During my annual physical last month, my doctor told me my BMI (Body Mass Index) is 168. That means for a 5 foot 10 inch, 47-year-old male, I should weigh 168 pounds. I told my Doc that I have not weighed 168 pounds since I came out of my mother’s womb!

The truth is I have nine suits in my bedroom closet. Nine! Three 34-inch waist, three 35-inch waist and three suits for when I hit the jackpot of 195 pounds and wear a size 36-inch. When I hit the 36-inch suits I go on a “diet” to lose ten pounds so I can squeeze back into my 34’s. This cycle has been going on for ten years.

I’ve tried nearly every diet that exists to mankind: South Beach, Atkins, Paleo, Fit for Life, Weight Watchers, Isogenics, Juicing, Non-Fat, Low-Carb, Pigeon Food – you name it!

A few weeks ago, I was in Chicago for a speech. I had dinner the night before with a good buddy of mine, John Nichols. We watched the World Series. Gibson’s Steak House was packed with crazed Cubbies fans.

I was telling John that night that it was my last steak and potatoes for a month because it was time to drop ten pounds – the 36’s were getting a little snug.

I shared with John about my “yoyo” weight problem and how hard it was keeping a healthy diet when I travel to over a hundred cities a year. I was telling him how hard it was working out on the road and staying away from my favorite foods – Italian, French, Japanese, American Steak, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Mexican, oh, and Jersey Mike’s Subs!

After one excuse after the other, John cut me off and said something profound. “How bad do you want it?”

“What do you mean”, I asked?

“How bad do you want IT!? How bad to you want to lose twenty pounds and keep it off? How bad do you want a lifestyle change and never go on a diet again? How bad do you want to toss the 34’s, 35’s and 36’s? How bad do you want IT?

The truth is that I would like to be 175 pounds, but I’ve never REALLY wanted IT. I didn’t want to do the hard work. I didn’t want to do what it takes. Until John smacked me with that profound question.

John Nichols knows all about hard work. He knows all about doing what it takes. He knows all about wanting IT!

John’s life changed forever when he went water skiing late one summer afternoon in July, 1993 at the age of 32.

The calm waters allowed for a dry dock start. As the boat started out, the slack in the line caused John to take an acrobatic dive into four feet of water and his head hit the bottom of the lake. When he came to the surface, John knew his body was in trouble. His only thoughts were to get his head above water and call out for help. Instead, his chin rested against his chest while his arms moved involuntarily. His final breaths were coming fast.

John’s friend rescued him and brought him to shore. He squeezed John’s chest to release the water in his lungs. As John, regained consciousness he realized that he could not move his arms or his legs.

Froedtert Memorial Hospital in Milwaukee was John’s home for the next month, where he laid in bed affixed to a halo to hold his broken neck in place. His medical condition was diagnosed as a C5-C6 quadriplegic. The C6 vertebrae was fractured and subluxed. The C6 fracture meant that he had some movement in his limbs.

Medical staff tried to break John down mentally to prepare him for a life in a wheelchair. But John wouldn’t accept that. He just could not accept the fact that he wasn’t going to walk again.

With a combination of medical care, mental attitude, hard work, therapy and a miracle of God, John has gotten to a progress level that less than one percent of the people in his condition usually obtain. With daily rehabilitation, it took 18 months to get back on his feet; 6 years to return to work proactivily and the last 8 years John has successfully completed 8 marathons (yes, 8!) improving his time from 6 hours 9 minutes to 4 hours 22 minutes – raising over $100,000 for the Spinal Cord Injury Association.

How bad did John want IT? How bad did he want to walk again? I think eight marathons answers that question.

So, when my fat ass isn’t motivated for a lifestyle change, I will think of John Nichols crossing the finish line…. for the eighth time.

Is it time for you to toss out the 36-inch suits in your life? In your marriage? In your organization? What challenges in your life, in your relationships and in your organization, do you want to overcome – SO BAD – that you will do whatever it takes to achieve?

I’m sure whatever you and I choose to tackle won’t be as hard as getting out of a wheelchair and putting on a pair of running shoes.

*** Excerpts from John Nichols’ book, Passion, Purpose, Protection