Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Becoming Your Best Self Challenge

On November 23, 2010 I will be entering my eighth month of my weight loss journey.  There has been so much interest in what I have done and how I have lost my weight.  During the course of these months of questions, explaining the "what" has been simple: I follow the 6 Week Body Makeover weight loss program, I exercise (right now it's ZUMBA), I control my portions, and certain foods have not passed my lips since I started.  In basic terms, what I have done has been to burn more calories than I consumed.  Eat less, move more right?  But the reality is that I have lost weight by doing a lot more than eating less and moving more. If it were that easy, who would be fat right?

Asking me "What have you done to lose weight?" is not the right question.  The question is "How have you lost weight?"  "How "is the hard part.  "How" encompasses all the little things I'm working on to improve how I live my life, deal with challenges and purposely as well as purposefully institute things that will support my success while removing the things that don't.  "How" is changing my mindset and behavior.  It is not easy but it is simple because the fact is that change takes work and well...it takes CHANGE.

And in the process of challenging myself to change an area of my life that I've struggled with for what seems like my whole life,  I've come to realize that is not just about losing weight.  I'm realizing that I can what I've learned to work on the other areas of my life that I laid out as a part of my personal journey to become my best self.  Today, I invite anyone who is on their own journey to join me. 

If there is something in your life that you are trying to accomplish and you haven't figured out how to motivate yourself to start, motivate yourself to finish or motivate yourself figure out how to accomplish it then I challenge you to join me on a journey of "Becoming My Best Self".  I will warn you now, there are several layers to joining this journey and I will be encouraging anyone who joins to push yourself harder than you have before.  I am not offering magic bullets, secret solutions or quick fixes.  I can only offer you support, encouragement and the advice of lessons that I have learned on my own journey (some of those lessons you yourself may have inspired.)  The rest: the heavy lifting, sweating, commitment, picking yourself up and dusting yourself off, the self-control, determination, sacrifice, honesty, self-evaluation and re-evaluation, the questioning, reflection...you know, the work, is all YOU.

The challenge will start next Tuesday, November 23rd.  It will last, and I will follow your journey, for as long as it takes you to achieve your goals.  I'm in it with you as long as you are.  There are only a few requirements to join the challenge. When I think about my journey, these things have helped me to be focused, encouraged and committed.
  1. Develop a specific goal/goals.
  2. Describe what achieving your goal(s) looks like.
  3. Set milestones and rewards for reaching each one.
  4. Create a system of accountability.
  5. Create a system of support.
Joining the "Becoming My Best Self" Challenge is as easy as leaving a comment on this post and then sharing the following items 1-5 by Tuesday, November 23rd.  Sharing will be done in one of three ways: in a post on your blog, if you have one, in the comments section of my own challenge update post or by email to me personally at mybestself614@gmail.com.  Each week you will report on your progress toward your goals.  Some weeks there may not be much to report but I still want you to report.  This challenge is a part of your system of accountability and support.

IMPORTANT: Don't wait to start on your journey to change. None of these steps should stop you from just jumping in and moving forward.  When I started my program I knew the name of the program and had read through the materials.  My plan was to have one last hurrah and begin on the official dieter's start day...Monday.  I started the Wednesday before because I was ready.   I hadn't stocked my pantry with the foods I needed to do the program exactly and I didn't have a clear picture of the foods that I could and couldn't eat.  But I was ready.  I did the best I could, made the best decisions from the information I had and began the process of eating better.  I learned as I went.  I didn't even start the fitness part of the program for about 2 weeks, but I started where I could.

Why these steps:

1. Develop specific goal(s): I can't count the number of times I've attempted to lose weight.  I can count the number of times I did it with a specific goal in mind: one.  So you want to lose weight--how much, by when?  You want a new job--in what field, by when, for what salary?  You want to move--house or apartment, rent or own, where, what can you afford or what are you willing to pay?  By developing specific goal(s), you create a clear picture of what you are trying to accomplish.  You have an idea in your mind but now it's time to really think about what you want.  The details determine your direction, speed and most importantly lets you know that you've arrived at your destination.  Post by Tuesday, November 23rd.

My Goal: To develop a maintenance program that I can start when I reach my weight goal.  My maintenance program will include both a eating and fitness program.  I will decide what method I will use to maintain my goal weight and develop a fitness program to keep me motivated to continue growing my fitness regimen.

2. Create a list that describes what achieving your goal(s) looks like:  Writing down what I imagined reaching my goal would look, feel, and mean to me was one of the most important things that I did early on.  Creating this list helps you to internalize what you are trying to achieve.  What impact it will have on your life or even those around you; how will you feel; what aspects of your life will change; how will you change?  For this, list at least 5.  Post by Tuesday, November 23rd.

When I reach my goal I will: 1. have an eating strategy that will support a healthy lifestyle.  2. make healthy eating choices the priority of my diet.  3. have a a fitness regimen that is a permanent and uncompromising part of my life.  4. commit to a personal fitness challenge that will motivate me to stay physically active and fit.  5. work on ways to continue to share my experience to help others reach their goals and work toward healthier living, especially my son,his father and those I love.

3. Set milestones and rewards for reaching each one: It is important to stay motivated and one of the best ways to do this is to set milestones along the way that celebrate your successes. WARNING: Refrain from giving yourself rewards that will work against your ultimate goal. For example, if your goal is to save money for a car, don't reward yourself with a shopping spree that will take away from your savings...if you're trying to lose weight don't reward yourself with food. In fact, try to think of rewards that will continue to motivate you on your journey. One of my gaols, when I reached 50 pounds left to lose was to join a real ZUMBA class.

4 and 5. Develop a systems for accountability and support: I use to think that if I didn't share my goals, I would avoid the pressure of failure. I was right but what I didn't understand was that the pressure was necessary for my own accountability.  If you are serious about accomplishing your goal(s), you must make yourself accountable. This challenge has an accountability system built it, but if you need something more you should explore that. Remember, accountability does not have to be to other people, it can be to yourself. You just have to be honest. If a journal, logging your efforts is enough, by all means use that. This challenge also is a place of support but I can tell you from experience, you can never have enough support.

Here are some other considerations that have helped me on my journey.
Develop a plan:   This may sound like a lot, especially if you aren't really sure where to begin.  That is exactly why it's necessary.  No matter what you are trying to accomplish, you will need a road map for how you will get there. This step really isn't difficult. It is merely a way to process what it will take to accomplish your goal(s).  Whether you are in the beginning stages of your journey or on your way, your plan is merely a to do list. 

Be honest about whether there are obstacles in your way or if you are in your way:  You may already know the obstacles that you will face during your journey.  You may want to go back to school and have financial, child care or scheduling challenges.  You may want to lose weight but have physical restrictions that will keep you from starting a fitness regimen.  You may want to explore entrepreneurial opportunities but not have the time or financial resources to dedicate to it.  Those are legitimate challenges.  They don't have to stop your journey, however.  One of the things that has amazed me while I've been losing weight hasn't been the limitations that others put on me, I've been amazed by the ones I put on myself.  Don't get me wrong there will definitely  be things that you will have to overcome that seem beyond out control but it will be up to you to figure out what challenges you will let stop you.

Decide how much you will commit to completing your journey:  I'm about to share something that most people won't believe or won't want to hear.  Your success in reaching your goals is completely up to you.  I have heard and probably used every excuse available for why I've been unable to achieve various goals but I have really learned during this experience that as soon as I believe that a challenge can't be overcome, I've given away my power. I know that I can overcome any challenge, it's just a question of whether I will put in the work, explore all possibilities, move beyond my comfort zone, focus on what I gain instead of what I lose (yeah I know, just work with me people). So, you have to decide what you are going to invest in yourself.  How much hard work are you worth?

So, that's it.  The challenge is laid down for us all.  I hope to see you all on the road to becoming your best self!


  1. Hi there I am one of many single moms and I find your site very interesting. I hope I have much time each day to drop by and check your site for recent post. By the way thank you for sharing this.

  2. I love this idea. I certainly should sit down and take some time to think about the questions you pose. Thanks!

  3. I'm in. I do not know exactly what goals I will have, but I will get them to you. I think it is a great idea what you are doing. It will motivate me for sure.

  4. Great guys. I'm super excited. @Michele-I think that it will help me too to push myself to the end of my weight loss journey and into the next leg, which will most likely be going back to school.

  5. Hi,
    I will e mail these to you, but thought I would post here, too. I will write a post on these in the next week or so on my own blog. Thanks for doing this! Michele

    1. Develop a specific goal/goals.

    I am going to pick three:
    First goal: Be at 170 by the middle of April 2011. This is a reasonable target for me because I lose about one pound a week. I am picking the middle of April because I will be presenting two papers at conferences, one in New Orleans and one in Orlando. This is an incentive for me to wear some professional clothes that are sized down.

    Second goal: Keep up my fitness level and increase the rigor of my regime: Per week, I aim for 25 or so miles on bike (either stationery or outdoor bike) my goal is to increase this to 35 miles by middle of April 2011. l walk now about 8 miles per week. I would like to increase this to 12 miles per week by middle April 2011. I would also like to start the C25K Running Program (Couch to 5km) by February 19. By my birthday (May 22) I would like to have run/walk my fist 5KM. The he C25K Running Program (Couch to 5km) lasts about 9 weeks which would be May 1 for me.

    Third Goal: Achieve more balance in my life by working less than 50 hours per week.

    2. Describe what achieving your goal(s) looks like.

    First goal: this goal means that I would have shed 43 pounds if I am at 170. This is no small feat. It would mean that I have lost more weight than I ever did in my whole life. It would feel great.

    Second goal: to me this would mean that 4-5 times a week, I do a 5-mile bike ride; 4 times a week I walk three miles. I gradually increase both biking and walking. Plus, I start the training for the C25KM

    Third goal: During the calendar year of 2011, I will be on academic sabbatical. This will mean that I will have time to focus on getting my professional life more in balance. This would mean that I work only 5 days a week, 10 hours a day and I DO NOT work on the weekend (no grading, no editing, nor reading papers). I would also like to develop a habit of taking a break from my work, at least 15 minutes every 2 hours.

    3. Set milestones and rewards for reaching each one.
    Goal 1:

    A. 186 by December 31.

    B. 180 by February 17 (my anniversary): reward: pedicure

    C. 175 by March 19 (My grand daughter’s 8th BD): reward new swimsuit.

    Goal 2:
    A. By February 1 be riding 30 miles a week; walking 10 miles. Start the C25KM on or before February 18.
    B. By March 1: riding about 33-35 miles per week; walking about 15; training for the C25KM.
    C. Finishing the training for he C25K Running Program (Couch to 5km) by May 1: register for a 5KM walk/run.

    Goal 3:
    A. Log my hours, much as I did my food when I started this journey, for the month of January. Find out what my actual total is. Then work at scaling back to 50 per weekly. By February 1: no work, none, on Sunday.
    B. By March 1, no work on Saturday or Sunday, or two days a week if hubby works weekend. Each day no more than 10 hours.
    C. Work toward taking breaks every 2 hours, for at least 15 minutes (and NO computer!).

    4. Create a system of accountability.
    My system of accountability is my blog, but also you. I will report weekly on my weight loss and fitness goals to my blog for all to see; but I will report my other goals (working less and creating more balance to you).

    5. Create a system of support.
    Through blogging and of course setting these goals with you.