Let’s face it, the process of losing weight (as we know it) is extraordinarily unpleasant. According to the “experts” the path to weight loss success includes any number of the following:
- counting calories, points or something
- not eating freely the foods we like
- journaling fucking EVERYTHING
- having to get off our fat asses and walk to some other location beyond the fridge
- engaging in some form or squat or jog or crunch or heaven knows what
Jeez, none of it is appealing.
And then hey, guess what?
We get to put all that weight back on again once we stop doing all those things.
Because, you know, we will stop doing all those things.
Why? Because none of that is natural to us as humans. Back in the day when we were running around in fur thongs, we didn’t know what a calorie was, we didn’t know what a carbohydrate was, and we didn’t know what an elliptical trainer was. And no one had a weight problem.
Now we know all of what these things are, and we’re fatter than ever.
[and on another note, why do “naturally skinny” people often not know what ANY of these things are?!?!?? Could there be a correlation…]
The frustration and despair mounts, and we get fatter.
I know, because I’m one of those people!
What gives??!?! Why, with our heads bulging with all of this knowledge, are so few of us successful at staying motivated to lose weight and keep it off?!?
The idea of having to restrict what we eat blows.
Let’s be honest, before we’ve even finished day one of our new [diet] “eating plan”, we’re already pissed off that we can’t eat as much as we want of everything. We’ve been down this path a hundred million times, but yeah, this time, it’s going to result in massive, long-lasting weight loss.
It’s already over.
We make it harder than it has to be.
Eating (for the average person) is not complicated. It’s not about macros or calories or grams or ketone levels or any of that stuff. You do not need a calculator every time you sit down at the table!
However, eating is also not about chowing down for any reason other than actual.physical.hunger.
Problem is, we eat for nearly every other reason than actual physical hunger.
It is really hard to stay motivated to lose weight when eating has become a national pastime, a lover, a parent, a celebration, a means to prove love to another (or oneself), a reward, or even a savior.
In spite of everything we now know, we still keep trying what we think (or hope) are magic (and super speedy) bullets.
We’re always really hoping we can lose weight while still pigging out.
Or, if we starve ourselves for three days we’ll lose a hundred pounds.
Or, if we only eat cheese and bacon for the rest of our lives, we’ll be Twiggy skinny and live to be 97 with no health problems at all.
Sure! Why shouldn’t any of this methods work? I mean, they make so much sense.
We eventually realize — dismally — that we can never stop doing whatever awful method [of the day] it takes to get — and stay — there.
At some point, even if we manage to survive for a few weeks — or maybe even a few months — we will stop following the “diet of the day”. We just will.
Why? Because that’s how diets are constructed. Diet are built as temporary methods of action, designed only to be followed for a period of time: ideally only as long as it takes for you to get to your goal weight, or at least to a weight where you don’t feel like a fat pig anymore.
Sometimes that feeling comes before you actually hit goal (it always comes for me before I hit goal, which is probably why I never hit goal), because goddammit, I am SO SICK of eating butter-wrapped bacon all the time that I can’t do it one more day!
Or Nutrisystem food. Bleurrghhhhh….
Or eating only 1200, 1100, 500 calories a day…
And that’s when the miserable realization dawns that you have to eat this way forever, if you have a hope in hell of getting to your goal and then staying there.
And that you simply… can’t. UGH.
Maybe it’s not so bad being fat. You know? Let’s go to B-dubs! Yay!
Or maybe it’s time to try Slim Fast… maybe that one will work…
Whether we admit it consciously or not, at some level, there is a payoff to how we currently eat and [not] exercise.
You won’t like this one, but the truth is, there is something about eating the way you do and being overweight that is good.
I KNOW! It doesn’t feel good, no matter how we spin it.
But, there is a reason we keep doing the same thing over and over again and allowing ourselves to get the same result, even though the result also causes us pain. There’s a payoff in the process, or the result, whether we want to admit it or not.
For me, it’s freedom. I feel like in my current life, there are enough limitations I have to experience every day, that I just can’t take one more. Having to limit my food intake and my food choices (in addition to other things) is just the straw that will break my camel back eventually, and it always does: that’s the moment when I go off the “diet”. I simply can’t be denied one.more.thing in my life, and the only thing I can give myself freely when all other doors are [seemingly] closed, is food.
Wah wah waaaaaaaaaah. Sad sack that I am.
What’s your reward?
Maybe it’s to avoid sexual attention.
Maybe it’s to avoid the fear of gasping for breath and your knees feeling like they’re breaking, if you walk down to the street corner and back.
Maybe it’s always to have an excuse not to join in.
Maybe it’s to be off the hook for having to come up with a sensible dinner for the kids.
Who knows, but it’s there. Find your reward, and you’ll find the answer to lasting weight loss.
So how about an option that might actually work? Long term?
The only lasting way to achieve weight loss and stable maintenance, is to create a new lifestyle.
And that may include changing things other than your eating habits!
After gaining 25 pounds in the year and a half after I started dating my current love (he’s gained 20 himself, so he’s certainly not off the hook), I had to tell him that our lifestyle HAD to change — I was healthy before I met him, and now I wasn’t.
Did I blame him for my weight gain? He likes to think I do.
No, he didn’t put a gun to my head and force the food (and beers, don’t forget the beers!) down my throat, but he was a very strong influence on what I ate and drank.
Eventually, I had to tell him that I couldn’t do what we were doing anymore (which for us, was eating out a LOT, and drinking much more than I am used to, as a means of entertainment), because it was affecting my health and well-being. If he couldn’t live with that, then we’d have to live without each other. It really was that serious!
And, I was prepared to lose him, if it meant I would otherwise lose my health.
That’s a BIG DEAL.
Thankfully, since neither of us wanted to choose the freedom of fatness over being together, we agreed that we would make some changes! Yay!
For me, that meant finding a way to eat that I could live with — all the time — that would reduce my food intake, without creating too much limitation and making me feel denied, deprived, or a loss of freedom (this really translates into paying a LOT more attention to portion sizes, and real hunger v. fake hunger— duh).
It also meant creating a way to get exercise that I could live with, every day. Yes, every.single.day. After a lot of soul-searching and ruthless honesty about myself, my likes, and my dislikes, and not letting myself judge anything about my discoveries, I did find it. And I’ve been exercising every single day for nearly three years now.
You can do the same!
Remove all barriers to success, and things become easy!
This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where you begin to create your plan for the rest of your life (even if it takes a loooooong time — it’s worth the investment. This is your life, after all), when it comes to what you ingest, and how you move your body.
The only way to begin, is to start being brutally honest with yourself about what you hate about eating differently than you are right now. Because it’s what you hate about the potential new that stops you from changing. What’s the barrier to change?
I told you one of my barriers for eating differently was feeling limited, trapped, denied. I had to find a way to be able to eat what I wanted, all the foods and drinks that I enjoy, but in a way that would contribute to weight loss and a lower weight maintenance. There was no other option, or I wouldn’t stick with it for the rest of my life.
What’s your barrier?
Do you hate vegetables? There are a lot of vegetables out there. I doubt you’ve tried all of them. If you experiment, I bet you can find some that you like and/or can cook in a way that you will like.
Do you let your kids dictate what you eat by complaining when they don’t get what they want? Stop that. That’s an order. You are the adult, you are the parent, what you say GOES. If your kids don’t like the food you make for them, create a consequence they will like less than the food on the plate. YOU’RE in charge, not your kids. Don’t let being afraid of your kids’ whining make you fat.
Are you too tired at the end of your work day to make something nutritious? Take a day once a month or once a week, and cook your dinners ahead of time. There are recipe books out there (try this one!) that write recipes where you cook once a month and freeze them, so you always have meals ready for you when you come home. They’ll be hot and lovely in three minutes! And you don’t have to spend time cooking every day to get your health on.
These are just suggestions for barriers. It’s up to YOU to figure out what is stopping you from making the lasting changes you need to make, and to find livable solutions. Figure it out! Be honest with yourself about your likes, dislikes, and limitations, and find a way to work with them. It’s totally worth the time and effort, I assure you!
And what about your barriers to exercise?
I used to say time, but that was bullshit. It really was, and it’s bullshit for you too, so don’t even think it. You can get exercise in all day long, you just have to get creative.
Which is what I did. I found that it wasn’t time that was the issue, it was that I absolutely HATED working out for a long period of time, all at once. My goal has always been to work out/exercise an hour a day, but any time I thought about spending the next HOUR exercising made me want to throw up. Sometimes I did it, more often I wouldn’t.
If I did do it, I hated it. Argh.
My average for the week would be about three times, and for most people that’s okay. For me, I wanted to exercise every day, because I KNOW it makes me feel better.
I had to find a way.
And I did! When I was honest and non-judgmental with myself, I learned that my attention span for exercise is about 15 minutes, before I start to look at the clock and wonder why it’s moving so slow. I get SO BORED.
Even doing activities I like! I get bored. Except for maybe horseback riding, but that’s not practical for me to do every day. 😉
So, I decided to exercise for no longer than 15 minutes at a time. I could do five minutes, ten minutes, up to 15 minutes at a time, but that was the max.
The key for me was making sure I did enough sessions throughout the day to add up to an hour. So, four sessions of 15 minutes, or six sessions of ten minutes, or even 12 sessions of five minutes!
And you know, it worked! Three years now, every day. I found my exercise sweet spot. Plenty of people have tried to impose their opinions on me by suggesting short bursts aren’t helpful, but I just tell them politely to fuck off. This is working for me. I’m not going to allow anything anyone else can say to change that.
So what would work for you to get in exercise every day? What belief or thought process do you need to remove or change to make it work?
Figure out your barriers, remove them, and you’re on your way. You’ll never need to diet again.
DIETING, it’s over. Go home.
Dieting is shit and makes everyone miserable. It’s time to stop the madness.
The best thing you can do for yourself right now is to allow yourself to learn about yourself.
And in order to be able to do this, you have to start at the very beginning. That means: remove all the barriers.
Eat whatever you want, whenever you want, but the only requirement is that you simply pay attention to what’s happening and what is motivating you to do it (or not do it, as the case may be).
Same with moving your body. Move it any way that works for you, for as long or short a time as what works (even if it’s just for one minute!). Just MOVE it, and find out what you hate about it.
You’re damn well going to discover what’s going on, and why you have so much anxiety around eating and exercising.
Knowledge is power!
It’s in this learning that we’ll also find out why losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight is hard for you.
And then we can create a solution that works! Quadruple yay!
So do what you can to be patient with yourself, and allow yourself the time you need to find out why you make this so hard for yourself. Be okay with giving yourself this space to learn. Be kind to yourself.
Be kind. I bet you haven’t done that in a while.
Just watch, and listen.
That’s all. Nothing else!
No calorie counting, no cabbage soup (no farting), no points. Don’t stop yourself doing whatever you’re doing, and above all, don’t JUDGE.
Just breathe, stay calm, and notice. Because all we’re doing right now is collecting data.
And really, that’s kind of… EASY.
You can do it! I know it. I’m excited for you!
The rest we will figure out later. 😎🤔😉