Your guide to the really important changes you have to make. Because it’s not just about diet and exercise.
Was September your “big-decision, ready-for-change” month? It is for many people. The end of summer holidays finds us relaxed, content and with renewed energy and determination. And some really difficult decisions that we have postponed for quite a while suddenly seem easier to tackle. Like weight loss, for example.
But now that September is in the past, has at least some of the weight gone with it? If not, maybe you have already started panicking and disappointment has begun to set in. Before you think of quitting, think about the changes you have made and read about some others that maybe you haven’t paid much attention to. Sit comfortably and read on. (Long post alert!)
Losing weight is hard.
Maintaining the loss is even harder.
Studies show that only 5% of the people who lose weight manage to maintain it for at least 5 years. The other 95% will regain most of it or all of it or sometimes even more, within a year.
I don’t suppose you gave up hope already, did you? Since this 5% exists, there is hope. And they are not fictional characters. They are real people. Who had a real weight problem and managed to get rid of it, efficiently and for good. Well, how did they do it?
By eating right and exercising, you’ll probably answer. Well, if it were that simple, don’t you think everybody would do it? Nutrition and exercise are only two of the ingredients in the weight loss recipe. There are more, equally important ones. But before we talk about them, I’d like you to think of something. Think about all these times that you have asked the question “How” to a person who had obviously lost weight. Or maybe the times that you have been asked to answer that same question yourself. What do people usually expect to hear as a response? A new, magic diet that promises quick results, a fast-working exercise program or a combination of the two, right? Because it’s part of the human nature to expect a simple solution to a problem, no matter how complicated it is. But being overweight or obese is too complicated of a problem, isn’t it?
The people belonging to the 5% that we mentioned earlier put some serious thought and devoted time and energy to some other aspects of weight loss that most people tend to neglect. Let’s have a look at them.
You probably don’t think that’s important, right? Most dieters believe that it’s their job to lose the weight and they can only be successful if they can persuade themselves to focus and push them to do what has to be done. How can other people help?
Let me remind you of a wise quote.
There is power in alliances. Amazing things can happen when people share the same goals and fight for the same objectives. In weight loss this couldn’t have been truer. Because at some point everyone will struggle. And if there isn’t someone who can understand, who has been in your shoes, who can help you keep on keeping on, the chances of failure increase. When we struggle, we need to vent and we need to do it with someone who can relate and help. That’s part of human nature, too.
– Strong will
There is the statement I want to lose weight. And then there’s another one. I WILL lose weight.
Same desire, different phrasing? No. Big difference!
We already said it. Weight loss is hard. And hard things can only be accomplished by dedication, commitment, hard work and an immense desire for them. You have to want it really bad to be able to push through the difficult times, to change your course of action again and again, to get over the disappointments and to resist the urge to stop about a thousand times. This last one sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
– Immunity to failure
If you set off to lose weight, especially lots of it, there is one certain thing that is going to happen. At some point you will slip. You will overeat, you will get lazy with exercise, you will get tired, the scale will move to the wrong direction. Which, in your mind, will be immediately translated to one word: Failure.
Does it ring a bell? How many times has this happen to you? If you don’t convince yourself from the beginning that you are human, that mistakes are inevitable, that one slip does not equal catastrophe and that whenever you fall you have to get up again and continue, then you’re doomed to be met with failure. The real kind.
– Change of mindset
Let’s get one thing straight. As human beings we put thought into everything we do. Which means that we rarely act completely spontaneously. We may think of something for just a tiny fracture of time or we may have already thought about it in a similar past situation. So, when for example you are stressed or angry or disappointed and you empty a huge bag of chips, it’s not because you didn’t realize what you were doing but because you have already granted yourself permission to eat whatever you like whenever you don’t feel ok. And I’m sure there are numerous examples of distorted thinking that have caused you to gain weight. If you don’t put some serious effort into changing these thoughts, any effort to change your eating or exercise habits will go down the drain.
Here are some common mindset changes that people have to work on before succeeding with weight loss:
– Food is not your friend. It can’t help you solve your problems, it can’t listen to you, it can’t change anything that you wish to alter in your life. It fuels your body and it needs to be nutritious, tasteful and enjoyable. That. Is. All.
– Food is not your enemy. It’s not to blame for your weight gain. It’s your choices of your food quality and quantity that have brought you where you are. A handyman can’t blame his tools if he doesn’t use them correctly.
– Weight loss is not a one-size-fits-all thing. What worked for your friend will not necessarily work for you. You have to experiment and be ready to fail again and again until you’ve found the right way to make yourself healthier.
– The changes you make, to your eating habits, how much you exercise or your lifestyle in general, have to be forever. Why? Because you do want the weight gone forever, don’t you? If you change things for just a couple of months, that’s how long the pounds will stay away before you gain them all back. Simple.
– Not being able to eat whatever you want is not unfair. Because you ARE actually able to eat whatever you want, if you want. It’s a choice. And every choice has its consequences. They’re not always positive and that’s what life is all about.
– If you want to lose weight, you can’t eat everything, any time you want it. There is NO weight loss program out there that will allow you to do that. Stop searching for it, it doesn’t exist. You can’t have it both ways. If you want to lose weight, there are foods that have to be moved to the “rarely” or the “never” category, depending on your personality and on how you can cope with chances of relapse.
– The scale is NOT an indicator of your success or failure. It’s just one of the tools that can show you whether what you are doing actually works or you need to make changes. Don’t give it more attention than it deserves. There are many other things that can help you evaluate your progress. A measuring tape, how your clothes fit, your energy levels, and most importantly, how you actually feel.
– Reaching a weight goal does NOT mean you can go back to your old habits. Sustainable weight loss equals sustainable eating and exercising habits. The sooner you realize that, the better. Ideally, before you even begin.
So, are you ready to give this weight loss project another chance? If you’ve already tried diet and/or exercise an X number of times and you haven’t had much of a progress, how about trying a different approach this time? How about starting from the changes within?
Identify the flaws in your mindset and try to change them. Start calibrating your mind towards a new, more effective way of thinking about weight loss, nutrition, lifestyle, exercise and choices. Remind yourself again and again: