I can t lose weight no matter how hard I try!
I have a friend, lets call him Dean. He’s a fun guy to have around, bright, funny and boisterous. He is also 40 pounds overweight. Dean likes the good life. He is a dedicated foodie, can never resist another piece of chocolate cake and loves a cold beer or 2 on a hot sunny day! Now to be fair to Dean, he is also a dedicated gym rat, is generally careful about what he eats (except when its Chocolate Cake) and runs miles every weekend. But he hasn’t yet managed to get rid of his beer gut. Nor has he achieved his stated goal of fitting his ample rear into that old pair of Levis.
Dean always had a good sense of humor but of late he has begun to specialize in self-deprecating jokes. But we go a long way and I know that deep down he is frustrated with his inability to lose weight. This is something that doesn’t happen often to him. You see Dean is a super-achiever. What Dean wants Dean gets!
Sometimes I remark that he is trying too hard! He always was an easy guy to be around but now he tends to get on your nerves. He works out fanatically, come rain or storm. Sometimes he is overcome with guilt if he does not meet his Calorie burn targets and gets panicky when he binges occasionally on the food that he loves. Dean keeps telling me that he just needs to put in that little extra to reach a tipping point and then he’s going to lose all that weight. He is so close he can see it around the corner. He just needs to be more regular in his work outs, needs to push himself harder and resist his temptations and eat like a monk.And then you’ll see!
Meanwhile his doctor just prescribed him some medications for stress!!
Oh Hello!! Dean and stress???
The trying too hard trap
How many of you find this story all too familiar? Or do you have friends who go through the angst of trying desperately to lose weight. And not succeeding! And yet you feel that if only I put in some extra effort, some more time then I am going to lose weight. Maybe I’ll starve myself or I’ll try a low-carb diet or a low fat diet or a low anything diet yak yak yak!. And then biting your nails when stepping on that bathroom scale and being disappointed time and again. Or getting ecstatic when you lose a little. Is this what being healthy boils down to? Watching your weight more closely than the Dow or the Nasdaq? There must be easy way to lose weight. Or at the very least some method which is easy on the nerves which are frayed to breaking point.
For the record though according to Dr Mercola there is scientific proof to support the fact that a high fat,low-carb diet is good for most people along with moderate proteins in the diet. He further goes on to quote Randy Evans a nutrition expert:
“Our goal with most patients is to push back on those low-fat guidelines we got in the ’80s … and to encourage people to incorporate healthy fats in every meal … We’re really just getting carbs from Mother Nature here,” he says.
If you take a moment to sit down quietly and think about it you will realize that life is unpredictable and you cannot always follow the strict workout regimes that you set for your selves or ones that your fitness instructor has set for you. There are going to be some days when you come home from work exhausted or stressed out and wont be able to make that early morning Gym session. Other times you are going to feel so powerfully hungry that you are going to pig on whatever unhealthy food you find in the fridge. So if you are following a weight loss plan which does not account for all these things then I say you need a REALITY Check!
Plan your plans
If you keep jumping through hoops like that circus bear, pretty soon you are going to look like him as well. If you keep raising the bar in the hope of obtaining critical mass, there will come a time when you won’t have any energy or mental resources left to pursue your health goals. You are either going to get demotivated enough to quit or run around in circles trying this magical supplement or that miracle vitamin. You may try all those cool DVD’s with enticing titles or the most exotic diet plans next but all you are going to burn is a hole in your pocket.
I’m not saying that Workout DVDs don’t work or that all those supplements & diets are useless. But if you find it difficult to stick to any plan with that strict discipline how can you expect to make much headway. After all isn’t that what they say in the fine print. It is a fact of life that whenever we start something new, motivation is at its highest point. A case in point is New Year resolutions and Monday motivations. As the sheen wears off, boredom sets in and a stiff dose of external motivation is needed to stay the course. But then life being what it is, there may be emergencies at home, or crisis at work, depression, loss of a loved one, a break up or a divorce and all the best laid plans of mice and men end up as a Dog’s breakfast!
Weight loss is never far from people’s minds
So is motivation a spent force?
Motivational quotes abound, so do inspirational images and videos but the question is, does motivation give you the strength to go on when your mind and body want to call it quits? Can motivation make you show up at the gym or the running track every morning. Does motivation guard you against eating what you shouldn’t when you shouldn’t? Sure motivation has its uses when you want to lose weight. You can tell yourself why you wake up each morning and put your body through all kinds of discomfort.
The goal you want to achieve makes it that much easier to make sacrifices. You might be more amenable to forgoing that second helping or avoid having that late night snack if you keep reminding yourself continually about the reason why you want to lose that weight. Maybe you want a fabulous body or want to fit into that special dress or want to run that marathon or want to lose X number of pounds. Motivation makes all privations worthwhile and you get to carry a kind of halo on your head for having done the right thing.
This in turn may have an incremental effect which inspires you to make some more sacrifices and stay the course. Motivation rewards you by making you feel good even euphoric. A cherry on top would be if you actually lost some weight as well or achieved some other goal that you set for yourself. But then again that may not happen, especially not in the short term. So if your need for instant gratification is not fulfilled some or all of that “feel-good” factor may get dissipated. And what do you think takes its place?
A sense of futility, frustration, depression is bound to set in. Suddenly you might find that all those motivational messages don’t move you as much and you quickly fall back into your old ways. Constant self-motivation is an exhausting mental exercise, one that you may find difficult to sustain over a long period of time. And believe me getting healthy and remaining so is a long term thing! As my good friend Dean says
Dying in good health is going to take forever!
Hope in the time of Despair
So am I trying to paint a bleak picture and further demoralize & confuse you? We both know that what I stated above is the truth. But that is besides the point. You obviously want to know if all of the above do not work, what does actually work. What is going to take the place of motivation, effort, hard work etc? If you think I am going to disclose a quick fix wonder solution then I am sorry but I’m going to have to disappoint you. If you think that I am going to sell some wonder affiliate product down your throat after discrediting all others then again….. none of that sleaze!!!
But I do have a solution I would like to propose! It involves a fresh approach, is highly effective and delivers positive results. Even though I am not the
originator of this idea I have some insights that I would like to share with you. First of all let me clear the decks and tell you that following this method does not mean you wont need to exercise, or that you can eat anything and in general live irresponsibly. In other words don’t do anything my friend Dean wouldn’t do!! I’m only joking!!!
But hey seriously, I believe you can follow any expert advice, which is available by the truckloads. And a lot of it is solid good advice but you still don’t get to fulfill your aspirations. But that does not necessarily mean it is bad advice. The only problem is consistency and discipline, what you would call “stick-to-itivity”. Follow any plan you choose, try paleo diets, organic diets or go for Cross-fit training, opt for Tabatha or Yoga as you like but as long as you lack the discipline to follow it with regularity, how do you expect to see viable,visible & tangible results? Do you realize how absurd that sounds.
Now many of you may think that by discipline I mean we need to try that much harder but that’s not what I had in mind and I’m going to explain myself in a moment. But wouldn’t it be great if we could follow our diets more easily, if getting up, dressing up and showing up were not so difficult, if stumbling down and faltering were not so easy. We would have much more to show for our efforts if motivation wasn’t so damned exhausting.
I am all for adopting a system which makes it easier for us to follow whatever it is that we need to follow in order achieve our all important Health Goals!
Automate your habits!
Since you are already trying as hard as you can, there is no point in telling you to try still harder or to put yourself through the wringers. The solution to getting yourself a healthy life and lose weight is not still greater effort but in essence these 5 things
- Change your attitude
- Create a plan that makes following your health regime easier
- Focus on making permanent lifestyle changes
- Don’t set impossible to follow diet plans/workout plans for a short period of time only to relapse back into your old habits
- Focus on getting healthier not losing weight
Now it may not sound much on paper. But this requires a bit of mental exercise, thankfully it is not as exhausting as you are probably used to. Allow me to elaborate
Get this straight your health is not a function of your weight. There are various important metrics to consider for example, BMI, fat content and most importantly your Resting metabolism. If you obsess over your weight you are missing the forest for the trees. Focus on living a healthy lifestyle, make lasting changes for the sake of your health.
In short stop beating yourself up about how you look and how much you weigh. It is your life and it is more important how you feel rather than how you look. Besides if you are healthy inside you are going to feel good and that is going to radiate into your life, your confidence is going to improve and you are going to look good. But if you need to look like a movie star for your friends and peers to really accept you then you need a new set of friends. Be very clear about this, you are doing all this for yourself because you love yourself, because you want to lead a healthy,disease-free, happy, fruitful life. This is the only motivation you’ll ever need
Don’t fail to Plan
As they say God is in the detail. When you make your plans to lose weight, don’t build castles in the air. Here’s how you could go about it
- Automate all your trivial decision-making
- Do not fall victim to decision fatigue.
- Don’t set the bar too high, at the same time do not set it too low
- Take into consideration your daily routine and that of your dependents as well
- Clear the cob webs, give your self an even chance
- If you plan to go jogging/gymming/yoga etc early in the morning, make sure you set up your alarm, sort out your running gear and anything else you might need beforehand
- In case you have other demands on your time, make sure you reschedule those so that you don’t have any excuses to hang on
- If you have an eating problem, do not stock your fridge with food you shouldn’t be eating, instead replace it with healthy food
- You cannot fight temptation, you are better off avoiding it
- Don’t go solo, involve your family in your goal-setting. Let them help you instead of being a hindrance
- Find a friend, or loved one or a companion who can show tough love, so that you are accountable
- If you fall off your regime, do not whip yourself, just shake of the dust and get into your saddle again
- Guilt trips and self-martyrdom are not glam
- The world does not owe you good health, only you owe yourself that
Here are a few simple hacks that Erin at FBG recommends to fight the urge to be lazy
Weight Loss Plans vs Lifestyle Changes
Say you started a brand new weight loss program. You wake up early in the morning, run 5 miles. Eat a designated diet consisting of X number of calories, work out and burn Y number of calories. Starving yourself you keep at it for 6-8-12 weeks and lets say you lose some weight. What next? Do you have the sheer capacity to keep doing it for the rest of your life? Obviously not! So you gain back all that weight and you are back where you started.
Instead try this: sit with a doodle pad and look at your daily routine.
- Are you getting enough sleep?
- When you wake up are you refreshed or groggy?
- Do you wake up and sleep at just about the same time every day? If not do it!
- Does you mind go into overdrive when you try to sleep?
- Are you glued to cellphones, ipads, laptops, TV right until you sleep? Try unplugging from all electronic devices 1 hour prior to bed time.
- Do you have frequent late nights? Can you change that?
- Are you in the habit of snoring?
- Once you regulate your sleeping habits , do you still feel groggy? Is your mind still in overdrive?Do you still snore?
- What kind of food do you normally eat? Where do you eat it? Can you avoid going to places where you are bound to binge?
- What is the overall composition of you regular diet?
- Are you getting enough proteins, good fats and even Carbohydrates? ( Yes you need that too to increase your metabolism rates)
- What are the potions you are serving yourself? Your diet may be balanced but the potions may not be!
- Are they enough or do they leave you hungry?
- What changes do you need to make so that your daily diet could become more balanced?
- What foods do you need to Stop eating? Start eating? Continue eating?
- If you implement these changes, what does your daily diet look like?
- Is there anything in your diet that is unpalatable to you?
- Can you replace it with something which is more palatable?
- Now do you look forward to your daily meals with enthusiasm?
- If not then try changing things you don’t like with things you do like of similar intrinsic value.
- Chew your food in unhurried fashion ( I know this is ancient wisdom but what my Mama taught me still holds true)
- Do you feel constipated at times?
- Are you drinking enough water? At least 2L a day
- Do you drink water after a regular meal? Try drinking water at least 1 hour before meals, never after.
- Is your bowel movement regular?
- Do you feel heavy and bloated?
- Would you describe your lifestyle as sedentary?
- Do you often complain of acidity?Burps? Hiccups?
- What is the time interval between your last meal and the time you go to sleep?
- Do you eat at irregular and odd times? Late night snacks? Spicy/Oily foods?
- Once you start drinking enough water, eating proper meals at regular times and cutting down on late night snacks and spicy/oily foods do you notice a marked improvement in your general digestion?
- After ensuring that you are getting proper sleep and that there is at least a 2 hour interval between your last meal and your bed time do you still complain of acidity, burps and hiccups?
- Does your body still feel heavy once you have stopped drinking water after meals?
- Do you smoke?Drink? Drugs?
- Any other psychotropic substances?
- What effect does your addiction have on your health? digestion?sleep?
- Do you believe you can ever be completely healthy while still continuing with the addiction?
- Is the momentary gratification you get while indulging in your addiction compensate for the long term effects of ill-health?
- Are you usually/frequently/occasionally stressed out?
- Is the reason for your stress work?family?relationships?
- Is the stress you usually experience a result of your reaction to the things that happen to you?
- Do you suffer from heart problems/High Blood Pressure/Diabetes?
- Do you suffer from psychological/mental issues?
- Are you following all the precautions needed to keep these above conditions in check?
- Once you sort out & automate all the trivial details in your life do you still experience stress?
- Are you willing to make a change in your professional/work life to improve your health?
- As a result of quitting your addictions do you see a marked difference in the quality of your sleep, digestion and general health?
- Can you get rid of your dependence on addictive substances and deal with your stress head on.
- Do you believe you can relieve your stress by diagnosing the reasons for your stress and automating how your react to it?
- Do you believe now that you now have greater free mental capacity?
Where does this leave you?
Just in case you are thinking that this may turn out to be an exercise in futility. Let us take stock. If you have followed all the above steps with sincerity you will probably have a more clear picture of where you stand. You will better understand what kind of problems you face. I cannot even pretend to understand all the obstacles you face in your daily lives. And the list of questions is by no means exhaustive. But you get the drift so feel free to add other questions which are relevant to you. Once you are fully aware of what you are up against your task will be cut out for you.
Believe me you will experience a huge weight off your shoulders. It is not hard work or effort that we dread but a lack of direction. No one likes to meander aimlessly. So take some time out tie all those flailing strains of thought into a meaningful braid. Take stock of every aspect of your life!
Once you have that taken care of, you can see the road ahead with much better clarity. Without the extra baggage you will be able to traverse upon it with a spring in your step. So attack your tasks with gusto and give it all you’ve got. Good health is a boon and you will be able to enjoy the finer things in life without guilt or fear.
Over from me to you!
I have personally experienced demotivation, depression and frustration regarding my health. Many a times I have had writers block and been unable to put thought to paper. But receiving your feedback and kind (some not so kind too!) comments has been a lifesaver for me. So in case you forget I need rescuing too! Drop me a lifesaver from time to time!