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August 11, 2019

The big question

When people learn that I used to weigh over 450 pounds and not only dropped the excess weight, but also have kept it off for almost two decades, they have questions. Lots and lots of questions.

These questions only increase when people find out that I had been overweight most of my childhood and young adult years before finally getting rid of the excess weight. And the questions multiply from there when they hear that I took the weight off without surgery, pills or fad dieting.

The trouble is, after many of these people ask their questions, they’re not very happy with my answers.

Despite wanting to lose weight in order to feel, look and be healthier, people often don’t want to hear the hard truths: To successfully lose weight you need to reduce you calorie intake, eat healthier (cleaner, less processed) foods, exercise more (burn more calories than you’re taking in), get plenty of sleep and drink enough water. When hearing these edicts, people usually become blank faced. Then, a few seconds later, most will ask, “But how can I lose weight really fast?”

Their horror continues when I tell them that even though I reached my weight loss goal years ago, I still must continually think about what I eat, how much I workout, etc. People want to believe the myth sometimes propagated by the billion dollar diet industry that once you lose weight, you never have to think about dieting again—and can even go back to previous habits of overeating and leading a sedentary lifestyle.

This is why I’m sometimes frustrated when people come to me for dieting and health advice. Not only do they not want to hear my honest answers, they also don’t want to apply these common sense tactics to their lives. And I’m sympathetic, I assure you. Change isn’t easy. Especially life changes that could affect your way of doing things in almost every way.

Peoples’ disappointment when hearing my advice isn’t their fault. Again, the diet industry is a big business that pumps out a lot of confusing rhetoric in order to get potential customers’ to fork over lots of money in exchange for an easy way to lose weight. There’s a reason that organizations like Weight Watchers offer methods for old members to rejoin. They know that people often fail at dieting and will have to start all over again.

And no, I’m not knocking Weight Watchers, since it’s one of the few diet programs that allows all foods and works to teach balance and moderation. Plus, when it comes to trying over and over again, what other choice do those of us with a dieter’s mentality have? I tried to start a diet a million or more times before it finally stuck. So there’s no shame in “Try, try again.” Own your efforts even if they’ve fallen short—and be proud of them. Barely anyone gets it right the first time. Especially us supermodels.

The good news is that you can (literally) have your cake and eat it, too. But that starts with changing the overall question about dieting. Perhaps it’s time to stop asking HOW to lose weight, but instead ask yourself WHY you want to lose weight.

That’s right. I suggest you change the narrative that surrounds your desire to drop excess pounds and fit into skinny jeans, lower your blood pressure and live a happier, healthier life. (It is, after all, really true what “they” say: Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels.)

So instead of approaching a potential diet as a diet, approach it from another angle. Get out a journal. Or scrapbook. Or start a new Pinterest page and begin to articulate or visualize why you want to lose weight. Is it to feel better about dating someone? Is it to stop being breathless when climbing a flight of stairs? Is it to be able to keep up with your grandchildren on the playground? Is it to fit into a favorite outfit for an upcoming social occasion? Or is it to show a certain someone that you’ve got what it takes and then some? Hey, these are all great reasons to get healthier. And focusing on these reasons has to the potential to provide the motivation that might have been missing during previous attempts to lose weight.

While I was on my journey from over 450 pounds to around 175 pounds, I kept what I referred to as a “Me Book.” In it, I placed magazine articles about health and cutouts of whatever else that motivated me (even if just a certain picture or image). I also added photographs of clothes I wanted to wear and pictures from different kinds of media of “happy couples” that inspired me to visualize the kind of romantic relationship I wanted to find. I also included all sorts of health information, advice and even recipes that I would come across. I wasn’t into scrapbooking per se. But I was into reminding myself of why I wanted to take off the excess pounds.

Anytime I would be tempted to stray from my eating and exercise plans, I would pick up my “why I wanted to lose weight” book and thumb through it—reminding myself of all of the reasons I was committed to really achieving dieting success this time around. And guess what? It worked.

Again, not only did I take the excess weight off, but also I kept it off. All because I had an easy vehicle (my book) for reminding myself of my WHYs. And as mentioned before, these days you can even create a virtual “reasons” scrapbook on a site like Pinterest or something similar.

So if you’re contemplating a weight loss journey that can lead to many of your dreams coming true, start with putting the dreams into focus. Then the healthier eating, the healthy movement, the better sleep and even the 8 glasses of water (or however many) might become more routine a little more easily than they have in the past.

Whether virtual or otherwise, you might want to try creating a book that becomes the testament to WHY you want to lose weight and just let the HOW fall into place naturally. What have you got to lose?


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