Tackling the Weight Loss Challenge, November 2014

From the Publisher

Publisher1114“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
—Nelson Mandela

(A letter received in my Facebook inbox)

Hey Elizabeth,
You don’t know me except our pleasantries in the grocery store, but I want to share something with you. My journey with my weight has been a LONG one. I made a commitment two weeks ago with a co-worker to join a gym with her so we can exercise together. She just recently had a double mastectomy and is having reconstructive breast surgery for the second time in December. She wants to lose 40 pounds before then and that’s exactly what I need to lose. So I thought, heck, it’s a great opportunity for both of us. Well, two weeks of diet watching and exercising have netted a zero pound loss for me! You don’t know how depressed I have been today; I have cried most of the day. So discouraging, and I am not usually Debbie downer, but this has really put me down. I have enjoyed reading about your journey. Do you have any tidbits for me to keep this going?

Dear Friend,
I have to admit that working diligently for two weeks with nothing to show for it is discouraging. I understand your frustration and feelings of sadness. Losing weight is one of the hardest things anyone can do because not only does it require breaking bad, addictive habits, it also has to be done without being able to just walk away from food. We are still faced with decisions of what to eat a minimum of three times a day. It’s hard to say no to the things we love, like bread, cheesecake, French fries or wine. It’s even harder to continue to say no with little or no results. However, it is highly unusual to truly stick to a diet and exercise program and not eventually experience weight loss. Here are a few tips:

Changing your food intake is where you will find the most weight loss. I have been told numerous times that weight loss is 90 percent what you eat and 10 percent how much you exercise. I believe this wholeheartedly because I’ve proven it. I worked out with a trainer for four years and only lost six pounds. What a terrible trainer, right? Wrong. I never changed my eating habits. I continued to eat whatever, whenever and however much I wanted. I kidded myself throughout the four years in total denial. To lose weight you have to reduce your caloric intake or get on a carbohydrate restrictive diet. The bottom line is getting processed foods that are laden with sugar out of your diet and eating less—way less.

Attitude is everything regardless of what you set out to accomplish in life. When I started my weight loss journey, with a whopping 80 plus pounds to lose, I decided I was going to make it fun. Instead of focusing on what I was being deprived of, I focused on the good things I was doing for myself, basically for the first time in my life. I refused to take the poor pitiful me approach. I had my moments, but I mean really; should I feel sorry for myself because I’ve decided not to eat French fries or pizza? When you think about it like that, in the grand scheme of things, it’s silly and shallow. The cool thing is that eating healthy allows me to feel great and be on top of my game. Actually, there is way more suffering in unhealthy eating. Have you ever noticed that most people who ride motorized scooters in stores are morbidly obese? I have to wonder when did food become more important than walking? Who is really doing the suffering?

Even if you worked out and ate healthier for two months without seeing results, you are still further ahead than doing nothing. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but I can assure you, your body will feel better and be healthier. Here’s the thing, though, when it comes to exercise: You must engage in activity you enjoy. No one wants to show up for a dreaded workout. There is no longevity in that. If you are not finding joy in your exercise of choice, choose something else. I would cry too if I did a God-awful workout that I hated for two weeks with no results. I began by walking the beach at sunrise with my favorite upbeat music blaring through my headphones. After a few days of experiencing unbelievable sunrises, although not a morning person, I was jumping out of bed in order to get out there and not miss it. I loved it! I accelerated my workouts from there.

Lastly, do not put unrealistic goals on yourself. I did not gain 80 extra pounds in three months, therefore, it only makes sense that I won’t lose it in three months, either. Pace yourself. Make a lifestyle change…don’t just go on a diet. People gain weight back when diets are done. Lifestyle changes are long-term. Figure out what you want. Do you want to lose weight temporarily to fit into a dress for a class reunion or do you truly want to live your best life for the rest of your life? When you choose living your best life, there is no failing, no deadlines, no screw ups because you are in it for the long haul. There will be days when you eat birthday cake and ice cream and there will be days when you do great. The key is just staying the course, knowing you’re worth it and treating yourself with the utmost respect. I was way overweight for 19 years and as a child. It is so hard, but so worth it. I don’t have to shop in the women’s sizes any more! People actually think I’m pretty. It is so much more rewarding than eating crap. I love being strong and knowing my body is reliable. Just keep doing it! You will see results and one of them is feeling great! Smile and pat yourself on the back, you’ve already done the hardest part, and that’s deciding to start.