Question: I have tried repeatedly and am thinking seriously of giving up. Facing the truth ain’t easy, but I will never be able to lose weight. My body either cannot or simply refuses to cooperate. Is there anything more I can do?
Answer: Nonsense! Anyone can lose weight. If I placed you in a concentration camp, you (and all the others) would lose weight. Everyone can’t be a size 6, however, but no one needs to be a size 26!
Some people lose more slowly than others. Accept the way in which your body works and also accept the fact that weight loss is scientific for everyone regardless of age, social status, or talent. When you have consumed 3500 calories less than your body requires to maintain its present weight, you will lose one pound of fat. And please don’t underestimate what a pound of body fat looks like. A pound of fat is a lot of fat! Ask your butcher to show you what a pound of fat looks like. That’s something to think about when you become feverish about losing a lot of weight quickly. Taking it off slowly is the intelligent solution because you have more chance of keeping it off, and that’s our goal, “keeping it off.”
But, in all fairness, change is difficult and a major issue is motivation. Thinking of the health benefits can be a super motivator. I urge you to think seriously that our bodies are incredible precision run machines and that they deserve at least as much attention as our cars. Your anxiety level would rise quickly if you thought you were endangering your automobile. I suggest you force yourself to think as seriously about the health of your mind and body as you do your car.
Be clear about your goals. “I want to lose weight healthily without having to feel deprived or having to give up all my favorite foods. You can have it all; you just can’t have it all, all the time. OK, I’m ready and I know that “trying” just isn’t good enough. It’s the “doing” that counts. When I insist on telling myself “trying is all I can manage,” I’m actually giving myself an excuse for failing. When you find yourself avoiding doing the things you need to do, I suggest you become a “thought detective.” What am I telling myself that allows me to procrastinate?” It might be something like “frankly, I would rather see a TV show this evening than think about changing my lifestyle habits.”
Force yourself to think of the consequences. At times you may be motivated to skip the show and spend more time making plans for introducing new habits into your daily lifestyle. But there will be other times you will be more motivated to give up those plans for a TV show and that’s OK. Refuse to wamp yourself, developing new habits requires time and patience. The trick is to say, “I don’t have to be perfect, but I will never give up.”
Whatever you decide is OK. You have a right to change or to remain as you are. If you are serious about introducing new lifestyle changes, however, experiment with changing your negative thinking. Instead of saying “I don’t feel like doing it,” try changing that thought to “I don’t have to feel like doing it, I just have to DO IT! I’ll feel like it later. I can do hard things; I’ve done them before, and I can hang tough when I really want to.” Trust me when I tell you about the amazing results you win for yourself when you are willing to talk this way. But make these statements forcibly, the stronger you make them, the more effective they will be.
Begin hanging out with motivated individuals. And ask yourself why you are refusing to do the things you need to do but don’t. What is the actual payoff? Well, I can have more time to see my TV show. Compare that payoff to the payoff you would have if you begin improving your lifestyle: the weight loss, the self esteem that comes with any kind of achievement. The behavior you choose has a consequence.
Think health! It’s important to remember that motivation can be elusive. It waxes and wanes. That is the nature of motivation. At times it’s here but other times it’s gone. But at other times it returns and you should accept it and train yourself to avoid feeling guilty when you goof. You need not feel guilty and give up altogether.
Most people, even the brightest and most talented, resist changing an old habit. But here are a few steps to follow:
a. Tell the truth about your rotten habits. Facing the truth can be painful, but it works!
b. Make a commitment to yourself and others to create new behaviors and design a plan for when and how to do this. For example, take late night eating. Tell anyone and everyone about your plan. GO PUBLIC! Then say “after dinner I can have a 100-150 calorie snack before retiring and no more. if I violate that pledge I must take a penalty. I can’t go to the movies the next day. I can’t reward myself for violating my pledge” The more you talk about your plan, the more you will be able to implement it. Be sure to work on one idea at a time. “By the inch it’s a cinch, by the yard its hard.” That may be trite but it’s true!
c. What about the issue of time? “With such a busy schedule can I really find time to fit new habits into my life?”
Now, we return to the importance of attitudes. “Do I have time to be healthy?” Is that a rational question? Change it to “Do I have time to not be healthy?” The core issue behind that question is not the issue of time but your attitude about time, your attitude about life’s priorities, and your attitude about your health and the health of your family.
How you spend your time tells you and others everything they need to know about you. Time is elusive and so easy to ignore. And time is perfectly content to remain hidden until its nearly gone. But when you’re out of it, that’s it. Be sure to manage your time as if you are in control of it. Don’t allow others to cause you to waste your time. It’s too precious!
Just remember. YOU’VE GOT THE TIME. If you think you can, you can, and if you think you can’t you can’t. The choice is yours.