Accelerating Change Programmes

Seeking the approaches that enable faster change in the complex world of health and social care

Change Management Lessons from Losing Weight

Despite my denial, I’ve been classed as Obese for the last 15 years. After two months of focus, I am no longer Obese. This blog post outlines how I achieved this and how my success resonates with change management thinking.

When I began I didn’t even think that weight loss was complex, all that’s needed is more exercise and fewer calories, right!  Wrong, after two weeks of going to the gym every day and counting every calorie, nothing changed. Time for a rethink, so I did something I never imagined doing, booked a session with a personal trainer. This was a key turning point as it turns out my gym sessions focused on Cardio and what I really needed to do was to build muscle, which would help burn fat. I’d know this was successful when initially my weight began to rise, as muscle is heavier than fat. So, I followed the new regime and initially, my weight increased. Great news, even better, it decreased and then it got stuck after about 3 weeks.

Then I turned to information online and bought a book on weight loss, neither helped much, lots of confusing information, too broad and too complex. But then I downloaded a recommended podcast to my playlist and it turned out to be full of practical and simple things but highlighted that there is no single thing that will lead to weight loss, rather it’s the combination of a number of changes. Then it dawned, if this is the case then weight loss is complex change. Knowing this changed my approach, try lots of different things and measure the impact being my first thought. So, I started wearing a Fitbit all the time, bought a scale that reports my weight to the Fitbit, and tried a range of the advice on the podcast (drinking more water, adding protein to my diet, not eating after 8 pm, etc). My weight then started to fall again, furthermore, I began to understand which of the podcast tips work for me as information from the Fitbit and scales measured impact. Finally, a few days ago my BMI dropped below 30, the definition of Obesity, and so I can celebrate the first of a number of small wins on the route to a healthier and lighter me.

So how does this relate to change management practice? On reflection it was surprising just how much this focus on weight loss resonates:

  • Firstly, and probably most importantly the motivation was specific. Instead of being the general ‘be healthier’ that it has been for the past 10 years, without much progress. The motivation was very specific relating to a sharp pain in my thigh, which on checking it out and ignoring a range of unlikely and worrying conditions, the likely cause was obesity.
  • Acknowledging that this change wasn’t straightforward was an important step to finding solutions that work and achieving a successful outcome.
  • I was able to set a clear achievable vision where success could be clearly understood. My Fitbit regularly reminds me of this target and although I still have some way to go, progress has reinforced the achievability of the target.
  • Change often requires changing habits for those involved. Due to work changes, I found that I had time and energy to focus on a change in habits. So, going to the gym several times a week, planning my day to ensure both diet and walking targets can be achieved has now become the new routine and has been reinforced by the rewards from these changes.
  • Along the way I’ve had measurable small wins, be these either process, e.g. 2km in 12 minutes on a rowing machine or 10k steps every day, or outcomes e.g. initial increase in weight or daily readings from the new scales.
  • With a strong incentive to achieve the vision, when solutions didn’t work then these were adapted or further evidence sought to determine a better solution.
  • Having lots of information has really helped, the Fitbit and the scales that I can’t cheat, allowed me to understand the impact of various changes and adaptions. These allowed me to reinforce my learning and accelerate progress.
  • As with all changes, there are unanticipated benefits, the most unexpected being that I no longer need to buy moisturiser (!) as my regular visits to the steam room have made my skin softer than it has ever been.

One comment on “Change Management Lessons from Losing Weight

  1. Martin Charters
    05/09/2017

    Of course the other learning point is that totally spurious measures, such as BMI (a&e 95%, waiting list times) which are meaningless in themselves, but easy to record and produce pretty trend graphs, can lead to significant pressure to change!

    Look forward to seeing your new svelte self in October!

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on 04/09/2017 by in change, vision, weight loss.
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