All my adult life I have wrestled with healthy living. I’ve been overweight for the better part of the last 25 years. Chronic conditions such as acid reflux and high cholesterol have all plagued me in the past, and I still take a pill daily for high blood pressure. Plus, two joint replacements by age 48 … sheesh! My father recently passed away at 71 because of his poor health, and my mom is obese with Type 2 diabetes, so I’m genetically predisposed to these conditions. Being 5’3″ with a 6’10” sweet tooth doesn’t help! 

Bottom line: it is a daily struggle for me. Every night I eat the brownie, and every morning I kick myself for not being able to fit into half the pants in my closet.

I’m also a modern American, so naturally I wish there was a shortcut. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had fleeting thoughts about using hypnosis, liposuction, or one of those electric belts that shocks you all through the day. Unfortunately for me (and for all of us) there are no shortcuts when it comes to healthy living.

When there’s a problem, I typically find a way to fix it. It grieves me terribly that I haven’t been able to rise to this personal challenge despite a ton of effort over the past 10 years. Lately, I’ve been asking and telling myself often: “What is wrong with you that you can’t fix this? You know what to do – why don’t you do it?”

This question deserves an answer, and a few days ago that answer came to me (as most of my good thoughts and ideas do) in the shower. For me, slaying the dragon of weight loss boils down to my being M.I.A.: Motivated, Informed, and Accountable. 

Motivated – Intrinsic motivation is vital to lasting change. In other words, the decision to make a lifestyle change based on the internal motivation to be a better you is much more effective than motivation based on external rewards. I have to want it – for me – so my body is not standing in the way of my being the best I can be for others.

Informed – Knowing what to do to is obviously a key component to attaining healthy living goals, but you have to have a good understanding of what makes you tick: your predispositions, your emotional reactions, your weaknesses. Our emotion is almost always going to temper our logic. Logic says, “You need the exercise” but emotion says, “Wow it’s cold outside and this bed is so warm and cozy!” Being a “student of you” is a key part of being informed.

Accountable – For most people, letting “me” down is one thing, but letting “you” down is another. Find someone who will help set expectations, proactively ask you to report on specific milestones on a regular basis, and hopefully participate with you directly in reaching a shared goal. For me, accountability is the tough one – and the one I believe keeps me from succeeding at healthy living. I am reluctant to seek out people that will get on my case for skipping a workout or tackle me when I’m making a beeline for the cookies.

These three factors – Motivation, Information, and Accountability – are all interdependent. Two out of three won’t get the job done – you must have them all. 

With this new year, are you ready to be the example your family, community, and company need you to be? Are you M.I.A.?

Rob Ivy, Chief Financial Officer, Lee Company – 

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