Gah! Weight loss. Those two words are SO full of hope, anguish, guilt and hopelessness. But with all those negative words, there is still…hope.
Let me start by saying it’s not about you. It’s about science, and maybe a little bit of psychology. And they are both on your side!
I have posted my before and after pictures (above) to show you that I get it. I am not a finger pointer; I was fat (and currently carry a few extra pounds). 10 years ago, I couldn’t bend over without shaking, I couldn’t get off the floor without hoisting myself up using a chair, I couldn’t pick up my granddaughter… so I was fat AND weak. I was happy. Happy about my friends & family, my job, and my community. I was not happy about my fatness. No matter how hard I tried. I didn’t want the diseases that came with it nor the shame I felt. This path will contain some hard concepts. But I have faith in you. Read to the end. Then, reject it and move on, or jump in!
Let’s start with science. Science says if you put in less than you give out, you will have less. Well, actually that’s math. But that’s how calories work. Eat less calories than you need. WAIT! Don’t go! This isn’t one of those judgy “it’s your fault you’re fat” posts. Or “this is so simple it’s easy” posts. If it were easy, well, you know…
So what’s the deal? WHY are you not losing weight? That’s the question, right?
There are a few known reasons.
- Genetics – or “God made me this way”. This is quite rare. The hard truth is that you don’t see many (any) fat people among the starving. Your particular genetics MAY mean you have to work harder than your neighbor in times of plenty. But, no, you weren’t “made” fat. So there has to be a better reason – besides starvation, right?
- Illnesses – like hypothyroidism, type 2 diabetes, heart conditions, etc… You can do a simple google search to find these conditions. Don’t though. If you believe that your weight gain is due to a medical condition, go to the doctor, get the tests, and get the diagnosis. Then do the things to make you as healthy as you can be!
- Food – this is the number 1 cause of obesity. Well, the CDC says it’s “Behavior” and includes physical activeness. This sucks. It’s also awesome, because we CAN change our behaviors. Let’s talk about that.
Number 3 has never made me feel personally happy or empowered. If changing my behavior were that easy, well, I would have done it BEFORE getting fat! Right?! However, if we look at things honestly, we all change our behaviors ALL THE TIME.
- When we get a new job: We drive a different way, use different words, use different tactics to get things done.
- When we get married, divorced or have children (or when they move out): Life events cause us to adapt huge chunks of our lives.
- As we age: If you are there, you know what I mean. Things just aren’t the same and we can’t act like they are.
- When we get bored: We all know how to spice things up a bit. Change behavior, do something different!
You still with me? That was the pep talk. Now the work.
So HOW do we change our eating and moving behaviors in ways that change what we weigh and how we feel? Here are my top answers:
- Start small. I am NOT kidding.
- Start by making sure you are drinking enough water every day for a month. Nothing else. Just do that. Download the tracking sheet!
- The next 30 days, while keeping that water intake going, sleep enough every night for a month. Go to bed early, skip the late night Netflix binges, make your bedroom as relaxing as possible. Figure it out. Your health actually depends on it. How much sleep do you need?
- Two months have gone by. You should not have felt pressure to “Go big or go home” or to “Show up at a gym before you are actually awake” or to “Work hard, play hard” or any other crappy-yet-catchy motivational saying. What you can use this ‘slow start period’ for is to listen and take note.
- When are you hungry?
- Why are you eating?
- Do your eating habits change during different life events, days of the week, etc…?
- What are you eating?
- Write stuff down. We forget what doesn’t make us feel good about ourselves. You don’t want to forget these breakthroughs.
- FORMULATE A PLAN – not now. DO NOT SKIP the first 4 steps, guys! Don’t do it!
By month 3, you are well rested and well hydrated and have created new behaviors! Yay! Go you! Our society makes this seem trivial and not worth celebrating. They are wrong. Celebrate each and every small win. I mean it. (But maybe not with a donut) This also means you are probably thinking well and better equipped to change more difficult behaviors.
Formulating a plan is where the rubber hits the road. We’ll talk plans in the next post. Go back and do the first 2 months. For you.