Put a Block on Porlock

Anyone ever read Samuel Coleridge’s poem, “Kubla Khan“? If I have, I don’t remember it, but I’m fascinated by the story behind its composition. And my fascination means you suffer. That’s not fair, is it?

According to Coleridge’s notes, the poem came to him during a vivid dream (likely assisted by opium, to which he had an addiction) and consisted of several hundred lines. When he awoke he immediately began writing like crazy to capture the dream on paper, but he was interrupted after the the third stanza by “a person on business from Porlock.” Returning to his poem an hour later, Coleridge discovered that he could no longer recall either the dream or the lines he had composed while he slept. It was all gone!

This “person on business from Porlock” has never been identified, nor has the reason for his visit, but he has come to symbolize the way life can sometimes trample visionary genius.

Oh, I hear you: What in the hell does this Porlock’s visit have to do with weight loss?

Nothing really…unless you liken it to the beginning of your weight loss/fitness plan. It’s all very clear exactly what you want to achieve. You can see it, hear it, taste it, feel it–your future success is so vivid in your mind that it has practically already happened.

Time passes and you’re living the dream, making it happen, seeing the results in front of you…

And then some wacko like Porlock knocks on your door.

He may come in the form of an unsupportive friend or family member. Or maybe he’s not a person at all, but an event–a family celebration, a holiday, or a vacation that sends you off your plan completely.

Your Porlock may be the clock that you can’t wrestle into coughing up an extra hour for your exercise, or the bakery on the corner with all its tempting delights.

Or maybe you’re your own Porlock, interrupting your vision and getting in your own way.

The trick is to identify this Porlock’s knock and DON’T ANSWER THE DOOR. Know that he’s out there, ready to visit at any moment, and develop a strategy for dealing with him effectively.


Porlock has been quiet lately around here, thank goodness. In previous fitness attempts, stressful situations such as family illness or work crises would send me to the nearest drive-through. Now, I head to the gym or lace up my walking shoes instead.

Porlock can’t interrupt me if he can’t catch me. :)

But I still know he’s out there, wandering the streets. Waiting.


Who or what is your Porlock? And what can you do to stay on track despite the loud and insistent knocking?