Success Tips: Part 2
After I sent out the first round of "Success Tips" a couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me that I had several other "secrets" which have benefited me greatly over the past nine years. So, I decided to mail out Part 2 to anyone who requested it.
Ultimately, your success with this program will be determined by your level of desire. In very plain terms, you have to WANT to do well. If you do not have a keen desire, then no amount of success tips or helpful hints will help.
Before we begin Part 2, I want to ask you to take a few minutes to consider your reasons for utilizing this program. Are your reasons enough to fill you with an overpowering desire to succeed? What are your "wants" (reasons such as excellent health, more energy, better appearance, etc.)? If your "wants" don't motivate you enough, then what are your "don't wants"? What will be the consequences if you do not change your lifestyle (reasons such as poor health, low energy, low self-esteem, etc.)? The bottom line is that your "wants" must be great enough to help you avoid your "don't wants." If, after thinking this through, you are still undecided about your level of desire and determination, then you need to go back and review your list of "wants" and "don't wants" again before proceeding. I have found that when most folks think clearly about this, they are able to find all of the motivation that they need.
So once again, the list that I have put together is merely to help you once you have already done some soul searching and are ready to embrace this program as a lifestyle. Embracing the program as a lifestyle will improve the quality of your life immeasurably. I encourage you to take that small step of faith and help your life take a turn for the better.
Okay, without further delay, here is Part 2 of the success tips:
(1) Consider dropping refined sugar from your lifestyle. Sugar seems to affect everyone differently. Some seem to be able to consume any amount with no problem while a small amount may send others into a tailspin. To some folks, sugar is very much like cocaine or some other addictive drug. Any amount leads to an unquenchable desire for MORE. Even the smallest amount can trigger a sugar binge for the unfortunate souls in this group. If you'd like to read a thorough discussion of sugar and its impact on body chemistry, I recommend a book entitled "The Sugar Blues." In the case of my own life, my struggles with sticking to this program became so much easier when I walked away from sugar.
(2) The grocery store is a mine field! It is imperative to eat a good meal before you go shopping. If you're anything like me, going into the grocery store on an empty stomach may present temptations which are far beyond your ability to resist. Also, it's no secret these days that grocery stores utilize effective marketing and merchandising methods just like most other businesses. Many prepackaged foods (especially snack foods) are positioned at key locations in the store to encourage you to make an impulse purchase of that item. If you are hungry while you are shopping, those donuts or Snicker bars may JUMP into your shopping cart. Eat before you go shopping. One final note, it's also a good idea to make a list of exactly what you plan to purchase before going to the grocery store. Something that has worked out well for me is sticking with basic staple items and avoiding prepackaged foods whenever possible. Yes, meals do take a few minutes longer to prepare without all the prepackaged foods, but I've found the small investment in time to be well worth the effort.
(3) Learn where to find the food items you want. One of the things that we have to realize when we embrace this program is that the rest of the world is still consuming the Standard American Diet (SAD). With that in mind, it's only reasonable to expect that grocery stores are going to cater to the SAD crowd. While basic staple items such as fruits and vegetables are readily available at most grocery stores, there are other healthful items which will make your new meal plan a lot more palatable. Unfortunately, most of these other items are not to be found in your neighborhood grocery store. I've found some grocery stores to be very gracious about special ordering anything, but sometimes that's more hassle than it's worth. The bottom line is that you will have to find out where to purchase the items you want, whether it be from a grocery store, a health food store, or directly from the manufacturer. As you may have heard me say before, if there is one key to which I attribute my success on this program, it is maintaining a lot of variety in my weekly meal plan. You must learn to prepare foods which taste good to you, and you must locate the sources of the ingredients that you need. Investing a little time in searching for these sources may very well be the deciding factor in keeping yourself on the program.
(4) Consider teaming up with someone else who is on the program. In reviewing the posts on the discussion board over the past couple of years, I've noticed that several folks have teamed up with someone else who has similar goals. This is sort of a buddy system, and there are many benefits to be found in it. This other person can be your sounding board and sometimes even a source of strength when you need it. Also, I would be willing to bet that there are many "old timers" who have been on the program for several years and would be happy to be your success coach. My feeling is that none of us should ever try to reinvent the wheel when there is someone out there who has already done what we are trying to do. Lots of people have already been through what you are going through, so by all means, draw on their experience.
(5) Keep your mind off of what you don't want! One thing I've learned in my years on the planet is that in order to be successful at anything, you have to keep your mind focused on what you want. Yet, for some reason, human nature seems to compel us to focus on what we don't want. This topic is really interesting to me and I could probably write several pages here, but I won't. Instead, I'll just give you a couple of examples. For example, if you have a weakness for candy and you know that eating candy is not in your best interest, then by all means stay out of the candy aisle at the store. Marketing people will keep it in your face enough as it is (through TV commercials and magazine ads), so don't pour gasoline on the fire by strolling down the candy aisle at Wal-Mart. Okay, here's another example. I love Coca-cola. I always have and I probably always will. Nevertheless, I have learned that drinking cokes is not in my best interest. Even though I hardly ever drink them anymore, they are constantly calling me. I've also discovered that the mind controls the body (in my case the reverse of that used to be true). If the mind controls the body and we want to control our body, then we must gain control of our mind. If we allow our mind to dwell on something that we know is not in our best interest, the mind may give in to the body and we wind up having the coke or the candy bar. Okay, here's a secret to help you gain control of your mind when you find yourself struggling to overcome some undesirable urge. "When thoughts do not neutralize an undesirable emotion (urge), action will" (W. Clement Stone). When you find yourself about to give in to an urge and your mind is about to lose the battle, simply take yourself out of that situation by taking action. Take any action! Any action will work! When I find myself just about to give in to an urge for a coke, I immediately stop whatever I'm doing and I go hit some golf balls or take a ride on the bike (can you say "Harley"?). If I'm at work and can't do either one of those, I take out my notebook and I start writing. That's the secret; just do something (anything) to take your mind off of what you don't want.
(6) There is absolutely nothing wrong with setting goals. Setting goals is great and they may help you in your quest for success on this program. However, if you put yourself under a timeline, you may very well be setting yourself up for frustration and failure. Setting an approximate weight goal or clothing size is great. Just don't put yourself under the unneeded pressure to do it in a certain amount of time. It will simply take as long as it takes. Seeing yourself as having already accomplished your goal will be very helpful. I discussed this in Part 1, and it really does work.
(7) Choose a reward for success on the program. Granted, excellent health and or weight loss are substantial rewards. However, it's okay to treat yourself to something special, whether it's a new outfit or a special trip to somewhere you've wanted to visit. Having a reward waiting for you when you achieve your goal might be just the little extra push you need. It's also helpful to get pictures of what it is that you want and keep them where you can see them throughout the day. This in itself isn't going to keep you on the program, but it can certainly help. In my case, it was a new suit of clothes. When I was 85 pounds heavier, I always looked somewhat sloppy in my clothes despite my efforts to present a good appearance. So, my reward when I reached my goal was a new suit that was tailored to fit me. That was a long time ago, but that suit is still very special to me because it represents the accomplishment of an important goal in my life. I think clothes were the ideal choice as my reward because losing the weight opened up a whole new world in the area of my appearance. But, by all means, pick a reward that is right for you. Only you know what will motivate you.
(8) Failure to plan means planning to fail. One of the main reasons that many well-meaning people fail on this program is their failure to plan their meals so that they will have approved foods and snacks available at all times. Every Saturday, I plan out my meals for the following week because that seems to work best for me. This also insures that I can go to the grocery store and pick up whatever I need for the entire week. Please don't allow yourself to be caught without anything healthy to eat in the house after a long, tiring day at work. That's the time when most any of us are prone to caving in and rushing out to McDonalds for a SAD meal.
(9) The longer you stay on this program, the easier it gets. On the one hand, that sounds very simple, but on the other hand it probably sounds quite difficult. What I really mean is that the longer you stick to the program and avoid those old favorite SAD foods, the easier it gets to avoid them in the future. As you've probably heard me say many times, our food preferences are based entirely on habit. So, consequently, the longer we abstain from those old favorites, the easier it will be to abstain from them in the future. Our abstinence weakens the old habits and helps us replace them with new, healthy habits. This is something that you will have to prove to yourself, and the only way is simply to do it and watch what happens.
(10) Your life does not begin after you realize your goals. It is now! Don't wait a single day to start living your life. Life is now! You can easily incorporate the McDougall lifestyle into the other areas of your life. Realize that you have charted a course for a very healthy and happy future, and start living. Don't wait another day! PLEASE LISTEN TO BUCK: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL YOU LOSE THAT 50 POUNDS TO BE HAPPY AND START LIVING. My friends, life is now. Go for it!
If I can help you in any way, I'm here. Feel free to call on me any time. Nothing would make me happier than to see each and every one of you succeed and achieve your goals.
My very best to you all!
I tried writing to Uncle Buck at the email address I had for him, but alas, it was returned as undeliverable. I wanted to again thank him again for taking the time to write all these out for us all those years ago.