Last month my husband stopped me from eating my last bite of chocolate cake. “You’re eating chocolate cake? You had Chick-Fil-A this morning. Did you eat all those chicken minis?” Yes, I did eat the chicken minis in addition to the sausage and egg burrito and hash browns. Some women wouldn’t appreciate their partners questioning their eating habits but a few weeks prior, I had specifically asked my husband to judge me for my food choices. He didn’t because I wasn’t in the ‘danger zone.’ This evening I was in the danger zone.
Memorial Day weekend I made a Pinterest poke cake and frozen half to possibly take to a cookout later. In a fatty desperation, I had come to learn that it tasted even better frozen and had been having generous portions of it each day that week. My husband didn’t know that but he did know I hadn’t been exercising. I told him I didn’t care about my body at the moment and wanted to eat the cake, which is a typical point of failure– we make decisions with long term effects based on temporary feelings. He tried to remind me that we had a military ball coming up at the end of July, but I don’t buy that. Last time it was supposed to be in July it was in March. I’ll be slim by then…
That conversation impacted my choices for the next week. I only ate the chocolate cake one day that week! But our babysitter kindly reminded me I had cookies each time I came to her house. Still it was progress. I had decided to forgo the Dove Ice Cream bars and M&Ms on my grocery trips to make it a little harder to get fat, but allowed the cookies to take the edge off of the craving.
It was easy to pack for our summer leave to Missouri because there were few items of clothing I could fit. On the trip, it was further made clear to me I needed to lose weight; working from home in sweats and leggings had shielded me from the reality of my waistline. As I struggled through a Cardinals game in chino shorts, I realized something had to change. Looking in the mirror I realized my heavy thighs resembled those of my deliciously fat 5-month old, but chunky, squishy fat is less cute on an adult. While I didn’t believe the military ball would happen in July as advertised, I started to think about how it would feel if the army didn’t do what is does best and change the plans. I would be disappointed if I didn’t look good!
That Friday we went for a jog. Following that I began to consider how much I was eating. Although I am breastfeeding, I knew my massive appetite was a result of gluttony rather than hunger and decided I needed to cut back.
Rarely does someone go directly from barely thinking about changing to being committed to changing. The story details a common process I use to move from contemplation to action for losing weight or implementing another lifestyle change.
What Do You Want?
The difference in a person that is in great shape and a person in bad or mediocre shape is usually that the person in great shape with a great diet has decided that is what they wanted to achieve. Since college I have been in great shape most of the time and incredible shape twice. I am generally proud of my physique, but the difference in me now and me then is that I wanted to be in amazing shape and was able to have that as a priority. If you are unable to stick to a goal, you either don’t truly want that or you need to be more clear about what you want. If you want to be at a healthy weight but can’t stop eating processed foods and drinking soda, the reality is you want immediate satisfaction more than long term health. Is that okay with you?
Why Do You Want It?
It is important to keep the why in mind because the rationale for the desired behavior usually remains when the behavior falls through. In the moment I didn’t want to care about my body, I still couldn’t fit over half my clothes and I still had a ball coming up. Maybe you want to lose weight to cure diabetes; diabetes will still be a factor if you choose to disregard trying to lose weight. Progress will be made toward the goal or away from it. You have to find a way to keep your reasons in mind.
Do you ever watch “My 600-lb Life” and think about how if they would just eat the diet of a normal, or even overweight full-grown man they would lose a significant amount of weight? I do. People generally know what they need to do to change their situations and it’s important to go ahead and do those things. To get the ball rolling and the numbers moving, you don’t need supplements or wraps, you don’t need surgery, and you don’t need a complex eating plan. We all need to do the things we know will make a difference. If you know bringing your lunch to work will help you eat less calories, do that. If you know you always overeat at buffets, don’t go. If buying a party size bag of skittles means you’ll eat 25 servings of skittles over a weekend, don’t buy them. If you know you aren’t even getting 10,000 steps a day, start there.
When internal motivators don’t work, having someone who can remind you of your goals is the next best thing. What generally happens, however, is that the individual begins to avoid the person they have enlisted or even chooses to lie about their choices, which completely nullifies the point of the arrangement. This person is being the conscience that may be failing you at that moment. If you don’t want to formally find someone to keep you accountable, being in groups or having friends who have the values or lifestyle you want to achieve can help you stay motivated as well. I find that simply talking about weight loss, fitness, or your goals can help reinforce resolve to achieve those things.
Here is what these steps look like for me:
- Decide what I want
I want to lose 20 pounds to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight
- Decide why I want it or need it
I need to lose weight so that I can fit into my wardrobe and be comfortable. I want to lose weight in time to look great at the military ball and my sister-in-law’s wedding in October.
- Make obvious adjustments
I will not buy junk food with weekly groceries. I will question whether I am hungry before having seconds (or thirds). I will exercise at least 3 times a week. I will buy enough vegetables and eat them at every meal.
- Enlist support or accountability
I will not hide my food choices from my husband. I will continue to discuss my goals and struggles with friends.
Having worked as a personal trainer and lost weight myself in two periods of my life, I know the process. It is easy to say you want something and that you’re trying to achieve it, but I have seen it from others and myself- if you really want something you do what it takes to obtain it. As we have become disillusioned in life, we may feel jaded toward the saying “You can do anything you set your mind to,” but modest weight loss is truly one of those things. All it takes is a choice. Be honest with yourself and plan out how you can stay focused and you’re on the road to your success.
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