This new year, I’ve decided to be changed.
I no longer believe in goals. I believe in strategies.
Scott Adams convinced me in his book “How to Fail at Almost everything and Still Win Big” in the chapter appropriately titled “Goals Versus Systems.” I found the book hugely encouraging, but if you choose not to read it here is the gist of that bit, filtered through my horrible memory.
Goals can result in feeling like a loser most of the time, because up until you meet your goal, you kinda are. Systems, that is things you do that move you in the right direction, continuously improving your situation, can make you feel like a winner every time you use your system.
That was not a good explanation. Too bad for you.
So no fancy, exciting goals for me. I’m keeping my head down and developing systems that will lead me to achieve what would have been a goal. No “new years resolutions” just “this is what I do now.”
My inspiration, Elizabeth Benton, talks about something she calls “the fruits and the roots.” Imagine you have a beautiful apple tree, which you love and and fuss over often, caring for everything above the ground like it was your baby. You even shine the apples daily. That tree will die. You aren’t tending to the roots. It doesn’t get water or nutrients, maybe there’s even a critter down there chewing through the roots.
Goals are like the apples. They might look great, and you love them, but they are only the effect of a healthy system. You might get a few apples without caring for the roots, but not for very long. By contrast, if you care for the roots, apples will just happen, whether or not you stop and polish them.
What is represented by the roots in this story? The emotional work. The maintainable habits you build as well I guess, but mostly the emotional/psychological work you do for yourself.
I signed up for Elizabeth Benton’s Fat Loss Fast Track 12 week online group coaching course. It starts on the 8th, and while I’m convinced this is the path that will lead to permanent weight loss, I’m not getting too excited. Head down and do the work. I’d rather be content to work hard for a long time than over excited at first, followed by despair. No more dreaming and scheming, because that has never worked for long. Sure, in the past full of dreams, I might drop 20 lbs in the first month, but those pounds were just taking vacation: they were never gone for good.
EB’s system promises sustainability and a focus on the roots of the issue.
The only thing that makes me sad about this approach is that my husband doesn’t seem to be fully bought in. Theoretically, that shouldn’t matter, especially since he promised never to talk to me about my weight again (more because he’s given up hope than because he respects my ability to pick out a plan for myself). He says it sounds slow, and that sometimes people who advocate for taking things slow are just trying to make themselves feel good. Translation: Katrina, you aren’t pushing hard enough. If only you had started to run intensely for an hour everyday and eating nothing but veggies when I told you to the first time you wouldn’t be hating yourself today. He would probably debate that translation… or maybe not. I can’t even pretend to understand him, and that hurts too. So he’s keeping quiet, mostly, but he’s also said he doesn’t expect this plan to work, and I think he feels vindicated because all my past attempts that he didn’t think were extreme enough have failed so far. It’s really hard not to let that view get to me, especially since I think about it whenever I talk to him. I often try and hide my efforts from him, much like I hid my binges from him, because I don’t want him to see me trying something he thinks isn’t enough.
Anyway, this is what I do now. I’ve started tracking what I eat and how I feel afterwards. I’ve also been making huge pots of soup because 1) soup is delicious and 2) it means I have 6 meals ready to go for those times (all the time) when I don’t know what to be eating. Plus, I love listening podcasts while I cook a bucket of soup. I’m using the Sleep Cycle app to get a better sense of my sleeping patterns, and I’m keeping track of all the meds I take daily and my moods. I hope to eventually be weened off the pills.