February 3, 2012

Lose Weight, Get Out Of Debt, And Have A Clean House!

That title completely sums up my secret desires. Just three things. Why are three simple things so hard? Judging from the volume of self help materials on these three subjects, I'm not the only one who struggles with these. I have done a fair share of reading on each topic, and have found that there are as many approaches to solving these problems as there are people who write about them. Who is right?

When you go to the bookstore to get a book on getting out of debt, do you buy the most expensive one, because it must be good? If you're in debt, you should probably buy the cheapest one, but is the advice in there as valuable? In the weight loss aisle, do you get the book with the curvy woman on the front, or the stick thin chick? Looks like the curvy woman isn't as successful at losing weight, but the stick thin one may never have been fat to begin with.

Here is the secret I have discovered. Two words will solve any problem you have. Two words will simplify your quest for well being. Suspense and drum roll please. Here they come: DO IT.

What is 'IT', you ask? 'IT' is what ever you will actually DO. Pick any diet book. If it says to eat only cabbage and yogurt and nothing else, guess what? You will lose weight. The problems come when on the third day you realize you hate cabbage, and you're lactose intolerant. You give up and go back to your old ways. So when you pick a diet plan, make sure you can realistically see yourself doing what is required. If the plan requires that you make hot home cooked meals three times a day, but you work full time outside the home, you will fail. If you are a homemaker and you love to cook, this might work for you. Look for a plan that asks you to do things that you can reasonably see yourself doing.

This is not to say you should find a plan that makes you sit in front of the television and eat Twinkies all day. You need to put in more effort than that. But if there is something in the plan that you absolutely can not do, don't bother. Here is a legitimate example: "I can not afford to pay $3000 a month to have my meals prepared by a live in chef." Here is a lame excuse: "I could not possibly put aside a serving of the meal I just prepared to eat for lunch tomorrow. I must rush out of the office and grab a burger and greasy chili cheese fries, and shovel them into my mouth while I speed back to the office so I'm not late."

Find something that fits your lifestyle, whether you're wealthy or struggling, busy or not, and then DO IT. This will work for weight loss, getting out of debt, or getting your house organized. The biggest obstacle is usually yourself. It really doesn't matter what plan you choose. If you don't do it, it wont work.

If you have trouble with the same three things I do, here is another secret. Work on one at a time. You don't have to complete one before you start another, but if you get good at practicing one, the others seem to get easier, or just happen naturally. Sometimes you only have a problem with one thing, but it causes the others to happen.

For instance, if you have a lot of debt because you can't or wont control your finances, you might work long hard hours just to be able to stay afloat. Because you work so much, you don't feel like doing housework. Since you never do the dishes, you can't find your stove so now you have to go to Greasy's for dinner. Of course you pay for dinner with the credit card, and so you order twice as much as you need because you can 'afford' it. Next month when the credit card bill comes, you really intended to pay it on time, but it got lost in the pile of mail on the dining room table that you never eat at because its always covered in credit card bills with charges from Greasy's because you always have to eat out because you can't use the dining room table.

In this case, choose one thing to attack. Suck it up and clean off the dining room table. Now you don't get a late charge because you know where the credit card bill is, and you lose weight because you ate something at home instead of fattening fast food. I know this is over simplified, but it doesn't need to be over complicated either. Work on one thing, and as you find small successes, you will have more energy and be more motivated to work on the next thing.

Next week I will share some specifics on how I get these things done. They may work for you (if you are 34 years old, married, have an 11 year old, a two year old, one on the way, a cat, live in Southern California, and have brown hair, like me), or they might not fit your lifestyle. Either way, don't lose sight of the secret. My specific plans only work for me when I actually do them.

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