by ERIK ORTON on DECEMBER 28, 2016
Please don’t punch me in the face, but yes, I’m going to be that guy that talks about fitness at the holidays, because I’ve learned the secret.
For probably 10 years we didn’t have a scale in our home. We didn’t have one on principle. I hated them. I wasn’t concerned about my weight, or anyone else’s for that matter. I cared about health and well being, not an arbitrary number. However, after we’d been sailing for nine months, I was at my parents house and they did own a scale. I decided to weigh myself. The last time I weighed my self was nine months before when I was at their house right before we sailed.
Before: 210 lbs.
After: 190 lbs.
20 pounds. My secret? I bought a 38’ sailboat and went sailing for a long time. I know, not the kind of get-fit scheme you’re going to find on a magazine cover. Did I work out? Maybe twice, and that was just out of curiosity. Did I eat nothing but popcorn and water. Hardly. But what did happen? Small imperceptible things happened, and then those things compounded over long periods of time. (A guy named Darren Hardy wrote a whole book about this called The Compound Effect. I haven't read it, but I can save you $11 plus a lot of hours by telling you it's true.)
Our boat had smaller dishes--it was French--so we ended up eating smaller portions. I maintained a low to moderate level of physical activity. I had to keep my balance, as well as get up and down and around a boat, plus handle myself in the places that boats go. And that was it. Nothing too rigorous.
After a while my wife started teasing me about my pants slipping off. But she was right, they were. We didn’t have any full length mirrors on the boat. All we could see in the bathroom mirror were our faces. I knew I was getting exquisitely tan, but I didn’t know I was getting trim. Eventually I looked like this. Okay, no points for style.
But now that I’ve been back on land, all my habits have reversed and I’ve gained back those 20 lbs. But that again proves my point. Have I gone on a cheese casserole and brownie diet? No. Have I lazed about on the couch for six hours each day binge watching Netflix? Nope. But small, imperceptible changes compounded over time. I ate a little more each day and I mostly sat instead of being active.
A couple months ago we were spending a weekend with some dear friends in New Hampshire. Turns out they had a scale, so I stood on it. It said 213 lbs. What?! How could I have possibly gained 23 pounds? But scales don’t lie. That's what they're good for.
My friends are super healthy. They actually just opened a yoga studio the other week. So I felt duly called to health repentance just by hanging out with them.
When we got home, I started eating off smaller dishes; lunch plates instead of dinner plates, applesauce bowls instead of salad bowls. I even switched to smaller utensils. I use the little IKEA spoon instead of the big IKEA spoon. And I go for a walk everyday. I now weigh 198 lbs, that's 15 pounds lost by hardly doing anything. Not quite back to where I was before, but moving in the right direction.
I know there are all kinds of extenuating circumstances in our individual lives: metabolism, genetics, proximity to Costco muffins. But I have things I want to do in my life that require my health. How about you?
So perhaps we can ask ourselves these questions: What do we want to change in our lives? What small, seemingly imperceptible shifts can we make (and continue over long periods of time) that will bring those thing into our lives?
If you try it and it doesn’t work, I’ll let you come punch me in the face.