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Defining Moments: The Beginning of the Thinning


Pornography is difficult to describe but you know it when you see it. Similarly, a defining moment is hard to describe but you know it when you experience it.

Defining moments are to human experience what the phenomena outliers are to researchers. Outliers are results that stand out because they are inconsistent with what has gone before and, given past events, seemingly inconsistent with what should have occurred.

Like outlier statistics, defining moments are small events that change how you see the world. Consequently, the world you live in is forever altered. A defining moment also changes your relationships with friends and family-it touches the life of every person you come in contact with and through them, changes the lives of people you will never meet.

A defining moment triggered my decision to get fit. One ordinary morning, like hundreds before, I stepped naked on the scale. The numbers zoomed to 183 pounds-then the scale broke! In that instant, I decided to get fit.  With the support of my fitness team, I went on to lose 62 pounds, and then led a community weight-loss event where over a thousand neighbors and friends lost nearly 4 tons in 8 weeks.

I wrote about these remarkable experiences in my book, From Fat to Fit: Turn Yourself into a Weapon of Mass Reduction. Sue, a reader, who is struggling to lose weight shared her defining moment:

I had to laugh aloud when I read that your scale had broken. This is an example of the minor things that often lead to major change and more awareness. I was at a friend's house last year when I was sitting with her at the table and my chair began to slowly melt into the floor with me in it. It did not come crashing down but in a way that prolonged my agony. I can tell you that at the moment I found myself sitting on the floor, I was immediately aware that I could no longer live this way.

Sue's collapsed chair and my broken bathroom scale were defining moments that changed the direction of our lives.

In my case, I was forced to toss out beliefs that had become legends in my own mind-beliefs that had trapped me in a cycle of failure and self-recrimination.

First, I believed that I was entitled to eat whatever I wanted without interference or pious lectures about health dangers. I also believed that I could indulge today and my doctor could fix medical problems tomorrow. (I did not realize how limited the treatments are once long term damage to the body has occurred.) Third, I felt that if I did develop diabetes or suffered a stroke or heart attack, I would not be responsible for picking up the tab. My insurer or the government would pay the bill. Lastly, I believed that it was impossible to make lifestyle changes.

My beliefs nearly killed me. Had I not decided to get fit and lose weight, I probably would not be alive today. My age and medical history, combined with my family's medical history, placed me in the 90th percentile for chronic and even fatal medical problems. If I somehow had managed to live, I would have watched my savings disappear as I struggled to pay for drugs, hospitalizations and physician care.

Before disaster struck, I replaced dysfunctional myths with three truths (FIT):

F: Freedom to move in a healthy body, undertake tasks with tons of energy and feel confident in my daily decisions is more valuable than the freedom to indulge.

I: Investing time to exercise each day and eating for health (rather than for recreation) improves the odds for avoiding irreversible medical conditions tomorrow.

T: Teaming up with others who will reinforce my commitment to take responsibility for my health is essential.

Defining moments aren't usually the happiest moments in our lives. Such moments can be triggered by traumatic events outside our control-a serious illness, a life-threatening accident or an unexpected lay-off. These outlier events change the course on which we would otherwise have continued.

The unfortunate circumstances that trigger the defining moment, however, need not dictate the outcome. We can use these moments-whether they involve a broken bathroom scale or collapsed chair-to re-examine our values and chart a new course for ourselves.

Use your defining moment to help you decide to get fit and lose weight. Use the break with the past to create a brand new and healthier lifestyle. As I discovered, our bodies have amazing capacities for self-healing. Use these unique defining moments to spiral upward towards your goals and dreams.

Photo credit: jekert gwapo on Flickr.

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