Stepping on the Scale as a Means of Grace

Time for a change. Almost by definition retirement involves change.

Will the lessons learned on the larger stage of trying to convince the church have any traction in my attempts to steer a new path?

Clarity, accountability and support are vital and they hang out together.

I was reminded about the importance of accountability during a conversation about losing weight. The old joke goes, I have no trouble losing weight; I’ve done it hundreds of times! I no longer laugh; time to get serious.

We talked about Weight Watchers – online vs in-person meetings. Her preference was for the meeting, in particular, the element of having someone else record your weight.

This means of accountability was huge for her; not so much for me.

Accountability and expectations go hand in hand. Being held accountable is difficult if no expectation has been set.

In her book, Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives,  Gretchen Rubin (of The Happiness Project fame), names expectations as key in the development and change of habits. When setting expectations, Rubin claims “just about everyone falls into one of four distinct groups:

Upholders respond readily to both outer expectations and inner expectations.

Questioners question all expectations, and will meet an expectation only if they believe it’s justified.

Obligers respond readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations.

Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.”

At heart, I am a questioner. Surprise! My heart needs to believe and commit.

Accountability used to be synonymous with criticism or failure.

In fact, setting a clear expectation is an act of grace. To labour under unclear or ever-shifting expectations deadens the soul and kills motivation.

If I count the week a success only if I emerge looking like Daniel Craig, Ryan Reynolds or Hugh Jackman then I will be overcome by disappointment faster than I can devour a half dozen oatmeal raisin cookies!

So first, Clarify the expectations; Set the vision with as much detail and clarity as possible. [Tweet “Use all the crayons in the box to set the vision.”]

Then secondly, break the vision down into steps guaranteeing a reasonable rate of success.

To say “thinner” is about effective as telling a congregation to be more hospitable. Sermons, whether to the mirror or a congregation, that simply repeat the wish will not make it happen.

A vision without a plan is fantasy or wishful thinking.[Tweet “A vision without a plan is fantasy!”]

Most weight management apps calculate a daily calorie budget on the basis of a maximum 2 pound a week loss.

All I have to do for a good week is lose two pounds. I don’t have to dress elegantly or master enough etiquette to lunch with The Queen – just two pounds a week and I am a success!

Thirdly, support

We are now in the season of Ramadan, the period of prayer, fasting, charity-giving and self-accountability for Muslims. On the way to a soccer game, a young Muslim friend commented upon how difficult it is to practice Ramadan in Canada. If from abroad, many of his friends return to their homes during this time just because it is so much easier to fast when everyone around you is not scarfing down chocolate bars or cinnamon buns!

Almost every weight loss program and app that I know of contains an element of support, whether that be in the form of in-person consultation or hooking into a social network group.

Change initiatives need a vision, a reasonable plan for success and support.

That’s the theory; now the practice!


  1. Hi Keith…I like your naming of the elements of vision, plan and support related to change. You know this business of change is one of my favourite topics!

    What I have found is that support seems to be first…people often start the change way back at conversation about the change they might be contemplating and need to have a supportive listener(s) to take the next step (which might be much later).

    I have also found that a classic mistake around change is to fail to start where people are at. Some still need to consider buying the scale.
    There is often judgment of what the starting line should look like (books are written about preparing to change that might be well meaning but still offer that judgment that has folk quitting before they start).
    So the vision and the plan might emerge much later but probably some directional change can happen in the interim and that can be a beginning sense of success.
    Always grateful to be able to think about these things. Thanks

    1. Hi Carol You are right that there needs to be support at every stage, even the pre-pre-considering the possibility of change stage 🙂

  2. I find your essays very inspiring Keith, and always find something in them that applies to me and my growth. Thank you so much!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: