Will I be a better presenter if I lost weight?

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scale_with_tape_measureFor starters, I want(ed) to lose weight to be a healthier Dad. A lot of people have asked me how I got into my weight loss journey, and after losing 80 pounds in 4 months in 2014, I certainly was feeling better about myself, especially how I fit in an airplane seat. The true test with any diet is keeping it off. I have had quite a year of ups and downs, but now in October 2015, I’ve been able to keep 60 of it off since starting on Feb 27, 2014, and it’s time to get into the groove again! So, the following is quite a different post than the normal performance improvement you’re used to seeing here. I’m proud of my methodology, and how well it worked for me. Now you won’t need to ask me in a few months how I did it, because here is the story of me doing it (again)… Instead, ask me how amazing I feel!

This post is a personal story… I’d ask you to skip this one if you’re feeling particularly critical

One of my best friends is a professional prestidigitator, or as you may know the more common term, “magician,” and I’ve learned a lot of platform and marketing skills from his lessons learned and wisdom. We have such a unique relationship with a foundation of performance improvement, whether it’s him as a magician, or me as a professional DJ or trainer, we are always critiquing and attempting to make each other better. So, you may find me at magic shows and conventions with this in mind.  How can I be a better performer? I went to a Magic LIVE conference in Las Vegas a few years ago, and an assistant to one of the world’s most famous magicians addressed an answer to this question in a completely surprising way: Lose weight. I really didn’t expect to hear that, and I wasn’t the only one in the room. I’ve been classified as “overweight” since 1993 and it has constantly been something me and many other professionals work on and stress about. His angle was somewhat brutal and not widely accepted, because frankly, it was mean. You can’t fault his premise, though: If you’re going to be a performer and get people to trust you, people want to believe you have discipline and are the master of your own body. Also, in show business they have preconceived notions and an idea of what this type of performer should look like, and because of this notion, being overweight is not a desirable condition: it’s unhealthy. If you’ve been a long-time reader, can you even believe I’m posting about this? This topic actually overlaps in such a strange way with other definitions of “Human Performance” that have seemingly nothing to do with organizational improvement. This notion/shock stuck with me, and even though I’m currently half-way through my weight loss journey, I do have some tips to share that have worked for me. I’ve recently been told by a new business contact that I am an organization of one, and the same things that apply in large organizations can trickle into our own lives. Time for some more organizational improvement.

My Methodology

Every time I plateaued, I would change up something… this works… and I’m no doctor or dietician – so take all of this post as it is… just an idea… it’s up to you to figure out what works for you and what is best… this combination works for me… and it works well… AND requires no extra exercise… but to tone up, you should be figuring out a gym plan, too… that’s another of my upcoming changes…

Here is the comprehensive strategy… this is my strategy for losing weight… you should also have a strategy for maintaining after you’ve lost… this allows you to know that when you get to your goal you can stay there and not bounce back up… Note that a maintaining diet is different than the losing diet, and will be offset positively by the addition of more exercise and fruits. Once again, I am not a doctor or nutritionist, and you should consult yours before trying a diet plan.

Here we…. dramatic pause…go:

#1: Do not start any diet until you’ve come to grips with the most important concept and truth: food is fuel. If you think it’s for fun, or when convenient, or you enjoy an awesome pasta now and then, make sure that comes later when you’re maintaining, food is fuel for losing weight. Many American customs are centered around food: back yard BBQs, holidays, parties, game night, tailgating, hanging out, etc. It can be a difficult road to stay on unless you have a plan. I had a close friend who lost a lot of weight and his mantra was how much he hated himself for the way he looked. This is not a positive body image, and we need to be better at always having one, no matter what societal pressures befall us.

#2: Pay attention to calories – I had a Doctor that said weight loss is all math. If you burn more than you take in, it means you will lose weight… This can be your only strategy, but I like to ramp this up… a lot… who has time to wait for the pounds to come off?

#3: No Carbs (I know everyone knows this, but it’s important)… reduce your carbs and crank up your protein – Yay… good ol’ Atkins… I know we’re not into rocket science nutrition here, but remember, I was adding these strategies together, not using only one!!!

#4: I ate all of my meals with the highest calorie content in the first, generally a meat-filled omelet. I’ve heard 5 meals with the same amount of food as 3 meals works even better if you can evenly parse them out through the day. I ate my three meals, even when I wasn’t that hungry.

#5: No fruits! Yes, they’re good for us and taste awesome, but they have natural sugars and carbs that aren’t good for a losing plan, but better suited for a maintaining one.

#6: No starches! You may have anticipated this, but even if it’s a veggie, it helped my weight come off faster by cutting all starches out. They will come back when my diet shifts to a maintaining one, but not during my losing phase.

#7: 8-hour window: I created an 8-hour time block where I ate my meals every day, and wasn’t allowed to waiver from it. My time was from 11AM to 7PM… no food before or after that window… I read that this gives the body 16 hours of down time to recover from what you’ve been feeding it, and to do this each day and be consistent.

#8: I drank 3 things: Water, Tea, and Coffee… how amazing is it that there are so many varieties of these three choices? Nothing else… however, I could drink things outside of the 8-hour window.

#9: More water: I drank about a gallon of it a day. This is one of the hardest things for me to do.

#10: More sleep: getting 6-8 hours of sleep per night to allow your body and mind time to heal.

#11: Always have no-carb snacks on hand for times when you are super hungry and can’t wait – I planned for this, and I was set up for success.

#12: Mozzarella cheese: If you are like me, pizza is a favorite staple, and we luck out here… just because we can’t have bread doesn’t mean we can’t have some no carb pepperoni and cheese snacks.

#13: Accountability partner: This is an area I fell short in. This journey is meant to be shared with a friend or loved one that cares enough to help you stay on track.

#14: Hit the gym and get a trainer to help develop a customized workout plan: I also need to do this with a strategy, not just randomly picking up something and putting it down.

#15: Another strategy I have heard would probably work – on a non-gym day, walk 10 miles, or never go to the gym and walk 50-70 miles per week.

#16: Avoid bullies and negative people.

#17: Reduce stress… ANY way possible… This is the hardest piece of my journey, but usually can be the most fun. Geocaching with my kids is one of my favorite stress relievers (as long as we find the cache! haha). Attempting to build tools into each day/week/month to keep calm is a very important part of managing my journey. The more stress I can manage away, the more ready I’ll be to lose weight. This all begins and ends with getting your head right.

Results may vary

What I like most about my weight loss journey are the metrics, effort, discipline, and accountability. This does resemble what we teach as practitioners when trying to diagnose an organization’s issues, and come up with measureable solutions to prove what we did mattered.

After employing some of these tips, I would add another after another to shake things up at each plateau, and yes, I weighed myself every single day, but to feel better about my progress, I would only write down when I had lost something – it helped to keep me motivated and see how long I’ve been plateauing and that it was time to add a new strategy. Having a scale that measures tenths will make you feel more accomplished, too.

I want to add that I am an asthmatic and struggle deeply with cardio and no matter how many times I’ve tried, I cannot run more than about 50 yards without getting a debilitating asthma attack. I’m prayerful that when I get down to a more reasonable weight, I may be able to improve that number. I’ve always wanted to be a runner and active in running sports, but it has not worked out, yet. I had a few conversations with gym-rats (affectionately used term) whom have told me that “abs are made (revealed) in the kitchen” – whew, THAT was good news!

I may only ever do one more post on this, since this topic is not directly related to my normal source material, but I really wanted to share what I’ve been doing because so many friends and colleagues have asked. Now you know. I’d love to know how your personal journey is going at humanperformancetools@gmail.com, and if you have any tips I can add or edit to my personal plan above, please share.

No links, no comedic videos, and no white papers or scholarly journals this time… just sharing some of my personal experience because some of the blog readers here have asked for it. Will I be a better presenter because of losing weight? I suppose I’ll be a better everything if I feel better about me.

New post coming soon!

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