You stare blankly out the open window. At the clouds, gently moving by. A light breeze enters the room, suggesting that you lie down. So you do. The pillows on your freshly made bed welcome you home.
I’ll just close my eyes for a second…
You fall asleep immediately. You were tired.
A timer goes off. It’s been 20 minutes. Yawning, you rub your eyes and sit up. Outside the window, clouds continue to mozy across the sky. The breeze taps on your shoulder, urging you to rest once more. You shake off the idea, getting up and closing the window.
You sit down at your desk just a few paces to the right of your bed. I need to do something productive with this day.
Not seeing results
Your laptop boots up. All the while, you ponder as to the reason for your drowsiness. I don’t get it… I consistently hit my sleep goal each night. I’m closing my eyes with at least nine hours until my alarm is set to go off. And yet, I keep waking up tired…
Like a battery with a leak, you have a hard time holding onto your charge.
Which begs the question, what is the issue? Because like you mentioned, you’re achieving your goal night after night. So in theory, you’re getting a great deal of sleep. Why the lack of energy then?
You’ve stumbled into the land of contradiction.
One of my current goals is to consume ten or fewer grams of net carbohydrates a day, seven days a week. The reason:
“Based on the findings of the book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, by Gary Taubes, it appears that a low carbohydrate diet is ideal for enhancing leanness and preventing illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, various cancers, and even Alzheimer’s.” – direct quote from my Now page.
The word I want you to focus on here is leanness. Not strength, or bulk, or stamina. Leanness. As in, getting leaner. As in weight loss.
This is a goal that I’ve worked on since October to varying degrees, but for the sake of simplicity, I’ll be focusing just on January.
Throughout the entirety of January 2021, I have achieved my goal day after day. Meaning that each day, I have consumed no more than ten net grams of carbohydrates. No bread, no pasta, no sugar. It’s primarily meat and cheese.
It’s sustainable for me.
And I do enjoy it most of the time. Furthermore, it fills me with pride to know that I’ve been successful with this goal thus far.
But there’s a weird discrepancy going on: when you look at my results, they’re mixed. In December I decided to break from the goal so as to enjoy the holiday treats. So I predicted that I would gain weight leading up to January.
Which I did.
And from there, I predicted that I would quickly lose that weight upon returning to low-carb at the start of the year. Which I did. But then it gets tricky: for the remainder of the month, my weight essentially stayed still. No change.
And therein lies the contradiction. I am both achieving my goal, while not achieving my desired result (as far as leanness is concerned). Day after day I am doing the thing I set out to do, but I’m not getting what I want out of it.
So how is one supposed to address such an issue?
Ask for help
Let’s return back to our sleepy friend that started this whole thing off.
Recall that you’re tired. You’ve been achieving your sleep-time goal but aren’t experiencing the positive results you had wanted. And you’re frustrated.
You don’t give up though. You don’t abandon the concept of restfulness. Instead, you ask for help. You do some research, check out a few forums, and see what people are saying online. It helps, but still leaves you wanting.
Then you remember your friend. A friend who, years ago, had a similar problem as you.
How she solved it
Your friend wasn’t as deliberate or intentional as you’re being. You don’t remember her setting any goals or reading any books on the matter. But you do remember her struggling to get a good night’s sleep. And now? You haven’t heard her complain about such an issue in a long time.
So you reach out, asking how she came to solve the problem that now plagues you.
Her answer’s simple, “I got a new mattress.” She goes on to explain that she tried everything – cooling pads, fans, new sheets – but it wasn’t until she realized how old her mattress was that it all clicked.
She ordered a new mattress and has had no problems since.
Huh, a new mattress, you think to yourself, maybe I should look into that…
Two weeks later, the bed arrives. You set it up and wait with anticipation to try it out. All the while, your sleep goal hasn’t changed. You still get up to nine hours of sleep each night.
And tonight is no different.
You turn off the light, get into bed, and close your eyes.
You call your friend a few days later. “That was the best advice I’ve ever been given!” you exclaim, “That new mattress has changed my life!”
“Told you,” is her response.
Overnight, your energy has bounded back. You feel like singing. You feel like dancing. The days feel bright and happy. Your mind is clear and naps are a thing of the past. Your goal, though unchanged, is now finally producing the results you were hoping for.
Falling short (or maybe not)
Imagine any movie that involves space flight: Star Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy, Independence Day, etc. Picture the main character successfully piloting their craft.
Until, oh no, they’ve been hit!
One of their generators is down and they’re losing power by the second. They’re not going to make it!
And just when all seems lost, the problem is solved. The cutesy (often robotic) side-character manages to get to the circuit and fix it just in time. All power is returned to the engine and the hero goes on to win the battle (and maybe even the war).
Get the engines back online
Applying that example to your own life, you are, of course, the hero.
Your ship is your goal. And the battle is your desired result. Sometimes though, unbeknownst to you, things go awry. You’re doing everything right, yet you aren’t getting to where you need to be.
So, you phone a friend. Either in the form of a book, or a search, or a literal person. You get help.
Serving as the cutesy droid in this case, the helper serves as a way to get your engines back online. To either fix something that you’re unable to fix or make you aware of something you hadn’t considered. Then, with the problem solved, you can go full-speed into whatever the mission requires.
Each day I achieve my nutrition goal. Yet I’m not getting leaner.
So, I ask for help. I reach out to people that know better than me. In this case, I simply return to my many notes on the subject (that I collected from relevant books). And, just like a secret that’s right in front of you the whole time, it dawns on me.
Too much cheese. I’ve been overconsuming cheese!
It’s zero carbs so I thought nothing of it, but in reflection, it appears to be the culprit. So I’ve capped it, setting a maximum amount of grams to consume each day. It’s too early to tell if dairy is the major offender, but I’m optimistic that it is.
However, if it proves not to be, then I’ll ask for help once again. And I’ll continue to ask for help until the problem is solved. Until the engines are back online, hurtling me through space towards my ultimate destination.
Get the results you desire
If you consistently achieve your goal, believing full-well that it is the right goal (meaning that you’re in the right ship heading in the right direction), and yet you’re not seeing results, ask for help.
Get a droid in there. Call in a mutated-raccoon. Or do whatever they did in Independence Day. Get the engine running as it should. Then, charge ahead at full- speed.
I’ll see you in space.