The one thing that we, as a society, have in common is that we are an overweight society as defined by the medical community and socially. After losing 140 pounds I too am currently considered overweight as my weight is just a few pounds north of what a 5’3″ individual “should weigh”. Factor in BMI and the labels are misleading. It is mostly annoying but it is not something I obsess about anymore.
What I do commit to is to stay in my weight range. For me that is roughly a 5-10 pound weight range. By defining my high, it keeps me honest in my efforts. When I start to creep towards the top of my range I pull back on my calories and improve the quality of my food choices. It really is that easy…now.
Before you can get to a point of managing your weight within a small range you first have to find your “right weight”. This is where the hard work exists. This is the hard work you owe it to yourself to do. In order to lose the weight you have to employ tools to change your body mass. I call them tools because they will help you lose the extra weight you are carrying around but they do not do the work for you; YOU have to do the work.
During my 30 years of working at losing weight I tried numerous tools but nothing ever “stuck”. The weight would be lost but then like clockwork regained easier than it was lost and amounting to more than was lost. Frustrating does not even begin to describe it. In my case there were a few things at play that would be notable as I finally succeeded at losing and then keeping the weight off; here is what I offer:
- Find a tool that is right for you. Diets are tools, not end-all’s. Find a tool that you can live with for the full time-frame that it will take to lose the weight. This is critical because if you cannot tolerate the tool for the entire weight-loss time frame, this will become your first fail-point. This is why diets like the “Cabbage Soup Diet” do not work. It is not sustainable over the long-haul.
- Do the work. The tool simply handles the science of weight loss by managing the calories in/out calculation that will lower your weight. You still have work to do beyond following the regimen as developed. What the tool cannot do is make you active or train your brain. This is the additional work you have to do.
- Activity – Activity does not have to be defined as anything more than moving more than you do today. Walking is the easiest of these activities for most of us and only requires you to go a little further than the day before until you can walk for a solid 30-minutes a day. Start by walking to the end of your driveway, then to the end of the block, then half way around the block and then all the way around the block. Yes you have to do 30-minutes a day as it helps beyond a calories burn. Moving your body helps your brain process what is tangled up inside, it helps your circulation, not only of blood flow but your organs as well. I find that taking a walk after a meal serves me best as it seems to move the food along my digestives track more smoothly than sitting after a meal.
- Mental – The tools ONLY manage the process. They do not change your mental state. That is the work you have to do. By assuming the directions of the tool you start the process of training your brain in establishing habits that after weeks or months of reputation will become second-nature. Second-nature does not mean that you will automatically want an apple more than a cookie; but you will think twice. The real work is finding alternatives to eating. When we think of food as fuel we can then start to identify why we eat outside of needing to fuel our bodies. Are you eating because you are sad, happy, tired, angry, etc.? in order to identify these states of being you simply have to ask yourself when you feel a craving come on, “What am I feeling in this moment? Am I hungry or _______________(enter state of being)?”. When you can identify your mental state you can then make the decision to eat or satisfy the emotion with another option. Identifying those options are also work as you have to find what works for you. For me running is satisfying to my brain and staves off hunger. I also find that writing is a great tool to help get it out of my brain and onto paper. Getting it out of my brain is the work; clearing my thought process.
Find your tools and do the work, it really is that simple. The hard part is identifying those tools so the work can be done. You have to find what works for you which is not what works for everyone else. There are a million ways to lose the weight but finding what will work for your body type and metabolism is an exercise in trial and error. Here are a few of my favorites and why they do/don’t work:
- Nutrisystem – This one may have been my favorite as all you have to do is order your food, it comes to the door and then when you are ready to eat you pick a prepackaged meal and eat. Done. The drawback to Nutrisystem is that when you stop eating the prepackaged meals you easily gain the weight back. The issue here is that there is little work for you to do and eating cookies, pasta and breads upon transitioning from Nutrisystem will not sustain your weight-loss. The ingredients that make their cookies, pasta and breads are altered to allow weight-loss despite the choice. To succeed at this diet you really have to follow their transition or maintenance program to the letter to identify what “real-foods” you can eat to stay the same weight. Nutrisystem does not make money transitioning you to real-food, and hence this is the issue.
- Weight Watchers – This was my first diet and I was on this one more than any through my years of dieting. Weight Watchers works because you are eating real-foods and learning how to weigh, measure and count those foods to your body type. The key here is sustaining this regimen. The good news is that it IS sustainable.
- MyFitnessPal app – This is the one I STILL use today! It is easy to use and does not require special foods or point-calculations. It requires you log everything you eat and to identify with those macros that you choose based on your goals. I like it because it educates you while you lose the weight. By paying attention to your weekly trends you will start identify what eating regimens create the greatest result. Is your body more reactive to low-carb, high-protein or keeping to a specific calorie count? MyFitnessPal is a great tool for a multitude of plans as well therefore making it versatile when finding what works for you.
Whatever your choice you owe it to yourself to find your right size for the sake of your long-term health. My life at this new lower weight is immensely different than the life I lived for 30-years overweight to morbidly obese. I am healthier, have more energy and find it 10x easier to move about this world. My only regret is that I didn’t find my tool sooner. I spent millions on diets, personal trainers and gym memberships never understanding why I could not “beat” this weight. Ultimately my tool would be gastric bypass as mine was a metabolism and hunger issue that could not be resolved with a diet. By resorting to such an extreme it allowed me to have a tool that would restrict my ability to eat large amounts of food and would change my metabolism to allow me to lose the large amount of weight required without relegating myself to a low calorie limit for a lifetime. I still do the work every single day as the surgery only created the tool but the work; activity and mental health, well that would be my long-term effort.
Find what works for you and own it. These are the mechanics of weight-loss. Next up; learning to love yourself where you are today…now that is work!
Living life healthier…L.