What Percentage Is Inspiration vs. Perspiration?

The great American inventor, Thomas Edison is credited with the famous quote:  Genius is one percent inspiration and 99% perspiration.”  He supposedly said this in 1902, but diving deeper into the origins, in the early 1890’s an academic named Kate Sanborn delivered a series of lectures on the topic “What is Genius?” She defined genius as a mix of “inspiration” and “perspiration”. “Talent is perspiration,” she said, explaining that genius required more perspiration than inspiration. If she provided a ratio, it was never recorded.

Let’s bring this famous quote to the weight control arena.  There is no doubt that a concerted effort to lose/control weight requires inspiration AND hard work (i.e. perspiration).  Here are some of the “inspirational” contributions:

  • A recent diagnosis of a weight-related health condition that is frightening
  • Being started on a new medication(s) to treat a weight-related co-morbidity
  • Not fitting into the clothes in your closet that you want to wear
  • Seeing a picture of yourself and not liking the aesthetic look
  • A family member telling you how much they love you and want you to be around for many more years.
  • Social events coming up and being desirous of “looking your best”

“Perspiration”…referring to the hard work required for successful weight control:

  • Planning meals
  • Shopping for the “right” foods/snacks to have around the house
  • Exercising
  • Avoiding the “comfort” foods and alcohol that provide immediate gratification

So, for effective, long standing weight control, what relative proportions are needed for long-term success?  My answer: EQUAL Importance.  We all need to stay motivated AND continue to WORK HARD.

So, let’s amend Edison’s (or Sanborn’s) quote to a new one from “Dr. Posner”:

Long Term Weight Control is 50% Inspiration and 50% Perspiration.

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