You on January 1st
“No really, this is the year I am getting into shape. I have purchased my treadmill, I have a pantry full of Gatorade, and I’ve downloaded an app on my phone to track my progress. I’m on fire (pronounced fiyaaa).”
Your Craig’s List ad on January 18th
“Gently used treadmill for sale (seriously, almost brand-new). Doubles as a clothes hanger – trust me I know. I will throw in a case of Gatorade at no extra
To quote Ned Ryerson from the 90’s movie Groundhogs Day, “Am I right or am right? Or am I right? Right?”
There is an 8% Chance That I’m Wrong
Okay, so actually I hope I am wrong and that the above scenario does not accurately describe your plight here in the first weeks of 2017. However, according to a 2013 Forbes article, only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s resolution. A 2015 US news article was slightly more optimistic noting that only 80% of New Year’s resolutions end in failure. But, a 20% success rate still represents a lot of failed goals. “Am I right?”…okay enough of that.
What You Already Know
You’ve likely heard great advice in the past about effectively setting goals. One of my favorite ideas is that of SMART goals – setting specific, measureable, assignable, realistic, and time-related goals. This is sound advice!
However, I want to share two other critical factors necessary to achieving meaningful goals.
What You May Not Know
Sometimes we just don’t care enough about achieving the goals that we set. If your goal was to lose weight in 2017 and yet by noon on the 1st you had already eaten 2 maple bars, an apple fritter, and a Bear claw, it would be a fair to ask how much you really wanted to lose weight. Similarly, if 10 days into the year you have a hard time remembering what your goals even were (I’ve been there 🙂 ), it is probably safe to assume that your heart wasn’t really in it.
In order for us to effectively reach our goals, we have to have passion for those goals. A lukewarm desire to change doesn’t supply us with the necessary fuel to do the hard work that is often required to meet these goals!
But, passion isn’t enough. It is my observation that most of us who set goals truly want to make those changes or improvements. But, passion or not, we often give up on our goals when life gets busy or when we encounter obstacles.
So, for us to actually meet our goals, we not only need the passion but we also need perseverance. Those who succeed often have a “no matter what” attitude. As a recently diagnosed pre-diabetic who has gone weeks now without any desserts, I know that we all have the capacity to persevere and do hard things!
So, yes, set SMART goals. But, recognize that without passion or perseverance you will likely fail in achieving your goals.
Dr. Angela Duckworth refers to this combination of passion and perseverance as grit (a new buzzword of the last few years). Her compelling research suggests that those who are consistently successful in reaching their goals have learned to develop grit. And, for those of us who don’t yet have grit, we can work to develop those characteristics.
Don’t You Run a Marriage Website?
What does all of this have to do with marriage?
Fair question! This article really has little to do with marriage… unless, of course, your goals are marriage related.
Allow me to speak bluntly!
You should always be trying to improve your marriage (even if you are already happy). A healthy plant today will be shriveled and dying within a few weeks if you stop providing water and sunlight. Conversely, a dying plant today can be rejuvenated with sufficient care.
I don’t really care if your plants live or die, but I do care about your marriage. So, please make a resolution (New Year’s or otherwise) to work on your marriage. Powerful goals could include any of the following:
- Strive to forgive and forget previous mistakes
- Shut off technology earlier and spend more time connecting with your spouse each day
- Hold hands and kiss like you did when you were newlyweds
- Take time to be more intentional with your marriage
You get the idea. I really do hope that you lose those 20 pounds, or pay down your debt, or whatever else your goals may be. The principles that I shared will help towards that end. But, not all goals are created equal. Whatever else you do, have 2017 be the year to improve your marriage!
Is sugar hurting your marriage? It was trying to harm mine!
Do you have a sweet-tooth? Do your breakfast cereals come in two varieties (pre-sweetened and “post-sweetened”)? Can you sometimes relate a bit too easily to the “Buddy the Elf diet”?
I had such a sweet-tooth as a child that I would sometimes sneak into the kitchen, open the fridge and drink the Hershey’s syrup from the container. Though that particular practice ended during adolescence, I continued to find many other exciting ways to get my “sugar fix.”
And, because I was able to largely avoid putting on unwanted pounds (mostly because of my exercising), I didn’t realize how much I was harming myself — and even my family.
More about that in a moment.
Did you know?
As recently as a few years ago I mistakenly thought the two largest risks associated with sugar consumption were cavities and hyper children. However, with help from medical professionals and some of my own subsequent research, I am beginning to understand how uninformed I was regarding my “sugar addiction”. Consider the following statistics:
While the list goes on, let me quickly share my unexpected pre-diabetes diagnosis from 2013 and how my wife and I have actually benefited from this “bad news.”
**Note** – In addition to the term pre-diabetes, my condition was also referred to as hypoglycemia and insulin resistance.
My unexpected journey
I have spent much of my life exhausted! Many of you can probably. Let me give you a brief sampling:
- I fell asleep while on a date with my wife. We had just started dating at the time and we were playing board games with other couples. Before long, I had fallen asleep. Classy, right?! I am lucky that this sweet girl still agreed to marry me.
- Years ago, when we were newlyweds, a neighborhood couple invited us to watch a movie at their place. I was asked to go to Blockbuster (do you remember those movie rental stores?) and pick out a movie. I returned to their place, popped in the movie and promptly fell asleep during the opening credits.
- A few years later I thought I would be a good brother-in-law and took my wife’s younger brother to a movie. Our bonding hit a snag when I fell asleep in the theater and again slept through the whole movie.
I could go on, but you get the point. During those years I was earning my Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate degrees. Likewise, we were raising five young and energetic children. I attributed my constant fatigue to simply having a busy life!
In addition to my constant sleepiness, I had other health concerns. For instance, I was increasingly becoming light headed, I began experiencing positional vertigo whenever I would bend down, and I even began to frequently use a portion of my lunch hour to take naps in my car – simply to have enough energy to make it through the day. Finally, even though I was an avid distance runner, I consistently had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high triglycerides.
In October of 2013 I was tested and subsequently received my diagnosis of prediabetes. I was also told that the fatigue, light-headedness, high blood pressure, etc. were likely all symptoms of my condition.
I left the doctor’s office fairly devastated as I quickly realized that many things would need to change! For someone who had previously quipped that my two favorite hobbies were eating and running, this was going to be quite a change indeed (at least for one of my favorite hobbies).
My initial pity-party quickly gave way to immense gratitude. Just days after greatly reducing sugars from my diet (i.e. rarely eating desserts, eliminating sugary drinks, etc.), reducing simple carbohydrates, and increasing the amount of vegetables I ate, I began to feel better than I had felt since childhood.
My vertigo immediately disappeared and I no longer needed to take “emergency naps” to make it through the work day. What’s more, my blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides have all improved.
In fact, I began to feel so much better that I no longer viewed my dietary changes as a sacrifice. This had turned into an incredible blessing!
And, while my wife and I have always had a good marriage, my improved health also began blessing our marriage in a variety of ways! I am now less fatigued when I return home from work. We are able to spend more time together in the evening. I have more energy to give to my wife (as well as my children) throughout each week. And this improved health also increases the likelihood of me being a part of their lives for decades to come.
How does this apply to you?
Clearly your genes are different than mine. You may never be afflicted with pre-diabetes or diabetes. However, in my research, I have noticed that some researchers and medical professionals are now referring to sugar as a toxin – and one that we consume in dangerous quantities. Yikes!
So, while I am no doctor (well no medical doctor anyway), I wonder if your health, and even your marriage, may also benefit from reducing your sugar intake. I’m guessing that it would!
If your life would benefit from improved health or increased energy, I invite you to join me in a quest during 2016 to reduce sugar intake. What do you have to lose?