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.
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