When it comes to my mission to lose 40 lbs by July 1, 2022, there are several strategies that come together to work like a well-oiled machine.
Ok, not always like a well-oiled machine.
Some days, I don’t apply all the strategies. Either I get off track, or I intentionally make the choice.
The strategies that contribute to me getting healthy and having successful weight loss are:
- Healthy food that is mostly low in calorie density, low in fat and higher in nutrient density
- Drinking enough water
- Intermittent fasting
- Moving my body
I’ve listed them in what I think is the order of importance.
There is, however, one topic I’ve not yet discussed, and it belongs in position number 1. It is the single most important part of whether you’ll have success losing weight, or achieving other goals.
I’m talking about your LifeLens.
Think of your LifeLens as your mindset. I don’t use mindset because it’s not quite the right word.
- is how you see yourself and the world
- affects everything you do and is more powerful than just a mindset
- is changing and flexible; it’s not set
- changes over your lifetime but serves as the foundation for your life on a day-to-day basis
Your LifeLens is the lens through which you think about your life and approach life. It is one of the most important and most underrated parts of who you are.
I’m not talking about having an optimal LifeLens every minute of every day, but how you operate in your world needs to include a perspective that you are responsible for your life, and that you can pick up the pieces when things seem to fall apart.
Here are some other concepts/topics connected to your LifeLens:
Your LifeLens includes all these, but it’s much more.
Each person’s LifeLens, which influences how they interact with the world, is unique and has been shaped by many factors:
- Culture and geography
- Religious influences
- Socioeconomic influences
- Education access and level
- Parental influence/upbringing
- Family and friends
Although we are each unique, we are the same in one key area: our ability to change our LifeLens if it isn’t serving us optimally.
Once you’ve adjusted your LifeLens, or added more effective filters, to help you view your inner and outer world in a way that is healthier for you, you have such incredible power.
Power to change your life in any way you want! I’m not exaggerating.
And guess who controls your LifeLens? It’s you.
Before I share how we can make changes to our LifeLens to make our lives better, let’s look at three examples of different LifeLens and how they are different.
LifeLens Examples: 3 Women
Imagine the following situation:
A woman wakes up one weekend morning, excited to start her commitment to walking outside every day. She’s overweight and hopes the walking will help her drop some unneeded pounds. She looks out the window to see it’s cloudy, and then discovers it will likely rain.
Now, let’s look at how three different women (Linda, Janet and Penny) respond to this situation, as well as how their LifeLens might be influencing their thinking and behavior.
As soon as Linda saw the clouds, her excitement was squashed. She really wanted to walk with the sun shining and under beautiful blue skies. She told herself the weather shouldn’t really matter because the reason she wanted to start walking was because she needed to lose some weight. Linda was pretty sedentary and knew walking was a good form of exercise, so she decided she would go for a walk, but just a short one. As she was about to get dressed for her walk, she decided to check the weather. She was so disappointed that there was a 50% chance of rain in her area.
That’s it, she decided. She wasn’t going. No way was she going to get caught in the rain. That wouldn’t be a fun walk. Even if it didn’t rain, Linda would be thinking about getting drenched the whole time, and she just wouldn’t enjoy herself.
Although she’d planned to make a smoothie after her walk for breakfast, she chose a toasted cheese bagel with cream cheese instead. She decided she wouldn’t bother with her errands and stayed indoors to watch a couple of movies. Linda microwaved some popcorn after the first movie. By dinner, she was ready to order pizza, and she’d decided she’d start her walking commitment to lose weight the next day.
Since she’d already had pizza instead of something healthy, she decided a Coke would be a good idea too. Right before bed, Linda had a bowl of ice cream. She felt full and bloated when she went to bed and wondered if she would feel like walking in the morning. Maybe she would start her walking goal on Monday instead.
When Janet saw the clouds from her bedroom window, her smile turned downward. She really wanted to walk in the sunshine. She told herself that the weather doesn’t matter because the reason she wanted to start walking was because she needed to lose some weight. Janet was pretty sedentary and knew walking was a good form of exercise. She decided she wouldn’t let the weather stop her and that she was going for her walk. As she was about to get dressed, she checked the weather. She was disappointed to see there was a 50% chance of rain in her area.
Oh well, Janet thought. She made a commitment to herself, and she really wanted to stick to it. She put on her walking shoes and made sure to wear a jacket in case she got caught in the rain. After walking for about 20 minutes, she got a sense it was going to rain right away, so she ended her walk early. She made it home, feeling only a few sprinkles of rain.
Once inside again, Janet made a smoothie for breakfast and then ran a couple of errands. While she was out, she grabbed a breakfast sandwich from the drive thru because she was hungry and felt that she’d earned it with her walk and healthy smoothie. On her way home, she sang in the car to some of her favorite songs. She felt energized and decided to clean out her bedroom closet. After 30 minutes or so, she felt tired and took a break.
She decided to have a nap. Later, after working a little longer on her closet, Janet had a craving for popcorn. She decided to make herself a salad first, and then she watched a movie and nibbled on her homemade popcorn. She wanted to indulge a bit, but only after getting in a healthy meal first.
As Janet went to bed, she decided to make note of her walk, so she could feel proud of her commitment to walking. She went to her calendar and put a checkmark on that day. She went to bed looking forward to getting up and walking again.
When Penny saw the clouds from her bedroom window, she smiled. Although she’d rather walk in the sunshine, she knew that using the weather was just an excuse to avoid sticking to her commitment. She felt determined. She wanted to start walking because she needed to lose some weight. Penny was pretty sedentary and knew walking was a good form of exercise. As she was getting dressed for her walk, she decided to check the weather. She saw there was a 50% chance of rain in her area, so she grabbed a good rain jacket on her way out the door.
Penny walked for about 20 minutes and was feeling so good, she decided to walk further. It started to drizzle a bit, so she put up her hood and kept going. Her hour-long walk was invigorating and made her feel proud of herself.
Once home, she made a smoothie for breakfast. Before Penny headed out the door to run a couple of errands, she grabbed a banana to have in the car, in case she got hungry. On her way home, she sang in the car to some of her favorite songs. She felt energized and decided to clean out her bedroom closet. After a few hours of organizing, Penny felt hungry and made herself a salad. She was proud she got out for her walk and was also proud for making healthy food choices.
She’d been thinking of treating herself to pizza for dinner, but then realized that eating pizza wouldn’t support her efforts to lose weight. She didn’t want to end her day with crappy food when she had such a great start to her day with her walk and her healthy meals. Penny decided to heat up some leftover soup for dinner. In the evening, she watched a movie and snacked on some grapes.
As she headed to bed, Penny realized she needed to celebrate each of her walks, so she decided that the next morning, she’d start a habit tracker to keep track of them. To make her commitment stronger, Penny was determined to walk every day for 30 days. She went to bed excited to get up and walk again the next day.
Now that you’ve read each story, what was the difference between the three women?
They viewed their circumstances differently, which led each of them to behave differently. Their LifeLens determined what happened on that cloudy day.
Let’s look back at the choices each woman made and how they are a reflection of their LifeLens.
LINDA gave up on her commitment that day. She didn’t want to experience any discomfort on her walk; she wanted perfect conditions. Her mood and emotions were dictated by the cloudy sky. Because she didn’t get out the door for an energizing walk, she ended up feeling kind of lazy and ended up eating food that provided comfort and that was part of her usual unhealthy eating pattern.
It’s unlikely someone like Linda will achieve her walking goal to lose weight if she lets the little things interfere with her commitment, or if she expects things to be perfect.
JANET didn’t let the weather stop her. She got out the door for her walk, although she did cut her walk short due to the rain. She was willing to not have the perfect day for walking, but she didn’t want the discomfort of getting rained on. Janet’s walk energized her, which led to her selecting a healthy smoothie for breakfast. She didn’t think about getting hungry in the car while out for errands, so she ended up at the drive thru eating an unhealthy breakfast sandwich. She also felt she deserved the drive thru treat for her healthy efforts.
Janet may have some short-term success at walking to lose weight because she showed that she is committed. She did get out and walk, although only until she felt uncomfortable when it seemed the rain would arrive any minute. She started her day with a healthy breakfast, but in the end, the unplanned, unhealthy breakfast sandwich left her feeling lethargic later in the day. Janet did notice her accomplishment on the calendar, which may help her with future motivation. In the long run, though, she may not achieve her goal if she doesn’t plan ahead or if she always wants to reward her efforts with unhealthy food.
Penny was committed to her goal, no matter what. She decided that the rain would not stop her from getting out for her walk to help her lose weight. Her healthy meal choices were influenced by her increased energy as well as her feeling of pride. Even though she wanted to treat herself to pizza for dinner, she took time to reflect on her efforts and her goal. In the end, she wanted results, and she knew the pizza would work against her walking efforts.
She decided to make a habit tracker to celebrate her walking successes each day. She also used her excitement to take her goal to the next level by committing to 30 days of walking. Penny is more likely to achieve long-term success with her walking goal and losing weight because she’s willing to experience discomfort while she makes the necessary changes needed to move towards her goals.
I hope these examples give you a better understanding of what I mean by LifeLens.
When it comes to weight loss, I’ve always believed that food has the most impact. Food still is very key to losing weight, but now I think our LifeLens beats even the power of the food.
You can’t make better food choices unless your LifeLens helps you beat off cravings, or tells you that you’re going to be ok, even if you’re feeling like you’re missing out on a certain food by not having it.
You can’t make the decision to drop 40 lbs in six months unless you believe it’s possible and unless you believe in yourself…that you have what it takes to actually do it.
You have to view your goal as achievable for you. You have to believe.
Even though part of my 40 lbs weight-loss mission includes eating healthy food, drinking lots of water, incorporating intermittent fasting and moving my body, NONE of it would matter if my LifeLens sabotaged the whole thing.
None of it would happen unless I really believed I could do it.
If your LifeLens has a filter that makes you feel unworthy, unlikeable or just not good enough, then how can you ever have long-term success with your goals?
Over the years, I’ve learned how our LifeLens can empower us to make changes in our life and how it can fuel our success.
There are so many different aspects of our LifeLens, so today I’d like to share one of them.
When you’re making a change that is difficult, ask yourself this question:
Do I want the pain of discipline, or do I want the pain of regret?
I forget where I first heard about these two pains, but I believe the idea originally stemmed from a Jim Rohn quote.
Understanding this idea can help you see your challenges in a different way.
No matter what you do, when you go after a goal, you are going to experience pain one way or another, so the question is which pain will you choose?
Let’s look at an example and see the difference between each type of pain:
Your family is ordering pizza, and you’re trying to eat healthier and lose weight.
You’re craving pizza. It’s a strong craving, and boy, you want that pizza. It’s all you can think of. Dripping cheese and savory mushrooms. Mmmmm…You know you should say no and eat something else in order to reach your weight loss goal. You struggle mentally, back and forth. It’s all consuming. The pizza arrives. You can smell it. You want it. You look at everyone eating pizza. You feel like an outsider if you eat something different and don’t eat pizza. You go back and forth in your head, like a ball in a heated tennis match, telling yourself to eat something else and then telling yourself it’s no big deal if you have pizza. It’s just one meal, right?
You decide to endure the pain of discipline and make yourself a healthy veggie wrap and a baked potato, while the rest of your family feasts on pizza.
= Pain of Discipline
You give in to your cravings and can’t handle the pain of discipline. You feel a temporary high as each cheesy bite excites your taste buds and slides down your throat. You feel like you belong, like one of the gang. You’re so satisfied from eating the pizza, although it’s temporary. After about an hour, you feel really full. You feel bloated. The pizza is gone now. You realize that eating that pizza won’t help you lose weight and that you just ate the type of food that goes against what you say you want to eat. You regret your decision. You feel like a fat blob and know that this is the story of your life. You’re always saying you want to lose weight, and then you always give in to the food. The next day, you feel guilty and ashamed. You feel hopeless and like you’ll never get rid of the weight.
= Pain of Regret
I’ve experienced the pain of discipline and the pain of regret many times when it comes to food.
What I’ve noticed is that the pain of discipline doesn’t last as long as the pain of regret, and the pain of discipline has a built-in, natural reward: moving closer to losing the weight or achieving the goal.
The pain of regret gives you a short-term, rewarding feeling before it morphs into a crushing pain that lasts much longer.
The power of these two forms of pain can help you reshape yourLifeLens. When you’re trying to eat healthier food, but there’s crappy, processed food all around you, you’re in for some pain.
The question is…
Giving up unhealthy food might be painful, but so is feeling bad about yourself or being overweight.
Once you realize the power of these two pains, and how you get to choose which one to endure, your perspective changes. You can adjust your LifeLens to see that you’re not avoiding pain by giving in to your cravings. You’re just temporarily putting aside the pain of discipline until you feel pain in the form of regret, later.
Over time, you can train yourself to choose the pain of discipline. You will begin to see it as the lesser of two evils.
I’ve found this idea of the pain of discipline vs the pain of regret to be very helpful, and it is now part of my LifeLens. However, I still struggle.
I still avoid the pain of discipline and give in to my cravings. I feel the pain of regret after. Instead of feeling bad about this, though, I try to just move forward, and not dwell on my experience.
What’s important is that when we have a hard time making changes in our lives, like saying no to the enticing lure of fatty, sugar, salty and processed foods, we have a strong LifeLens that serves us well.
Your LifeLens should:
- be reflective
- be kind
- be honest
- accept responsibility for your actions
On the weekend, I indulged in a variety of foods that will not help me lose weight: red wine, cheese chicken wings and potato chips. These are foods I avoid when I’m focused on losing weight, but on the weekend, I made an intentional choice to indulge.
Let’s look at how my LifeLens is dealing with the situation.
I’m not saying my response to the three days of indulging was perfect, but it’s pretty obvious that I’m coming out of the experience feeling good about myself, and not feeling crappy.
Why is that?
It’s because of my LifeLens. The quality or strength of our LifeLens makes a huge difference in how we deal with our challenges.
Let’s look a little more closely at my response:
- My LifeLens is reflective. I thought about what I was doing, and then later, I looked back at what I did. I thought it through to see if I was being kind and honest with myself and to make sure I took responsibility for my actions. I didn’t ignore my actions or try to avoid them. I learned more about becoming happier and reaching my goals by reflecting on the situation and how I handled it.
- My LifeLens will not allow me to go off the deep end and beat myself up, and it now recognizes that perfection is unhealthy. Not all the time, though. Occasionally, and for a very short period of time, I can still fall into the unhealthy habit of beating myself up, but overall, my LifeLens has evolved to the point that I love myself enough to be kind to myself most of the time.
- I was honest with myself. I know what can happen if I stay on the indulgent train. I still have to be vigilant and remember my goal. My LifeLens is honest; I recognized that I feel some regret, but that it was a trade off for some fun, relaxed eating. Without honesty, I could have fooled myself into thinking I could eat crappy food more often. I didn’t ignore my patterns.
- I also took responsibility for my actions. I didn’t blame the outside world (the food, the cravings, my mood, stress or other worries, the fomo, the people around me, etc.). It was me who made the choice. I was intentional with my actions and accepted responsibility for them.
When your LifeLens is reflective, kind, honest and accepts responsibility for your actions, you have more power than when it is not.
If your LifeLens has picked up unhealthy filters along your journey in life, you can tweak them.
How to Adjust your LifeLens for Greater Happiness
Discipline vs Regret
- Start becoming more aware of your choice of the pain of discipline and the pain of regret
- Next time you’re in a situation, think about the two pains and make a choice.
- Look back on your choice.
- Keep trying.
- With practice, you’ll find that you get better at choosing the pain of discipline, and you’ll see that compared to the longer lasting pain of regret, being disciplined is not as painful as it used to be.
Take Responsibility for your Actions and Reflect
You control you. Period.
If you hear yourself blaming your problems or your unhappiness on things outside of you (situations, people, places, etc.), or even blaming your mood, personality, etc., it’s time to turn inward and take responsibility for yourself. Don’t blame the world or make excuses.
The outside world does not control you. You can choose to react to the outside world with emotions and little thought, OR, you can respond to the outside world by reflecting on the situation and choosing how you’d like to think/behave.
It’s not easy, but once you’re able to make reflective thinking and taking responsibility for your actions a permanent part of your LifeLens, you will experience a greater level of happiness and move closer to achieving your goals.
Be Kind to Yourself
When you hear the ugly voice of self-criticism or self-abuse, take a step back. Think of who you are. A beautiful human being who doesn’t have to be perfect.
Think of yourself as a small child, around the age of 3. That child is perfect. You are still that wonderful, loving child, regardless of the world you grew up in. That sweet child is within you, so if you have a hard time being kind to yourself, start being kind to that child.
Let the kindness grow over time until you can be kind to the present you. Ease up on yourself and cut yourself some slack. You can do this while still working on big goals.
Being honest with yourself can be tricky. I’m not talking about yelling at yourself for failing. When you’re honest with yourself, you recognize your mistakes, and make a plan to move on and do better.
You don’t ignore your tendencies or patterns, but you also don’t view them as failures. They are a part of you. Don’t ignore them, but also, don’t fuel them with anger and sadness. Observe who you are, and experiment with changes until you can get closer to leaving behind the patterns that no longer serve you.
Now that I’ve explained the power of your LifeLens, I hope you’ll start to become more aware of your own LifeLens. Whether you call it mindset or your frame of mind, it doesn’t matter, as long as you realize it is there, and that you control it.
If you’re not happy in your life right now, then I encourage you to make some changes. Part of that change might be adjusting your LifeLens. If that’s the case, be patient with yourself.
Even though you’ll get better over time at tweaking your LifeLens to focus it on what you really want out of life, remember, you won’t be perfect.
If you are kind and honest and can reflect on how you are responsible for your own actions, you’ll be well on your way to a clearer, more polished LifeLens that will turn the spotlight onto the power you have to live the life you desire.
If you want to take a deeper dive into discovering the power you have over your life, which includes getting to the root of your stressors and finding more peace and calm, check out my step-by-step, self-paced guide, A Roadmap to Calm.
Here’s an updated and ranked list of what I believe are the most important strategies for me to incorporate into my plan to lose weight.
- Powerful LifeLens
- Healthy food that is mostly low in calorie density, low in fat and higher in nutrient density
- Drinking enough water
- Intermittent fasting
- Moving my body
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