I feel like I should give you some updates on my life, but the sad reality is that there’s just not much to say.
Here’s what 90% of my days look like: Get up, get Mason up, go to work, pick Mason up, come home, make/eat dinner, read a thousand kid books, put Mason to bed, work out, shower, do something boring like laundry or dishes, watch an episode of Breaking Bad with Brent (almost to season 5!), and go to bed.
I guess I could be taking awkward selfies of myself eating things at my desk during the day. Or I could go to Starbucks, so I could take one of those close-ups of my coffee cup with the car interior in the background. I always like those.
But the fact remains: I’m a hamster on a hamster wheel.
And so, I’ll talk about something more interesting (at least to me): weight loss!
No, that’s not my stomach. I’m going to pretend that needed to be cleared up.
I haven’t been thinking about weight loss a lot lately, since I’m not personally on that road right this second, but it does come up a lot in the podcasts I listen to. And I inevitably find myself thinking, “Great. Point! I gotta remember that. And TELL THE WORLD!”
I think what interests me the most about it is the psychological aspects. The whole concept of weight loss is so largely mental, it’s wild.
For example, I have a theory that people who want to lose a lot of weight fail not because they’re “doing it wrong,” but because they can’t fathom success. They can’t actually picture themselves as a size X, or reaching that goal weight.
The related problem is that they anticipate failure, as a defense mechanism. So they don’t really expect all this diet and exercise stuff to get them anywhere. It’s more about doing their due diligence–once in awhile, for awhile, until they slip up a little and their psyche kicks in with the whole, “See? I knew this wasn’t going to work.”
Anyway, in thinking about all this, I thought I’d share a few of the key “truths” about weight loss that stand out to me:
You have all the time in the world
This is a Jillian Michaels quote. She’s speaking to the fact that everybody expects super fast results from diet and exercise, when really, what’s the rush? A lot of people have carried the same extra weight for many, many years, and yet when they decide they want to get rid of it, they want it gone NOW.
Why? What’s a couple years of slow, imperfect weight loss, compared to however many years of holding onto that weight?
Your motivation needs to be GOOD (no high school reunions)
People like nice, concrete deadlines, and there’s certainly a place for them in driving weight loss goals. But your real, deep-down motivation needs to be bigger than that.
It needs to be something intrinsic to your being, something that gives your life meaning. When someone asks you who you are and what you’re about, it’s one of the first things to come to mind.
Parenting is a big one. A lot of Biggest Loser contestants talk about being around for their kids, being positive role models, having enough energy to be the parent they want to be, not wanting to burden their kids later in life, etc.
Define “burden.” Because if you make it to the NBA, I do expect at least a nice car.
Or maybe it’s a confidence or happiness thing. Something related to a career or relationship.
Whatever it is, it has to be something you care DEEPLY about. Looking good at a wedding just isn’t going to be enough.
Cardio can sabotage you
Cardio is about burning calories. Which is ok, except that your body’s going to want those calories back.
In other words, you better be prepared for how hungry it makes you. And you better be prepared for the fact that your body is going to want nothing but the most immediately useable form of fuel–carbs (which also happen to be some of the least nutritious foods out there).
Back in my more aggressive running days, I used to come home from long runs and DE-MO-LISH pizza. I remember being deliiiiriously hungry–specifically, for the worst foods I could think of. My brain wanted nothing to do with no lean chicken breast. (Weird that I’ve never trained for and run an endurance race without gaining weight, huh?)
Strength training, on the other hand, is about conditioning your body to burn more calories naturally, outside of gym time. That’s where the metabolism changes happen, and that’s where people interested in weight loss need to be.
Progress is success
This is another Jillian-inspired idea. A lot of people do ok with weight loss for awhile, and then they hit a plateau and totally fall apart.
As long as you’re making progress in the right direction, you’re succeeding. And that’s all you need to worry about. Everything else is going to ebb and flow.
Exercise begets exercise
In other words: the more you exercise, the more you exercise. It’s much better to have super regular workouts–some good, some not so great, some super crappy–than to wait until you’re “feeling it.”
More frequent workouts take the pressure off each individual workout to be amazing, thereby taking the pressure off you to go into them feeling like a million bucks every time.
I feel like crap right now! But legs day is legs day.
To lose weight, you have to first figure out how and why it got there
Yeah, this totally appeals to my psychology obsession. You might think this is froo-froo stuff–blaming your childhood for everything and whatnot–but every single Biggest Loser contest could link their struggles with weight loss to something specific about their past.
At a less extreme level, there are psychological patterns that could be the subconscious roadblocks (I’m a failure, I’m not that strong of a person, I’m not that good at anything, no one cares what I look like anyway).
Do whatever you have to do to think about food less
Annoying fact of life: the few times in my life when I’ve lost a good amount of weight have been times I wasn’t trying to lose weight at all. I think a huge factor in that was that I wasn’t really thinking about food.
On the flip side, the times I’ve been totally obsessive about food–thinking about it all day long, usually as a result of restriction–were by far my least healthy times.
Of course, it’s not easy to say, “Ok! I’ll just stop thinking about food now.”
Some things that can help are not counting calories (focus on eating the right foods instead), planning meals/snacks waaay in advance, and being forgiving of yourself.
For an example of that last one…
Sometimes, you gotta just eat the thing
Everybody sucks at dealing with temptation. Some are better at it than others, but humans are hardwired with instincts to give ourselves what we want.
The best way to deal with temptation is to make a plan for managing it, rather than just expecting yourself to override it every time.
Sometimes, that means you have to just eat the thing you’re craving. If all you can think about all day is ice cream, and you don’t let yourself touch the stuff, you’re just going to feed the food obsession and, probably, set yourself up for an eventual binge.
If you’ve waited 20 minutes, drank your water, tried to distract yourself, etc., and that stupid food just keeps popping back into your head, just eat the dang thing (a little of it) before the whole thing gets out of hand.
Define “a little.” Preferably in number of ice cream cones.
What truths about weight loss have you learned, either from experience or others?