I went to an Asian restaurant a few weeks ago with a good friend, and we had the most amazing spring rolls. They were filled with carrots and cucumbers and had tons of basil and cilantro. They were delicious.
I thought to myself, “These are so healthy and probably so easy to make . . . I’m going to try this at home!” So the next day I went to the store and bought the ingredients, including the sheets of rice paper.
I’m sure you know what’s coming next. And, yes, it was a complete disaster.
The instructions were pretty basic: wet the rice paper, wait a minute, and then wrap everything up. So, I stuck the first sheet of paper under the faucet and laid it on my cutting board. I put my carefully sliced ingredients on top and started rolling. The whole thing fell apart.
I was kind of demoralized, because I had been so excited about this little endeavor. My first thought was F this, whatever. But I decided to keep trying.
Eventually, with a little help from Google, I figured out that you needed to lightly wet the rice paper, rather than hold it under a running faucet. You also had to wait more than ten seconds, so the paper could soak up the water. Then I finally figured out — through several failed attempts — that the ingredients had to be placed in a mound right in the dead center to get it to work.
I went through the entire package of rice paper to learn how to make just two spring rolls that looked sort of decent and that didn’t fall completely apart. Did they they taste as good as the ones I had at the restaurant? No they did not. But they were a million times better to me because I had made them.
The point of this story is that I almost didn’t make them. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, and the temptation to throw in the towel was strong.
But once I decided to persevere, I got better and better at it until I had finally succeeded. And the whole time I was improving, my mind started filling with possibilities. What if I learned how to make sushi? I’m sure there’s a sushi-making class I could sign up for somewhere. And I could have my girlfriends over for a sushi party! Maybe I’ll go to Williams Sonoma and get little soy sauce holders and chopsticks . . .
Not only did my spring roll project get me out of my latest food rut, it gave me confidence, got me inspired to try something new, and put me in a creative mindset — all of which contribute to living a life that isn’t dominated by a constant preoccupation with losing weight.
This is important because once you stop obsessing about losing the weight, you immediately start enjoying your life more, and then it comes off naturally.
Here are three ways persevering and giving it just one more try can lead you to that kind of life:
1. It eliminates the lies. We tell ourselves all kinds of false stories about ourselves when we fail that keep us stuck right where we are. This is especially true when it comes to dieting and losing weight. We go on a diet, we don’t stick to it, we give up, and we call ourselves “failures.” We tell ourselves that we’re lazy, we have no willpower, and we just can’t do it.
The reality is that instead of giving up and choosing to take one small step in the right direction makes all those stories evaporate. That’s literally all it takes — one small step, one more extra effort — to set you on a different course and change everything.
In order to persevere, you have to access your innate power, and in doing this you validate your ability to make changes. And once you start making them, it’s really hard to call yourself a loser and a failure.
2. It helps you make new distinctions. Failing and persevering until you get it right means that you have to figure out what you’re doing wrong. And every time you see what’s not working, you’re making a new distinction that you’re carrying with you for the next attempt.
This is the polar opposite of what dieting involves. There’s no learning, and there are no distinctions. There’s only one way to do it, and if you don’t do it right, you fail. Therefore, you can’t figure out what’s not working, you can’t get better, you can’t grow.
When you persevere, you acquire knowledge that you can use to make a more successful attempt the next time, and it shows you that there are limitless possibilities for success — not just one.
3. It gives you confidence to try new things. When you push yourself and master small things, you gain confidence to try for bigger ones. Confidence is critical if you want to take control of your life instead of being a victim, constantly talking about how hard it is to do something and resigning yourself to staying stuck.
Working toward a bigger goal is a key part of what I teach. That’s because one of the fastest ways to lose weight is to shift your focus to creating something that you do want rather than constantly trying to get rid of something you don’t.
Having a bigger, better goal for your life generates tremendous positive energy that causes you do think and act differently, which helps you lose weight naturally.
A side benefit of setting larger goals for yourself — that have nothing to do with what size you wear or how many calories you burned — is that it how you see yourself starts to change.
You begin to see yourself in a new light the more you start blasting away at the smaller steps that lead to that big goal, and persevering at each step is a necessity. As you keep going, you start to see yourself as an athlete, a writer, a CEO, a world traveler — people for whom losing weight isn’t even on the radar.
All of these points reinforce my philosophy that the only way to permanently lose weight is to slowly change your thoughts and habits. If you try and change every single thing you do, all at once, and in no time flat — in other words, diet — you’ll never change anything.
But slowly and methodically making tiny tweaks to your current habits until they transform themselves from bad to good changes everything. And having this in-it-for-the-long-haul mindset and committing to making these changes, especially when it’s really hard, requires perseverance.
The thing about the spring rolls had nothing to do with wrapping rice paper around some cucumber and if I didn’t figure it out, who cares. My perseverance and ultimate success in figuring it out gave me confidence and opened the door to creativity and possibility, which is the opposite of feeling limited and stuck — exactly how you feel when you’re trapped in the dieting/weight loss cycle.
So today, come up with a small creative project that would get you out of your comfort zone, and persevere until you’ve finished it. Then watch how the confidence you get and the positive energy you generate gives you possibility for a new way of living — one that has nothing to do with losing weight.