What does a comic strip about office life have to do with losing weight?
I don’t consider myself part of the Dilbert generation even though it’s been in the background of my life forever. Instead, my fandom of Dilbert-creator, Scott Adams, came from an election cycle in 2016, which then lead to me losing almost 100 pounds (and counting) and my husband losing about 75.
A friend of similar political persuasion sent me a link to a blog by Scott Adams in 2015. I was sold. My husband and I ate up his unique perspective via his blogs, books, and simultaneous sips. He was the king of persuasion and the master of mindset.
His book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big was a life-changer, not because he provided a rundown of a new diet or exercise plan, but because he provided a Systems Vs. Goals outlook I (and all of you) had been missing.
System Step 1: Find Success in Failure
Instead of beating the dead horse of failed diets, exercise plans, and myself, I needed to create something that worked with my energy level, resources, talents, experiences, and focus. Was I ever going to be a runner? Absolutely not. But could I walk? Absolutely. Did I see success with a low-carb diet that reintroduced carbs? Nope. But could I modify? Yes.
System Step 2: Team Up
My oldest brother had just lost a ton of weight using the ketogenic diet. Since I had a little bit of experience here already (and had seen the most success with that in the past), I put my husband and I on it. By teaming up, we could remove all temptation from the house, which is especially important to break carb addiction and cravings.
System Step 3: Use Creative Tools
When you start a keto diet, it’s recommended to wean yourself off of such a high carb load. I had trouble getting those pesky carbs out of my diet over 3 months, so I decided to do a fast, which is a tool I had never used before. Not eating, however, seemed way easier than trying to eat differently.
I started with 24 hours. I extended it another 24 hours. After 61 hours of fasting starting Feb. 8, 2018, I was in ketosis. My life changed.
System Step 4: Understand What the Hell You’re Doing & Why
Over the next year, I researched everything about health and nutrition. I wanted to know what was happening in my diet, in my body, in my gut, in my brain. What made a ketogenic diet so easy (after the transition period) that I never wanted to come off of it again? What damage had I been doing to myself my whole life? Understanding how the Standard American Diet (SAD) was killing me, how carbs were killing me, how my lifestyle was killing me, led me to create the lifestyle I have now with zero desire to go in reverse.
System Step 5: Evolve
I’ll go into more detail about my particular diet nuances in more blogs, but most of the changes I’ve made to my system after the first 6 months have been carb-irrelevant and more about longevity. Without a desperate desire to consume cheap energy, I’ve found the ability to add in fasting regimens, to prioritize sleep and give up caffeine, to avoid 98% of restaurant food (and their use of corrosive seeds oils), to choose high-quality animal products, and to learn how to become an awesome at-home chef. To an outsider, my diet looks incredibly restrictive. I’ve never been fed this well in my life.
System Step 6: Reap the (Sugar-Free) Fruits
Does having a system mean I have no goals? No way. I knew I wanted to get to about 130 pounds at the end of my adventure. But the best thing about using a system instead of relying on a goal, especially one so far away, is that I can adjust any part of it at any time. A goal is easy to fail. A system works best with flexibility.
It’s hard not to fall into the trap of wanting to go as quickly as possible. Instead, with systems-thinking, I was able to add a 3-month “diet break,” where I dropped calorie counting and time-restricted eating to see what happened. I didn’t lose or gain anything during that time, but I learned a lot more to improve my system going forward.
Over the last 1.5 years, I’ve adjusted my system to utilize my biology for weight loss. By getting myself healthy mentally and physically, by cutting foods and activities out of my life and diet that were harming me, by getting down to the very cells and molecules holding me together, I am ¾ away from my goal, I’m comfortable. I’m energized. I’m optimized.
And guess what? I may be adding strength training to my system soon, so I may never see that number on the scale. But I’ll still be hot as hell.
P.S.: Everyone should check out Scott Adams’ How To Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, blogs, Twitter, and Periscopes
Note: None of this is medical advice.