It’s February: Have you given up on your New Years resolution yet?
If losing a couple pounds was your goal, 42% of you have already left the scale and re-embraced a life of fast food and sweets. Why is it so hard for some of us to stick to a diet plan and keep it?
Fad diets and “miracle pills” are not so surprisingly unsuccessful – I think most of us have tried enough to know they don’t work for long, if they ever worked at all. But what about the old “tried-and-true” methods of just better diet and more exercise? I know I’ve heard it plenty of times before, but is it really just as simple as these two steps and done? I think not.
It’s mostly common sense that eating a healthy diet and being active is the most effective way to shed excessive weight. I think it’s written into the fine print of every diet related fad and product, and we all know it’s the real reason the people in those cheesy television ads go from resembling Jabba the Hut to Princess Leia (may she rest in peace). But the promise that simply diet and exercise is all you need neglects the most important aspect of all: Patience.
I’ll give you a situation that may sound familiar: You start your diet Monday morning, eat a breakfast including fresh fruit, take the stairs at work instead of the elevator, snack on a heart healthy nut mix in the afternoon, and finish your day with a dinner of baked fish and steamed vegetables. You feel like you’ve cleansed your innards and purified your soul, and you’re sure that you’ve gone down a pound after that. You step on the scale at the end of the day and you’re up by two. You shake it off and another day goes by on the same routine but this time you end the day with one pound lost, yay. Now by day three you never want to see another egg again and could devour an entire chocolate cake in a sitting, but you make it through the day and the scale by the end of it reads the same as the day before. That’s it, you’ve had enough, obviously it just won’t work for you so you order two pizzas and sob into the sea of greasy cheese as you try to accept your fatty fate.
What went wrong??
No one really tells you just how much time it’s going to take; mostly because the timeline can be so different for everyone. Just look at these five women’s stories from Women’s Health Magazine, all of which lost 20 pounds, but for one it took 5 months, and another it took 5 years.
The safest estimates suggest that you only lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. That can be hardly noticeable, easily overlooked, and a recipe for feeling like a failure – even when you’re not! I know that in my own experience hitting a weight-loss plateau or gain during a consistent regime of proper diet and exercise is very disheartening. It feels like weight loss is just impossible.
Except that every time I push through, I eventually start to lose again! What’s the deal with that? There are many reasons why your progress may slow, sometimes completely out of your control like hormonal fluctuations, or sometimes the pressure we put on ourselves, stressing us out. But underlying every one of those reasons is a lack of patience!
Instead of allowing ourselves proper time to make progress, we demand more from ourselves than is just physically possible. We repeat the cycles that brings us back into poor lifestyles, then feel like after years of failed dieting attempts, that time has only been harsh to us, when in reality, we’re being too harsh on time.
So how do I combat the cycle? I try to always keep these things in mind:
- Specific weight-loss goals are only useful if they are realistic, and flexible.
- Stop comparing yourself to others success stories, there are too many variables from person to person.
- Persevere through the bad times, it always gets better with time.
- Make changes and try new challenges to keep yourself feeling like you’re actively improving.
- Have patience for yourself and your scale.
The more time you spend appreciating the hard work you’re putting in, instead of dwelling on how long it’s taking, the happier and healthier you will be.