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The mind is a powerful thing

It’s official. I am struggling with all aspects of my program and have been for nearly two weeks. Nutritional slips, missed workouts, and frankly I am just not as focused as I have been during the past 13 months. The truth is, I was on a roll and feeling so positive that I didn’t expect to falter in the home stretch. I didn’t think it could happen to me. Boy was I wrong! The mind is a powerful thing.

Yesterday, in an effort to get myself back on track I had a great conversation with O’Neal Hampton — my inspiration, mentor and coach. In talking with O’Neal, I quickly learned that I am not alone in letting my mind wander and my plan slip as I come into the home stretch of reaching my goal (20-25 lbs to go). Thus, this blog to help me and anyone facing similar challenges.

My story starts here…
On Thursday, January 12, 2012, I was lucky enough to go to sunny southern California for a mini-vacation to visit some dear relatives. My goal on vacations has always been to stay as close to program as I can while enjoying the trip — namely the native foods and wine in moderation. My vacation goal is to have my weight stay flat. Often, I increase activity to compensate for more variation in my nutritional plan. (Who doesn’t love long power walks along the ocean or climbing mountains in National Parks?!) This strategy has worked for me 6-8 times in the last year.

But this time, not only was I was staying in someone else’s home and not in control of the meal schedule or menu, I was also allowing my mind to wander into thoughts of life in maintenance mode. I wondered if I would be able to self-select the right foods on a daily basis and in moderation? Or, would I slip too easily back into the old patterns that got me here? What about my training schedule? How will I pay it forward when I reach my goal? What will I do to keep my program strong and alive in my daily life? …

For me, the combination of both jumping ahead to wonder/worry about what it would be like to live in maintenance and allowing some slippage while on vacation, began a period of real struggle. I gained weight on vacation and vowed to get it off this last week. But the slippage continued and I gained more…not for lack of energy or enthusiasm…but almost subconsciously.

I did everything I thought I was supposed to do to get myself re-focused and back on track. I blogged about it. I started each new day with the very best of intentions and focused on the basics of my plan, and I even asked for help. I consulted with program director Leif Anderson, and my friend and counterpart on this journey Shari Cummelin. I told everyone around me on a business trip that I needed their help in that moment to stay the course. And yet, I continued to struggle. I found that after one slip the mind began to wonder to thoughts of old – justifying the next. Yikes! A very slippery slope. Did those old voices and patterns resurface just to test me or to teach me something?

How many of us have tried to lose weight before only to fall back into old patterns and fail? The more I slipped, the more I worried, and then the more I slipped and the more I worried, the stronger and louder those old voices became. Mind you, it was only a few days of this cycle but it felt like weeks. How could this happen when I started the new year so close to goal and feeling so strong?

Letting my mind wander, controlled the direction
So, yesterday, I reached out to my mentor O’Neal Hampton inquiring if he had been here or if I was just completely nuts (topic for debate another time!!) I was relieved to learn that indeed I am not alone (and maybe I am not nuts!). According to O’Neal who walked this path before me, it is fairly common as you get closer to goal to let your mind wander (and worry) about life after goal. O’Neal said it happened to him and to many of his fellow Biggest Loser contestants right before the finale.

Letting the mind worry about the future takes the focus OFF reaching the goal. In each and every case, what got us here – this close to goal – was a positive, laser beam focus on the goal and a lot of hard work. Indeed, this is what’s needed in the home stretch. It is perhaps even more important in the final phase as the well-intentioned voices around you start to echo “you’re there;” “you look great,” and “where you are is good enough why would you want to lose even more? Don’t get too thin…”

By letting my mind wander to a place of concern about things that are not real yet and may never be, I was taking the focus off the goal. On top of that, my concern about the slippage on my plan became all encompassing. I was focused on negative instead of the positive — my amazing 180 lb loss thus far and the prize at the end – an at-goal weight, beautiful Lori! I have come this far only by focusing like a laser beam on getting the weight off and getting to goal…one day, one meal…one pound at a time.

Totally, makes sense, right? Thank you O’Neal. I am excited to be refocused, re-energized and 100+%  focused only on my goal. When I reach that goal and determine with my team that I am ready for maintenance. Then, and only then, wonder and plan and focus on what’s next. Right now I have ONE job and ONE focus – getting the weight off. And I know that I CAN and WILL reach it – and very, very soon.

Embracing the journey – the good and the struggles
To be honest, I wouldn’t trade this period of struggle for the world. For it is in this place that I have yet again rediscovered that I am not perfect, but rather human. I am strong. I am determined. And I not alone. I have the most amazing back up team ready and willing and able to help me get there. It is in this place that I am gently reminded to stay positively focused on the goal…like a laser beam until I am safely home. To learn to forgive myself and get right back on the horse when I mess up. To learn to trust myself and others.

The lessons are many. My heart is full. To the excavation team and outfielders who back me up when I fire a bad pitch or one gets by me – I THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. On this day, my gratitude goes to O’Neal Hampton, Leif Anderson, Sandra Swami, and Shari Blair Cummelin.

Let’s rock it! I am back and 100+% in the game and ready to go. Can’t wait to see what happens next.


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