My wife gave my parents a digital frame pre-loaded with a thousand photos of our family for Christmas.

In order to load the photos she had to spend a few days going through our digital archives. As I looked over her shoulder during the process, a pattern emerged.

Every 18 months my weight fluctuates by about 30 pounds. I know what you’re thinking, “Of course it does! You’re like Christian Bale, constantly bulking up for action movies and then going stick thin for the serious films.”

Although I appreciate your positivity, that is not the case at all. I’m not deliberately adding 30 pounds of muscle, I’m quietly adding 30 pounds of apathy, or more technically speaking what scientists call “queso.” (I completely understand that given our penchant for watching exercise shows where people lose 900 pounds, 30 doesn’t seem like a lot. Given that I weigh in the 150lb range though it represents a 5th of my body, which is significant.)

As I head into my 39th year on the planet, I have grown weary of this process. My 9 year old commented on the cycle the other day when she said, “Remember four years ago when our Christmas card was just a picture of our feet? We did that because you were fluffy.”

I tried to explain to her that we took the photo of our feet because feet were really big that year, you know “Feet were the new face,” but she wasn’t buying it.

And I’m not either anymore. Not that I have to be perfect or allow some number on scale to rule the day, but at some point “enough is enough.” It’s not even really about vanity, although given the variety of hair gels I own I am certainly vain. I don’t like the way I feel when I weigh my heaviest. I actually write less when I am at my heaviest and spend money frivolously because every section of our lives is connected. When we’re unhappy with one part of our lives the other parts get impacted too. I’m ready to change this pattern in my life.

Maybe that’s you. At this time of year, the patterns are difficult to ignore. Maybe for you it’s not your weight, it’s your job. Or your relationships or your finances.

The “fluff” in our own lives can take a million shapes. So how do you break a pattern? Here are a few things that I think you should do:

1. Find an expert.
I partnered with a trainer named Jeremy Rochford to help me get an exercise plan together. If you want to break a pattern, find an expert.

2. Go public.
Sharing what you’re working on with a community of people who can encourage you and challenge you is critical. Chasing a dream is a team sport. I joined a mastermind last year that has really helped me break some patterns. Online communities can be gigantic too. I’ve been blown away by the support and encouragement you can find in Facebook groups.

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3. Start small.
Every expert I’ve studied talks about the need to take small, measurable steps. I can’t break my 18 month cycle of putting on weight by just watching what I eat one weekend. It takes steps, small ones at first that accumulate over time and create momentum.

4. Stop acting surprised by your habits.
Lately I’ve researching a lot about how powerful habits are in our lives. The problem is that most of us act surprised by them. If you’ve been repeating the same bad decisions over and over again, you’ve got bad habits. Don’t act like every time is the first time. It’s not. You’ve got a pattern and patterns were meant to be broken. If you can form a bad habit, you can also form a good habit.

I can’t control the next 18 months. I can’t control tomorrow, but I can change today.

And that is enough.

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