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One year down: sticking to a diet for the long haul

By Lisa Spodak (ResultsNotTypical@worldnow.com)
Provided by WorldNow

Week 52 Weigh In:

Change this week:  -.5 lbs
Change overall:  -70.5 lbs

I’m so excited about this week’s weigh-in!  Not so much because of the half of a pound I lost (even though any loss is a good loss!), but because I’ve now been at this a full year — and I’ve never stuck to a weight loss program for this long.

Unfortunately, I sort of jumped the gun on the duration theme two weeks ago when I wrote about Week 50 and now I’m at a bit of a loss for something new to write about.  Fortunately, some things bear repeating and can’t be said too much.

So at the risk of sounding repetitive I’m going to talk about the two things that I think have made this attempt to lose weight different from the countless other attempts I’ve made throughout my life:  making a lifestyle change and seeking out support.

Making a Lifestyle Change

For a long time, I’ve felt very strongly that losing weight, for me, is largely a mental exercise.  There are undoubtedly people out there who have metabolic issues or other physical reasons that it’s challenging for them to lose weight, but for many of us, it’s a mind game.

It’s easy to understand the physiology of weight loss.  Calories consumed must be less than calories burned to lose weight.  But the random wildcard of emotions often throws a wrench into the process.  It’s not enough to think about what we eat; we have to think about why we eat.  Because if we only ate when we were truly hungry, most of us would not have a weight problem.

When I started down this path this time, I knew that I had to make a change in my thinking in order to succeed.  To me, a diet is something you start and, eventually, end.  So that also means that you can do it “right” or do it “wrong.”  And in the past, whenever I got to a point where I wasn’t following my plan perfectly, I’d get discouraged and give it all up.

Now I think about it in terms of making a lifestyle change.  I know that there will always be times when I will indulge or give into cravings or eat because I’m upset.   And that’s okay.  Those instances are not a reason to throw in the towel!  But I do have to make sure that my entire life doesn’t become a long string of those instances.  As long as I’m careful the majority of the time, there is space for treats and special occasions and moments of weakness.

I just make sure that most of my choices are “better” than they used to be and that I keep my mind focused on getting stronger and healthier.  Getting thinner and looking better will naturally follow.

Seeking Out Support

Another mind-set difference for me this time around has been ditching the idea that there’s anything embarrassing about trying to lose weight.

In the past, I’ve felt like every time I’ve tried to lose weight I’ve ended up failing, so to acknowledge that I was trying again would just set everyone up to see me fail again.  Crazy, right?  The end result would be that I’d keep my thoughts to myself (with just a few exceptions) and struggle alone.

This time, I talk about my efforts all the time, to anybody who will listen (some people probably wish I’d shut up already!).  I talk to my friends and family and co-workers about what’s going well and what’s difficult.  I tell bartenders that I’m not drinking because I’m trying to lose weight.  I tell the people at the gym that I’m working towards a goal.  I write these articles.  I Twitter about my weight loss, I post on Facebook, I participate in the message boards on the Weight Watchers site.

And all this talk serves two very important purposes:  1) it lets me hear from other people who are struggling with the same issues I am and reminds me that this is all doable and beatable; and 2) it keeps me accountable and pushes me to do better.

I honestly can’t even count the number of times I’ve started a new weight loss program.  But this is the first time it’s felt so right – like I actually flipped a switch in my head that made it work.  Even in the most difficult periods, it’s also strangely felt easy and doable.  And now, continuing into my second year feels like the most natural and reasonable progression.  I’m confident that this time will be the last time.


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