In order for you to solve a problem in your life, you must believe two things: the problem is important enough to solve, and you can do something about it. Barring these two beliefs, problems in your life only get solved by accident.
I came upon this line of thinking recently after meeting a special person whose zeal for their work and enthusiasm for helping people impressed and inspired me. This person was also morbidly obese. As I listened to this wonderful person speak, I couldn’t help but wonder what they had tried over the years to lose the weight. I also wondered if they had since given up. Or if they were currently in the midst of another attempt, unknown to me.
You can’t exactly meet a person and say, “Hi, you’re awesome! Also, you’re fat. What have you tried to fix that?” (Well, you could, if you were given to a particularly rabid form of radical honesty.) Sometimes I wish I could. I believe the US is in the midst of a terrible epidemic of obesity. People are dying every day from their lack of belief that their weight is important enough to solve, or that they have any control in the matter. Many feel like they’ve tried everything, and nothing works.
When I graduated college in 2009, I weighed 160 pounds. I’m 5’8″, so this weight put my BMI on the very top end of “Normal”. But for me, it wasn’t. I have a naturally small build, and at 160, I was the heaviest I’d ever been. I started college weighing 125 pounds, and by the end I had an unattractive spare tire starting around my waist.
It wasn’t until I had been working for about 4 months that I realized I needed to do something about my weight. I didn’t know what to do, as I had never been overweight before, but I new I had to try something. It became the Most Important Problem of my life. After trying a few different forms of exercise, I found Capoeira and started working out with the class 3 times a week. I also started studying nutrition, trying to find the ideal diet for myself (this is ongoing; a post to follow will explain my current theses about diet.)
These actions combined over the course of 6 months brought me down to a healthy 130 pounds, but it was the hardest thing I had ever done, physically speaking. Whenever I worked out or went out to practice Parkour, I felt heavy. If I worked out too hard, I had a panic attack. I felt like I was suffocating under my own weight!
And when it came to diet, I felt lost. No one seemed to know the answers! I kept reading contradicting opinions about what proper nutrition really is.
But I never lost the two required beliefs: I felt my health (and weight) were the most important problems to solve in my life, and I felt I could do something about them.
Everybody has their own Most Important Problem. For some, it’s finding the right job, or finding a mate, or finding their religion. My current Most Important Problem is how to get enough sleep at night. Whatever it is, you have to start with two beliefs: your problem is important enough to spend your time solving, and you can solve it if you live long enough. All that’s left is to keep trying new things and learning more, and trying more things until you’re sick of trying, and then trying even harder until you make progress!
I don’t know the full story of my new acquaintance I mentioned above. This person is filled with a zeal and a love of life and people that few encounter, much less embody in their daily lives. I know that this person has chosen the Most Important Problems in their life. I sincerely hope that one of them is their weight. The world need more people like them, and I hate to see anyone ill.
What’s the Most Important Problem in your life? And what are you doing to solve it?