Weight Loss Tip Booklet - 151 Simple Ideas

I hadn’t seen him in years even though we live in the same town. You know how it is, I’m busy, so is he. Time got away from us. It’s not like we had a disagreement, or we didn’t want to see each other; it’s just that, well, life kicked in…

I answered the phone, “Hey Scott,” says he, “I just realized that we haven’t gotten together in a long time and we’ve got so much to catch up on. I thought we could schedule a time.”

“Sounds great,” I replied, “I can do lunch next Thursday. If that doesn’t work, we could get coffee in the afternoon, or, on Wednesday, we could meet early and grab a bagel. Where would you like to go?”

He responded, “You know the park with the duck pond?”

“Yes, the one with all the trails?”

“Yeah, that one. What about Thursday at noon?”

“Sure, that works for me. But I’m not familiar with any restaurants there.”

“There aren’t any. I’ve been trying to get in shape, and I know you’re always watching your weight, so I thought we could walk and talk. It would be nice to catch up outside.”

And so we did. But, can I be honest? It felt really weird; kind of like wearing someone else’s clothes. It seems normal enough at first glance, but you just can’t get comfortable.

I mean, think about it, what’s one of the first questions we ask when we decide to meet up with someone: Lunch or coffee? If you really wanted to crash our economy, ban meetings in restaurants or coffee houses.

I’m sure it goes back to primitive times. It’s conceivable (at least to me) that early Australopithecines at day’s end gathered around a half-devoured gazelle and discussed their events on the plains. After all, a leisurely grunting session with some close hominoids after a long period gathering, scavenging, and escaping from carnivores would be welcome.

Although the evolutionary train has pulled out, our habits have not. We celebrate with food. We do business over dinner. Relationships begin — and end — at restaurants. Even our last tribute, the wake, is deeply intertwined with eating.

There’s nothing wrong with these; don’t get me wrong. But one has to admit, that for most of us, it’s hard to picture doing anything else with each other. If we’re looking to adjust our collective waistlines and get in shape, maybe we need to examine some options. After all, there are book clubs, quilting circles, or even video games.

My son was in town; this usually involves copious amounts of food. Under the television lies our unused video console; the wireless type specializing in sporting events, where one creates icons to compete against each other.

Said he to me, “Bet I can take you in a sword fight.”

I might be 30 years his senior but I still have testosterone; I couldn’t let that stand.

Our characters faced each other. The battle was joined. After several close rounds, lots of laughter, a great deal of sweat, and exclamations of “You’re toast!” or “Take that,” age indeed triumphed over youth.

More important, I can already tell it will be one of my favorite memories, far more than yet another trip to yet another restaurant. Plus the added bonus is I got to show him he’d still better not mess with his old man. (Of course, I still can’t lift my arms; but I’ll deny it if you tell him.)

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.

Pointing fingers at others

Cigarette smokers have long been relegated to the underclass of the social order. They are ostracized, even banished, from "polite society." This was hammed home to me recently while landing at Salt Lake City airport. Upon taxing to the terminal, the attendant takes to the microphone to make her customary proclamations: "Thank you for flying with us; we realize you have a choice of airlines. (I do?) Please don't remove your seat belt until the captain has pulled into the gate and, if you smoke, please do not do so until you arrive in the designated area inside the terminal."

Sure enough, literally smack-dab in the center of the terminal is an enclosed, glass-walled chamber where smokers light up and puff away to their heart's content. (That's probably a bad choice of expressions in light of the activity we're discussing.) What struck me was that through the grey misted air, they appeared as caged zoo animals, pacing in their restricted area, engaging in behaviors not accepted by the reminder of the population, while kept at a safe distance from those they could harm upon accidental release.

I found the whole thing to be incredibly sad.

Let me head off the armies of hacking militant, wheezing smokers who, even before they have finished reading this piece, are racing to computers to fire off angry missives about how I am insulting them. My comments are not as much levied at those who have chosen to engage in this habit as much as at the society that determines what is appropriate and what is not. Mores change and smoking, once considered "the cat's meow," is now considered gauche, existing in a strange societal limbo - scorned yet legal.

I am allergic to tobacco smoke. Moreover, having previously lived with a smoker, the stench that permeated and saturated everything from clothing to carpeting invoked regularly my gag reflex. So, I'm A-OK with the act being isolated. Yet, what is not tolerable to me is that it appears that we - the "Proper Members of Society" - are forever judging others in a misguided effort to feel better about ourselves, while ignoring our own annoying foibles.

Civility's spotlight, although not shifting from the nicotine user, has lately expanded to include the overweight. As with users of cigarettes, behind their backs, we shake our heads and whisper to our "normal" friends, "It's a shame that they don't take care of themselves. I'd never let myself look like that." We wag our fingers and click our tongues, satisfied that we are "better than that."

It's probably human nature to try and elevate oneself by putting down others. I know in my lesser moments that I am not immune. However, it seems that each and everyone of us has habits of which we would not want exposed to bright sunlight. Creating new sub-classes determined by what one eats or smokes is divisive, and we've got plenty of that going around.

I've got bad habits. You do too. It's not a reflection of self-worth; it is a method by which each of us is trying to make it through the day without collapsing under the weight of its stress. I'm not advocating abandoning personal responsibility and "let it all hang out;" quite the contrary. The process of growth is the cycle of "identify, adjust, and modify." It seems if each of us spent a tad more energy striving to be an example instead of a judge, it could alter the atmosphere just enough that we wouldn't need a cigarette - or bag of chips - quite as often.

About the author: Scott "Q" Marcus is a THINspirational speaker and author. Since losing 70 pounds over 15 years ago, he works with overloaded people and organizations who are looking to improve communication, change bad habits, and reduce stress. He can be reached for consulting, workshops, or presentations at 707.442.6243 or scottq@scottqmarcus.com. He will sometimes work in exchange for chocolate.
Michelle Obama has chosen to grapple with the crisis of childhood obesity. Props to the First Lady, as this is a dilemma of historic proportion. In a mere two decades, when we as elderly baby boomers, are gobbling up every available resource related to health care, our children and grandchildren, plagued by the ailments of a lifetime of obesity, will figuratively be feeding from the same trough. (Bad analogy; but it works.) We are rapidly approaching the only time in history when three generations will be suffering from the ill effects of poor health at the same moment.

So, let me make one thing clear: childhood obesity begins in adulthood.

At first blush, that makes as much sense as the bumper sticker that proclaims, "Insanity is hereditary. You get it from your kids." Of course, that placard is humorous; the wellbeing of society is anything but. The unvarnished truth is when we get down to brass tacks, children to not become obese by choice, but rather by the (in)action of adults.

Before, with great high dudgeon, mothers and fathers converge upon this establishment carrying pitchforks and hoisting torches shouting for my removal, let me add with great haste (spoken as a father as well as a formerly obese child), that I am not placing fault entirely on the parents. Oh, indeed, there is blame to spread far and wide. However, we are the primary and first decision makers for our children. We set them on their path. We instill upon them our moral guidelines. We are the where the buck - or cookie - stops.

I know that in today's two-working-parent-I-am-really-exhausted-at-the-end-of-the-day world, fighting the influences heaped upon our offspring is overwhelming. I grok that these influences are powerful, selfish, misguided, even mal-intended. Yet, I think that as a society, we stand in a circular firing squad aiming at those on either side; in effect - pardon the mixed metaphor - fiddling as an overweight Rome burns in its own deep fryer.

Parents place fault with the media for an endless wave of advertising aimed at those too young to discern accuracy from hype. The media passes it to the schools for poor meal choices and vending machines full of sugar. Our educational system holds responsible government for inadequate funding, forcing subsidized income provided by the vendors who place the goodies in the machines, who then shout, "lack of control" at the parents. Circle complete; nothing is accomplished.

We have seen the problem and it is all of us. Someone has got to do something; no longer can we wait for "the other guy."  It therefore stands to reason that since my children are the most important people in my life, I am the end of their line. I must step forward first, figuratively and literally.

I resolve, that before I collapse on to the softness of the couch at the end of a long day, I will take a 10-minute walk with my kids, giving them the example of activity and the support of listening. I promise to not bring into our house any product whose label has as its primary ingredient, sugar (or any kind of "-ose"). I agree to eat a little less and pay attention a little more. In effect, I will stand taller, striving to be the example I want my children to become.

Role models are not without flaws; however, they take responsibility for them and continually attempt to improve. That's an objective good for children of any age, no matter how wrinkled they might be on the outside.
It's not that difficult

Sometimes - one might even argue "always" - wisdom and truth are found in the most basic statements. One of the simplest, yet most empowering comments I have heard is from Dr. Sue Morter. Aside from being a powerhouse speaker, she's extremely inspirational, a dynamo on the stage, and outstandingly wise.

"So, what did liberating life-altering observation did she lay pass unto you?" You ask, breathless with anticipation.

"It's difficult until it isn't."

"Huh? That's it?"

Yep; five words; seven if you don't count contractions. But, consider the message in that unvarnished declaration. Most of what we want for ourselves is really not difficult to obtain. We possess the tools (or know where to get them) and we know what we desire; all we have to do is go get it. The hitch in the giddy up is how we assemble the plan, making it complex and complicated. We smother it with all makeup of parameters to which we really cannot - or do not want to - abide. We spend so much energy building the golden pathway that we're too exhausted to walk upon it.

As case in point, how 'bout we look at losing weight? (Wow, who would think I'd choose that as an example?) The bottom line of weight loss is brilliantly clear: Eat less; move more. Period. No pills, no programs, no late-night TV promises. See? That's not difficult, is it? If I regularly shut my mouth a few minutes earlier and move my feet a couple of steps further, the pounds "magically" falls away. We all know that. Yet, because we're in such a hurry to "get there," we go overboard in the implementation and develop barriers to actually achieving what we want.

Boldly, I stand tall, placing my fists upon my hips, puffing out my chest, and proclaiming to anyone who cares (and many who don't). "I am now on a diet! (Insert trumpets...) Therefore, until I lose 30 pounds, I shall not be able to go with my friends, family, or business associates to any eating establishment. While imprisoned in my barren, spartan, kitchen, I will consume only unprocessed, all-natural, organic, high-fiber, sugar-free, mostly tasteless, foodstuffs. Furthermore, I will rise two hours earlier each and every day and spend that time meditating, journaling, and exercising. I have calculated that this plan will shall allow me to lose three pounds a week, which I will do this day forth until I have achieved my goals." After my pronouncement, I twirl spectacularly on my heels, place nose firmly in the air and stomp dramatically into my self-established sensory-deprivation chamber, where I shall remain in exclusion until I have achieved a smaller waistline.

Hey Tinkerbell, can we put down the fairy-wand and step out from fantasy-land for a moment?

What began as extremely unfussy and obtainable intention - eating better and moving more - has erupted into a full-scale mega-production requiring learning how to cook differently, shopping with new eyes, rearranging schedules, altering relationships, and devising self-inflicting intimidating goals. Building such blockades makes the procedure ridiculously difficult and horribly unpleasant.

After ramming one's head against the wall enough, we will look for doors, finally "letting go" and releasing as unproductive the artificial rules and limiting beliefs; which allows us to get down to basics. We find something we will actually do and take one small, simple, easy, baby step; which we repeat until we get actually get what we want.

It was difficult. Then it wasn't. It is up to each of us to determine when we want that to change.

About the author: Scott "Q" Marcus is a THINspirational speaker and author. Since losing 70 pounds over 15 years ago, he conducts speeches, workshops, and presentations throughout the country. Join him on a nationally broadcast teleconference about weight loss on March 7, 2010. Find out more at http://www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com