The Psychology of Losing Weight

The Depressing Cycle

Looking at the magazine section in the grocery store can be depressing.  “Lose 20 pounds in two weeks!”  “How Jane Celebrity lost fifty pounds in three months”  “Sexier abs can be yours when you use this one miracle ingredient”.  If you’ve ever tried any of these “diets”, you know how frustrating the cycle is.

Fed up with the way you look, you determine that THIS time, you WILL lose weight.  You stock up on the miracle ingredients touted by the article you’ve read.  Three days in, you’re trying to ignore that gnawing craving in the pit of your stomach.  On the fourth day, you feel angry and depressed.  On the fifth, you say “Screw it all!” and eat three packages of Oreos after a pizza dinner, in which you alone ate a whole pizza.

Your hunger finally satisfied, you sit on the couch crying bitter tears of hopelessness and frustration.  Why does it have to be this hard?  There are skinny people out there – what are they doing?  Not eating?  You decide to ignore dieting for a while and a month later you step on the scale.  You’ve put on another ten pounds.  The total you need to lose is now up to almost fifty pounds!  So you begin the cycle again.

It Takes Time1208847 girl with a sour face The Psychology of Losing Weight

This approach to weight loss is obviously ineffective and even injurious to your health.  The good news is that there is an actual way to lose weight and feel good while doing it!  Here’s the part most people don’t want to hear:  It takes time.  Real weight loss takes time.

Now, in the grand scheme of things, the time it takes is not so much.  If you have another fifty years to live, let’s say, taking one of those years to get in good health and change your lifestyle is not so bad.  But if you’re looking in the mirror and hoping that by this time next month you’ll look like a fitness model, a whole year may sound absolutely unbearable.

This is when you need to decide WHY you’re doing this.  Is it to fit into a bikini next month?  Is it to feel in control?  Is it to establish healthy eating habits?  Is it to have more energy?  What are your goals?  While pondering this, may I suggest that you look at the long-term results of losing weight?  Try to think past next week or even next month.  Think more like three months for results, six months to a year for reaching your final weight, and the rest of your life for reaping the rewards of this change!

If you pace yourself, you are guaranteed to achieve the look you’ve been wanting.  Remember the infamous fable about the tortoise and the hare?  Slow and steady wins the race.  The same is true when it comes to losing weight.  The best part is that pacing yourself leads you into a lifestyle of healthy eating, instead of a crash-course fad diet.

Losing Weight the Right Way

It’s really not about how many calories you eat today or tomorrow and how hard you worked out this morning.  It’s about how many calories you eat over the next year and how regularly you get a workout in.  If all you eat tomorrow is an orange and some celery, you’re really not doing yourself any favors.  You would be better off to eat a good-sized breakfast, a healthy and fulfilling lunch (not an all-veggie salad without dressing!), a dinner with fresh ingredients, and even a small dessert.  Of course, you can add some healthy snacks to that and lots of water to keep you feeling clean!

This is a reasonable, satisfying way of eating that you can maintain over a long period of time – even the rest of your life!  Try to fit in 15 minutes a day of cardio intervals or some strength training, and that is all you need to look like the fitness model you’ve been eyeing.

Let me tell you what happens when you begin to live this way.  In a week, you have more energy and feel lighter, even if the scale hasn’t budged.  In a month, you begin noticing small changes in the way your clothes fit.  In two months, people are making comments.  In four months, you’ve dropped whole clothing sizes and can hardly believe how good you feel.  In six months to a year, you’ve reached your goal weight.  Muscle tone is showing through and people are making reference to the fact that they’re jealous of your toned body!

The best part is that you’re not depriving yourself to achieve this!  You even indulge yourself in luxuries like dessert at a restaurant or ice cream cones in the summer without feeling guilty.  Why?  Because you know that your usual way of eating is healthy and supportive.  You understand that having a treat here and there is not throwing you off the wagon.  There is no more wagon!  Just a healthy lifestyle full of energy to do the things you love.

The Key to Making it Work

So what if you begin to think this way and then you blow it after two days and miss your workout and eat junk food all day?  Let me share something with you that I’ve learned myself.  It’s called forgetting what lies behind.  It’s hard to do, but it works.

Did you just miss your workout?  Forget it.  Don’t let yourself think about it.  Just think about your goal.  Did you just eat a calorie-laden ruben sandwich with an oversized Coke?  Forget it!  DO NOT let yourself feel guilty about it.  DO NOT think about it.  Forget it and keep moving forward.  Remind yourself that you ARE a healthy person (even if you don’t act like it yet!)  Change your identity and you change your behavior.

I have come to the conclusion that guilt is one of the main killers of healthy living.  People get so bogged down thinking about what they’ve done that they forget who they are and what their goal is.  So the best thing to do?  Shake off that guilt and keep on trucking.  If necessary, say out loud “I am a healthy person.”  It may sound cheesy, but if you start to believe yourself, watch out!  There’s no stopping you then.

If you can keep your mind set this way, you can achieve your goal.  Remember the long-term benefits, and don’t let guilt consume you.  Go ahead, I dare you!  You won’t recognize yourself a year from now, I promise.

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