Monday, August 18, 2008

Motivation Monday: "How much did you lose" versus "How much have you changed"?

I'll ask someone who I know has been eating healthier and exercising, "how much weight have you lost?" and the answer sometimes comes back, "I haven't lost a thing!"
"Nothing?" I ask. "You've been making lower calorie food choices consistently and going for your walks every day for two weeks and you haven't really lost anything?"
"Well," they reply, "just three pounds".

It is so frustrating to hear people discount the successes they have. Three pounds! In two weeks! Why, if you keep that up for a year you'll be 39 pounds lighter!! That would be a very acceptable amount of weight loss for the average dieter.

Why is it that one pound a week--or even one pound a month--isn't enough to satisfy someone? It is important to put things into perspective. The ideal way to lose weight is not to starve yourself and produce those magical weight loss numbers of four or five pounds a week. If you have ever done that before, you know how short lived the success story is. As fast as it comes off, it comes right back on. That is not how anyone likes to spend their days: starving, losing weight, and putting it back on as soon as they look the other way and eat a decent meal.

Here is how you can lose weight and live a good life at the same time:
1. Avoid crash diets that severely limit your calorie intake in attempts to lose several pounds a week. They will make you feel starving, deprived, and miserable; you won't be able to keep with it for very long; and you'll gain back whatever you lose in this manner.
2. Change your eating habits to make one or two better choices at a time. Learn to subsitute high calorie desserts, snacks, and drinks for lower calorie choices; drink plenty of water instead of sugary soft drinks; reduce your portion sizes; and learn to stop eating when you are no longer hungry, instead of stuffing yourself until you are full.
3. Go about your days striving to learn to live with these new and healthier habits--not to see how many pounds you can lose this week. The goal is for permanent weight loss, and that will only happen with permanent changes.
4. Be happy you are not gaining weight; even happier if you are losing a pound or two a month. Remember how much weight you will lose after a year of living like this and think about where you want to be a year from now instead of how much you want to lose in two weeks.
5. Focus on the new habits you are developing. Maybe you no longer snack in front of the television, or you take a walk each evening after dinner. These small changes will only show up on the scale as a pound or two a month. But keep your eye on the big picture. As the years go by you will be lighter and fitter. You will weigh 10 or 20 pounds less next year, and another 10 or 20 less the year after.

We all want weight loss to happen right away but fact is, that's not humanly possible. It took you a while to gain the pounds you are carrying now, it's only fair to give yourself time to lose them. Do it the right way. Change the habits that took you to the place you no longer want to be. Stop the dieting and weighing. Live a new way, a healthier and smarter way. End up lighter as a result of the way you eat and exercise, not because of how you diet!

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