In April 2014 I achieved lifetime membership status in Weight Watchers. I lost over 30 pounds in about 6 ½ months to reach my goal weight. And I've maintained my new weight to the present day (November 6, 2015).
I’m proud and more than a bit humbled by this ongoing achievement. On the one hand, I set out to achieve a goal and did so; on the other hand, I feel its attainment simply came about by virtue of my willingness to change longstanding behaviors related to food—that is, as an outgrowth of my commitment and discipline.
I learned, or, actually, was reminded of, several valuable lessons along the way—things I religiously mute or choose to forget entirely in the hubbub of my daily life, yet which have continued to serve me well over the years. They are:
* The immense value of accountability. I was weighed weekly prior to Weight Watchers meetings and acknowledged for my gradual losses. I had attempted weight loss before, on my own, but it didn’t stick. Likewise, I can’t imagine having completed my doctorate on my own in 2011 without the accountability that being a student demands. I continue to consider how I can incorporate accountability mechanisms as I work towards other goals.
* The need to take small steps, to focus on even the seemingly most minute behaviors. I’ve learned to eat mindfully, focusing on quality and quantity. These new behaviors have served me well. Likewise, when I aspire to approach everything I do with comparable attention and fervor, my life is much, much better.
* The value of action in terms of taking the next right step. Even though this step may not be ideal, I learn from the outcome and move on to the next action with minimal hesitation or extensive processing.
* How wonderful it feels when more of who I am (in this case my physical appearance) is in aligned with how I view myself — not to mention how I want others to see me.
* The recognition that I am a work in process, and that I can continue to set and achieve goals that in turn trigger positive movement in other areas. While the consequences of this movement vary from subtle to significant, they all are nonetheless meaningful as I continue to work on becoming more of the person I believe I am supposed to be.
* Goal setting and achievement is messy and complex. It’s filled with unexpected twists and turns—all of which have historically been anathema to me as someone who has relished order, structure, clarity, and certainty in all areas of my life.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the achievement of the goal is not an end but merely the beginning of a lifelong commitment—in this case, to my physical and emotional well-being.