I’m changing a few things in my life.

This post is part of that – one segment in a personal challenge to write frequently and consistently, to develop writing as a natural habit.

I’m also losing weight.

Notice here that I said ‘I’m losing weight,’ not ‘I’m trying to lose weight.’ I never really liked Yoda, but even I have to admit he pretty much nailed it when he said, “No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.”

If I say I’m trying to lose weight, that sort of implies that I’m not accomplishing anything in spite of my efforts. I don’t particularly care for that mindset, because I think it robs a person’s will to succeed – before they even start.

So – I’m losing weight.

As a means of motivation, I set up a couple of simple goals when I started.

Last fall, I went camping with several of my brothers. I was gone for three days, away from hot and cold running anything, so I didn’t bother to shave. My standard goatee (actually it’s more of a Van Dyke, but let’s not split hairs) expanded into a full beard. I liked the change enough to keep it for a few months, but around Christmas I started to get tired of it.

When I mentioned to my wife that I’d probably shave it after the New Year, she frowned a little and said, “Awww…”

So I kept it.

A few weeks later, though, when I realized that I couldn’t stand being out of shape and overweight any more, I figured out a compromise of sorts.

I was going to lose forty pounds. When I got to twenty, I’d shave the beard back to it’s original proportions. When I made it to forty pounds lost, I’d shave my head, too.

Now don’t get me wrong – neither of these things are a sacrifice or even a stretch for me. I’ve messed around with various styles of facial hair for years, and I’ve been bald lots of times – it doesn’t hurt.

The point is that both goals give me some visual acknowledgment of my progress – something that also lets people around me know where I’m at in the process.

The unexpected problem I have is that now I’m beginning to really hate my beard. I’ve dropped 14 pounds in the past 3 weeks, but every time I look in the mirror, my beard reminds me that I still need to lose more. It’s become sort of a hairy Scarlet Letter; a constant reminder of my shame at letting myself go. It has become…

The Beard of My Discontent.


I’m beginning to associate my beard with my fat – I want it gone.

One difficulty with establishing any new behavior is that it’s easy to stop before the behavior becomes ingrained; adding some sort of motivation or reward is a means of getting past that temptation. For my writing, I force myself to avoid social media until after I write each day, which gives me something to look forward to.

For weight loss, the reward is a shave and a haircut.

That may seem paltry, but even small rewards can inspire big changes.

If you’re having trouble getting or staying motivated, try promising yourself a reward for repeated good behavior. If you give yourself a cookie every time you eat a carrot, you’ll blow your diet apart, along with your pants; but if you have one cookie after a week of meeting your goals, it’ll taste sweeter without ruining all your hard work.

The same goes for writing. If you can’t seem to find time to write, try re-aligning your priorities. Write before you do something else that you enjoy. Then you’ll be driven to get the writing out of the way, and you’ll develop a habit of consistently getting your words in print. It’s working for me.

I’m only six pounds from beardless bliss. How far are you?