My Weight Loss Journey: 40 Down, 40 To Go
Weight Loss Is Possible
Okay, so a lot of people want to lose weight. In September 2016, I began my weight loss journey. So far, I’m down 40 pounds. Some folks have asked me to write about the process I’ve gone through so far. I am doing just that.
Let me start with saying I am not a physician or dietitian. For that matter, I’m not even recommending a specific diet. It’s not really about a specific diet. Eat fewer calories than you use. That’s the only method of weight loss there is.
What I want to focus on is the process and how I have changed my habits and, most importantly, my thinking. I hope you find this helpful for you. I’m down 40 pounds and I’m still going.
In order to stick with any change, you need motivation that matters over time. Good weight loss motivation usually isn’t just to look better or drop a dress size. That’s too superficial to motivate us over time. We need things that will matter 6 months from now as much (or more) as they matter today.
We all have different experiences, values, and beliefs. Find something that will motivate you toward weight loss that is so important you could never state it otherwise. Here are my top 3:
- I have 4 children. I want to see my grandchildren and enjoy doing things with them. While weight loss does not assure me of living that long, it certainly helps. What I do know is the likelihood of early death increases for every overweight pound I carry.
- I want to make an impact on others for as long as possible. I love helping people. I love ministering to people. I would like to have more years of being able-bodied enough to continue those things.
- I want to feel better. Honestly, feeling better for the sake of feeling better tends to be low on my list. However, I know when I feel better I get more done. For a task-oriented person like me, that kind of motivation matters.
There is no way for me to not care about those things. They matter today and they will matter later.
We hear and say things about setting goals all the time. Yet, few of us actually do it in a meaningful way. For me, my ultimate goal is farther down the road. I’m halfway there. However, the weight loss goal I focus on is not “lose 80 pounds.” Unless I start chopping off body parts, I can’t lose 80 pounds!
What I have decided to focus on is losing 1 pound. I try to make the scale decrease by 1 pound every 3 days. Sometimes I make it. Sometimes I don’t. Regardless of whether I make it or not, that continues to be my immediate weight loss goal.
We’re all different. Some people might be able to keep that big goal in focus and make progress. The problem with focusing on the gigantic goal, for me, is I am impatient. I know this about myself. Looking toward the next pound is easier than looking toward the next 40. I focus on losing the next pound.
Plan for Weight Loss
This is a critical, and maybe the most critical, part. I have to plan what I am going to eat, where I am going to eat, and have a contingency plan in case something doesn’t work out. I am on a low-carb diet, so I always keep a protein-rich snack close by in case something falls through.
Since I travel 3 out of 5 days during the week, I have to think ahead about restaurants. I decide in advance where and what I will eat. Sometimes, I don’t even look at menus. Making the decision ahead of time takes out some (not all) of the temptation and keeps me on my weight loss track.
At home and around the office, I do the same things. I already know what I am going to eat later today. This helps me avoid snacks that will derail me and helps me avoid temptation. Planning helps you maintain discipline. I am convinced that planning has much more to do with my weight loss success than will power.As long as the method is reasonable, planning will be the biggest key to weight loss success. Click To Tweet
We use food to celebrate everything. Weddings, birthday parties, holidays, and a host of other things are celebrated with food. Food can become a form of entertainment. This was my problem and I had to correct my thinking.
Food had become entertainment. When I say “entertainment,” I mean any of the following:
- Coping with stress (or depression, anxiety, etc.)
I used food for all of the above. Changing my thinking means that first and foremost I view food as something to keep me alive. Food is not for entertainment. That may not work for you, but it is an absolute necessity for me. Food is not entertainment in my life. I have to maintain this mindset in regard to food.
Let me say something about the “reward” part of food. I do not subscribe to the idea that I need to reward myself for success by having pasta, dessert, or any other food item I have deleted from my diet. I would rather reward myself with a round of golf or weekend trip. For you it might be a new pair of shoes, earrings, trip to the zoo, painting lesson, or anything else that you find rewarding. Anything but food! I do not want to reinforce the food-as-reward cycle.
The second part of my change in thinking involves reinforcing thoughts that support my weight loss. These include:
- I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want, or I can be healthier. I can’t have it both ways.
- The choice I make is always within my control. Cravings might be out of my control but what I do is always within my control.
- Cravings always pass. I can make them go away faster by focusing my attention on something else.
- My body doesn’t know it’s a holiday or a special occasion. It’ll process food in exactly the same way as on other days.
By reminding myself of these things and focusing my attention elsewhere, I can beat cravings. I am in control of what I actually do. This applies to weight loss plans and every other area of my life.
My wife is my biggest supporter. She supports me in too many ways to name. My coworkers and church friends also support my weight loss. They sometimes joke with me about the things I am eating and talk about how much they don’t or wouldn’t like it. But they’re always supportive. They congratulate, cheerlead, and encourage. Get some folks in your life who will encourage you to stay motivated.
You can meet your weight loss goals. Pick an eating plan you can maintain over time, find your motivation, set goals, plan ahead, and monitor your thinking. You might even want to check out cognitive-behavioral therapy for weight loss. What tips do you have for others to start or maintain weight loss?