My son, biology class, a guidance counselor, and my diet.

The title above is a real mismatch of subjects, but together they gave me an epiphany.

My son, like many high school freshmen, has been struggling a little this year in school.  He’s got the ability to get straight As in everything, but like plenty of teenage boys, he’s not quite there.

Honors Biology class is tough – homework and labs and tests are demanding.  We made a trip to the guidance counselor last week for some encouragement.

The counselor was excellent, direct and to the point about what is needed to be a successful student and make it to his college of choice.

In short, the conversation went like this:

Guidance counselor: Are you working at max effort?

Son: No.

GC: You want to go to Boston College. Do you need to give your max effort to get in there?

Son: Yes.

GC: If you want something, you’ve got to give max effort.

That phrase kept coming up again and again throughout the conversation.

Max Effort.

When I got home, I couldn’t get that phrase out of my head.  And I started thinking about “max effort” in my own life.

It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with my diet for years.  I’ve gained and lost the same pounds so many times I’ve lost count.  But have I ever really given my max effort?

Have I ever really been committed to getting to my healthy weight?  If I was committed, I’d be there, right?

It takes planning, dedication, sweat, sacrifice, hard work, patience – all that and more.  Yes, to lose 25 fricking pounds.

I’ve read what seems like every book on weight loss.  I’ve tried pretty much every diet. This was made abundantly clear to me when I recently did some decluttering of my cookbooks, and made a pile of all my weight loss/diet books.  I was horrified at the pile.

My diet book collection.  All 21 of them. Vegetarian, vegan, paleo, zone, weight watchers, high fiber, low fat, south beach, etc. etc.
My diet book collection. All 21 of them. Vegetarian, vegan, paleo, zone, weight watchers, high fiber, low fat, south beach, etc. etc.

I’ve always been on the search for the diet that will work.

I’ve always said that nothing really works.

Well maybe what doesn’t work is…me.

Have I ever given max effort to a diet plan? REALLY given max effort? For more than just a day or two? Or a week or month?

And what does max effort mean?

Max effort means…

  1. Planning my meals in advance. Knowing what I’m going to eat, and having it in my fridge and ready to go.
  2. Being accountable. Having a partner or coach who will help me through the rough patches and kick my behind when I need it.
  3. Working hard. It means putting in the effort that is needed. It means working out every damn day, even when I’m sore and lazy and don’t want to do it and just want to Netflix binge. (Yes I run marathons, but do I give my training max effort there too? That’s for another blog.)
  4. Letting go of perfectionism. I accept that fact that some days I will make mistakes and slip up. But if I give into a craving and eat ice cream and drink too much wine, does that mean I’m a failure? Does that mean I forget the hard work that I’ve already done and give up? Hell no. It means I just get right back to where I need to be and continue. I’m human. Humans mess up. Max effort means getting back on track without giving up.
  5. Being committed to my goal. Defining my goal. Writing it down. Planning my steps to get there.
  6. It means treating myself with respect. No more negative self talk. No more “you’re a failure and you can’t do this.” Those words are to be replaced with positive talk and words of strength and empowerment.
  7. Not making excuses. Which means:
  • No more “I’ve had a hard day, better open a bottle of wine.” Have sparkling water instead.
  • No more “I have a busy day, no time to exercise”. Get up earlier and get 30 minutes in.
  • No more “I’ve been really good, so I deserve a sweet treat.” I’ll find a different reward, thank you.
  • It doesn’t mean I’ll never indulge. It means I’m going to plan for it, treat it with respect and enjoy it as that – a treat. Not an everyday occurrence just because it’s 3pm and I’ve cleaned the house and got the laundry done and survived a day with my kids.

So imagine a conversation with my “counselor”:

Counselor: Deb, are you giving max effort?

Me: No.

Counselor: You want to lose 25 pounds. Do you need to give your max effort to do that?

Me: Yes.

Coach: If you want something, you have to give your max effort.

It’s hard. It’s a battle to lose weight. Anyone who has struggled with their weight knows this. And in battle, to win, you have to give your max effort.

I’m finally going to win.  Stay tuned for max effort updates.

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