-by Jaime Willis
So, this is a story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down…
(I’ll wait while you finish rapping the theme song to Fresh Prince of Bel Air – you’re welcome!)
Before I tell you my story, a short psychology lesson. Anchoring is a cognitive bias whereby a specific trigger event or object causes you to have a certain reaction. The most well-known example of anchoring is Pavlov’s dog. You ring a bell, then feed the dog. After repeating the ‘trigger’ – ringing the bell – the dog reacts – begins to salivate – regardless if food is there or not.
Anchoring is also used as a behavioral therapy technique to help induce change or evoke a certain emotional response. Say, for example, you are sad but want to feel happier. Have you ever played a song that reminded you of a happy memory? Or looked at a photo that made you smile? That was anchoring.
Anchoring is really useful tool for achievement. When you are slogging through the day to day, let’s face it, WORK, of achieving a goal, you may feel like you are never going to get there. But, if you can remind yourself of a time when you DID achieve a big goal, you can use that memory as an ‘anchor’ for your current goal.
As you know, I am working on a few pretty big fitness goals this year, the most public of which is my goal to run FIFTY 10k races in 2011. Wednesday, I ran my 13th 10k. Even though each 10k is an accomplishment in itself, it can sometimes be daunting to think that I have done all this work and I’m not even half-way to my goal. In fact, I’m barely 1/4th of the way there. This is the *prime* time for anchoring.
Last night, I needed to anchor myself, so I went back through some old photos to remind myself of how far I’ve come in the past six years. In 2005, I was enormous! I honestly cannot tell you how much I weighed because my scale at home didn’t go past 330, but the arrow on the scale did when I stepped on. I had reached the end of the size line in even plus size clothing stores. My next clothing stop was literally going to be the aptly named Moo-Moo. I couldn’t walk without wheezing, my legs and feet were constantly swollen, and I was miserable.
With my 30th birthday looming a year away, I made the decision to stop WISHING I would lose weight and to start MAKING IT HAPPEN. I chose to use gastric bypass surgery and behavioral group therapy as my primary tools to achieve my weight loss. Within 18 months of my surgery, I had lost 160+ pounds.
To be honest, I have struggled and continue to struggle to keep my weight off. By 2009, I had gained back about 60 pounds. Last year, after setting a goal of getting back to my ‘fighting’ weight, I re-lost around 40 pounds and I am not finished yet.
But when I start to get discouraged, or wonder if I will ever be able to put a check mark next to the “Reach my Goal Weight” goal, I anchor. I remind myself of how far I’ve come and how close I am to the finish line.
Six years ago, I couldn’t properly tie my shoes because I had trouble reaching my shoelaces. I used the elevators for everything. I would avoid doing something that required me to run across the room to fetch something as ‘too much work.’ I would never have considered walking, let alone running 6.2 miles, and I promise you the only exercise I would consider doing 50 times in a row involved lifting a fork into my mouth.
Today, I am fit, healthy, and active. I can run into just about any clothing store and pick out something to wear. I can run. I do run. More than once a week even! Being morbidly obese was one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced. If I have come this far, I know I can make it.
Anchor your way to success! See ya at the finish line!