs is the direction in which they are pointed.

Similarities abound. Each brings with it a sense of inner peace and happiness. The action in each is directed toward another person; yet its true purpose is to help us, not the recipient. Each releases an responsibility: whereby thanks releases me from obligation to you. Forgiveness un-tethers you from a perceived debt I feel you have to me. The results are identical; what differs is the grounds. We give thanks when we believe something is "positive," while forgiving what we consider "negative.

Of course, it's normal to feel someone is unworthy of forgiveness. In effect, I cannot forgive you because the pain you inflicted was so extreme, or because I was so violated, that I lost control over part of my life; in essence you took away a part of ME. How do I forgive such heinous acts while remaining true to my core beliefs?

The dilemma lies in equating forgiveness with approval of the behavior.

Forgiveness is actually about my feelings, not your actions. If I change the perspective from "what you did" to "how I feel about what you did," I reclaim control over my emotions and can begin to regain that which was taken. The only alternative is to continue to be a victim, experiencing the anguish on a regular basis - the torment not only extreme, but also constant and repeated.

Unfortunately many view forgiveness as a mark of weakness. The reality is it requires enormous strength to direct one's emotions. Said Ghandi, "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." Forgiving what your sister did long ago, or how your parents mistreated you is not easy. However holding long-standing grudges does zero to help heal the pain, and - can we be honest? - it's really not hurting them in the slightest.

It might be time to let go, even a little. And this holiday seems as good of a time as any to start the process.

About the author: Scott "Q" Marcus became a THINspirational speaker and autho after losing 70 pounds in 1994. He can be reached for coaching, consulting or presentations at www.scottqmarcus.com, scottq@scottqmarcus.com, or 707.442.6243. Find him at www.facebook.com/scottqmarcus or follow him @scottqmarcus. He is thankful you have read his column for the last five years.