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What Is Your Attitude Mass Index?

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Friday, May 10, 2013

We live in an appearance driven society. Many of us fret about toning up, getting the sexy abs, removing fat from areas that are not visually acceptable by societies standards. We focus on reducing our BMI (Body Mass Index) but overlook our AMI, our Attitude Mass Index.

As a society, we are far too external when it comes to combating our obesity. Don't believe it? Look at typical mainstream articles and advertising concerning weight loss, what do they focus on? Appearance and how fast results will come.

My journey has been far more internal than it has been external. The most crucial weight I have ever lost didn't come from my midsection, my face, or even my butt. The turning point in my journey came when I lost the spare tire in between my ears.

Obesity is not only something that kills you physically but it kills your spirit as well. Like a python, it wraps around your soul one coil at a time and slowly squeezes the life out of you until you quit struggling, until your entire life is defined by what you can't do, what you can't fit into, or how you can do some activity with the least amount of public embarrassment. When I was morbidly obese, I suffered the ultimate paradox. Living every day being so big you can't be missed yet at the same time be socially invisible where everyone notices you, yet, you are unnoticed. That destroyed me and made me want to live as low profile as possible.

We think that somehow simply losing the pounds will undo it all and our life will be punctuated with an "and he/she lived happily ever after". One of the biggest breakthroughs in reducing my AMI is the realization that life does not begin at goal weight. Life begins the day you decide you are worth it and commit to living your best life NOW, not 50 pounds from now.

Science has determined that by all the known laws of physics and aerodynamics, bumblebees should not fly. Fortunately bumblebees also cannot read these findings. All of the studies done has yet to convince a single one of them to pack it up and go home. What makes bumblebees inspiring is that they are Gods way of letting us know that we shouldn't let ourselves be defined by current thought.

One of the most memorable moments of my life is the day I believed in myself enough to wager my self esteem and male pride against my ability to finish my first race, a 10k. At 330 lbs, I was a bumblebee with a race number. Crossing the finishline was one of the most affirming I CAN moments of my life. After years of I can't, I earned my wings and flew. My life was no longer defined by my spare tire or a number, it was now defined by a sense of empowerment from meeting a challenge head on. My Attitude Mass Index started becoming more and more healthy every time I set a goal and met the challenge. A life unchallenged is no life at all.

The more my AMI fell, the less content I was to simply sit on the sidelines and watch others be happy and reach their goals. It may be easier to tune out and watch others live a fantasy life on TV but it is more fulfilling to carve out your own dream. It's hard work to push out of my comfort zone. It makes me sore, takes away some of my ''free'' time, and exacts a price everyday but the price I pay ensures that my comfort zone doesn't turn into a noose. From observing the process in others as well as myself, I am becoming convinced that the thing that separates those that succeed long term and those that yo-yo is attitude.

So what do I do to keep my AMI in check?

1) I push through my dislike of challenging workouts. I hate burpees, planks and other demanding moves just like the next person but I also know that after I'm all done being sore, I'll be even stronger. I had a very narrow comfort zone and didn't like being pushed. Being pushed meant I was no longer in control and not being in control is a scary place. I might fail or embarrass myself. Then again, life outside the comfort zone is good because it's the place where you learn how strong you are. Go there often enough and you'll never be satisfied with less. Try it.

2) I participate in date oriented activities. In my case, its running events or triathlon. I have a set time to pull out the stops and get ready. It's the habit of pushing aside my petty preferences to get the job done that makes me more able to withstand the pull of my personal whims and cravings. It's in obeying those whims that put me in such an unhappy place to begin with.

3) I view my workouts as something that makes me stronger. Some people treat exercise like a laxative. It is something to be endured to correct an unpleasant condition then discontinued once we're ''fixed''. Exercise is the tool that helps me forge my success, my commitment is for life because it brings me life.

4) When things are tough, I remember that my worst day changing my life is better than the best day when I was 385. Even if this is day 1, day 1 is better than your best day when you didn't care. Don't get frustrated about not doing everything perfectly. Patiently hammering out a routine makes you stronger than drifting in apathy. It will click eventually if you stick with it.

Look yourself in the eye and determine that TODAY you will work on your AMI, that you will live the life you deserve now, not at goal weight.


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