March 5, 2018

Mental Health Monday: "I know how to lose weight, so why am I not doing it?"

This post is a combination of Weight Loss Wednesday and Mental Health Monday. I asked on Facebook recently for ideas for blog post topics--since I've had a bit of writer's block lately, I hoped that maybe people would have some fresh ideas.

One person wrote:
"My struggle is and continues to be.....
I’ve lost weight in the past, I know what to do, so why aren’t I doing it?
That on and off switch.
Thanks for asking. As I enjoy reading your words, your thoughts!!"
I believe this is mostly mental, which is why I chose to write about it today. It's a question I've asked myself God-only-knows how many times in my life. And I wish I had one solid, concrete answer... but if I did, then everyone would be thin ;)

While I was obese, and a doctor started telling (lecturing?) me one time about the things I needed to do to lose the weight, I cut her off and told her that I know how to lose weight. If you want to know how to lose weight, ask a fat person--we know better than anyone!

We've read all the magazine articles, self-help books, healthy cooking books; we've gone to Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig; we've tried Slim Fast and Whole 30 and the BeachBody programs. We can tell you exactly how many calories are in that doughnut you're eating, or the pasta that you ordered at the restaurant; how many fat grams are in that cookie or slice of pizza. We can tell you how many miles you need to walk to burn off that piece of cake.

WE KNOW HOW TO LOSE THE WEIGHT.

So, the big question is, what stops us from actually doing it?

Jerry and I were goofing around recently and we started taking selfies of us doing all of the emoji faces... haha! I wasn't sure what other pics to use for this post, so this is what you get ;) 

I had to think hard about this question, because I spent 20 years of my life knowing how to lose weight but not actually doing it. Until one day, I did. So, I had to ask myself what was different? Why was I able to do it this time? I came up with three things that I think made the difference.

One

I've written it over and over and over, and I'll never stop saying it: I didn't make changes that I wasn't willing to live with forever. THAT is the big "secret" that helped me to actually lose the weight.


Before you stop reading (most people shut out the rest of what I have to say at this point, because that's not a "real" answer that they are looking for), let me explain the best I can.

To lose weight, we have to make sacrifices. That is a fact. If you don't change a single thing, you obviously aren't going to lose the weight. So, whether we are successful and can stick with it depends on the sacrifices we CHOOSE to make.

If we know what we need to do to lose the weight, we need to ask ourselves if those are things we're willing to do forever (key word is "willing"). If we only choose sacrifices that we're willing to make, then there really isn't a question of whether or not we can do it. We don't have to change everything! We just have to pick and choose the changes that we are willing to make.

Here is a post that explains more about how to do that.

Two

We have to stop making the same old excuses:

"I have a birthday party tomorrow, so I'll wait and start after that."
"This weekend is busy for me, so I'm going to start on Monday."
"I am going to start tomorrow, so I need to eat all of these cookies and get them out of the house."
"I'm going to have my favorite meal one last time before I start my diet."
"The holidays are coming up, so I'm going to wait until after that. I always have so many parties and festivities going on, so I can't stick to a diet during the holidays."

And so on. We've all said them (or similar things) over and over again.


But here's the kicker: If we are TRULY willing to make the sacrifices that we came up with in my first point, then there is absolutely no reason to start later than literally RIGHT NOW. At this very moment. Because there are always going to be birthdays, anniversaries, junk food at home and work, and invitations to go out to dinner--these things won't stop!


Our surroundings, our relationships, our jobs, holidays, special occasions... those things don't change just because we go on a "diet". We are going to have to deal with those things forever, regardless of what we're eating.

So, if we choose to make the changes that we can live with, then why not start right this minute? We don't need "one last" anything, because if it's something we're not willing to give up, then we are going to have it again--no need to treat it like it's out of our lives forever.

Instead, we need to make a plan--starting right this minute. Which leads to...

Three

We need a "life plan" if we're going to stick with the changes we make. We need to plan for the tough situations and know what we're going to do in them. For example, in the previous excuse of, "I have a birthday party tomorrow, so I'll just wait until after that to start," we need to plan for it in a way that will make us happy.

What is it about the birthday party that we feel will throw us "off our diet"? We want to eat all the food, which probably isn't healthy, and a piece of birthday cake? No problem! We just plan for it ahead of time. In my personal scenario, I would plan to eat only the foods that I desire (for example, I might choose to eat a heaping scoop of pasta salad because I love it, but then I would forgo the fried chicken, because I can really take it or leave it--it's not something that I care about.

I would eat all of the things that I want to eat, that sound good to me, and I would skip the things that don't matter so much. I know (from experience) that the first 4-5 bites of a particular food taste the best; after that, it kind of goes downhill, so when it stops tasting as good, I stop eating it. What's the point of continuing to eat it if it doesn't taste as good?


And I always save room for dessert. If I'm full from a meal, then I will have my dessert later (even asking to take a piece of cake home instead of eating it at the party).
(Note: When I was counting Points or calories, my dilemma at a party was that I didn't want to have to try to estimate the calories in everything, and it was just too much work. So I would either eat nothing at all or say "Screw it!" and eat everything. 
Eventually, my solution for that became to just pick a number and count it as that--say, 500 calories for my plate of food, regardless of what was on it. I didn't try to figure it all out; I just ate what I wanted, and counted it as 500 calories.  
Then, when I wrote it in my food journal, I didn't feel like I "screwed up" the entire day or week. When I felt like I blew it with a meal, then I would let that ruin the rest of the day or week. So, by counting it (even if I was off count by 1,000 calories!) I didn't let it ruin my attitude.)
As far as drinks go... one of the sacrifices I was willing to make from the very beginning of my weight loss was pop. I used to drink tons of Dr. Pepper, but I felt I could live without it. I certainly wasn't willing to give up my desserts, but Dr. Pepper was a sacrifice that I was cool with. If you are a pop person, and you don't want to give it up, then plan on having it--but not a whole two-liter. Having one glass of pop at a birthday party isn't the end of the world.

Alcohol is a tough one for me, as you know if you've been reading lately. I had a glass of wine just about every single day when I was losing weight. I measured it out and counted the calories in it. These days, I haven't been so good at stopping with a small glass of wine. And as I get older, it has affected me in a lot of negative ways, so I am choosing not to drink alcohol (I'm not ready to declare "forever" yet... but I'd like to keep it to very, very rarely).

It's not easy for me, though! Just like weight loss, I have to make sacrifices. Of course I want to drink like everybody else at a party, or share a bottle of wine with Jerry or a girlfriend. But I remind myself of the consequences--how bad it will make me feel later, in particular. And when I weigh that in my mind, being 100% honest with myself, I (usually) choose not to have any.


In another example: "I better eat all these cookies now so that I can start my diet tomorrow". I can't tell you how many times I've said this. And you want me to spoil the ending? It won't be the last time you have cookies in your house!

Eating all of the cookies right now isn't going to keep us from being around cookies forever. All it does is give us an excuse to eat all the cookies--it makes us feel like we're doing the "right" thing because now we can start losing weight tomorrow.

In this situation, I've learned that I can have cookies every single day if I want to. I am not willing to give up cookies from my life. So, I leave the cookies in the cupboard, and when I really, truly, honestly want a cookie, I'll eat one (or two--or until they just don't taste as good).

I discovered that there have been so many times where I thought I wanted things (junk food) just because it was "bad"... but way deep down, it didn't even sound good to me at the time. So what's the point of eating it if it doesn't even sound good? Why not save it for when it really does sound good?

I think that listening to our gut feeling (figuratively, not literally--ha) is very important when it comes to food choices. When I'm really struggling, I usually ask myself, "Do I REALLY want this? (Yes! Of course I do!) No, do I really, honest-to-God, want this? Does it really sound that good?" and sometimes the answer is yes; sometimes the answer is no. But I try to listen to that little voice way down in my gut.

Before I eat, I serve myself a small portion of food, even if I'm ravenous. I can always go back for seconds if I want. I eat slowly if I can, and then if I'm ready to get seconds, I'll take a moment to ask myself if I really am still hungry. I have found that my gut feeling (I guess we could call it intuition, although I hate the phrase "intuitional eating"), is the best answer. My head might tell me I want more, but deep down, I know that I don't actually want more.



Okay, that was a very long-winded answer to a simple question:

"I know how to lose weight, so why am I not doing it?"

I think it's because we tend to make things more complicated than they need to be. If we don't give up the things we enjoy, and we learn to listen to our gut feelings about what we REALLY want, it will probably help us to actually "do it".

I think we all know the infinite ways to lose weight, and many of us have tried dozens of them--but by making it complicated, it becomes overwhelming--and of course we would rather choose simple than overwhelming.

So, I guess the nutshell three word answer is: Keep it simple!



Here are some other posts that may be helpful (going into more detail) regarding this topic:

Lose Weight Eating Only the Foods You Love
Changing the Habits That Keep Us From Losing the Weight
Is It Worth the Points/Calories?
My Best Advice For Those With Weight Loss Goals
What I Wish I Knew When I Started Losing Weight
Get It Over With! (Stop Procrastinating and Just Do It)
What Made This Time Different


(I have to say, I do a way better job at making emoji faces than Jerry does!)


17 comments:

  1. This was a very interesting read! I actually ask myself the same thing quite often. I know how to do it. So why aren't I?? I lost weight before, one would think I could do it again! I'm getting back on a running schedule now though which I hope helps a little. Thanks for the post!

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  2. This is powerful stuff. You nailed it.

    I love the real factor of your posts and this one is fantastic. Lots of good info here.

    Thanks for this great article.

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  3. Thank you so much for this post! I am having the same issue right now and I have to lose weight because I just had back surgery. I will defiantly try everything you said.

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  4. I had to laugh at this: "I better eat all these cookies now so that I can start my diet tomorrow" --> This is me and my husband, every time we're about to start a diet.

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  5. Love this post! I can't count the number of times that I have had "The Last Supper" before starting a new diet. Have been on WW since mid-January, lost 12.8 pounds and then hit a lull for the past two weeks. Back to track points again. We can do this, ya'll! Thanks Katie!

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  6. Great blog as usual Katie. Us fatties surely know more about weight loss than the general public but that doesn't make it any easier. So for today I'm taking your advice and getting back on track with my eating. I'm giving up snacking--That's something I think I can live with! Love your emoji faces! You guys are so cute!!

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  7. The emoji pics are such a hoot! Thanks for sharing the fun!

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  8. Great post! I appreciate your honesty and real fat people ideas to make it work!

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  9. I think this is one of the best things you've ever posted! It's a great answer to the question and I'm just learning these things for myself.

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  10. This was exactly the post I needed today. I've been trying to start a diet for a few weeks. I know what works for me, food journal and math, and every week I'd start the journal and fizzle out by wed or thu. I don't know what got me over the hump 10 days ago but I made it. Today I was looking for inspiration to keep at it and discovered your blog, yay! One thing I try to do is cut myself slack. So what if I didn't make it through those first weeks perfectly, it was better than nothing. Anyway thank you!

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  11. This is great! Now.....I know how to exercise, so why don't I have the ambition? :) I have recently lost 30 pounds, but I can't seem to get the ambition to exercise. I have even tried to talk myself into just 5 minutes of something, but the TV, couch, and blanket seem to win every time. :(

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  12. I loved that post! Yes, it's so true - keep it simple. I've thought all of those things. I've been working on my weight loss journey for a couple months now and always appreciate your posts. I've followed your plan of making changes I can live with. Thanks so much!

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  13. This is so timely for me! I have lost 55 pounds in the past in a healthy way, so I clearly know HOW. 5 years later I've gained 100 pounds (yikes, that's even hard to type!), and I'm in dental school (constant stress), and I just cannot seem to make myself do much to help me lose this weight. Partly because I know how hard it's going to be, but partly because it's overwhelming to even think about starting! I really like your plan to ONLY make changes you can live with forever. Thank you for some new inspiration!

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  14. Wow this is exactly what I needed today. I know how to loss weight but just could not get my mind around to do it again. I realized I missed running. I took two months off after I retired. I did walk with my dog but missed running. My dog is not easy to run with. I now leave my dog behind and go for a run. I then take him for a walk. I wish I could find that mindset back when I loss it.

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  15. THIS is SO great! And something I've not heard in this way before. I'm totally doing it from now on!

    "(Note: When I was counting Points or calories, my dilemma at a party was that I didn't want to have to try to estimate the calories in everything, and it was just too much work. So I would either eat nothing at all or say "Screw it!" and eat everything.
    Eventually, my solution for that became to just pick a number and count it as that--say, 500 calories for my plate of food, regardless of what was on it. I didn't try to figure it all out; I just ate what I wanted, and counted it as 500 calories.
    Then, when I wrote it in my food journal, I didn't feel like I "screwed up" the entire day or week. When I felt like I blew it with a meal, then I would let that ruin the rest of the day or week. So, by counting it (even if I was off count by 1,000 calories!) I didn't let it ruin my attitude.)"

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  16. I agree, your emoji faces were better. :-)

    ReplyDelete

I'd love to hear from you! I read all of my comments, and if you have a question, I do my best to respond; sometimes, however, I get busy and forget to go back to reply, so if it's important, just email me! :) (I had to turn on comment moderation due to a ton of spam comments; but I will approve your comment asap!)

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