Do It Because It Is Hard.
Friday, January 08, 2010
If I made a list of the "Top Easiest Things I've Ever Done in My Life", weight loss wouldn't make it to the top 5, 10 or 20. It might make it somewhere near the bottom of the top 50.
Way to start off a motivational speech, eh? It's the truth.
Losing weight (and keeping it off) will be one of the hardest things you'll ever do in your life.
The statistics are against us. Only 5% of overweight people will lose weight and keep it off.
Most people have a goal to lose weight. "I want to lose weight before my wedding." "I want to lose weight before the summer." "I want to look good in a bikini." "I need to lose weight before my 30th birthday." "I want to weigh 130 because that's what I weighed in college."
They exercise, diet, lose weight and meet their goal. They stop exercising and dieting. The weight loss is short lived.
What you do today to lose the weight is what you will have to do forever to keep it off.
I'm not saying that to discourage you or scare you. I'm saying it because if you want to be one of the 5%, you have to change how you think about losing weight.
If it takes you an hour of exercise 5 days a week to lose 30 pounds, then you will need an hour of exercise 5 days a week to keep from regaining 30 pounds. The difference between 'dieting' calories and 'maintenance' calories is only about 200-400 calories per day for me. If I went back to eating double quarter pounders for lunch every day, I will be right back where I started.
Learn to eat and exercise as though you were already at your goal weight. Figure out how many calories you need to eat, and how much exercise you need at your maintenance weight. If you can do that, then you've got a good chance of making it.
If you find it difficult to eat the right amount of veggies and fruit, eat too many cookies, or can't exercise enough, don't despair. None of us were able to do it the first time we tried.
I've kept off 30 pounds for five years. When I first started, it was impossible for me to avoid the potato chips, cookies and candy. It was hard to eat fruits and veggies - they just didn't taste good.
I wanted to lose the weight and keep it off forever. That was my ultimate goal. So I learned to love veggies, fruit and exercise.
To paraphrase a great motivational speech that launched humankind to the moon:
Don't do it because it is easy. Do it because it is hard.
Sometimes when I get the urge to skip the gym, I'll remind myself how hard it was to lose the weight. I think about the nights alone when I cried myself to sleep. I think about how miserable I was. I think about how much I hated how people treated me. I think about how impossible it was for me to ride my bike up a hill. I think about how embarrassing it was to sit in movie theaters and airplane seats. I fear being a prisoner in my mind and body again.
Sometimes, I do take a break. Getting restarted after holidays and vacations are the toughest. Once I get back into a rhythm, it's easier. However, these things push me to go back. I've regained and lost about 5 pounds several times over the years. I've never regained over 10. The earlier I catch myself, the easier it is to get back on track.
Now I'm trying to lose another 10. It's as hard as it ever was. I'm doing it because an extra 10 pounds will make riding my bike, skiing, hiking, backpack camping, kayaking, and more just that much more enjoyable and productive.
All the things I did to lose weight, I'm still doing to keep it off. Exercise and diet. No short cuts. No tricks. Just plain hard work.