What does losing weight really mean to you?

23 08 2011

Amy Blackshire

Have you tried to lose weight before? Maybe you have tried the Atkins diet, weight watchers, or even extreme diets such as the grapefruit diet. It is not uncommon for individuals to try several times across many years before finally succeeding in lifestyle change that results in weight loss. My question to you is this: why do you want to lose weight? Think back to the attempts you’ve had in the past, as well as when you signed up for the weight management program and ask yourself why. Too frequently our answers for going on diets or joining programs deal with “weight we want to lose”. Some people say, “I joined because I want to lose 50 lbs, or I want to lose 100 lbs”. But what does losing weight really mean to you? Digging deep within yourself and answering this question may be what you need to succeed this time around.

Losing 50 lbs only means one thing— we weigh 50lbs less. Weight is only a number, and it means nothing by itself. But when one really thinks about what it would mean to lose 50 lbs, one might come up with answers such as, “well, being smaller would mean that I feel better about myself, that I can get up and down more easily, or that I can sit in any kind of chair that is available”. Who doesn’t deserve to enjoy those small things in life? My answer is that EVERYONE who is breathing deserves a life filled with joy, confidence, and happiness. Have you ever asked yourself why you want to lose weight? If not, I encourage you to ask yourself how losing weight would make your life different.

It may be tempting to say that the reason for losing weight is to avoid heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. This answer is understandable; who doesn’t want to avoid such health problems? But we can do better than this. Life is full of a lot of negativity that we are constantly trying to avoid such as meeting deadlines as work to avoid negative consequences, scrambling to pay our bills so we don’t get into financial trouble, or walking on egg shells during interactions with others to avoid criticism. Considering the anxiety that comes along with trying to avoid negative things in life, why should we add one more thing to the list? I encourage you to not exercise and eat healthy to only avoid health problems, but instead reframe your motivation to be positive! Exercise regularly and eat healthy to feel great, to receive blood work results that are “in the green”, to wake up in the morning ready to tackle the day with the skills you’ve developed, to spend your free time (not at the doctor) but with loved ones, to engage in leisure activities during your retirement years, and to breathe deeply knowing that you have done everything in your control to live a healthy and happy life.

Have you heard the phrase “where there is a will, there is a way”? Humans have extraordinary capabilities to make things happen. Did you complete a college degree? Give birth to a child? Overcome the loss of a loved one? None of those tasks are easy, and neither is making a lifestyle change that will result in successfully losing weight SO THAT YOU CAN LIVE THE LIFE THAT YOU WANT AND DESERVE. Do you want it? My guess is that if you are in this program, you do truly want it. And I can tell you that no matter who you are, you can make it happen, and you certainly do deserve it. You know the basics of what to do, but I’ll name a few important ones to keep in mind:

1) Incorporate exercise into your weekly routine. Exercising at the gym 2-4 times per week by doing things you enjoy such as strength training, walking/running on the treadmill while you listen to your Ipod, do water aerobics, or a participate in a group exercise class.

2) Find ways to be active outside of the gym by doing things you enjoy such as walking with your spouse or children, gardening, doing your favorite exercise tape, going to the park for a nice walk and relaxation, etc.

3) Identify several healthy foods and recipes, and stock up on the items you need such as fresh or frozen vegetables, fruit, lean protein, whole grains, etc. Talk to your dietician about how you can incorporate all those healthy foods into each meal. The more you focus on incorporating healthy foods in, the less you even have to think about cutting things out because there will be no room for them.

4) Pack your lunch. Identify several healthy items you can prepare to take to work such as healthy sandwiches, home-made salads, soup, etc. Ask your dietician for ideas.

5) Never let yourself get too hungry. A good rule of thumb is to plan to eat every 3-4 hours beginning with breakfast. Plan for a small mid-morning snack, healthy lunch, snack between lunch and dinner, and then a nice healthy dinner. If you keep yourself satisfied through the day, not only will you feel better but you will be less likely to overdo it on portion sizes. Don’t take my word for it, give it a try!

If you are not used to doing the things mentioned above, it is inevitable that it will take some work and focus on your part to make them part of your life. If your main reason for trying to do them is to lose a certain amount of weight, then you might end up giving up. But if you keep in mind the life you are truly working for, you may decide that persevering through difficult times is worth the quality of life you gain by persevering.

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