Monday, January 11, 2010

10 Things I Know About Losing Weight (and Sometimes Forget!)

Almost seven years ago, I quit smoking for good. Since then, I have struggled with all or part of the same twenty pounds, over and over again. What in the bleep, bleep, bleep do I have to do to lose that twenty pounds and keep it off?

This post is not about the usual tips for weight loss that are repeated over and over again everywhere. It's about what I have figured out to do and remember to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.  

1. It's never over. How many times have I thought about weight control as something that would end when the "correct" number of pounds was gone - suffer for a time; then resume life as usual. As unpleasant as it is, the fact that weight maintenance involves lifelong change is totally true! This is probably the hardest one for me. The time when I reach an optimum weight is the time when I'm most likely to forget all my own advice.

2. It's an equation. Calories in, calories out - calorie excess, calorie deficit. I know that many things can affect the equation, but people get hung up on the details. Emotions and beliefs don't negate the equation, as in "It's my birthday, so it's okay."  It's old math; 2 + 2 = 4. Period.

3. If not now, when? Procrastination is my enemy when it comes to losing weight. Always after the - party, summer, weekend, birthday, dinner, trip. Well, when then? When I hear people say that they just can't lose weight, I always think to myself that they can lose, but they can't START.

4. Eat now what you will eat always. It's trite, but dieting is bad. The best number of calories is the number required to maintain the desired weight. I learned this from the vet when one of the cats had to shed a few pounds. He said to give the cat the amount of food listed on the bag for the weight she should be. It worked (see 2 above!). So simple - although the cat didn't like it much.

5. Love yourself. I am absolutely convinced that weight will not go away and stay away when I hate what I see in the mirror. It also seems counterintuitive to fight against oneself; how can conflict produce a good result. I remind myself that I want to lose weight because I want to treat myself better, that I'm doing it for me. If weight loss is to fix something, I believe it won't work.

6. Keep going. I always want to give up after I eat french fries or a piece of cake. I try to remind myself to forget it and keep going.

7. Know the Triggers. Triggers to overeat are different for everybody. Mine involve anything upsetting or stressful - the furnace quits forever; I'm sick; my husband is sick; a fender bender; someone's road rage. Triggers are things that make me feel entitled to eat whatever I want, equation be damned. Part of this is to have strategies because there will always triggers.

8. Be kind. Life is happening now, not later. I know I will not go through this life without eating pie, potato chips, and fries. Moderation is key and so is being realistic. Friday is chocolate day at our house. Always a little dark chocolate for dessert. Knowing that I grant myself that treat without guilt allows me to avoid the chocolate aisle otherwise. (It doesn't work at Christmas which is just one of those times when the best I can do is manage overindulgence.)

9. No timelines. I find that the very least productive thing is to have a date/event in mind by which time I will have lost X pounds. Almost every time I do this, I end up heavier by the appointed date rather than lighter. Maybe I'm just perverse, but having a deadline seems to invite negative behaviour.

10. Don't obsessively focus on losing weight.  When I spend any siginificant part of my day focused on losing weight - counting calories, writing down food consumed, planning meals, and, mostly, continuously thinking about it all - I get sick of the whole business. This can result in giving up on the weight loss instead of just giving up thinking about it too much.

I know what to eat and how much. I know how important exercise is. I know where to find information about calories and nutrients, about exercise and cardiovascular health. I need to get the whole weight loss thing straight in my head. These ideas help me sort it out.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your insights on weight loss! It's so true (at least for me) that keeping perspective on the life-long commitment to being well is really the most difficult part of it. I often find myself at the office excusing vending machine trips with the rationale that just one more snack won't really hurt. Then, come weigh-day I drop my jaw almost in amazement that I didn't lose anything.

Belle Isle said...

I so wish I didn't have to print this out and put it where I will read it 10 times a day to remind myself of what I need to do. Thanks for the common sense!

ChrisJ said...

@Samantha, I know what you mean; denial is a wonderful thing.

@Belle Isle, reminding is good. My hope is that one day it may become second nature (but I doubt it).

Ciss B said...

I have always been in a constant battle with weight. I have the metabolism of my grandmother who struggled forever. My biggest problem is the exercising through...I hate it!

Meam Wye said...

Simply loved your tips ....very realistic! Thanks for sharing and for another wonderful post :)

ChrisJ said...

@Christi, I go in fits and starts with exercise, but need hip replacement now, so have an excuse (not that I really want such an excuse, but there you go.)

@Meam, thank you. I think realistic is best.

lifeshighway said...

Overtime I have also found these truths. My weakness has always been the idea that I am now "finished". That there is an end to the goal and I can now go about my business.

It is so very hard to maintain the idea of a lifetime change.

Thank you for the tips this morning.

ChrisJ said...


It's always like this - "Yahoo, I'm done, let's go for a burger!"

which would be fine except for the next day and the next, etc!

carl said...

I lost 65lbs last year (yay me). I got tired of looking at myself in the mirror and seeing Jabba the Hut. I did it by increasing my physical activity, lessening my caloric intake during breakfast and lunch but allowing myself some slack for dinner and by snacking on fruits and veggies. I've recently gained about 5lbs back (holidays and all) but am going to get that off.

ChrisJ said...


Excellent - good for you! The mirror can be the best or the worst friend. I'd challenge you to a 5-lbs-off race, but men often lose faster than women :(

angelshair said...

I love all your tips, especially the number 4, 5 and 10. These worked really well for me! And also soup, soup, soup to avoid the guilt of te french fries in number six :)

ChrisJ said...


Have you ever had the famous diet soup? I don't know where the recipe ever came from, but it's got all vegetables, including cabbage and tomatoes. Everyone I know has used it at some point for weight loss!

Pearl said...

the applicable principles are transferable too.

ChrisJ said...


Yes they are transferable - I used some of them to help me stop smoking.