I’m picturing myself healthier and fitter than I’ve been in 20 years and making the changes I need to make so these visions are actualized. I’m creating the lifestyle changes within a cultural and social context to reinforce my goals. I’ve set my goals and consulted a Transformative Health Coach.

In short, I’ve got an ambitious goal to lose my excess weight that I’ve put on over a long period of time, and I’m taking an integral approach to doing so. There’s nearly 30 pounds to lose since I’m starting at nearly 200 pounds, just about the heaviest weight I’ve ever been. I’m 35+ pounds over the weight I maintained in my 20s and 30s and I don’t feel good about my health. My doctor has pushed me to lose weight for years, but instead the needle on the scale has kept sliding farther into the fat zone.

So today my goal is to reach the 170# (77 kg) mark by Halloween. That mark represents the level that I feel would put me into the “non-overweight” zone of the Body Mass Index for men who are my height (5’10”). Okay, if I reach this goal I will need to lose nearly 2 pounds a week, so I recognize that it might realistically take a bit longer. But I might succeed if I try and if I don’t try I definitely won’t succeed.

Along the way, I’ll be chronicling some of my ups and downs, and insights from what’s working or not working on my Instagram page. Plus, you can count on reading at least this blog article and one more when I reach my fitness goals. I’m sure there will be some others along the way, too.

What makes this journey “integral”? The Instagram blogging is part of it (what we call communication and social reinforcement in the Lower Quadrants). See…

  • Psychological — visualizations, mental motivation, instilling greater self-discipline and accessing spiritual reserves for lessening attachments to food and being lazy.
  • Biological — calorie counting, behavioral changes, more gym time, more walking time, changing dietary proportions and quantities, dietary supplements, boosting metabolism.
  • Social — walking in the community, working out at the gym, navigating food choices in a late capitalist economy with heavily processed and mass-produced foods.
  • Cultural — attending to my language around physical fitness and health to find the most useful word choices for my project, sharing my journey on Instagram and blog to get encouragement and motivation to hold myself accountable to my goals.

I know this isn’t the first time I’ve set out to start a fitness journey in the last year. I tried once last fall but didn’t make it very far before I stopped going to the gym and everything else fell apart. I didn’t lose the weight I wanted to lose, and I even gained a few pounds over the course of the winter. Sigh.

A big problem with last year’s failed effort is that I didn’t proceed integrally enough. I focused too much on changing one behavior (starting to go to the gym) instead of holistically looking at all the major areas that I would need to work on. As a result, I didn’t pull enough of the levers long enough to get even that one behavioral change to stick. Also, I didn’t quite put everything I had into it (obviously). When I got busy with other things, I just dropped out.

Taking an Integral approach doesn’t just happen because you call yourself Integral. As I saw last year, knowing everything that is involved in taking “an Integral approach” isn’t enough. One has to actually put the Integral approach into practice. And the way I look at it, authentic Integral Practice is like “taking out the big guns”. It means checking in with all the many dimensions of a specific holon (in this case, my fitness levels) and then formulating an action plan, writing it down, and implementing it. Once it’s underway, modify it as needed. Make it happen.

Even with something that’s primarily an individual health problem (being overweight), there are a lot of complex factors. Of course, it’s not a “wicked problem” like ending global poverty or fixing climate change or stopping nuclear proliferation. But it’s hard enough. It’s important for my spirituality (decreasing attachment), well-being (reducing my dependence on drugs for diabetes, etc.), psychology (improving my body-image), and social life (hey, I’m single and you know how that goes). And there many unique considerations, possible solutions, and ways of explaining the root of the problem.

Since I’m pulling out the “big guns” this time, I thought it would be a good idea to get a vitality map check-in with Deborah Zucker, an integrally savvy Transformational Health Coach. When she interviewed me so that she could create my own “vitality map”, I began to look at weight loss as a pretty narrow focus for a constellation of issues that needed to be addressed, some of which go down to deep places.

Once Deborah created my Vitality Map, I saw the changes that I needed to make from a Big Picture View that went like this:

You are in a significant transition now, setting the stage for the next phase of your life. You are being called to a more foundational shift in how you guide yourself, to discover a new center of gravity in how you tend to and care for your own well-being. You are ready to do
the deep work to face the shadowy territory within to free yourself and catalyze the changes you seek in your health and life. You are ripe to have the support and accountability to stay with the fears, the doubts, and the uncomfortable transformative process of guiding yourself into new patterns and contexts. As you engage in this journey youโ€™ll be exploring the obstacles, competing priorities, and the deep authentic truth underneath it all to disentangle yourself and bring greater alignment, ease, self nourishment, and love.

With that Big Picture in mind, I can say that there’s more involved in an Integral approach to weight loss than just counting calories or even adding up quadrants. I will need to learn how to embrace easeful discipline, gain insight into my own addictive tendencies and behaviors and modify them, know that my body movement is a symbol of all the movement in my life, find more nourishing and resonant foods, and cultivate supportive relationships to aid me in gaining greater vitality and health in life.

There’s a lot to it. I say “170# by Halloween” because that’s my project-orientation speaking that likes clear and simple goals to which I can hold myself accountable. But it’s shorthand for much wider and more holistic shifting currents in my life. It’s time to lighten up!

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