Post-holiday weight loss club
During the post-holiday season, lots of folks try to lose the weight they gained or didn’t lose, this last year. I’m member of this club too. It’s especially challenging with all of those Seahawks game-day gatherings. Those spicy chicken wings are divine!
Despite all of my many efforts, over my adult life, I’m still overweight. Sigh. The comforting news—I’m not alone.
But when I watch TV, read magazines, or go to the movies, all I see are slim, tall, muscular men and women. At my gym, all I see is the parade of slim looking men and women. Unfortunately, I can’t march in their procession. I am sure that I have a six pack somewhere under there!
Growing up, everyone in my family struggled to keep their weight down. My childhood saw a cornucopia of the latest, new-fangled, guaranteed-to-make-you-skinny diets. High-protein, low-carb, all liquid, low-fat diets lay littered across a vast wasteland of lost and found pounds.
In the last 10 years, this pattern remains unchanged. Biting the bullet, I lost 15 lbs. Heady with success, I gained back 17 pounds. Getting back on the horse, I dropped 12 pounds. One year later I gained back 10. With so much success and then failure, I have lost a great deal of confidence in my ability to keep these excess pounds off. Sound familiar?
Researchers have come to the conclusion that dieting does not work. Yes, dieters do lose weight. But they tend to gain it back. Our hunter-gatherer bodies want us to be “opportunistic eaters”—periods of starvation (low-calorie diets) are followed by increased appetite when food is available (or the diet is over). Evolution is the enemy.
While there are many theories about why adults and children struggle with overweight, it’s not really well understood from a scientific perspective. But vanity is well understood. Looking in the mirror, comparing human bodies with one another, and coming up short, is familiar territory. Too many children and adults feel bad about themselves because of unwanted extra pounds. Roller-coaster dieting makes us feel even worse when we gain back the weight we lost. Unfortunately, many people gauge their self-esteem with a tape measure. There must be another way.
Maintaining a healthy weight comes from constructing a healthy lifestyle. Each person much design their own recipe for fit living. Borrow ingredients from books, magazines, and friends, but combine them in your own way.
- A healthy, balanced life can bring a reasonable waistline as one of its rewards. (Reasonable may not be the same as slender!)What’s reasonable for one person is often different than another person, based on genetics and body frame.
- Make small, incremental changes in your lifestyle. Be realistic. If you decide to join a gym and go 5 days a week for an hour, you will be disappointed if and when you miss a trip. Better to think small—and celebrate your success.
- Taking care of yourself, cultivating a gentle, generous attitude towards self, and finding balance are important elements for a healthier life. Isn’t it hard to be generous with yourself if you gained a few pounds over the holidays? Yet, that attitude enables you to move forward in a positive way, rather than feeling guilty or bad about yourself. Those feelings often trigger unhealthy eating.
- The process of moving toward greater health, both mental and physical is often slow. Don’t you just hate that truth? All of us want instant results! This path does not progress in a straight line. Rather, it circles around and goes up and down over rough, mountainous ground. Usually, it is hard going. This trail towards health and balance is not clearly marked and requires extensive trial and error.
Ultimately, it requires patience, tenacity, and self-compassion.