Would the Adult in the Room Please Stand Up?

by Joshua Wayne, MA

What the stock market turmoil can teach you about weight loss motivation

Like most of us, I spent the week watching the world tumble into economic turmoil as stock markets worldwide buckled in the wake of enormous bank failures and the US housing market collapse.

The latest reports suggest that retirement accounts of Americans have lost $2 trillion in the past 15 months.  In just the past week- the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 18 percent which is the largest drop ever in a week.

Why?

There are many and very complex reasons, but allow me to point out three that are most obvious:

1.    Wall Street focused on maximizing short-term profits in order to earn record bonuses
2.    The government, on both sides of the aisle, appears to have been acting out of partisan self-interest rather than looking at was best for America in the long-run
3.    Many of us on took up loans because we wanted to live in houses and drive cars that were beyond our means, and then housing values fell substantially.

Like most of the world I, too, have a wide range of emotions about this: anxiety about the future and well-being of my family, and anger at the people who got us into this mess.  

Yet, as I sit here contemplating all of this, I’m left with one resounding question running through my head:

“Where are the adults?”
Many individuals that contributed to this crisis – whether politician, stockbroker, or ordinary citizen- only looked to fulfill their personal, short-term desires and did not consider the long-term consequences of their actions.

In my opinion, one of the hallmarks of genuine, mature adult behavior is the ability to delay short-term gratification in favor of a higher ideal or long-term goal.  I know I chose a rather provocative and challenging way to begin this article, but it is all to drive home the following point: 

The pursuit of short-term gratification can, and most likely will, sabotage your success- regardless of whether we’re talking about your finances, family life or weight loss.

In times like these, I believe the real question each of us must ask is:
“Am I being the best adult I can be?”
A crisis like this can actually be an opportunity for us to grow as individuals.  The current situation should remind us to surrender our desire for short-term gratification in order to have the long-lasting health and happiness we desire.  Living your life at your ideal weight will bring you immensely greater joy and satisfaction than a pizza or donut you might eat today.

There are two key aspects to delaying short-term gratification, and they are both crucial to your weight loss success.

The first aspect is the willingness to delay what might give you pleasure in the moment because you realize it sabotages the success you desire. This isn’t something you try to do- you either do it or you don’t.  You eat the french fries or you don’t.

The second is the willingness to endure discomfort.  It is comfortable to sit on the couch, eat ice cream and watch television.  It is often less comfortable to do something beneficial for your body and mind like exercise or meditation.  And yet, part of being the best adult we can be is the wiliness to endure what might not feel good today so we can have the more substantial reward tomorrow.

So I issue this call to action to be the best adult you can be for a couple reasons.  First, because it is the best thing you can do for yourself.  I want you to have the health and happiness you desire, and standing up right now and claiming it is the best way to make that happen. 

Second, from my years in private practice, I have seen time and again how one person making healthy changes in their life has a ripple effect on those around them.  When you grow it positively affects your children, your spouse, your friends- and maybe even the guy at the corner market where you pick up a quart of milk.

The world is starving right now for healthy, empowered adults.  Turn on the television or open up a newspaper and you will find all the evidence you ever need that this is true.  It is my experience that we all benefit when there are more people making the best, most mature decisions they can. We’re all in this together.

If we all commit now to get well in our body and our minds, we will have an impact far beyond ourselves.

To your health and happiness,

Joshua Wayne, MA

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