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Today I began my second week of walking.

It’s a new routine for me. I put the kids on the school bus, bring along my dog and my iPod, and walk. For about an hour.

Now, I know that doesn’t sound like much. But for me, it’s been life-changing.

I’ve spent the past couple of years beating myself up for not going to the gym, or for not working hard enough when I got there. There’s a voice in the back of my head that belongs to the trainer I hired a few years ago. That voice is quick to point out that I’m not working up to my full potential.

While that worked in my favor for a good long while, it has also worked AGAINST me. Ultimately it resulted in my twisted all-or-nothing thinking that kept me out of the gym, if I couldn’t do things HIS way.

But with the start of a new school year came a fresh start for me, as well. I knew I had to find an activity that I liked, one that I could do for the rest of my life. It sounded so cliche, and my trainer-voice berated me, telling me that walking was for wussies, that I should be LIFTING HARD and almost puking…but I learned the had way that his was was not sustainable. Not for me, anyway.

But I knew I needed to start a new, sustainable habit. So I decided to follow Martha Beck’s advice from The Four Day Win:

Step 1: Pick a Goal (in my case, walking for 2 hours a day; that should shut up the trainer-voice)

Step 2: Play Halvsies until your goal is ridiculously easy to attain (2 hours down to one hour down to half an hour down to 15 minutes down to 10 minutes: THAT’S ridiculously easy)

I haven’t done the rest of the steps yet; maybe I should:

Step 3: Identify a Reward

Step 4: Identify a 4-Day Reward

Step 5: Make Sure the Action and the Reward are Linked

Any ideas for a great reward? What works for you?

Just back from my second Weight Watchers meeting at my church. I wasn’t sure what to expect this week. I only logged my food about 3 days this week. I noticed that the more I thought about eating less, the more I stressed out and ate emotionally.

Not good.

But when I weighed in, I got my first piece of good news. I lost two pounds!

And during the meeting, it came out that one diabetic woman had much more easily controlled her blood sugar and dropped 5 pounds this week. Another’s blood pressure dropped to her lowest in years, and she make be taken off her blood pressure medication. In just one week!

Plus, another few people joined this week, so our already large meeting is still growing! All together, our meeting (around 25 people) lost a total of over 55 pounds!

Amazing! I was humbled the way that God had used me to get this meeting off the ground.

In other news, I was moved last night to pick up Martha Beck’s The Four Day Win again. I feel I need it. I’ll keep you all posted…

How has your week been?

Oh, Martha. How I love thee. She cuts right to the chase:

“WHY ARE YOU SO DAMN FAT?”

Oh, right. Eat less, move more.

Honey, if ONLY it were that easy. I know all the right things to eat. I KNOW all the right exercises to do.

It was a couple of years ago, just before I picked up this book, that I had an epiphany of sorts: It’s all in your head.

Or my head…you know what I mean.

Not that I knew what to do with this piece of wisdom. I knew it HAD to be something mental or psychological tripping me up, because…darn it, I knew I had all the OTHER pieces of the puzzle.

“Why are you so damn fat?” posits Martha. “…Because of the way you think.”

Cue lightbulb. Aha!

She goes on to say:

“It turns out that certain ways of thinking can literally change the structure of the brain, for example, in ways that make it less prone to craving and more prone to happiness. The implications for weight loss are huge.”

I have actually noticed this in my life. During times of decreased stress, my weight is lower. Aha!

Okay, Martha…I’m with you. What next?

Jump-Start: An “early win…will help motivate you to continue on the program. The first 4 days of your weight loss routine will be the most difficult. After that, you’ll experience an accelerating increase in motivation and success.”

Boy, that sure sounds good. Four days, huh? I bet I could do that.

“If you think this means the 4-Day Win will give you more willpower, you’re wrong; it will just help you need less.”

Wait…what? Isn’t that…CHEATING?

Isn’t the whole GOAL of a diet to beat yourself into submission? It doesn’t COUNT if it’s EASY.

Or…does it?

And get this:

“Each step on the 4-Day Win program will enhance your entire existence, not just improve your body. Losing weight and keeping it off requires that you live an unusually authentic, fulfilling life. I believe it’s the mother of all psychological challenges, more difficult than kicking heroin, more delicate than surgery.”

And so the exercise for this chapter is to Open Myself to Hope. Not easy…on the weight-loss front; I’m pretty jaded. Been there, done it, gained it, lost it…over and over again.

“I’d simply like you to open yourself to the possibility that, no matter what you weigh, there is nothing basically wrong with you.”

“The biggest payoff from following the 4-Day Win is the self-evident experience of the fact that none of your pain has been pointless, and no part of your life has been wasted—not one moment.”

I hope you’re right, Martha.

Let’s do this thing.

Check out Lisa’s take on Chapter One here.

Any book that starts out with the question “Why are you so damn fat?” is bound to elicit feelings. My own feeling was one of stunned astonishment, and I was all “How the heck did Martha Beck get into my head?” As someone who has had more than a few conversations that began this way (with myself, mind you, not anyone else), it was both a relief and a fright to actually see these words in print.

“Not that I think you are. No, no, no. Why, in those pants, with the light behind you, you look positively willowy. But even if you were large enough to have a gravitational field involving four independent moons, and I happen to notice this (unlikely, since I’m completely blinded by the solar glare of my own self-consciousness), I would never, ever ask you a question as cruel as this chapter title. Nor would you say such a thing to me, were the tables turned. No, you’re only that rude and nasty to the one person you can never escape–yourself.” (The Four Day Win, p.1)

I love her sarcasm, but the truth is there. Why, then, do we insist on treating ourselves so poorly? I don’t know about you, but if my internal conversations were transcribed, and my self-treatment documented for posterity, I’d likely be jailed for assault and battery.

Since I’ve tried and failed at this weight loss thing forty seven hundred eleventy a few times and seen a therapist or twenty two in my day, I’ve can pretty much recite “positive self-talk” stuff chapter and verse.

But since we’re putting a whole new spin on things here, why not put a spin on the positive self-talk?

Who am I hurting when I beat myself up? Who am I hurting when I decide that I NEED that whole slice of cheesecake? Or that cheeseburger with everything? Or that I’m too tired to walk to the park with the kids and drive instead?

Yeah, I’m hurting my body, but it’s bigger than that. We were given our bodies as a gift from God. He dwells in us.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NIV)

OK, so Paul was really talking about sexual immorality, but the message is still applicable. These bodies, this life? Not ours, but His.

Each FDW Chapter includes an exercise. Chapter One’s exercise, in the author’s own words, is “paradoxically both easy and difficult”–Open Yourself to Hope. Basically, she says to open up to the possibility that, no matter your weight, there is nothing basically wrong with you. Whatever you’ve done to get to this point, can be undone or repaired.

That’s a difficult lesson to learn, both physically and spiritually, but what a wonderfully freeing thought. My physical mistakes can be fixed by future action on my part. My spiritual mistakes are forgiven by a past action on His part.

Open up to change and hope. Pray and act. Trust in Him.
Check out Kath’s take on Chapter One here.