I’m tired of losing the same 30 pounds over and over again.

My wife gave my parents a digital frame pre-loaded with a thousand photos of our family for Christmas.

In order to load the photos she had to spend a few days going through our digital archives. As I looked over her shoulder during the process, a pattern emerged.

Every 18 months my weight fluctuates by about 30 pounds. I know what you’re thinking, “Of course it does! You’re like Christian Bale, constantly bulking up for action movies and then going stick thin for the serious films.”

Although I appreciate your positivity, that is not the case at all. I’m not deliberately adding 30 pounds of muscle, I’m quietly adding 30 pounds of apathy, or more technically speaking what scientists call “queso.” (I completely understand that given our penchant for watching exercise shows where people lose 900 pounds, 30 doesn’t seem like a lot. Given that I weigh in the 150lb range though it represents a 5th of my body, which is significant.)

As I head into my 39th year on the planet, I have grown weary of this process. My 9 year old commented on the cycle the other day when she said, “Remember four years ago when our Christmas card was just a picture of our feet? We did that because you were fluffy.”

I tried to explain to her that we took the photo of our feet because feet were really big that year, you know “Feet were the new face,” but she wasn’t buying it.

And I’m not either anymore. Not that I have to be perfect or allow some number on scale to rule the day, but at some point “enough is enough.” It’s not even really about vanity, although given the variety of hair gels I own I am certainly vain. I don’t like the way I feel when I weigh my heaviest. I actually write less when I am at my heaviest and spend money frivolously because every section of our lives is connected. When we’re unhappy with one part of our lives the other parts get impacted too. I’m ready to change this pattern in my life.

Maybe that’s you. At this time of year, the patterns are difficult to ignore. Maybe for you it’s not your weight, it’s your job. Or your relationships or your finances.

The “fluff” in our own lives can take a million shapes. So how do you break a pattern? Here are a few things that I think you should do:

1. Find an expert.
I partnered with a trainer named Jeremy Rochford to help me get an exercise plan together. If you want to break a pattern, find an expert.

2. Go public.
Sharing what you’re working on with a community of people who can encourage you and challenge you is critical. Chasing a dream is a team sport. I joined a mastermind last year that has really helped me break some patterns. Online communities can be gigantic too. I’ve been blown away by the support and encouragement you can find in Facebook groups.

3. Start small.
Every expert I’ve studied talks about the need to take small, measurable steps. I can’t break my 18 month cycle of putting on weight by just watching what I eat one weekend. It takes steps, small ones at first that accumulate over time and create momentum.

4. Stop acting surprised by your habits.
Lately I’ve researching a lot about how powerful habits are in our lives. The problem is that most of us act surprised by them. If you’ve been repeating the same bad decisions over and over again, you’ve got bad habits. Don’t act like every time is the first time. It’s not. You’ve got a pattern and patterns were meant to be broken. If you can form a bad habit, you can also form a good habit.

I can’t control the next 18 months. I can’t control tomorrow, but I can change today.

And that is enough.

19 Comments
  • Matt Plumer
    Posted at 09:41h, 29 December Reply

    Jon! Good luck on your journey! Please send me a message if you would like additional support with your trainer. I’ve personally helped over 400 people lose at least 10 and have lost 110 lbs myself. I have kept if off for 20 months and have completely changed my life. It’s a cool story – would love to share with you one day!

  • Angela Giles Klocke
    Posted at 09:58h, 29 December Reply

    I recently wrote that I don’t want to conform to some schedule (even though I’m a routine kind of person), but I then went on to realize that I still need to make changes if I want to get past the ways things always are. Circling the same tree over and over. Time for new scenery!

  • Joline
    Posted at 10:22h, 29 December Reply

    YES!!! It’s got to be all about LIFESTYLE – not an event, not a number, not a size – but a lifestyle. Thank you for sharing this struggle. You’ve got this!!!

  • David Mike
    Posted at 10:42h, 29 December Reply

    Because I’m so skinny, I only gain weight in my belly. So if I’m not careful, my body figure type resembles E.T. Skinny arms, no chest and pot belly. Anyways, I’ve joined this challenge, but not for weight loss. I just want this year to be more awesome than the awesome year this one’s been!

    • Jon Acuff
      Posted at 10:44h, 29 December Reply

      Ha! ET! That is a perfect way to describe how I gain weight too!

  • Jeremy
    Posted at 10:47h, 29 December Reply

    Can you say butter Coffee!!! I’ve done tons research I’ve done I’ve learned the way to eat where you never are hungry you get to enjoy steak bacon and butter. You perform at a peak level both mentally and physically. And weight-loss falls off effortlessly as a side effect. I’d love to help you 🙂

  • Elizabeth
    Posted at 11:36h, 29 December Reply

    Ok, ok. Fine. You got me. I’m a 30 Days Hustle member, but honestly, I was hesitant to sign up for the 10-Day Do Over. Just didn’t think I had it in me. But this post struck a nerve. So you got me. I’m in. Thank you.

  • James Sommers
    Posted at 11:47h, 29 December Reply

    Hey Jon,

    Great post. For me, it’s debt. Twice I paid off all of my credit card. Account balance 0! Then…you’ll never guess, I ran them up! To about $3,000. And I’m ANGRY at myself not just because of the dollar amount but the harder question: WHY? Why would I do that? 2X!

    I wonder if you (or others) buy into the idea of set-point or self sabotage. If I person says unconsciously I’m broke, fat, a looser, etc — then they’ll find a way BACK to that set point. If a person says “I make 50K a year” then they’ll find a way BACK to 50K even if they’re offered a $100K a year job.

    What do you think? I’d love you thoughts on the subconscious mind and set point – and how it can affect our lives.

    Or maybe it’s not that complicated. Maybe we just have to DECIDE and then do whatever we have to to break the patterns.

    Jim

  • Daniel Decker
    Posted at 12:26h, 29 December Reply

    I’m in the same boat. 39 and ready to change some things. My choices today create my results tomorrow.

  • Hannah Roehrick
    Posted at 13:46h, 29 December Reply

    I LOL’ed so many times during this post.

    I’ve struggled with yo-yo weight since college, am currently in the skinny downslope, and plan to stay there this time. My problem is that I’ve been letting other parts of my life stagnate, which usually leads to a “fluffier” eating style. The 10-Day Do Over sounds like the perfect tool to help me stay on track with my weight, and kick those other areas back into gear!

    Thanks for the encouragement–can’t wait for the new book!

  • Kim
    Posted at 02:57h, 30 December Reply

    Wait, did you have to give up queso?! I’m asking for a friend! (Actually this is my most important goal this year. )

  • Troy Stoneking
    Posted at 06:13h, 30 December Reply

    Thanks for this post Jon! I’ve got some habits to change for 2015 and I’m looking forward to the 10 Day Do Over Challenge to be a part of that!

  • Gina Horkey
    Posted at 06:33h, 30 December Reply

    “Feet are the new face.” One of my favorite new lines;-) Great post Jon!

  • Mary Lou Caskey
    Posted at 06:41h, 30 December Reply

    Hi Jon,

    I am cheering you on and excited to see what you are doing! Just wanted to offer some hope, there can be lasting change. I was on that yo-yo for years. I have a pair of shorts that used to be tight on me and I can stand in one leg of them..still after many years. There’s a freedom and peace that comes way before the “final”. Blessings to you!

  • Paula
    Posted at 09:05h, 30 December Reply

    Hi, John. I filled in the survey to sign up last week, but never received the confirmation email. Whenever I go back to the page, it says I’ve already taken the survey. I sent an email to the address on your Contact page, but with the Christmas holidays I didn’t receive a reply. I’d like to sign up before the deadline, if possible. Thanks.

  • Brian
    Posted at 09:24h, 30 December Reply

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this today. It’s so honest and helpful to get your point of view. “When we’re unhappy with one part of our lives the other parts get impacted too. I’m ready to change this pattern in my life”. I can relate and this will help me identify the “fluffy areas” and to push forward to, like Michael Jackson says, “make that change…shamon”!

  • Victoria Mininger
    Posted at 10:33h, 30 December Reply

    Loved the “fluffy” comment from your daughter. HaHa. Our kids can be so honest at times..painfully so. Sharing the challenge with my friends. Bring on the new year!

  • Heidi
    Posted at 10:50h, 30 December Reply

    Knowing how much time you clearly put into sharing your thoughts/actions with the world (I really thoroughly enjoy your posts), you may have seen this reaction coming. I think we all need to be careful with how we perceive ourselves around our kids. When you say your daughter knew you thought of yourself as “fluffy,” I’m assuming you’ve had conversations about why you want to get more in shape, to make yourself healthier/happier, to live longer, etc. I have had to catch myself from saying things like, “My stomach is gross” around my own kids (because, after all, it’s NOT gross, it’s just a little “fluffier” than I’d like it to be :). We are always our own worst critics. And little ears/minds are always listening and absorbing. I came across this video last night and I think it’s worth sharing here: http://www.upworthy.com/ever-catch-your-reflection-in-a-mirror-and-dont-recognize-yourself-this-is-the-opposite

    Thanks Jon. Keep on writing and good luck on getting fitter!

  • Mike
    Posted at 12:07h, 30 December Reply

    C’mon, surely this is a total metaphor. Oh, that 30 extra pounds were the problem. In my reality, it’s not even a blip on the screen, or the screens of anyone I know. I did like the steps, though. Reminded me of 1. find a sponsor or an accountability partner, 2. attend a meeting and talk about your issues, 3. start with step one – we admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable, and 4. remember it’s process, not perfection, there are going to be some setbacks.

    Was a little surprised by the last phrase, “I can change today.” Smacks a bit of that self-determination philosophy, doesn’t it? I remember Napoleon Hill, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve!” Sheesh… I’m all about change, but let’s give credit where it’s due. I’m clinging to Jesus today to be the change in me that I so desperately need. At best I’ll surrender, cooperate, and get out of His way.

    Nice post. May we all lose our 30 pounds, whatever form they take.

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