“Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of health. Learning is the beginning of spirituality. Searching and learning is where the miracle process all begins.”
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been inundated with emails, texts, Facebook messages, and all kinds of questions about what I am doing to lose the weight. First of all, if you have been following along in the blog over the past few weeks, everything I have done is clearly written out. However, this week starts a different sort of component, which is critical to your overall success. What I am doing is CHANGING. That’s right, I’m becoming a different person. Am I eating better? Yes. Am I working out more? Yes. But, what is crucial to my success is that I am committed to changing my lifestyle, changing the way I think, and committing to being better every day. This cannot be overlooked. If you read the first three posts, and believe you’re good, you’re missing out on the next 3 weeks that contain more information on the overall transformation that needs to occur. Most of the questions I have been answering relate to what I’m eating and how I’m moving, but this is neglecting a number of key pieces to the puzzle. The next 3 weeks, I will try to explain those in a clear and concise way. Please do not neglect these parts.
When giving teachers advice on how to lose weight and improve fitness levels, telling someone to focus on learning seems like an odd suggestion at first. When I initially began my journey, I had no intention or thought of learning more to help with my lifestyle transformation. I have always been a reader and a learner. I just haven’t always been an applier. The diet and exercise information I followed to lose 65 pounds in the last six months, I have known for almost three years. So, this week it is important for us to look at the role learning and applying can play in the overall quality of our lives as well as our weight loss.
1. Set a Book a Month Goal. Make a list of books you want to read, and systematically work through them as the year goes by. Most people that start with a goal of 12 books, end up reading more. But, being intentional about this will make sure that you are at least reading 12 books a year. As a teacher, this seems like a no-brainer, but in the course of my decade of teaching, I saw numerous teachers that never read any material not related to their class. It is incredible how much you can learn when you are intentional about reading. Honestly, in order to finish 12 books a year, you realistically probably need to read 15 minutes/day, 5 times a week. Cut out 15 minutes of TV/day. You will notice the improvement, and that will help you stay motivated. If you are really interested in fitness and nutrition, choose books that will support your healthy lifestyle transformation. Also, don’t just focus on books, there are a ton of great blogs and other resources readily available.
2. Take Notes on What You’re Reading. I refined my note-taking process in college. I learned from one of my psychology professors that important information should be written in the margins of the book instead of highlighted, because writing it in your own words forced your brain to process the information at a deeper level. So, I ditched my highlighters and the method really worked. However, I have readjusted in the past 3 months. The problem with my system was, I didn’t have a way to quickly reference something I wanted to look at from something I had read before unless I physically had the book in my hand. However, technology has solved this problem. I started with an Evernote account. Evernote is basically an online cloud based service that you can save information on that you can access from any computer or smart phone. However, once I learned how to use Google Docs, I just created my Knowledge Bank on a Google Doc and now I can access it much easier. I took this Knowledge Bank idea from Kyle Morrow. It takes a little more time to catalog the important parts of a book, but the time is worth the effort. Everyone will have their own process, but the key is to work on finding a process that works for you.
3. Find at Least One Thing You Can Apply From Each Book. This has been a new step for me. I have been an avid reader since college, but I didn’t ever apply what I was learning from my reading. I would fill my head with knowledge, but wouldn’t put that knowledge to use. I would even tell other people how something I had read could help them, while still not using it to benefit my own life. The principles I put to use to lose the weight I had read about 3 years prior to starting my lifestyle transformation. Now, with everything I read, I try and figure out how I can apply what I am learning to my life. It has made a huge difference. I think part of my reluctance to apply what I was learning earlier was because I had such a defeatist attitude. I didn’t feel like I could execute and follow through on these new ideas or habit changes, so it was easier to just know them and not do them. This is a huge mistake. The best way to break this is to start small. Find a small change you can make. When you start to consistently put together successes, it helps you build your self-confidence muscle. Even if the victories are small, they are significant. This was key to my success. Once I saw that I did have the ability to follow through, even if the task was small, I was able to accomplish much bigger tasks.
4. Find Other Ways to Learn. If you’re not a reader, that’s fine. With the amount of information out there, you can become an expert in anything you want, if you are committed and create a system that keeps you learning. YouTube videos, vlogs, audiobooks, podcasts, all contain great information. I actually started podcasting. You can check out the first two here. Go easy on me, I’m a rookie. But, the key is, even if you don’t like to read, you still need to learn. If you don’t learn, you get stuck. If you get stuck, you will never grow. That is a bad situation. Trust me, I spent a lot of time there.