The Results Are In
I started high school 40 years ago, and the first two years that I was there, they had a reward for good attendance. My freshman year I qualified for a trip to the Oregon Caves because I hadn't missed any school that year. My sophomore year I didn't qualify for the reward because I had been absent for a couple of classes. I was surprised that I didn't qualify, because all of my absences were "excused." It was the first time in my life that I remember finding out that a good excuse is not the same thing as good results.
Our bodies, just like my high school, don't care about excuses, good or otherwise. This fact is a very difficult thing to deal with for someone like me, who needs to watch what he eats. If I had a hard day, and so I ate more than I should have, all my body hears is that I ate more than I should have; and it doesn't care about the hard day. If something really upset me, so I had something really high in calories; my body only notices the calories, not the excuse.
Working On Results
As with all problems, understanding the facts surrounding this one is the first step to finding a solution. While our minds accept our excuses, our bodies do not. The way a valley through a mountain pass defines where the engineers will build the road, our physical realities define what we can, and cannot do about them.
Our bodies burn a certain number of calories no matter what. If we spent the entire day in bed sleeping, or watching TV, we will still burn our baseline minimum number of calories. If we then eat that number of calories while doing this minimum level of activity, we will find the scale sitting rock solid at the same place. If we eat more than this number of calories, we will gain. If we eat fewer calories, then we will lose weight. (Under those conditions the amount of muscle that we would lose, along with the fat, would be much higher than if we were exercising, but we would lose weight.)
By increasing our activity level, we increase the number of calories that we will burn, and therefore the number of calories that we can eat and still either maintain or lose.
Not So Simple
All this seems simple, but life is seldom as simple as it appears on paper. What of urges to eat? What about that horrible blowup that you had with your spouse, or the trouble your child got into? What happens to the logical progression of counting those troublesome little calories then?
If we only play life, minute to minute, we will be overwhelmed by these things. The advantage that man has over the animals is that he can plan.
Animals, when their environment changes and they find life hard, simply die off. Man continues to live in areas that range from the sultry equatorial, to the dry desert, and from the scorching desert to freezing Antarctica. Cold, heat, wet, dry, and many other challenges of reality have been met so that man can survive in almost any climate, where results are demanded, and excuses are fatal.
The Protocols of Success
We have the choice to either live life like the animals do, from day to day, just taking what comes; or we can plan out a strategy of survival. We can be blown about in the winds that we know are coming, or we can provide an anchor for ourselves.
Dotti and I recently watched a movie called, The Sound of Thunder, based upon a short story by Ray Bradbury. I had read the short story years ago, and though it was a good one, I wasn't sure how they were going to stretch it out into a full length movie. As it turned out, it was like trying to stretch a small piece of cotton fabric over too large an area, and it left many gaping holes. However, it did mention a concept that is an important one: the protocol.
In the movie the protagonist said that the protocols they had in place were "bulletproof" and nothing could go wrong. I had to laugh at the statement when he made it, because the most casual of observers could see many ways for their protocols to break down, and for disaster to occur, which it naturally did.
Step By Step
I have worked with protocols in the microchip industry. Every step of the process that is used to build an IC chip is defined and protected by protocol. There is a rigidly defined right way to do everything, and the protocol must be followed without deviation. For a protocol to be truly "bulletproof" there can be no room for errors in judgment, because the judgment has already been made for each event. It is meticulous, thorough, and exacting work writing up a good protocol, and unlike the ones used in the movie, they really have a claim to being more or less bulletproof.
However, even with a great protocol, and even when the steps are all followed exactly, success is still not 100%. Some of the chips will be lost, and sometimes entire wafers will have to be scrapped, with hundreds of devices lost on each of them. Worse yet, sometimes entire lots of 25 wafers are scrapped because something went wrong. But in spite of that, the results are overwhelmingly good. The wafers normally make it through, and the chips on the wafers function as they should, because the protocols were followed.
While you cannot rigidly define your life as a series of controlled steps, you still can have a protocol approach to your weight loss journey. There are various events that you must deal with routinely, and it would be far easier to use planning rather than "animal instinct" to deal with them.
First off, there is your overall eating plan. Your protocol for losing weight starts with a description of what you expect to eat during each day. How many calories are you going to consume? What types of food are you going to eat? When are you going to eat?
Once you have defined your "normal eating" pattern, and planned out your meals, you next need a set of protocols for dealing with emergencies, and other excursions outside your normal pattern. What happens when a friend drops in and invites you to eat at a restaurant that has always overwhelmed your calorie limit? What do you do when a child becomes confrontational? What happens when your boss is pushing all of your buttons and you feel like you have had all you can take of it?
The list of possible things that could be planned for is limitless, and you will not be able to plan for everything in detail. However, you can produce good results by setting your protocols up to deal with most events. There is a saying that some salesmen use that they will get 80% of their sales from 20% of their clients.
For our journeys, we can get huge results by just planning well for a few critical parts of our lives that fall outside the normal pattern. We will have certain recurring things that we have to deal with from time to time, and we know the ones that give us problems; we can plan for those. A second class of "out of the normal flow" events are ones that are spontaneous, but only happen once, or if they do repeat, they change so drastically with each iteration that they need to be treated individually.
For the first category, by simply planning well for these known recurring problem events, we can achieve very significant results. The events that once overwhelmed us will now be handled by following our protocols for those events. We will have solutions in place beforehand for the very things that used to trip us up.
Planning For the Unexpected
We can also plan for the second type of events—those individual occurrences—by setting up general protocols that deal with general types of events. For example, emergencies could pull you out of your routine and into an unfriendly eating environment. Are you at the mercy of such events? Not entirely! You could have a bag standing by ready to grab on the way out of the door when you have an emergency, which has enough good food in it to get you by for a meal or more. You then won't have to hit the vending machines and eat high calorie food when you are at the hospital with a loved one, or wherever you might find yourself.
You can even plan for emotional confrontations in advance, even though you could never do it when you were in the middle of such an event. What about when you are bored or lonely? For anything that you know is a recurring trigger for eating; you can design a protocol for it.
Take This Key
Planning is what allows us to live on every continent on earth, and to have even set foot on the moon. Not being able to plan has led to the extinction of many species of animal. We hold the key to success in our hand when we grasp our pen, if we use that pen to write down a plan of action for our problem areas of our journey. Finding solutions in the quiet of our room, uninterrupted by emotion and noise, is so much easier than trying to come up with them when we are stewing in the turmoil of heated emotionally demanding events.
There are very few things that you can do that will produce better results than planning can, and with good results, good excuses are not required.
Copyright and disclaimer
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.