If you follow my blog, you know I don't believe diets work (specifically, weight-loss diets) though of course I recognize that this will never stop marketers from trying to get you to believe they will. With the current statistics stating that 35.7% of the US population over 20 years of age is obese, and-that this number has more than doubled in less than 50 years, I'd say those are some pretty 'sit up and take notice' numbers, as that equates to approximately 79 million Americans! How is obese defined? The most common method is through the use of BMI (body mass index) and here is a link for a fast calculator: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/english_bmi_calculator/bmi_calculator.html
Of course, there are some exceptions. If you are very muscular, or if you are pregnant, the BMI calculations will be off. Some sources state that being only 30 lbs. over your ideal weight for more than 10 years classifies you as obese. Determining your ideal weight can be challenging. If your skeletal frame runs large but you are the same height as someone with a small frame, you will weigh more because the BMI may be based on the weight of the smaller frame. Same thing with being more muscular as you will definitely weigh more but most likely carry little fat. And, while being 30 lbs. overweight hardly seems obese to me, it is based on what carrying excess body fat does to your health, particularly long-term. In addition to issues noted on the diagram below, might as well go ahead and add higher premiums on your insurance to the list.
When I state that weight-loss diets don't work, this does not mean that you should give up on trying to rid yourself of excess body fat. It is just that the general public is extremely confused on how to do it properly. I am beyond frustrated with all the ads claiming 'Lose 30 lbs. in just 28 days!' That is pure BS. YOU MUST STOP BELIEVING THIS IS POSSIBLE-it is not and never will be. If this happened for someone they:
Followed a severely reduced calorie diet
Were most likely required to do so by a physician and under strict supervision
Were unable to do much physical activity due to the severe reduction in calories
Lost a lot of muscle tissue, in addition to fat
Were extremely bitchy during the process
Constantly obsessed over food during the process
Hated the food choices and couldn't wait to be done with what is essentially a fast
Probably gained it all back, and then some, once the diet ended
How do you maintain weight-loss after a diet like this? Another reason for my being so staunch on the point of: diets don't work. Okay, you say-so why do we keep getting bombarded with these messages that say we can lose weight quickly by following X diet? Really? You are wondering why? It's a business! Whether it is to sell magazines, books, pills, creams, weight-loss programs by so-called physicians (example: Physicians Weight Loss Centers, where you buy their food and follow their diet plan but the people who work in the centers aren't really doctors), or some other 'miracle' aid, it's all about getting your money. If you have lost weight using any of these methods, good on ya! But was it truly quickly done? Have you been able to keep it off? Did you enjoy the diet? And finally, did the diet address the issues that created the weight gain as well as teach you a new way to eat that you can live with-and enjoy? The sign of a truly successful diet lies in its ability to deliver results-for life! That is why they don't work. Unless you address the issues that cause you to gain weight in the first place, you may always feel tempted to fall victim to the empty promises of the NEXT diet craze promising fast results. If you've been following this method for some time and aren't any closer to freeing your hidden potential, are you ready to consider that if you expect different results, you can't keep using the same approach?
Here's the new approach:
Stop putting a time limit on weight-loss. Definitely don't buy into an advertiser's time frame for quick weight-loss, even if that person claims to be a so-called expert or professional. Remember that everyone is unique and you may not get the same results that someone else does. Also, by claiming that you can lose weight quickly when in reality, it just doesn't work like that, has several very negative effects: it causes you to feel like a failure when you don't get those results and it can cause you to doubt your ability to succeed. You may even end up gaining more weight due to feeling like a failure (yet again) and probably spending more money on the next weight-loss promise. You do see this vicious cycle, right? Take all the time you need and instead, make the process the focus. Start with small moves that will equal big changes over time. Maybe it's time to clean out all the food containing corn syrup/high fructose corn syrup from your kitchen. Then, find substitutes for those foods so you don't feel deprived. If you're a coffee drinker and you take yours with cream but use a product like Coffee-Mate, don't forget to get rid of this too. And for a real eye-opener on this product, go to: http://www.organicauthority.com/health/what-the-heck-is-coffee-mate-creamer.html. If this is a weakness for you and you can't imagine life without it, try making your own home-made version and here is a link for some awesome recipes: http://deliciouslyorganic.net/homemade-coffee-creamer/. I have to admit-I had some Coffee-Mate in my coffee about 2 months ago when staying with a friend and didn't pay any attention to the ingredients. I will NEVER make that mistake again. Even Nestle doesn't post the ingredients on their website-doesn't that seem peculiar? As in, red flag-ish?
No more excuses-start keeping a food journal. It can be as elaborate as you like or as general as you like. It's about making changes and statistics show that those who journal have better success reaching their goals (an almost 50% higher success rate!) and making behavior changes that stick. For life. Of course, the more specific you are when journaling, the more likely you will be to see patterns, spot trigger situations, recognize days/times when you tend to be weak or tempted. You may feel like you already know this but the process of jounaling helps this become like a contract with yourself and also gives you the opportunity to devise alternative actions to tempting situations so you have your arsenal ready when needed. Bang, bang bad habits! Take that!
Drink more water. Don't like it? Add flavorings-lemon, lime, orange, pineapple slices. Make sun tea (Apple Cinnamon from Celestial Seasonings is pretty fab with some pineapple/apple slices added while steeping). Make a big pitcher and then add a bottle of seltzer water before drinking for instant BAM!
Stop weighing daily. I would suggest no more than once a month if you must. A tape measure is more reliable and so are photos taken every 4-6 weeks (see Fierce Resources on my site for the proper way to do Before/After photos). I know that groups like Weight Watchers use a weekly weigh-in and if that works for you (and makes you feel good), then carry on. Too often however, women find the weigh-in a negative experience which then tends to impose that negative perception of "I'm not losing weight fast enough."Or, "I'm doing everything right, I didn't cheat-eat, and yet I gained weight!" It's a shame that we really have bought into this concept that the human body can drop weight so fast! In addition, we are super spoiled with all our electronics and the internet and think we should be able to get whatever we want in the blink of an eye. Final point on scale weight: Do you want to lose weight just for the sake of losing weight? You can lose weight but gain body fat and this is NOT what you want. Right? So why be focused on the scale number? It won't tell you what percentage of the number you're seeing is actually fat vs. muscle, organs, bone, skin, water, etc. Gosh, I'm so sick of saying this!
Reverse your negative internal drivel. Also known as nonsense, balderdash, gibberish, rubbish, mumbo jumbo, garbage. You are the woman! You are fabulous in all your glory! You have skills galore! Make a list of what they are, even if you can only think of one or two in the beginning. More will come, you'll see. It's about more than weight baby, it's about claiming your right to be fierce! Now, post that list where you can see it first thing in the morning and right before you go to bed. Get creative and turn it into a beautiful collage or something, worthy of framing. Even if this feels/seems ridiculous, you do it! At the bottom of the picture, I want you to print "My Best Friend For Life."
Learn to self-monitor. Follows #5 for a reason. This is not something you are going to do once in a while or just on days when you feel good, your hair looks great, the birds are singing, it's sunny out. Oh no-this is your new mantra! No matter how miserable or pathetic you feel (I can say this to you because I've been there. Like for 30+ years. DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!), you will start shaping the direction of your thoughts, no more directions shaping you. Thoughts are not facts and you can change them. Shit will happen in life, 'tis a fact. No matter what, you can rise above, you just need to work on doing this. Anything we excel at in life has taken work. If you have a dream of becoming an accomplished piano player, you take the steps necessary to do this. Changing your thought process is truly no different. As in Philippians, we are called to be servants, even in the midst of great suffering and struggle. Take a lesson from Paul. I am humbled by his attitude, and actions, while jailed. It takes true inner strength and courage to conquer fears and change behaviors. Have you got something more worthy to accomplish in your life? You are the greatest reason to become better.
Stop beating yourself up for slip-ups. Follows #'s 5 and 6 for a reason! Change will take time and it may feel impossible in the beginning, depending on how desperate you feel in your life. I would suggest that you try to incorporate a sense of humor, particularly the ability to laugh at yourself. No one gets out alive, no one is better than another, yet too many take life, and themselves, way too seriously. Just keep putting the effort forward and never say to yourself things that begin with "I will never be able to...I don't deserve...I can't...I'm not good enough..." Whatever that little voice inside you says to try and get your goat, shush it. Who's the BOSS of you anyway? That little voice?
If you need support, find a group, enlist a friend but be careful. Friends may not want you to change, same goes for family members. Even if they realize it would be in your best interest, it could change the status quo and may ultimately cause them to examine their own behavior. They may not be ready to make changes; in fact, they may not want to change. You can easily google the type of group you'd like to join-or start your own. These can be powerful as well as a ton of fun because you can incorporate empowerment activities that force you to step outside of your comfort zone and grow you shall! Into the most amazing and fabulous you that the world needs!
Celebrate progress, no matter how small. You deserve to feel proud over your accomplishments. One pound lost in 2 weeks? Isn't that movement in the right direction? That equates to 26 pounds over the course of a year. It may be slower than you'd like but it's still a great accomplishment and probably won't even be that painful, one of the biggest reasons people fall off a diet-it's too hard! Small steps do equal big results and they are easy to keep taking. When you feel up to it, set more challenging goals but only when you feel confident in your ability to stick with the challenge. I am a big fan of reaching for the stars but you must feel that you are strong enough to do this. If you aren't mentally prepared, and you don't reach a challenging goal you set, will it cause you to return to that sense of disappointment and a 'Why even bother' mind set? You build the foundation slowly so when you are ready to fly, you are also ready to bump into things without that causing your world to come crashing down.
Try not to classify food. I used to have 2 groups of food I ate from: good food, when I was on a diet, and bad food, when I was in binge mode. This actually increased feelings of guilt and shame and just the act of eating carried a judgment: I was either being good, or bad. Now, I look at food for the nutrition and health content and make my choices based on what is best for vitality. This has been very liberating because now I eat almost everything-I just find better versions of foods that I used to label as off-limits. This has helped put food where it belongs, which is for the purpose of sustenance and nourishment. Seeing food this was has taken away its power to tempt because nothing is on a list anymore. Now I choose to make healthy choices and when I eat something that I usually don't choose to, like candy, I don't have the same reaction to it and I am okay with just a small amount.
Above all, you must be patient with yourseIf through this. It may be a journey of one step forward, 2 steps back, 3 steps forward, a half step back, and so on. Don't expect it to be easy or follow a perfect trajectory forward. I remember doing well for a few weeks at a time and foolishly thinking "I'm cured!" Then, something stressful would happen, I'd fall off the wagon and be in the middle of a binge and have to remind myself how awesome I was and participate in all this positive internal dialogue while cramming whatever junk food in my mouth. This is when self-monitoring is very difficult but also extremely important. You must overcome those negative thoughts AT ALL TIMES. They will try to creep in-happens to everyone-but you can turn them off. Practice, practice, practice. Even when you don't feel like it and especially when you don't feel you have the strength. That little voice may be babbling negativity out of habit and as an excuse to fall back into old behavior. Learn to recognize the little games and little lies you tell yourself when you become tired of doing the work because change is work, even change for the best. IT IS GOING TO TAKE WORK and you must accept that it will be a challenge; some days will be super easy while others will test your staying-power. You are working on developing it, remember? This is how you do it. Part of why we love stories of overwhelming hardship being overcome, especially through what appears to be insurmountable circumstances and tremendous adversity-it gives us hope for ourselves and for the the promise of a better future. Why not work on becoming that champion? Champions are made, through great trial (and error) and you have the makings of a champion in you, no matter what you may be feeling at this moment.
I didn't include exercise here for a reason. This is about getting your mind to the place where you never have to diet again. When you are ready for the next step, then you take it. Work on building a strong foundation first, one you know you can rely on to withstand whatever storms may come. For come they will, but that doesn't mean you must become a casualty of outside forces.
I'll leave you with this quote that I love: Thoughts become things, so choose the good ones!