He called me unexpectedly as I was driving home yesterday afternoon.
He had been in town on business for a few days and wanted to know if I had time for a quick coffee before he headed to the airport for his flight home.
It had been some 20 months since I had last seen him and as I drove to meet him at a nearby Starbucks (they’re all nearby, aren’t they?) my mind drifted back to the last time we had met.
The last time had been a meeting in his office just prior to his leaving the city to accept a senior position with another company.
I had met with him each week for some four months prior to this date and a part of our discussion every time had always focused on his lifelong struggle with his not inconsiderable girth.
In fact, at our last meeting, he mentioned that he had weighed himself that morning and had tipped the scales – “darn near broke it” – at 373 pounds.
I remember him jokingly saying that 373 pounds would be the ideal weight for him if only he were 16 inches taller.
I parked the car went into the Starbucks and joined the man who was waving me over to his table.
I can honestly tell you that had I not gone into that place looking for him I would have walked right by him without recognizing him.
He was half the man he used to be. And so, naturally, after the warm reunion hug and a few moments spent catching up on each other’s lives I asked the obvious two questions: how much weight have you lost and how did you do it?
He told me that this time he had done only one thing differently from his many previous attempts at weight loss and that he also resolved never to try and lose weight but rather to permanently acquire a new life-style.
He said that before he began this journey the first thing he did was to spend time with himself really articulating and clarifying what it was that he really wanted. He realized that his goal was to permanently change his life-style and he mentioned the many times he and I had discussed how those things that we often identify as our goals serve only as being the means to the end and that what we really want is what achieving our goals will do for us.
And what he really wanted – what we had often referred to as the “Prize” was to look better, feel better, be substantially healthier, have more energy and like himself a whole lot more.
And he wanted this Prize in a really, really, really big way.
He reminded me that we had spent much time discussing the role that our habits have played in bringing us to where we are today and that he realized that in order to achieve this new self that he so strongly desired he would have to develop new habits
And then he told me something really interesting he said that he only developed one new habit. It was the habit of intervention. It was what we had called the habit of intelligent questioning.
It works like this. He made one absolute commitment and promise to himself at that time and it is a promise that he has kept every single day right up to and including today. It is a promise that has become a habit so ingrained in his very being that he cannot not do it.
He said the habit was this: to simply ask himself five questions before eating anything.
And these are the five questions
Questionone. Will eating this move me closer to, or further away from where my prize?
Question two. What is the most important thing for me to do right now? To focus on my prize or to satisfy my immediate desire?
Question three. How important is it to me to get to my prize?
Question four. How would I feel if I had the prize right now?
Question five. How will I feel if I never have it?
And he told me that not one morsel of food or liquid has entered his mouth, from the day he began asking those questions, that has not first been the focal point of these questions
In fact, he told me that modified versions of those questions now precede many of his activities so, for example, when he feels too tired to go to the gym he asks himself five questions and invariably ends up pumping iron.
He made an interesting comment. He said he had spent most of his life with only one bad habit; the habit of making poor choices because they often felt good in the moment.
The difference today? He has the same number of habits but by simply asking himself a few questions before making choices he provides himself with the opportunity of evaluating the consequences of those choices.
And thereby making better choices.
A really small change.
Small enough to produce a 191 pound weight loss.
And complete his first marathon.
Imagine what he might have accomplished if he been serious about this and had made major changes?
Till we read again.
P.S. Please join me on Facebook and let me know what you think about this post.