MYST 180: Forget Inspiration!

Lawn Care, Ego, and Habits

The Wisconsin seasons are beautiful and messy, wonderful and terrible. (If you didn’t know, Wisconsin has weather that can change rapidly.) But the weather can also be used in weight loss.

Winter snows bring Fitbit Adjustments, especially if you have a moderate-sized driveway and a sidewalk to clear. Spring brings yard cleanup and then summer mowing season starts. Your Fitbit will record many steps as you mow, fertilize and rake your lawn. When autumn arrives the falling leaves add to your “lawn care workout”. Or maybe you need to chop wood for the winter. It is a never-ending routine. And that’s okay (because I enjoy it.)

Lawn work is not always easy but it is relaxing, and it generates a fair amount of exercise. My Fitbit will easily record enough activity in an afternoon to earn a 400-600 calories Fitbit Adjustment. I enjoy seeing those adjustments. And my LoseIt friends frequently comment on my nice Fitbit Adjustments.

But I really don’t worry about these adjustments. I don’t eat those calories, and won’t until I finally reach my goal weight. So why do I bother wearing a Fitbit?

People have asked me how I keep my motivation. I don’t keep it. It keeps me. Motivation is my “why”. That never goes away. My “why” never leaves me. I want to be comfortable walking. I want to be able to ride a roller coaster. I want to buy clothes that are not in the “Big and Tall” department. I want to have my asthma and blood pressure and heartburn under control.

I have achieved some of those “wants”. But weight loss is different than most goals. Let’s say your goal is to climb Mount Everest. After you reach the summit and then descend back to your base camp, you are done. You accomplished your goal. No matter what you do, that experience cannot be taken away from you.

But weight loss is a goal that can be achieved and then lost. And losing it is stupidly easy. All it takes is to become lazy. In my case, I stopped measuring my food (“I know my portion sizes”) and to stop standing on the scale every day.

Would this derail your plans?

That’s all it took for me to give up that hard-won goal.

So, here is the real question: if a person’s motivation never goes away, why is failure so common?

Many people rely on other people to inspire them. I talk about that in MYST episode 91 where many people need cheerleaders to help them make progress. And there is nothing inherently bad with cheerleaders. It’s is exciting to have someone on the sidelines of your life, helping you maintain your focus and excitement.

The problem is what happens when the cheerleaders go home, and you are still on the field, fighting for that winning score?

Science fiction author Octavia Butler (1947-2006) wrote an essay about how to become a successful author, and her quote applies to weight loss as well as writing:

“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit is persistence in practice.”

Habit is persistence in practice.

That is how you find success after the cheerleaders in your life are gone. If you don’t have reliable habits built into your daily life, maintaining success after achieving it will be very difficult. And in fact, if you don’t use good habits, you will join the vast majority of weight-loss winners as they regain what they worked so hard to lose.

Right now, earning a daily Fitbit Adjustment is simply a matter of ego. I’ve worn a Fitbit since July 12, 2011. It is a daily habit. Developing good habits–such as measuring my food, logging everything I eat and wearing my Fitbit–is how I continue to move toward success.

A healthy ego helps to reinforce those habits. I want to keep my Fitbit numbers growing. As of this morning (May 14, 2018, at 0615):

  • Total steps: 18,533,661
  • Total Distance: 8,242.58 miles
  • Total flights of stairs: 30,423

And I don’t believe that “habits are formed in 21 days” or “28 days” or…well, you pick a number. None of them are correct. Habits are like my baby chickens. They grow quickly, but only if you pay attention and keep feeding them every day. Habits are created in one day. One day that is repeated over and over, in an unending cycle. That is how long it takes to create a habit. (Also, it really only takes one day to break a habit, too.)

So, here are some habits for you to begin growing:

  1. Do you plan your meals in advance, every day?
  2. Do you weigh all of your food and log everything you eat?
  3. Do you monitor your weight on a regular basis?
  4. Do you remind yourself why you are working this hard, every day?

Those are the habits that bring success.

What are your success habits?

Photos via Pixabay by StevePB


Music composed and performed by Jason Shaw, courtesy of

Voiceover courtesy of Matt Young. Matt is a professional voiceover artist. If you have any need of voice-over work, for your podcast, radio spot, or whatever, you can reach Matt by a variety of methods. He is on LinkedIn. On Twitter. And Google+. Follow his Facebook page to learn how to better use social media. Matt was also my guest on MYST 54. Give his story a listen!

All images are Creative Common Zero.