If You Wanna Remain in Paradise, Learn to Enjoy the Journey

One of my rock star clients had a goal to lose 20 pounds of fat.  I say “had” because he’s achieved that.  I say “rock star” because he’s an awesome dude who did (and is still doing) the work.

So, what’s next?  Well, he said maybe another 20.  I don’t remember his exact words (which I wish I had because they’re the impetus for this post) but it was something like this, “I know I’ll have reached my goal when I’m happy with what I see when I look in the mirror.”

My first question to him was, “Have you enjoyed this journey you’ve been on?”  (This “journey” refers to his meeting with me consistently three times a week for the last eight months for strength training and conditioning.  It refers to his consistently getting out for walks on days we don’t train to help his heart, health, and recovery.  It refers to him consistently turning down one more episode of whatever’s trending to get adequate sleep.  It refers to his new way of consistently eating more nutrient-dense, minimally-processed foods.)  He said, “Yes.”  Phew.

You see, as difficult as weight loss is, weight maintenance is even more difficult.  (And the goal is seldom as rewarding as hoped.)

If you’ve ever been “successful” with a diet, you took the weight off.  But if you’re like the majority of people, you put at least some (if not all . . . or more) of the weight back on.

Often, after dieters achieve their weight-loss goal, they return to the behaviors they had prior to beginning their diet.  Why?  Because they hated what they had to do (and not do) to achieve their goal.  As much as you may not wanna hear this, whatever you did to get where you got, you gotta keep at it.

There’s a Zen proverb that says, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.  After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

I think it’s pretty self-explanatory.  Whatever you were doing before enlightenment, you gotta keep doing after.

To paraphrase this for weight loss:

“Before en-“lighten”-ment, move more, eat less.  After en-“lighten”-ment, move more, eat less.”

I think this is pretty self-explanatory, too.  But I’m not sure people understand this.

It was important for my client to say that he’s enjoying his journey, because it’s just that—a journey.  It’s not a destination.

I’m confident that there is no movie I’ve seen more in my life than Pixar’s Cars.  Of all the movies I’ve seen in my 43-year life, one of my most favorite quotes ever spoken is by Sally the Porsche.

“Well, the road didn’t cut through the land like that interstate.  It moved with the land, it rose, it fell, it curved.  Cars didn’t drive on it to make great time.  They drove on it to have a great time.”

Her saying this literally changed how I travel.  It changed my mindset.  No longer did vacation begin the moment I arrived at my destination; it began the moment I turned the key in the ignition.

I think that many dieters wanna cut through the land like an interstate.  They want the fastest route between Point A and Point B.  I can’t fault them for wanting that, but they do it at the expense of enjoyment.  They view the journey as a necessary evil to get to where they wanna be, which they believe will be the enjoyment.

It’s crazy how similar travel and weight loss are.  Like the land, your weight will rise, fall, and curve.  It can be frustrating.  It can be nauseating (like reading in the backseat of a car, blargh!).  But be encouraged, you’ll eventually make your destination.

A phrase I often use is, “Adopt sustainability early.”  Ultimately, do things that you’re ready, willing, and ABLE to do for the long haul.  Do only what you’ll continue to do.  Always or never.

I occasionally wanna remind my clients and readers, like you, that “we teach best what we most need to learn” (courtesy of Richard Bach).  I need to be reminded of all the things I’m writing to you about.  I often get caught up in the outcomes, forgetting to enjoy the journey.

I’ve been struggling recently with this in my business.  I’m seeing what others HAVE achieved and thinking about what I SHOULD HAVE achieved.  I’ve been focused on what I think is the reward.

You may be someone who chooses a word for the year.  I think that’s pretty awesome.  I’ve not intentionally done anything like this.  But recently, while doing my morning ritual, which includes reading my bible, I came across a scripture verse that I’m gonna make my verse for the year (if not life!).  It was written by King Solomon.

If you’re not familiar with King Solomon, he’s the wisest man to have ever lived.  He’s also one of the wealthiest ever.  He literally had whatever he wanted.

Why’s this important?  Well, if one of the wealthiest men in history, who had whatever he wanted, says something in his great wisdom, I wanna listen.  In Ecclesiastes 3:22, he wrote, “I have seen that there is NOTHING better than for a person to enjoy his activities because that is the reward.”

Mic drop.

No more will I be looking to the outcome as the reward.  The reward is in the doing.

Even in enlightenment, you’re gonna have to continue chopping wood . . . or doing wood chops.  You’re gonna have to continue carrying (and drinking) water.

I like how Solomon says, “enjoy his activities”.  I think this is a choice.  Choose activities you enjoy, yes, but sometimes you may have to simply choose to enjoy your activities.

Do this, and maybe you’ll achieve your weight-loss goal faster than thought (and ultimately maintain it).  But even if you don’t, at least you’ll have a great time.