Success Advice for New Spark Members
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
It's a harsh reality that I had to come to terms with before I could successfully lose weight and keep it off. When I was overweight, I made excuses. "I'm still the same wonderful person inside, it shouldn't matter what I look like on the outside." While true, there was something undeniably wrong about this.
I was unhealthy. No matter how beautiful I was inside or out, I had 42% body fat. That placed me at increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. I was sedentary, which also placed me at risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as osteoporosis and bone fractures. This was not an issue of whether I was beautiful or not. It was a matter of whether I wanted to live a long life, with reduced risk of pain and disease or not.
Five years later from the real change that I made in my life, I've lost most of the weight. It's not my ideal. I'm not finished yet, but I have accomplished something major, that sad to say, most people fail at. I lost 30 pounds and kept it off for more than two years.
Each of us have to find our own way. The exact details of what worked for me may not work for you. However, there are things in common that everyone who found success was able to do:
1. EXERCISE. They keep trying, but no one has been able to make a fat loss pill that is safe and actually works. There is no "Get out of exercise" free card. You *have* to exercise.
When first starting out, you're going to hate it. You're out of shape. It's hard. Your body can't handle the demands you're asking. It has to build up your heart, muscle tissue, and lung capacity. Your body has to rebuild itself to do what you want.
Not all of us are going to be able to workout an hour 4-5 days a week, especially when first starting out. It took me a long time to work up to that, and be able to do it routinely. I started off doing maybe 30 minutes 2-3 times per week. I could only handle walking and low impact aerobics. I had to work up to riding a bike and the elliptical machine at the gym. If 15 minutes one day a week walking beats your record of 0 minutes seven days a week, then do it. If you do 15 minutes one day a week for 4 weeks, congratulations - you've made it a habit. Now break your record again. Do 15 minutes twice a week. Or 30 minutes one day a week. Do what works for you.
2. DIET. Again, they still haven't made that darn fat loss pill. So in addition to exercise, you have to diet. The way you eat is a habit. Habits can be learned, and relearned. Eat fruits and vegetables. Eat your spark recommended calorie ranges. Eat the appropriate ratios of carbs/protein/fats. Make this a new habit. It will work.
If you don't like fruits and vegetables, I don't have good news for you here. It is impossible to have a healthy diet made up entirely of fat, protein, and starches like bread and potatoes. Those are all things we like to eat, right? Learn to love veggies and fruit.
I've never turned my nose up completely at veggies and fruit, but I did have to learn how to eat them regularly. I did this by keeping them around, and incorporating them into every meal. At the beginning, I threw away a lot of uneaten fruit and veggies. I kept at it, though. It got better. Now the lack of fruit and veggies is alarming to me.
3. SETBACKS ARE INEVITABLE. Get back up from trying something that didn't work, and try again. I've never met someone who lost weight that didn't fall off the wagon more than a dozen times. The difference between success and failure? Get back on that wagon.
4. JUST DO IT. Sometimes I hated doing exercise. I made excuses about how I was too tired to go. I got dressed in my gym clothes and forced myself to go anyway. I forced myself onto the machines, despite the child inside me throwing a tantrum that I didn't want to. For the first 5-10 minutes, I would think about how I just wanted to stop and go home. I ignored myself and kept doing it. Who's in control here? Me, or my inner brat?
This is one of those areas that most people would say, don't force yourself. Well, for me, this is what I had to do. Again, do what works for you. I had to do this in order to break years of bad habits where I would promise myself I would 'start going to the gym tomorrow' or 'I'll start eating right tomorrow'.
Today, or never. I rode my bike whether I 'felt like it' or not. I rode my bike whether I was 'tired' or not. Every time I eventually got on my bike, I was glad I did. Eventually, I realized that's what success felt like. I liked it a lot more than failure. When I failed, I was determined to get it right. In time, getting on my bike wasn't a chore; it was just a daily part of life that I loved more and more.
Two of my favorite quotes from Thomas Edison:
- "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that didn't work".
- "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up".
So many of us have New Years "goals" or "resolutions". Do better than you did last time. That's success. Keep doing it, and improve on it. That's progress. If you fall short, keep going. You have to know where you are now, in order to know how to get where you want to be.
Good luck to all of you in the New Year!