Be Patient with Yourself
When starting any diet plan, it is normal to want to see immediate results. Everyone wants to be able to drop a dress size by this weekend. If we could lose all the weight quickly, then we could move on to other things, right? We also live in a culture that expects immediate gratification, as many things do happen quickly or at the touch of a button. We are used to getting things now! When it comes to weight loss, the desire for immediate gratification usually causes more health and emotional problems than it solves. Quick weight loss via drastic measures or fad diets tends to put us on a never ending yo-yo cycle of losing and gaining weight over and over.
Although you could go on a starvation diet and lose weight relatively quickly, this is not sustainable long-term or healthy for your body. When we are starving, our bodies actually release hormones to encourage us to eat, making starvation very difficult to sustain. After a period of starvation, people also tend to binge eat once food is available. Therefore, although you may be able to severely limit your calories in the short-term, at some point you are going to find yourself in front of a big bowl of pasta or chocolate cake and you won’t be able to control how much you eat. This is not your fault and doesn’t mean you don’t have sufficient will-power, it is just your body trying to compensate for starvation.
Ideally, you should aim to lose about 1-2 pounds per week. This may be too slow for many dieters. But remember, it took a long time to gain the weight, so it is going to take some time to get the weight off. If you lose a lot of weight quickly, it is usually mostly water which willcome back on once you eat something high in salt or carbohydrates, it is not actually fat loss. Seeing the scale jump back up can be discouraging, causing you to give up. Losing weight too quickly can also result in losing muscle mass, which you need in order to maintain your metabolism. If you lose a significant amount of muscle and your metabolism slows down, it will be very difficult to maintain the weight lost long-term and you will likely put the weight back on. Losing weight slowly helps prevent too much muscle loss.
Being impatient to lose weight or having unrealistic expectations can cause a significant amount of stress. Every time the scale doesn’t say what you want it to, it can really put a damper on your day. Excessive stress leads to the release of a hormone called cortisol that actually makes our bodies hold on to weight! Second, stress can lead to emotional or binge eating which can derail all your best efforts. Instead, try not to focus on the scale, but on small healthy habits you are putting in place every day. Aim to eat five fruits and vegetables daily or set a weekly exercise goal. Place your focus on achieving these small daily goals that will add up to weight loss long-term, instead of what the number on the scale says.
Instead of placing so much focus on the number, look at your progress towards a healthier lifestyle. Changing your patterns, habits, and thoughts will result in long-term weight maintenance without a significant amount of stress or anxiety. First, start by taking a look at your thought patterns that led you to be overweight in the first place. Are you using food to cope with a bad day? Or as a reward for yourself? Are you over-scheduled and not making time for preparing healthy meals or to prioritize exercise? Take a look at your habits that are standing in the way of your long-term success. Try keeping a journal of times where you make less than ideal choices, so you can begin to identify situations that are potential triggers for you. Next, create an action plan on how you will deal with these triggers in the future. Don’t forget to ask for some help or support from family members or friends, who can also be included in your plan.
The key is to change your focus from the scale to the daily habits. Begin to put those daily habits in place that will really help with your overall health. Maybe even put the scale away for a while so that it is not a distraction or weigh yourself less often. Weight loss will be a result ofputting healthy habits in place and living a positive lifestyle.