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At the end of June 2014 I formally retired from my job, which meant that I no longer have the ‘excuse’ that I’ve been using to justify inactivity – that at the end of a tiring work day I don’t have the energy left to do anything else except mellow in front of the telly. Or that other peoples’ needs take precedence because I only have limited time to fit everything in after work.

As an aside, I was and remain surrounded by people who manage to do 12 hour workdays and still have time to train themselves physically. They rise at 5.30am and train before office hours. Dr Covey did it, too. I find that concept hard to understand. When I have tried this I have found it to be a horrendous experience! But when I have done that I had always been conscious that I had to go to work afterwards, and that meant arriving in work sweaty and tired just in time to start! Retired, and without an immediate replacement job, I had the opportunity to reframe that thinking.

The only challenge at this stage was a knee injury I had picked up in April, which was still causing pain in June. I had seen a physiotherapist who assured me that it was temporary and would soon sort itself out, but by the end of June I was concerned that it was never going away and that training for the Death Valley Run was as impossible as the Cardiff Half Marathon was now proving to be. But I had three months before the latter and nine before the trip to the USA so there was still some hope. And July the 1st was fast approaching.

Status at this moment: could run 15 minutes if the knee held up; I weighed 16st 9½ pounds (233.5 pounds) but I was being disciplined in rising on weekdays at 7am even though I had nowhere to go.
What was going wrong? Put simply I still wasn’t living in keeping with my intentions. I was allowing outside influences to change my mind, to go with the flow, to live in the moment, and so on. I ate like a fool – not in terms of ‘bad’ or even ‘lots’ in the greater scheme of things, but still ‘too much’ given the issues I was having over an inability and occasional unwillingness to train. I couldn’t seem to satisfyingly cut back to a level of intake that was commensurate with output.

And I couldn’t help thinking that a lot of this was down to one simple and upsetting fact – I still didn’t know what I was doing it for, or if I did know, I wasn’t as convinced by it as I needed to be.
In mid-July I decided that one way to make progress in the weight loss department was, if you like, to delegate responsibility to someone else for meal planning. Having seen a colleague or two make significant progress using the Slimfast Meal-Replacement Diet (terminally annoying adverts saying you could eat “a delicious nutritious shake for breakfast and lunch, and a normal meal in the evening” had finally kicked in), I opted to try it for two significant reasons:

One – instead of struggling to decide what I could and could not eat for breakfast and lunch (and not being able to cook – don’t ask), this diet made it easier. I only had to choose what flavour ‘nutritious, delicious shake’ I had to prepare.

Two – I had an ally, as my wife was also keen to lose weight and agreed that this method was worth trying. This meant that I could also delegate the need to decide what evening meal would be prepared, which had been the cause of a lot of difficulty over the years!

The parallel I could use is this: for any organisation to work it institutes systems. The systems are designed to make routines effective, to ensure that things get done the way they need to be done, with minimal input. For example, to avoid having to rethink how to do things every time you have to do them. In other words, the effort required to create a result is minimised because the system takes some of the load. By taking out the need to think about food (in terms of what to eat) we took away the influence food had over us. And by us both applying ourselves to the same end and by using the same method, we also reduced the influence that other people can have on our eating habits.

In the first 7 days I lost 5 pounds. This was a great psychological boost, because if I lost 3 pounds in the next week – easily achievable on most diets – I would be back in the 15 stone bracket, like having jumped over a marker, the 16 stone ‘fence’.

This sent me back to the goal-setting forms I had designed, and to re-establishment of goals based on lag- and lead measures, thus:

Weight Goal

As you can see I had the what (the goal), the why (the mission statement headings as applied to the particular goal) and the how, with lead measures appropriately made. Those lead measures – the staged weight loss targets – were easily achievable and at the same time, if missed, could be achieved in a reasonable ‘catch-up’ effort the following month.

Let’s see how I get on next week.