Sheri’s Rants # 31: Burn the Ships!

Posted on December 28, 2009 by


A long while ago, a great warrior had to make a decision which ensured his success on the battlefield.  He was about to send his armies against a powerful foe, whose men outnumbered his own.  He loaded his soldiers into boats, sailed to the enemy’s country, unloaded soldiers and equipment, then gave the order to burn the ships that had carried them.  Addressing his men before the first battle, he said, “You see the boats going up in smoke.  That means that we cannot leave these shores alive unless we win!  We now have no choice – we win or we perish!”  They won.  Every person who wins in any undertaking must be willing to burn his ships and cut all sources of retreat.  Only by so doing can one be sure of maintaining that state of mind known as a burning desire to win, essential to success. (Napoleon Hill; Think and Grow Rich, 1937)

Once we understand what a state of health IS (usually after bouts of losing it), most of us wish to be lean and fit.  But wishing for it won’t bring it on.  We have to DESIRE it – we have to want it bad enough to overcome the initial discomfort of change.  And make no mistake – the initial work of transformation IS uncomfortable.  It requires behavioral change, attention, honesty, integrity, accountability and new skills.  We call it ‘the learning curve’ – and once you’ve crested it, you’ll be cool.

If your desire is weak, your results will be weak.  After all, a small fire results in a small amount of heat.  That’s natural law.  And so it goes with desire, as well.  Weak desire will not get you through the original learning curve of ANY new skill set.

Strong desire, however, will result in persistence.  PERSISTENCE.  This is the stuff that will get you through those more challenging times.

One of the major causes of failure, when it comes to Transforming your body (or any other area of your life!) is a lack of persistence – it is also a primary weakness found in the majority of people.  We like instant gratification.  We demand it. We’ll even pay crazy money for brainless schemes.  But lasting change does not work that way.

In a culture that relies on the quick fix – fast food, pills, surgeries, crazy diets, marketing schemes – we find it loathsome to do the tried and true consecration to a burning desire that naturally will translate into persistence and success.  I have deep admiration for every single person that transforms their body – it’s potent work, and in my experience it’s NOT for everyone.  It isn’t.  This Transformation work requires a special type of soul – one with a burning desire, a willingness to be self-respectful, an ability to be accountable, and the drive to be persistent.  Because you’re not going to lose 30 lbs of fat in one month.  It is physiologically impossible.  You can burn your muscle, lose water, waste your organs, and prematurely age – but not drop that much FAT.  Your liver can process 1 to 1.5 lbs per week of fat if you are a female, and twice that if you are a man.  That is all.  You can wave any expensive magic wand that you want, and still that is what your body can do.  To make that 30 lbs, you’re going to need persistence.

Once you’re on the road to change, you’re going to bump into old behavior patterns, old emotional patterns, old ways of coping.  Life is going to throw all the usual things at you in the form of doubting friends and family, crisis moments, ailing family members,celebrations, frustration, lost jobs, anxiety, moves, weddings, new jobs, divorces, holidays, sabotaging spouses, accidents, what have you.  You may want to drink margaritas, inhale cupcakes, binge on cookies, fall into a bag of candy, snarfle buttery popcorn at a movie.  So and so pisses you off and the only answer is to cram ho ho’s into the pie hole.  Your feelings are hurt and you can’t possibly go to the gym.  Your best friend hates you because your butt is smaller than hers now and only a double martini lunch will make it better.  Your body isn’t doing what you want on your time line and you’re stomping around pissed, frustrated, angry, doubtful.   These are all the escape routes, the ships.  You are absolutely going to hit these spots.  That is how we grow.

How do you burn the ships?

1)  Listen to what is coming out of your mouth and banging around in your head.  If it’s doubtful and negative, that is creating stress.  Stress increases the hormonal levels that slow down fat loss.  Seriously.  The body achieves what the mind believes.  Start with your head.  If your head believes it’s ‘not happening’ it’s going to be very hard to ask your body to do something you don’t even believe in.  Persist.

2)  Clean your house out of junk food.  I know, I know, it’s not yours.  Ask family members to hide their crap food from you, keep it in the garage, put it out of reach, whatever.  If people bring crap to your house, ask them to take it home or give it away.   If it’s in your house, you will eventually eat it.  Yes, even the cookies you swear you hate.

3)  If you cannot walk into a coffee house without drooling over the pastries, stay out of coffee houses until you are stronger.  How will you know?  If there is a committee discussion in your head, stay away.  Likewise, the bakery section of the grocery store, the bar, movie theaters, or any old haunts that trigger binges. Everyone has different ‘trigger’ places.

4)  Follow the simple directions your coach gives you.  Make things very simple with a list of what to accomplish on a daily basis.  When your brain starts telling you stories, resort to the directions.  Eradicate the fear.  Just follow directions.

5)  Don’t hang around folks who doubt you, sabotage you, or encourage you to think less of yourself.  Rely on positive support.

Do NOT accept defeat.  You can do this.  The level of empowerment you will feel is incredible.  The level of health you will attain is beyond what you can imagine.  The joy of a youthful, strong, lean and healthy body is indescribable – and within your reach with a burning desire and persistence.

Posted in: Sheri's Rants