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Two Weight-Loss Perspectives: Which One Do You Identify With?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I was so stunned by something I recently read in a magazine, that I decided I just had to write about it. I sat and pondered the opposing viewpoints for several days, because one of them left me speechless.  I’m a writer and am seldom speechless.  I wonder when you get to the end whose decision you would support, and whose life would you like to model yours after. 

In this magazine was a letter to the editor from a person named J.J. This person wrote: “I lost barely one and a half pounds, and except for our Thanksgiving meal, I wasted a whole week eating clean. From now on, I’m going to eat the junk foods I truly love – and I’ll enjoy life even if I’m considered an outcast by my ignorant neighbors”. 

A little back story – I’ve gone through three Thanksgivings now on my healthy lifestyle journey. Two of those were on the weight loss side, and one was on the maintenance side. If I ever made it through the week of Thanksgiving close to maintaining or even losing a little, I would check that off as a success. My best friend and I spent the last two Thanksgivings running the Turkey Trot with 19,000 of our closest friends before eating the meal. That is definitely a change for us. So I was surprised by J.J.’s attitude that her loss was no good.

The second story in the magazine is the story of Marian Ferguson. She has lost 101 pounds. What I realized as I read her story and looked at the numbers is that she lost an average of .98 pounds a week during her journey. That is less than 1 pound, folks!  It took her two years (104 weeks) to lose the 101 pounds.  What she said was, “I stopped making excuses!”  Even more impressive is she did this in her mid fifties.  How many of you have said “I’m just too old?” She changed her habits from eating cake for breakfast to working out and eating healthy. She says that fitness feels effortless now. 

If she had the same mentality as J.J. she could have given up any one of those weeks, and resorted to blaming others for her lack of progress. My weight loss journey was pretty similar to Marian’s.  I lost an average of one pound a week during the course of a 95-pound drop.  Were there frustrating times during that trip?  You bet, and I blogged about them many times. I learned along the way all the things I personally need to do to get and stay healthy – one freaking pound at a time.

We are blasted all the time by marketing on how to lose the weight fast, shape up our abs in six weeks, etc., and I think it’s impacted our ability to be rational about what losing weight is really like for the majority of us. I’m quite sure that if you polled any of the SparkPeople who are mentioned in the Success Stories section, that none of them would say, “Well you know what, I decided to lose weight and eat right and in one week, I lost 25 lbs!”  It takes hard work to reverse years of being out of shape, unhealthy, and obese. 

Did you know that if you start working out, it can take your body 2-3 months to show the results on the outside?  Your body starts making changes on the inside at a cellular level, adding something called mitochondria to individual cells. That is essentially an engine for your cell.  So it starts by creating the capacity to do more work. It will also improve your cardiac efficiency, increase your respiratory capacity, and increase maximal oxygen consumption.  All those things have to happen in order for you to be able to work out efficiently because your muscles need oxygen and energy to function.

If you add strength training to that cardio work, the body will also work internally to improve bone density.  Added benefits include better control of blood glucose levels, lower cholesterol, and improvements in lean body mass. Healthy recommendations for losing weight are to stay in the 1-2 pound loss range per week.  What J.J. didn’t realize is that he/she had a very successful week. Marian had it right all along to lose weight in a healthy fashion and to stop making excuses.

So next time you jump on the scale and you see that one-pound drop, remember there are dozens of improvements going on underneath the skin that you cannot weigh or measure.  You can either choose to learn how to eat healthy and work out for the long haul in order to do what is right for your body like Marian and many others here on SparkPeople, or you can sit around eating junk food and call your neighbors ignorant. 

What is your reaction to the two individuals from the magazine? Has your attitude been like J.J.’s?  Can you switch it to be more like Marian’s?

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Great Share!!

thank you. Report
FRAN0426 12/29/2019
Thanks for a great article Report
ILOVEROSES 11/14/2019
Thanks for a great article, I needed to read it today! Report
CD24912514 11/11/2019
thanks Report
KOALA_BEAR 10/26/2019
I have lost 30 lbs but stuck at a plateau. Would be thrilled w/ a one lb loss but I don't weight very often, every 3-4 wks & I prefer to only count 5 lb increments.
It's a partial lifestyle change right now. I'm under lots of stress so lately had a few more days of going over my calorie range max & due to back problems, limited activity. I attend physical therapy twice weekly so am getting my core stronger. Hope to eventually find my abs again. Good to know they are getting better, I know fully understand the changes inside - it's easy to forget.
I refuse to be a JJ - that's being ignorant & arrogant.
1CRAZYDOG 10/18/2019
Whenever I think my results aren't enough, I have to remind myself that at least I am making progress! That's better than not!

RAZZOOZLE 7/24/2019
thank you Report
RAZZOOZLE 7/24/2019
thank you Report
MOKACHYNA 6/8/2019
I can understand both points of view even though I realize that slow and steady wins the race. I will say that being disappointed with small losses is what has kept me fat for so long. I need to lose over 100 pounds which does seem insurmountable at times. Knowing that it would take me over a year to lose a majority of my weight is what allowed me to put it off day after day and year after year. Even now I have moments when I'm disappointed that the scale hasn't moved more but logically I know that all those little losses will add up over time. Report
1 pound per week average for me might even be too much after awhile. Good perspective here. Report
I loved learning about what goes on beneath my skin for two to three months while I am exercising and eating right. The scale does not tell the whole story exclamation Report
One pound a week is just fine! Report
This article really hit home for me. I have lost 75 pounds and it took me 6 years to do it. I still have 25 more to go but I am not in a hurry. I'll get there. Report
Thanks for a great article! :) Report
Thank you for the information about things happening on the inside. Very helpful. Report
I am excited when I lose 2/10 of a pound. I am totally fine if it takes me 4 years to lose 100 pounds. I am learning so much through the journey. Sometimes I actually gain weight but now with the help of SparkPeople I know what to do and where I need to make corrections. Report
For me a one pound weight loss per week would be a great success. Report
I know the correct (?) way to view this is Marian's but many years of thinking about diet as a finite time period keep popping into my head. I recite "this is forever" over and over and it helps me to get past the anxious times. I am also not weighing too often but tracking everything. Report
I trying the slow and lifestyle change this time. And I have lost more weigh and kept if off and I’m not tired. I’m still motivated to keep moving forward Report
I believe that Marianne's perspective is the only way to really lose the weight in a healthy way and KEEP it off. It is good to know that our bodies change on the inside before the outside. Creates more reasons to remain patient and persistent. THANKS for sharing this. Report
Thank you for sharing this. I want to lose all my weight at once but know that since I did not gain it all at once, it will take time. The slower the weight loss, the more likely I will keep it off. Report
I am thrilled if I see any loss!! Report
great read Report
This is the article i read half of (my phone did a random restart in the middle of it) that made me realize I had given up. I was blaming my husband and coworkers for being saboteurs (which they are), but I am responsible for what I eat and what I do. I didn't like that I identified with JJ and decided to change. I am working on c25k and reducing my calories. It's the holidays and Joe is on vacation, so nothing is ideal, but I'm still making progress. I can hardly wait for the new year to really kick things into gear! Report
good article! Report
As a Marian, I agree with Marian. Thanks for the great information. Report
I never stopped to consider the cellular level. Going from a fitness enthusiast to having a hard time walking for more than 20 minutes I often quit. Some of it is having autoimmune disorders these days but others are wanting or expecting to be able to start where I left off years ago. That is will take time foe the endurance to build, for my body to be able to handle the effort without extreme fatigue, etc. That little by little it will get there and in a year or so I will look back and be in a much different place. But I cannot do that if I don't continue to make that CHOICE everyday. I cannot expect to ever be perfect and I cannot expect to be amazing out of the gate. I have to be patient with myself and let my body adjust and just give it the time. From here to where I want to be (physical fitness terms) a lot of positive changes will come from it. But only if I stick to it.
It is hard to have a l pound loss or even less, but it is a loss. At 68 I am on this journey for the last time. So it is not a diet or a race it is a life style and a pound a week is far better than a pound gain a week. Thanks for a thought providing blog. Report
I'm so glad I found this article! I wasn't giving up, but I did let a .4 pound weight loss (after 2 weeks) ruin my nice day. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this timely article. It's a keeper!
I remember telling my family that I was okay with weighing 374 pounds even if it meant dying earlier because I loved food and would rather be fat and happy than skinny and miserable. What a bunch of hooey! When I couldn't walk a block without excruciating pain and breathlessness, I finally had to ask myself , "Where is the happy?" I was 59 and miserable. Gastric Bypass saved my life. It was the first tool that was effective. Then 4 ye6srs later I found Spark People and I had 2 knee replacements. Now I weigh 183 and am healthier than I have ever been. I am still a work in progress. My mindset now, I would rather feel wonderful than live on potato chips and diet soda. Food passes through, but food health lasts! Report
Younger=thought like JJ. Older & more informed=think like Marian. At 56=changing eating/exercise habits=losing wt @ about 1 lb/week. Success! Report
Boy, I really needed to read this today with my 1 pound weight loss after 3 weeks of hard work. But I started a heavy strength training program at the same time so it makes sense. Thanks. Report
I don't understand how JJ could be upset with any type of weight loss? I'm thrilled if I lose fractions of a pound! Report
I think the writer of this article hit the nail on the head with part about how we are bombarded with advertisements that tell us that we can lose a huge amount of weight in no time at all and with no effort. Apparently, JJ never learned that a safe weight loss occurs at 1 to 2 lbs./week and that this kind of weight loss, which is usually accompanied by a host of changes in diet and exercise, is the most sustainable. I not only look forward to every 1lb dropped, I even enjoy 1/2 lb weight loss...especially when I know I haven't been doing all I should to eat healthy and/or exercise. Do I have my moments when I get a little discouraged and want to actually see the fat disappearing? Of course. But that little bit of disappointment isn't enough for me (and shouldn't be enough for anyone else) to totally give up on the effort. Report
I'm kind of in an in-between mindset. I feel like my weightloss should be rapid, but even after 2 weeks of eating semi-clean, most of the junk I ate before doesn't even taste good. Report
Maybe JJ is too young to know that eating clean brings more benefits than just weight loss. When you get to be my age, you don't feel as good if you eat junk! Report
I stopped using a scale. I decided to let my mirror be my judge. Now, I didn't have hundreds to lose, but it was enough, and I'm not far from 50 myself. I started with one small change, which led to another, and another. Today 5 months after I started my exercise program of running 4 days a week at first (no I was NOT a runner EVER) and slowly added going to the gym lifting weights, I went from a size 12 to a size 4. A change to my eating habits came into play naturally from all the hard work that I had done, and you know what I'm not perfect. I still eat like crap every now and then, but the secret is it's every now and then. One thing I have learned, there are those who do and those who don't. I feel like I did when I was in my 20's and I am FOREVER one who will DO. Report
1-11/2 # per wk is for me 35# in the last 20 wk! That is at least 3 sizes in less than half a year. It is life-changing, HUGE! AND it is realistically achievable. Thank you SPARKPEOPLE! I'm not in my 50's yet, but mid 40's, and plan to be even healthier in my 50's. :) Report
Unlike JJ, when I eat clean for a week, I make sure not to mess that up with ONE BAD MEAL. Why waste all that effort--erasing any loss you might have with a few bad choices? It just is NOT worth it. Like Tish (Tublady) says, you are NEVER too old to change. I was almost 60 when I started my journey. Also like Tish (I too weighed well over 300 lbs.)--I realized this was a new lifestyle, and when I hit my goal weight I didn't revert to old eating habits. I just kept doing what I had been doing to lose the weight. Donuts and potato chips are not a part of my life anymore. I ate them for almost 60 years--and I figure I had more than my share of them--giving them up forever is a small price to pay for the life I have re-gained! Report
Thanks for sharing. I've lost 18#; and NOBODY has noticed. Sometimes it's a little bit depressing, but then I remind myself that I'm no losing the weight for anyone else. That keeps me on track.

Becca Report
I totally understand the frustration of working so hard and eating healthy and not seeing the results on the scale. In order not to let the JJ attitude monster get a hold of me, I think of being able to run around the backyard with my little girl and have her stop because she is out of breath before me.
I agree with the posts that it is a slow and steady process, but also have seen major improvements in myself in other ways. I used to say "I gotta get up early and do my workout." with my shoulder shrugged and looking like the vulture from Looney Tunes. Now I look forward to getting up and "busting it out". My energy level is amazing, and I am sleeping so much better now.
Good luck to all of you "Sparklers". You guys and gals are on this site for a reason - to make a change in yourself. Don't let the JJ Attitude Monster get you! Report
Fortunately, i have wisdom, ie age plus experience, on my side and understood that although i had made DRASTIC changes in my eating habits while increasing commitment to working out and only saw the scale and some of my inches go UP, i knew that it was temporary and things would level out. When i was younger a few small adjustments in eating and physical activity would melt off the pounds. Since it was so easy, i never stayed committed. Now, my husband and i have made lifestyle decisions as a team to enhance our future together...
I'm happy to see the scale go down even a little bit. JJ should have stuck with the plan! To each his own I guess but most people I know who have succeeded in weight loss actually lost it very slowly. The tortoise won the race, lets remember!
Thanks for sharing a great blog! Report
i was like JJ. I had an all or nothing attitude and I am sooooo thankful to be more like Marion now. I have changed my whole way of thinking about weight loss and eating and excercising and I feel soo good everyday...not only if I have a certain weight loss. Who knew? Thanks for the post Report
I've come to understand that we know very little about metabolism and how to successfully maintain a "healthy" weight. I've stopped worrying about the numbers and instead I'm concentrating on eating healthy and getting enough exercise to make me feel good. I can't control the numbers on the scale but I can control how I treat my body. Report
I like the part where the big weight loss was from someone in her 50s--I'm in my 50s and boy! it's harder than it used to be.

And as we've all said--It's a lifestyle!

And also--one pound a week would be just fine with me! Report
I read this same magazine and could not believe what J.J. had written. I could not believe that someone would be so obtuse as to believe they could lose all their "X" extra pounds in one week of "eating clean". Did you gain X pounds in a week? NO! Then how do you expect to lose it all in a week? Baby steps... :) Report
Being able to understand and empathize with someone struggling with the frustrations of small weight loss is most necessary in being able to help them.

A person takes a big risk first step. Their friends lose 2-4 pounds on their first weigh-ins and then they get hit with 1 pound loss. That can be disappointing.

I totally know the frustration. When I see blogs where someone asks "What's the point. I might as well....". I always start my response with "I know the frustration of a weak number".

I've been there. It took me 5 years to lose 50 pounds.

The empathy of "I know what it feels like" can give one the credibility to say "I hung on and it's paid off for me". Without the first part, the second will make it seem like one can't relate to their struggle. Report
there have been times that I have found myself on both end of the spectrum.. constant work in progress :D Report
Been on both sides of this journey!!!!! Thanks for putting it down for us to read and think about!! Report
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