Visual Management, Willpower and Weight Loss

As you know from my Learning to See post I’m currently working towards another professional designation. What you don’t know is that the credential being pursued is Lean Bronze Certification (LBC).

One of the many Lean tool philosophies is Visual Management. Visual Management is about using visual indicators to affect people’s behaviour and the overall performance of a system or value stream. I recently adopted a visual tool to incentivize my personal goal to lose weight.

To understand my weight loss predicament you should be aware that I live in the present. In a recent personality survey, the Maieutik test, I was roughly attributed to spend 25% of the time in the past, 50% in the now, and 25% looking forward. This seems intuitive to me – one of my personal credos is of sensible hedonism. Bringing us to the problem of why I’ve rarely been able to lose weight. The notion of weight loss and better health is sort of abstract and the immediate pleasure of a snack is far from.

A friend and colleague of mine listens to many audio books, and one day during a coffee or cocktail, he was telling me of one of the case studies in the Influencer, where a set of research indicated that the number one thing you could do that would help you lose weight was weigh yourself daily. It sounded interesting, but inwardly I was skeptical. I could not make the connection as to why measuring yourself daily would make such a dramatic impact. I also knew that for me I would tend to forget the exact measurement anyway; I’d have a rough idea but not the exact numbers in my mind, thereby making exercise moot. Would I really have the will power to get out the scale every morning? Too many obstacles. Nevertheless, weight loss came up amongst my foundational vitality goals within my happiness project.

Then at long last came a solution, the Withings Wi-Fi enabled scale! Using my love of gadgets to get me on the scale daily, leveraging the principles of visual management to keep me inline, and the promise in the Influencer actually worked! The desire to keep that line trending down the next morning, this real goal as opposed to some abstract good health goal made all the difference in my commitment to eat better.

Eat better you ask? A different colleague of mine has cracked that code – cut out carbs after 2pm (assuming a 10pm bedtime). 4.2 pounds in a week? For me the proof was available if I could forgo the pudding. Previous to this experiment, I would not have thought I was a big snacker. I don’t stop at the store on the way home to buy chips… but if they are in the house… well, not anymore! My morning date with my Withings scale is, strangely, enough of an incentive to practice restraint, which is paying off for my vitality and my waistline.

I’ll update my progress and the graph in a few weeks, to keep you up to date on progress towards my goal to lose 10 or more pounds.

Gallery / Status Updates

One month in and I’ve lost 7.1 pounds. My third week set me back a little bit,  I was seduced by thin crust gluten free pizza after 2pm… twice… how bad could that be? Apparently bad enough. However all is now well, I’m back to my  lowest weight and the trend line is once more pointed downward.

Final Happiness Project Rumination

Now that I’ve identified an additional shortcoming in my set of 2012 resolutions and established a new framework to fix it, it is time to further detail my resolve. Also I am inverting my modified Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs because a foundation must come first.

I’ve also generated a mission statement for my mini happiness project:

Pursue my happiness by being attentive to my vitality, my wife and home and by creating an atmosphere of growth in the pursuit of writing.

Vitality

Resolutions

  • Drink a litre of water every day
  • Wake up before the alarm
  • Exercise daily
  • Restrict myself to two cups of coffee a day
  • Weigh myself daily

Goals

  • Lose 10lbs

Strategic Outcome

  • Increase my energy

Home

Resolutions

  • Do kitchen clean up every night – Don’t procrastinate
  • Set the coffee pot auto start every week night
  • Complete one thing from the backlog task list every day
  • Make the bed everyday
  • Buy my wife a romantic gift every month

Goals

  • Keep a structured, tidy living space and a jubilant wife

Strategic Outcome

  • Increase my happiness

The Element

Resolutions

  • Write everyday (Journal, Blog, or a Project)
  • Read everyday
  • Read one page of the dictionary every night

Goals

  • Promote and maintain Exploring-Art.com
  • Distribute 100 Exploring-Art.com business cards before the end of the year
  • Starting immediately personalize every Exploring-Art.com “publicize” tweet
  • Get published in another format
  • Take Creative Writing 100 @ Uvic next year
  • Find my tribe

Strategic Outcome

  • Increase the quality of my writing

Conclusion

From time to time I’ll post an update to how I’m doing living up to my new mission: Pursue my happiness by being attentive to my vitality, my wife and home and by creating an atmosphere of growth in the pursuit of writing. I believe this concludes my rumination from reading The Happiness Project. Exploring-Art.com will now return to it’s regularly scheduled posts.

Poetry vs. Strategic Outcomes

Earlier this week I acknowledged that there was something lacking in my SMART News Year’s resolution model. By adopting the SMART technique it means that some of the overarching, higher level, bigger picture goals aren’t explicitly captured… these north stars are relegated to the land of the implied.

In my professional world of suits and ties here is how we would tackle this problem. We would take my list of SMART goals and categorize each of them under a heading, probably called a “Strategic Outcome”, so for instance you might do something like this:

Strategic Outcome: Increase Professionalism of Writing

  • Join Victoria Writing Society in January
  • Get published somewhere other than Exploring-Art.com this year
  • Complete a writing portfolio submission… by December

But that would not be very artful! So instead what I did is I wrote a companion poem to go with my SMART goals. Defy pigeonholes, embrace individuality and explore your passions – be brave! Without further ado, here’s my poem:

Three hundred and sixty five days make a year
Fear as always
Is the predominant barrier
Be brave – profess your goals
I must pursue writing with a professional rigour
I will spend effort, resources and time
transforming Exploring-Art
into a noteworthy cultural endeavour
I shall romance my darling wife and will also
pursue a healthy and nonjudgmental life.