Browsing the archives for the Change category

Cultivating Healthy Change (and Weight Loss)

Change, Life as it is

I had a strange experience yesterday and today, and since what came out of it fits with my concept for MereWisdom, I have decided to share it. For the past 10 weeks I have been participating in a weight-loss competition within my company. I jumped into it with gusto, using it as a catalyst to start making some changes, and i have been pretty successful. In fact, in the past 10 weeks, I have lost 48 pounds.

Healthy Lunch

This was announced yesterday to the company, and it identified me as the leader of the competition. In addition to several e-mails of congratulations, I also received an e-mail from one of our our accounting groups wanting to meet me and hear about how I did it. I was touched and flattered, and we had a good visit.

This morning, I found the following e-mail when I arrived at the office:

Good morning…

I hope you don’t mind me contacting you, but your story really struck a chord with me yesterday when you came over to meet us. I am very interested in hearing more about your strategies, exercise regime, and such. I have been struggling with my weight for about 3 years now; trying to bring it down. I have been overweight for the last 11 years. I am not the heaviest I have ever been right now, and for that I am grateful.

Any suggestions you might have, words of wisdom, insight, etc. would not only be welcome, but greatly appreciated. Also, I would like to extend an offer of moral support. I realize you don’t know me, but it never hurts to reach out to people and let them know the support is there if they need it. I hope I am not out of line or make you uncomfortable by contacting you about this. If so, please do not hesitate to tell me. Thanks!

I thought about it for a while, and chuckled at the irony of my becoming an informal weight-loss coach, and wrote this reply during lunch.

I don’t mind at all, in fact I am both flattered and more motivated to keep going for myself as a result of the visit to y’all and your encouragement and request for support.

I could probably fill pages of what I have learned – whether that is from Weight Watchers, Overeater Anonymous, or Atkins over the years; so instead how about if I just help a little at a time, and you can ask for more, ask questions, say thanks which will encourage me to send more, or just say no thanks.

The first place I guess I should start is with what I call the “White Bread Warning”. It’s not an Atkins thing, believe it or not, it’s a consulting maxim I have used for years. In short, the warning states, “If you use the same recipe, you will get the same bread.”

Another way I have heard it said is, “If you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting.” And also there is the classic definition of insanity being to keep doing the same thing and hoping for different results.

Notice that none of this has anything to do with making a decision to change; it only addresses things that do change. A favorite parable of mine tells about the three frogs sitting on a lily pad on a hot summer day. One frog is so very hot and thinks about the cool water under the lily pad and decides to jump in and cool off. So how many frogs are left on the lily pad? The answer is three. The decision to jump in is not the same thing as jumping in.

This was big for me because I make lots of grandiose decisions and then don’t follow through. These lessons teach me that my decision means little – what I do is what matters.

Now when changing recipes, the key there is experience. What do I do that I know causes me to gain weight? I need to stop those recipes. What do I know from experience will help me lose weight? I need to use these recipes. It may not be easy, but it really is that simple.

There, that seems like a good bite-sized chunk of wisdom and experience, and it helps me to review it. What do you think?

Her reply said that she was putting my words on her refrigerator door. And I felt that if my words were good enough for that place of honor, then they might be good enough to share with you as well. It also makes me want to know what I can learn from my visitors here as well.

What do you do to help make changes in behavior that go beyond just having the intention to change?
Should I share more of my thoughts on this in the futurre on here?

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The White-Bread Warning

Change, Life as it is, Mistakes, photography

In his book, The Secrets of Consulting, Gerald Weinberg uses parables and simple summaries to make his points about consulting. It’s a great book, and one I suggest to everyone that wants to become a consultant.

But consulting is not why I was thinking of one of those simple summaries on Saturday night, sitting in the mud in a marsh in a state park. I was sitting in the mud, having just fallen backwards, for the second time. That’s when Weinberg’s White Bread Warning came to me.

White Bread Warning:
“If you use the same recipe, you get the same bread.”

I had a burst of wisdom the moment before I fell the second time when I realized that I had been doing just what I was doing right before the first time I fell in the mud. I was photographing spider lilies in a muddy marsh and was lowering my tripod by changing the angle of the legs, and I started with the leg opposite me. This moved the tripod closer to me and meant I needed to step backwards. This muddy marsh was sucking our boots into itself and it often took a real effort to pull my feet free. So sure enough, I needed to step backwards again, my feet were stuck, and so backwards into the mud and marshwater I went… again.

Some people will recognize the White Bread Warning as a corollary to the insanity of “Trying the same thing again and again, expecting different results.” I have often heard the same idea expressed as:

If you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting.

So, since I was no longer dry, I decided to stay on my knees in the mud and water and lower my tripod that way, and then shot from my knees. Here’s the shot that I got as a result:



Learning when I have a bad recipe and then making changes is, in some ways, pretty basic stuff. But it’s also the very basis of the sort of wisdom that comes from making mistakes.

After all, as a consultant to myself – that is advising myself on better ways to get through my day – I need to always be on the lookout for where recipes don’t work. Because one possible corollary of the White Bread Warning might be summed up as:

If I use a better recipe than i was using before, I will get better bread.

And I know I could use better bread than what I usually make for myself….

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