How many times have you tried to lose weight? I don’t know the exact percentage, I’ve read anywhere from 65% up to 97% of the men and women who lost weight gain it all back. And that the average person, by the age of 45 has tried 61 diets! This according to an article in the Huffington Post A new program becomes popular and everyone flocks to the stores, or Internet, to grab a copy of the book, DVD, or new fangled exercise equipment because THIS time, it’s going to work. Because THIS is what I really need to lose weight.
Unfortunately, most will fail at losing weight. Even more unfortunate, it will be the consumer who blames him or herself for the failure. We tell ourselves over and over again, it would have worked but… I didn’t try hard enough, I just don’t have the will power, I’m weak. Very rarely do we blame the diet or the exercise program.
First I want to be very clear that I am not saying every diet and exercise program out there doesn’t work. I’d go so far as to say, most of them do; for a limited time. The problem is that they either restrict too many foods, or calories, or have you doing crazy high intensity workouts that you can’t keep up with. Well it’s actually a bit more complicated than that. Suffice it to say, most of these programs have 2 main problems
So you see, you are set up right from the beginning to fail. If you don't know where you are starting from, nutritionally, there is no way of knowing what changes YOU personally should be making. Most diets either go too low in calories or omit an entire food group making it impossible to sustain the diet for a long period of time. What you are left with is: do exactly what the diet tells you do to, or you will gain weight or stop the diet and you will gain weight. Not only that, you will most likely be at a higher percent body fat than when you started.
When you lose weight, especially if you lose it quickly, some of that weight comes from your lean tissue (muscle!). When you regain the weight, you are gaining back body fat, not muscle. Now instead of being 30% body fat, you're at 34% body fat. This means a slower metabolism making it harder to lose weight.
Ugh! How depressing. Let’s get on to the good stuff! There is a way to lose weight and keep it off. But before you even go there. What can you do to summon up the energy to try it again? After all, you’ve been there before, it didn’t work! Sure, you lost some weight, but now it’s back; and even more! Why should I bother trying again when I know my body is just not capable of losing weight?
Yes. It. Is. I wish I could tell you some magical secret to losing 20 lbs. in 20 days, or to eat a special food and you’ll never have to worry about weight gain, again. Or to tell you it’s simply a matter of calories in and calories out. Well it isn’t, it’s more complicated than that. So what the heck is the good news? Today, you don’t need to worry about that. Today let’s just get you in the right mindset to try this again, because I can guarantee you this is where it all starts.
Taking time for these first steps are crucial in your ability to lose weight and keep it off
weight loss begins with mindset
First you need to accept the fact that there is no magic bullet answer to weight loss. Diets do not work, changing your lifestyle does. It’s not glamorous or exciting, but it’s the truth. One thing I can guarantee you, as a health & fitness coach, personal trainer and nutritionist, I will always tell you the truth.
Next you need to think about WHY losing weight is important to you. I’m not talking about wanting to look good in a bikini, but a deeper more compelling reason. Some of the more effective reasons I have heard in the past:
I want to have enough energy to keep up with my kids/grandkids.
I need to get off all these medications.
I’m tired of having (you fill in the blank) pain.
I want to stay healthy and strong as I age.
I need to improve my self confidence and feel comfortable in my own body.
For me, I want to be healthy and able to care for myself well into my 90’s, and truth be told, I do want to look good in a bikini ;-)
Having a connection to this deeper meaning will help you to take that first step again. I know starting over is very difficult, and yes it can even be scary! Yes, scary. Who reading this article is afraid of failing again? I bet you’re not alone. But you can set yourself up for success by taking the time to put aside dreams of a magic bullet, connecting to your “why” and know that THIS time, it’s about lifestyle not diet. Start your program with the idea that you are developing new lifestyle habits, not going through a temporary fix. To learn more about creating good habits, read my blog post Making the Shift from Bad to Good Habits
if you need assistance pulling all of this together, download a copy of my worksheet Your Personal Weight Loss Worksheet This will help you gain some clarity and get you started on your journey.
Lisa Swanson is an ACE Certified Health Coach, Personal Trainer and Orthopedic Exercise Specialist as well as a certified AASDN and PN level 1 nutritionist. With over 35 years experience helping people turn their lives around, she is on a mission to provide relevant and useful knowledge to help women in midlife reach their goals.
Check out my interview with the Magnificent Midlife podcast on staying fit and healthy long-term.