Weight Loss and Maintenance by Al Coon

"Happiness and unhappiness in the end boil down to what we are going to focus on. Your mind can freely focus upon the happy and wonderful, or it can just as easily focus on the sad and terrible."

"How do you decide what to do with this moment, in order to use it to best advantage? "

" That is the choice that we all have to make with the wonderful gift of time. Will it be a source of obligation that weighs you down, or will it be a door of opportunity that you walk through? "

Al Coon Just a Moment!

It's Scheduled For Today

What are you going to do yesterday? The question makes no sense, but people so often live their lives as if it did. You are not going to do anything yesterday, because yesterday is a closed book. Everything that ever will be done yesterday has already been done. To worry about it serves no purpose. Today is where life is lived, not yesterday.

It is how you choose to use it that makes this second, the one you have right now, something of great value or of no worth whatsoever. Yes, this is a golden opportunity for you to create something wonderful for yourself, by thinking positive and looking for the best thing to do with your time at this moment: doing something that will bring you closer to obtaining your fondest dreams! Your goal is there waiting, and this moment you can bring it closer to you.

A Flower in a Bouquet, or a Rock in the Desert?

It is important to keep in mind that happiness is, for the most part, a state of mind, far more so usually than the conditions that we are living in.

It is quite true that the conditions around you can produce certain feelings and emotions. When something devastating happens, it is only normal to react with unhappiness, and you must often grieve and work through the emotions unhappy events bring to you.

Still, in general, life is going to provide some things that can bring joy, and other things that can create unhappiness. That is true in anybody's life. There are many examples of people who are very poor who live happy lives. There are people with handicaps, and challenges of all sorts who seem to be forever smiling. How can this be?

And what of those who are rich and physically blessed with health and great talent? They have everything including: a great education; plenty to eat; plenty of spending money; and they never had to struggle for much of anything. Many of them end up in complete disarray and unhappiness. Some of them are depressed, and on occasion, even commit suicide. How can this be?

Happiness and unhappiness in the end boil down to what we are going to focus on. Your mind can freely focus upon the happy and wonderful, or it can just as easily focus on the sad and terrible. If it is allowed to do the former, you will be a very happy person. However, if it is allowed to do the latter, the opposite will be true.

Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to search out the things in your life that are good and to focus on those things, while doing your best to ignore the things that are bad in your life. When you do this, you will find that there will be copious examples of good things to delight in, and they will leave you feeling too happy to dig around in the bad things that you skipped over during your search.

This is not just a game of "let's pretend." It is absolutely true that there are things about your life that are worth being happy over, and it is far better to grab onto those happy things in life, and to enjoy them to the fullest, than to wallow in the muck and unhappy things around you.

The cost is far too high for focusing on the negative things in life. Besides making you unhappy generally, it will actually cause you physical harm. You will be depressed, and that can lead to disease in various parts of your body. In addition, it can drive you towards overeating, or to some other destructive behavior. When you are feeling negative you don't care about anything. That apathy towards life will bring unhappiness with it. There is no benefit to it.

On the flipside, when you are happy, you don't want to be destructive. You want to be constructive. You want to look for ways of making things even better. All of the upside is in focusing on the positive aspects of life.

By viewing your life as being good, it will form a backdrop for this very moment that will help shape it into yet another good thing to add to your general feeling of wellbeing. As each moment comes along, you expect good things from it, and that will very strongly color how you will treat it. If you are surrounded by flowers, it is not hard to imagine that another one is arriving right now. But if you are living in a desert, you will expect to find only worthless ugly rocks.

Shaping Your Moment

With a good and happy life as its setting, it will be much easier for you to take this new moment that you have received, and shape it into a priceless treasure. Anything of value that has ever existed was built one moment at a time. Whether it is a building, or an education, a city or an entire nation, it took progress, one moment at a time, to create it. This moment is just such a moment, and your life is waiting for you to use it wisely.

How do you decide what to do with this moment, in order to use it to best advantage? As we have discussed in earlier essays, our goals are built to give us direction. They join together with our task list to create a road map for our Weight Loss Journey. Just like a chart and compass, they will always point the correct path for us to walk.

A road map has many roads shown; usually identifying numerous routes that one could take to get from point A to point B. Of course taking all of the different routes shown on a map is not our intention. We want to take the shortest and quickest route usually. But sometimes the intended route fails us. Perhaps there is road construction ahead, or flooding has closed the road. Perhaps an accident is blocking traffic. When that happens, the road map is worth its weight in gold! It will help you find an alternate path to reach your destination.

Relax, You Have a Map!

Remember, a road map only gives direction. It does not apply pressure upon you. Rather than creating stress, your goals relieve stress, because you always know where you are, and where you are going. You are never lost when you have your map in your hands. It is a great relief to know that you can always find the six-lane highway, or even the scenic back road to your destination. Your map gives you the freedom to choose your route, and it always keeps you informed when you come to decision points along the way, so that you can make the right choice. That is a great relief, not a source of stress!

Since you have set your goals, and you have your task list in hand, you can take this moment and do something valuable with it. Making decisions is something that most people find hard to do, but when you have a good map, you just have to follow the course, not try to work it out on the fly. When a free moment comes your way, you have something all ready to go, so that you can make the most of it, and not fumble it away while trying to decide what to do.

A Gift or Curse?

When you receive a gift a certain amount of obligation comes along with it. If you are given a useful tool, whether its function is culinary or fabricational, you want to put it to use. In a sense, you feel obligated to do so. You can view your gift in one of two ways. Because of this gift: 1) "I am stuck with extra labor, and I will have to do extra things that I would not have been obligated to do before I received the gift."; or 2) "Look at all great things that I can now do that I couldn't do before! Super!"

That is the choice that we all have to make with the wonderful gift of time. Will it be a source of obligation that weighs you down, or will it be a door of opportunity that you walk through?

The time itself is neutral. It can be used to create beautiful things, to do nothing at all, or to do something destructive. Time is such a marvelous thing, because it is infinitely variableóa universal opportunity.

Whether this flexibility turns out to be a wonderful gift, or a painful curse, you decide each moment, and you live with the results.

History is the Background, This Moment is the Foreground.

When an artist paints a picture, he wants to create his subject situated in a beautiful setting. He does not want to paint a beautiful woman who is posed before a garbage dump, or a wrecking yard. A beautiful subject demands a beautiful background, and a beautiful background demands a beautiful subject.

Our lives create a setting for our actions. When we view our lives as being productive, happy, and wonderful, it will create within us a desire to make of this moment that we have just received, a productive, happy, and wonderful addition to that life. Success breeds success, and beauty breeds beauty.

By looking at the upside of our lives, and celebrating the happy events at every opportunity, while ignoring the unhappiness as much as we possibly can, it will create a setting for us that will demand good things of this moment in time. A beautiful vase will not be right for a dying and ugly collection of brown petals. It will instead cry out for an exquisite arrangement of brightly colored perfect flowers.

How we view the past will set the stage for the future. Throughout your day you will make mistakes, and do things that you wished you hadnít. At the end of the day, however, those things become insignificant. Instead, you will be focusing on your accomplishments, and what you did right. When you tally up the positive things, as you ignore the rest, you will find that you have a pretty good list, and a pretty long list, of things that you can feel good about.

Inertial Navigation

A ray is a geometrical object that has a starting point, and it has direction. From a single point it proceeds along a single course forever, never ending, and never turning. In a lot of ways a ray is like a habit.

Before you had a habit, say buckling your seatbelt whenever you get into a car, the activity that was to become habitual with you was not something that you did often, if ever. Then, at some point in time, you buckled your seat belt.

For myself, I grew up in a world without seatbelts for the most part. My parentsí cars just didnít have them. Then, when I graduated from high school, my folks bought a red 1963 VW bug for me, equipped with seatbelts. I knew a few people who had seatbelts in their cars, but they often just let them lie on the floor, or fall behind the seats. I decided I was going to wear mine.

When I got into my car and buckled up the first time, I really had to think about it. It was a new experience for me. I knew that I would have to have some help to remember to put it on the next time. (There were no alarms, or flashing red lights in that car to tell me I didnít have it on.) So, I came up with the system of laying the belt across the seat each time I got out. When I got in the next time I would sit on it and it would be uncomfortable, reminding me to buckle up again.

The system worked for me. Day after day, I put my seatbelt on, adding another point to the "ray" of my habit. As time passed by, the habit was formed and I reached a point where I always wore my belt whenever I got into any car. Today, after 36 years of wearing a seatbelt, I feel really strange if I donít buckle up, and it would take a lot of effort to not follow my habit.

A habitual action carries with it a drive to push you in a certain direction, the same direction that you are already going in. It is very much like physical inertia. When you steer your car around a corner, especially if you are moving fast, the car (and your own body inside it) has a force that is pushing it in the direction in which it was already moving. While the car will make the turn, you feel the like you are leaning in the same direction that you had been moving in. If the car is going too fast when it tries to turn, the force of inertia will cause it to leave the road because the inertial force was greater than the force of friction between the tires and the road.

The force of habit, in a similar way, pushes you to continue your activities in the same way that you have been doing them. The longer you have been doing the same thing, the more force it carries. When you try to change it, like a car moving fast, it will resist, because your habit wants to continue on unchanged.

Of course, when your habit is something that you donít want to continue to do; it seems like a curse that you have to struggle against. However, when your habit is a positive one whose results you like, the inertia it carries is a great blessing. You will continue to do it even when you are tired, hungry, or weak. When I get into my car in the morning, feeling tired, and thinking about many other things about the upcoming day, I still put on my seatbelt without effort of will. My hands perform the action without coaxing from me.

A Neutral Force Used For Good

Okay, we now have a fact: habits are a force of inertia in our lives. What are we going to do with that knowledge? Habits do not care if your previous actions were constructive or destructive. Whether you have been smoking every time you use a phone, or you are going to the gym every day and getting a great workout, the habit is there and pushing you to continue on the same course. How can we use this neutral force as a force for good?

In the world of physics, the only thing that is required for a body to have inertia is for it to have mass. Since all matter has mass, this is not a very great limitation.

We often think of mass as being weight, but in reality, weight is a response of mass to gravitation. The pull of gravity from the Earth upon the mass of our bodies is what gives us weight. The more mass a body has, the greater is the force of weight created by the pull of gravity upon it. Mass exists even when there is no gravity, but weight does not.

If a body, say a spaceship, were to be moving in a straight line towards a distant star, it would have inertia holding it on a straight course, even if its engines were shut off. Inertia would keep it in constant motion. But under those conditions, the ship and everything in it would also be weightless. There would be no gravity to create weight.

Similarly, in our lives, the only thing that is required to have inertia (habits) is to have a functioning brain. We all tend to reproduce the same actions that we have repetitively performed in the past. And, just like with a spaceship, we can use that inertia to our advantage.

We can start our "mass" moving in any direction that we like, by forcing ourselves to act in a certain way repeatedly. At first, it takes a lot of attention to what we are doing. It is like getting a massive object moving from a standstill. We perform the new action while thinking about every step required. The next day, we once again have to plan to do it, and pay close attention as we complete our task. The day after that, we still have to think about it, but it requires just a bit less focus of our attention to get it done. Each day that passes by, we find that we have to plan less, and pay less attention to the process of completing the desired task. In a few weeks it begins to feel normal, and in six weeks it is a habit. In twelve weeks, it is moving along with a lot of "inertia." After a year, you not only do not have to think about doing it, you have to consciously force yourself not to do it, if you for some reason have to skip the activity. You have created your own positive force in your life! You are moving your spaceship to the stars.

Get Ready. Here it Comes!

So here it is. Here is your moment. It is being handed to you as you are reading this. You can choose what you are going to do with this moment in time. Have you created a beautiful background in your mind in which to place this gift? Have you given yourself a positive direction in which to apply your inertial force? Do you have your chart and compass ready to tell you if you are heading in the right direction? If so, you are prepared to take full advantage of this wonderful gift.

An umbrella will keep you dry, but only if you are prepared enough to have it with you when it rains. An upturn in a stock can make you a fortune, but only if you were prepared for it by purchasing the right stocks before the positive turn occurred. Stepping up on the scale can show you a good reading, but only if you were prepared for it by following your plan to reach your goal.

Now is your opportunity to make your future what you want it to be. This moment you can take a step, a positive, important step towards your goal. Wherever you are between having yet to plan your course, and needing to use this moment to start that process, or having your entire path plotted and locked into your navigational computer, and this moment you are taking the very step that will bring you to within armís reach of your goal, this moment is yours!

Take this moment and make it shine for you. It will not pass by again, but it is here for you now, awaiting your command. Take a step towards your dream, do it now!

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Disclaimer - - This essay is not meant to be a substitute for any professional advice, guidance, or counseling. We are not doctors. Any information contained hearin reflects our own opinions and experiences. It is not intended in any way to serve as or take the place of medical advice from a physician.