It’s that time of year when we all make “New Year’s Resolutions.” The problem with most of them is that 60 days from now they are forgotten or simply ignored. Instead may I suggest an “I Owe Me.” Think of it as a promissory note. . .to yourself. You’re not making a resolution because you think it’s something you’re supposed to do. You’re making a commitment to yourself, because it’s something you want to do for yourself.
Outline the terms and conditions that will be met. Since it’s a promissory note, you need to think of it as the same type of promise you make to the bank. They will foreclose if you do not pay it. You need to put in a penalty that is meaningful.
In addition, when you make a promise to the bank they ask you many questions. Usually they ask: Why do you want to take on this obligation? What is the realistic period in which you can repay it? What will be the benefit to you? Be sure to ask yourself the same kinds of questions before you decide on your “I Owe Me.” For me, the question is simple. “What am I going to do differently tomorrow that will get me better results than I got yesterday?
Above all else, though, make sure that your “I Owe Me” is reasonable and do-able.
In 2003 I was diagnosed with continuing high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, high cholesterol and as morbidly obese. None of those “death” sentences had an impact. It was not until my cardiologist said, “You are a text book candidate for amputation and blindness” that I reacted. What I heard was not that I would die, but that I would live with a significantly diminished quality of life.
So, how to proceed?
In listening to others I discovered that many of the promissory notes we create are not realistic. For instance, in the past when I created weight loss resolutions, I started with something like “I will lose 100 pounds.” But I could never keep that resolution, because it was so daunting. Every day when I reminded myself of that resolution, I subconsciously reminded myself of how long and hard it would be to keep it. I had set myself up to fail.
So instead I looked for something achievable in the short term. Instead of losing “x” number of pounds, why not reduce my calorie intake by 100 calories a day? Instead of exercising 30 minutes a day, how about starting by just moving more? Park the car further away from the entrance to the grocery store. Get up and walk to down the hall instead of using the intercom to talk to a colleague. Use the stairs instead of taking the elevator two flights.
Once I started moving more and eating less, I saw results. I was losing weight. Not much, perhaps at the start, but the weight was beginning to come off and, more important, to stay off. That encouraged me to do more, so I added that 30 minutes of daily exercise. To many, 30 minutes a day means a single, daily workout. But I learned that 10 minute chunks totaling 30 minutes in a day accomplishes the same thing, and it’s much easier to do. Eventually, I worked myself up to a 30-minute daily exercise walk, plus those extra chunks the rest of the day.
It’s the small accomplishments that help us reach the larger goals. We need to test a few radical ideas. We need to create some audacious goals. But with those ideas and goals we need to identify smaller objectives, so we don’t get frustrated and instead see incremental progress and rewards that encourage us to continue towards the larger goal.
That’s what it took for me, and I lost that 100 pounds. More important, it’s staying off, because now the goal is maintaining my health. To me, there’s nothing more important, but each of us must find what matters to us, create our own “I Owe Me” and pay off our own debts to ourselves.
Still, general health and weight control in particular are of interest to most of us, and many people have asked me for my “secrets” to continually improving my health. Here are the 10 things I do. Feel free to skip 1-9 if you are in perfect health, ideal weight, and not getting older or feeling less energetic.
- I weigh myself every Monday morning and record it.
- I measure myself every first Monday of the month and record it.
- I walk at least 30 minutes each day.
- I eat small portions frequently instead of a few big meals.
- I push most of my calories to before 6 p.m.
- I don’t skip breakfast.
- I have protein meal replacements bars with me.
- I have raw nuts in a Ziploc bag in my briefcase.
- I have sugar free flavors for my water.
- I get a full blood workup every 90 days.
In addition, I made an “I Owe Me” promissory note to myself to never weigh more than seven pounds more than the previous Monday weigh in. Here’s how I stay out of default:
- I eat 60 grams of protein a day.
- I drink 60 ounces of water per day.
- I get 60 minutes of exercise, in some combination (walking and “chunks”), every day.
- I don’t save my “fat clothes.” I either tailor them or give them away.
- I listen to my doctors and then do my own research.
And the results are amazing. My weight is stable. For the last year my blood profile results, which includes a lipid panel (cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.), are normal. AIC, which measures glucose for a 90-day period, is normal. My cardiologist is so pleased with the results that he invited me to partner with him to tell the story.
So here’s my “I Owe Me” to U. Dr. M. Gheorghiade is an expert in offering advice for the prevention of vascular and coronary disease (you can find out more about him here and here. He has created a simple 10-step program for all of us, no matter what our family or medical history is. Adherence to this medically-proven program will ensure you against cardiac events.
As a reader of this column, we are offering the “program overview” to you as a way to create Better Change for yourself in 2007. Before doing anything, though, consult with your doctors and other healthcare professionals and customize this to your needs.
- Complete cessation of smoking.
- Control your blood pressure: 130/80 if diabetic; 140/90 if non-diabetic
- Manage your lipid profile
- Get moving 30 minutes a day
- Waist management: Men, =<40 inches; Women =<35 inches
- Diabetes control: Your AIC should be <6
- Take a baby aspirin every day
- Get a flu shot
- Take a statin (Statins are drugs that have proven to be effective in reducing cholesterol and the risk of heart attack and death.)
- If you have any history of heart or vascular conditions, take your prescribed system blockers, including ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, aldosterone, and beta blockers.
Be it for your health, your relationships, your business or other area of your life, as you plan for 2007, make an “I Owe Me”, write it down and have someone witness it. Make it specific, have a due date, and a penalty.
Make the commitment today for Better Change.