Monday, August 2, 2010

How to Lose Weight

The hardest part of losing weight, I think, is starting. And it gets harder to start the more often you do it. I mean, the very first time you decide to drop the pounds it can be exciting! A new plan with lots of goals and hope for the future is very motivating! You look at the calendar and think about how in x weeks or months you will weigh y pounds, and you feel in control and on top of the world!

But then it gets boring, or you have a week or two where the weight isn't coming off fast enough for ya, and you think, "this sucks. I am going to have a hot fudge sundae." And the ice cream leads to pizza which leads to chips and burgers and fries and a whole lot of over-indulgence because, you know, once you go "back on the diet" you will feel deprived, so eat everything you really want NOW while you can.

And if you do that often enough, you regain all the weight you lose, get frustrated, and give up. You doubt yourself. "I CAN'T lose weight like other people. I don't know HOW they stay motivated! I have tried SO many times! I wish I could stick with it." It's hard. I've been there. Even now I have days like that, where I think, "to heck with it, I just want to eat a whole pizza!"

Somehow, I don't think 'motivation' has gotten me to where I am. Motivation comes and goes. Some moments I am strong and motivated, but a lot of the time I'm not. Commitment is what stands when motivation wanes.

Before I started this weight loss journey, I often planned to lose weight. I wanted to lose weight. Actually, nix that. I wanted to be thinner without doing all the work to get there. But it doesn't work that way. Still, every day I'd ponder, "should I start today?" and then I'd remember there was a bag of chips or part of a box of cookies in the pantry, or some leftover lasagna, or oh yeah there's a new burrito at Taco Bell I haven't tried yet. So I better wait and start tomorrow. Or Monday. Or on the first of the month. Or after Easter. Or after Christmas. Or on January first. Or... never.

It is SO EASY to put off Day One in your head until YEARS have gone by and your weight is the same or higher. It is human nature to procrastinate what one perceives is an unpleasant task without a set deadline. If you don't HAVE to do it today, just wait til tomorrow. But even if you set a date, it is easy to put it on the back burner again, and again, and again, until your whole life has gone by, because the Start Date is just some arbitrary number you picked out of your head with no *real,* immediate consequences for delay. Only, the consequences are obvious... aren't they?

There is nothing wrong with being fat if you want to be fat. There is nothing wrong with being unhealthy if you want to be unhealthy, as long as you don't have children or other people depending on you. Your choice. So IF you think you want to lose weight, the first step is to decide if you really DO want to lose it. Try making a list of the pros and cons of staying fat, and the pros and cons of losing weight. Look it over. DECIDE. If you honestly do NOT want to lose weight then stop torturing yourself with should's and diets and other people's ideals, and focus on your own happiness. But if you want to lose weight, decide to do it, and then it's time for the hard work.

Here's some thoughts that I hope will help.

1. Start TODAY. Now. There will always be some event with food. There will always be holidays around the corner, or some fancy cake in the fridge, or a Big Mac at the drive thru. Just let it go and get started now. Throw the junk away or give it to someone else and do what you need to do now. All you really have is today. If you don't start now you will just 'tomorrow' yourself into oblivion.

2. Pick a method. There are so many diets, ways of eating, lifestyles, and weight loss plans out there. Keeping it simple seems best to me. For your convenience and inspiration I will list two of the plans I personally have found to be most effective, but I'm no expert on *your* body so check with your doctor, make sure it is safe for you, etc. See a nutritionist if you like. But here is what I prefer:

Method A: Calorie Counting

This is simple. You get a notebook or use a free program like Sparkpeople or Daily Plate and record everything you eat every day. It might seem tedious at first but it becomes a habit and like I said, weight loss is work. Be ready to work. You will have to measure *everything* you eat, from the sugar in your coffee to the cereal in your bowl. Read labels. Measure and record everything and at the end of the day look at how many calories you are eating. The first week you do this, you don't even have to worry about staying under a certain calorie level... just record and learn. See if you lose weight on the calorie level you're eating. Then adjust up or down. Many people like to start between 1600-2000 calories per day depending on their weight. There are plenty of calorie calculators out there (including on those two sites) to help you determine how many calories a day you need. Then just stick with this, day in, day out. For examples of how calorie counting works, you can go back and read my archives from 2007-2008. I used this method (primarily) to shed 64 pounds in about 10 months.

Method B: Low Carb

This method is effective if you find you just cannot seem to control your binges. You find yourself overindulging on cookies, pies, cakes, breads, pasta, and candy. Calorie counting still might work for you, but low carb could be easier. There are many low carb plans (I am eating low carb now) but I really like the South Beach Diet. It's free, simple, and relatively painless. (It's actually not super low carb, but focuses more on good carbs and healthy fats). You can read the book if you want to, or you can get started by just printing out a list of foods allowed on Phase 1. I have just such a list on my blog; click here and print it out and give it a try! It can be rough the first couple of days as your body "detoxes" off sugar, but then it gets easier and the weight drops off pretty nicely. You can Google South Beach Diet to read more about it, get more info and find out how to transition to Phase 2. There are some great message boards out there for support, as well. I personally try to stay between 80 and 100 g of carbs per day on my plan, but you do not have to count carbs on South Beach. You just eat off the list! It's very simple and doable.

3. Do not give up!! This is THE SINGLE most important tip I have. I have been doing this for 3 years now. You have GOT to stay in it for the long haul no matter how long it takes. When you slip up, get right back on ASAP and do not delay. Do not wait until tomorrow, Monday, next week, the first of the month, etc. Just get right back to work NOW. And if your plan is not working and you've given it numerous, honest attempts over a decent period of time (a month or two), then try something else. Try clean eating. Try Weight Watchers if you want. It doesn't matter as long as you keep doing SOMETHING and not regaining weight. If you are losing 1-2 pounds a week consider that a great success; if it's slower, decide if you need to do something different, add walking, ramp up the exercise, strength train, cut out artificial sweeteners, etc. Just keep trying different things even if you don't feel like it.

I have been pretty successful with this, I think. But if you think it's because of motivation, you're mistaken. It does take some motivation to get started, but it takes commitment not to quit. Don't give up on yourself. Keep getting up every time you fall and don't just lie there in the mud feeling like you're in quicksand. It's just MUD. Get up and walk on.

I hope this is helpful to some of you, and I wish you all the very best on your weight loss journeys.

This morning, scale says: 190.

26 comments:

Lori said...

I said something very similar but not as eloquent to a relative this weekend at the family reunion. She'd asked what my secret was.

Debbie said...

This was very helpful. Losing weight is the hardest thing I have had to do. I really enjoyed you post today and I made some notes. Thanks,

Nick and Norah Hall said...

Thank you so much for the bits of inspiration. I came across your blog by accident and I am so glad I did. Your thoughts and feelings are very similar to mine. I just recently started my weight loss journey and yes it's hard, but it's nice to know I'm not alone. You're a terrific writer and a great inspirations! Thanks!

Leslie said...

Good stuff as always, Lyn. I just printed out your SB for Dummies list! I try and stay on the low carb side, and as I'm just starting a new month and wanting to blast off a few pounds fast, SB is a good option. Thanks -

Deedah said...

You are so right. It's hard when you don't have than much left to lose and you're somewhat "satisfied" with yourself (even though you know you should/could reach your actual goal). It's not exciting anymore when even if you get to goal you will only go down, like, a size and for the most part look the same. But goals are set for a reason! I'm trying REALLY hard not to overeat today.

Anonymous said...

Hey Lynn, you are doing great. Thanks for all your insight. :-) Are you exercising? Just curious.
Jemma

nerdicus said...

Hi Lynn, this is so true... I've been reading your blog since 2008 and have been struggling myself with losing weight. I lost about 20 lbs back then but gained it back due to lack of commitment. So I got back up to my highest weight of 202 lbs, which really felt bad. Then this past April, one of my best friends somehow convinced me to run a half marathon with her in September. I thought I would train for a month and then give up but my progress has pushed me to keep going... I've actually lost 25 lbs since April. It feels good but I'm also afraid of when I'm done with the marathon training that I'll go back to my old ways. I just have to keep in mind what you said about commitment because that really is what it takes.

Lucy said...

Lyn, this post is right up my alley. Sometimes you have the uncanny ability to post just what I need to read at the right time, so thank you!

I wrote a similar post a month or so back - Diminishing Lucy: The Secret To Weight Loss ? Pick a plan and stick to it.......

It is reasurring to realise I am on the right track.

Crys said...

I'm doing this hybrid between calorie counting & low carb and I seem to have more success with that. I also use a software that allows me to put in my nutrition targets so I can set my carb max. When I input food it lets me know where I am and I make adjustments throughout the day to stay within my range.

Lanie Painie said...

Eat less, move more. You got it girlie! Keep on preachin'! People will get it when they are ready. Unfortunately, some people are never ready and that is sad. It's too easy to play the victim and no claim your own power over your life sometimes.

Keep up the good work!

Lanie Painie said...

Eat less, move more. You got it girlie! Keep on preachin'! People will get it when they are ready. Unfortunately, some people are never ready and that is sad. It's too easy to play the victim and no claim your own power over your life sometimes.

Keep up the good work!

Jo said...

Love it! "Commitment is what stands when motivation wanes." So, so true.

Lyn said...

Anonmous (Jemma)~

I am walking for exercise right now. I just got in from doing 2 miles :)

In the winter, I bike indoors.

Fat Grump said...

Oh Lyn I needed to read that!

I am stuck in the mud and don't seem to be able to get out, but I suspect it's because I am having fun and making mud pies!:) I have to tell myself "If not now - when?"

Yep - it's about commitment to a plan and not waiting for the light bulb moment when it will all come together. It takes work and commitment to get the wagon rolling. (No chance of the wheels or me falling off my almost stationary one!)

Lots of great advice as usual.

kathyj333 said...

I can't tell you how many times I've "started" another diet, weight loss program, exercise program. . . . The list goes on and on. Thanks for the post.

Shane G. said...

Here here Lyn!! Great points you made there.

Fit B said...

I agree with you. When people ask me what my secret is I tell them I am not on a diet I have made a lifestyle change. To me diet was always a fad or short term thing that I was temped to cheat on and stray away from. Now I just do the right things to be healthy because it is the only way I will allow myself to live.

Anonymous said...

Excellent, excellent post! And I never comment..anywhere, ever. So, thanks.

Catherine said...

This is soooooo me. I started gaining weight out of college (7 years ago) and it infuriates me to think that I've wasted my 20's being unhappy with myself. I WILL NOT do that in my 30's. I always say I'll start tomorrow.....and so my new motto is Tomorrow is NOW. I'm never going to get anywhere if "tomorrow" rules me. Today was my first day of calorie counting and I kept on track. Just have to keep going.
PS-love your blog. You're such an inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Just what I needed to read this morning. The part you wrote about it being harder to start the more times you do it is SO true. I feel so stuck in a rut. But I'm going to concentrate on commitment, not motivation. Consistency is what will win!

Thank you!

CathyB said...

This post is SO me. It's always about "tomorrow". Well, my "tomorrow" started (again) yesterday. So far so good. Thanks for the great post and encouraging words!!!

Tammy said...

I can't believe I took the time to read this post today. I have been so overwhelmingly stressed Lyn with my job, moving into a new place last wknd, and a whole host of other things. I'm not even a big fan of pizza, but for some reason I've been fighting the thought ALL DAY of ordering a large pizza after work and eating as much of it as I could hold. Weird thing for me to binge on but hey, weirder things have happened. However, thanks to the this post, and the fact that you even mentioned eating a whole pizza, I will be going home and eating a healthy dinner and a moderate amount. After all...it's not quicksand, right? It's just
MUD. Thanks girl...I really needed you today. :)

Life's a Dance said...

Did you read my mind? This is a great post! You are such an inspiration to those of us (me!) starting a weight loss journey. Thanks and keep it up!

Liana said...

Great post once again Lyn. "Don't give up", really hit home. Thankyou!!! Going to check out the South Diet link, though I'm going well on counting 1500 calories a day.

misskasia said...

I've been loosing weight for 8 months now and I remember that I came across your blog when I was searching about problem of loosing hair during diet. Ever since then every months I go on your blog to see how you're doing.

And few days ago I started my own blog. Thank you for being an inspiration to me.

Anonymous said...

I just want to make a point very quickly. This is an amazing journey, one that inspires and gives hope. It's a beautiful story to read. BUT- commitment may not be enough for some. Let's remember that. If you are trying to find some inspiration to begin your weight loss adventure and you KNOW there are no medical issues...this would be the place to go. However, not all who are overweight can count calories, or carbs. There are some out there who can work out until they fall over, count carbs until pigs fly...but it won't work. Don't beat yourself up over it because it worked for this woman and not for you. Go have yourself checked out. Be smart. Everyone is different.

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