I don’t even have one specific question to paste at the start of this post, because I receive so many e-mails that sing this same very sad tune. Realizing that your health has gotten out of control, you no longer have any understanding of what’s going on in your body (or are just realizing that you, in fact, never understood it), whatever. It’s a hard realization to have, and when you feel like you’re at a point where you have no way to stop the problem from getting worse, you start to fear for your life. We all know someone who has suffered at the hands of one of those diseases, considering their prevalence in our community – both my parents are suffering – and if it’s not us today, then we’re scared as hell of waking up tomorrow and finding out that it has become us.
Well, I hear ya. I have a few words for you and more than a few links to help you along the way.
Refrain from using the word desperate. Every time I see this, I cringe… but this isn’t for my personal emotional thoughts and feelings. It’s a self-esteem issue. “Desperate,” as defined by Merriam-Webster, means “having lost hope, moved by despair, suffering extreme need or anxiety, involving or employing extreme measures in an attempt to escape defeat or frustration.” The quote in bold is why I cringe. So many of us have such poor body image and command of our overall health that those “extreme measures” that we employ involve things that, by and large, ruin our health and put us in jeopardy. Pills with nebulous ingredient lists, eating disorders, starvation tactics… these are things that only further compromise our bodies’ ability to heal itself, nourish itself properly and carry you through your day adequately. The answer to long-lasting, sustainable, healthily obtained weight loss – to me, at least – is never, and never will include, anything that fails to nourish (or steals nourishment from) your body.
Do not diet. I cannot stress this enough. Don’t diet. The same way you lose the weight needs to be the same way you keep it off. IF you want to starve yourself eating only baby food for a month, do you, boo. However, when you go back to eating chewables and find yourself putting on all that weight and then some? You’re going to feel like an ass. Use this time to change how you live in a way that is conducive to your continued success. Don’t starve yourself and then feel proud that you survived – literally – only to look a plum nelly fool when you gain it back. Do successful dieters exist? Sure, they may… I’m just not one of ’em.
Realize that this is not an overnight process. You don’t just wake up one morning and decide to wipe out your cabinets, clear off your counter tops and start eating cleanly. It doesn’t happen that way. Our environments include certain subtle elements that not only encourage our current habits, but also make it a struggle to leave them behind. It takes time to flesh out the things that contribute negatively, and it takes us learning to not be mindless eaters so that we have the ability to identify those enablers. Everything from the path you take to work that crosses in front of “Fast Food Avenue” to the drawer full of chocolate at your desk that you may reach into every time your boss says something snide to you (what better way to feel better about potentially losing your job in this economy than with chocolate?), it all must go.
Be compassionate towards yourself. Regardless of what society might say and how people might treat you (even if you’re 5lbs or 50lbs overweight, all it takes is one cruel comment to make you wanna throw something), you deserve compassion. You are a human being, and you deserve respect… and that starts with you. Connect the way you treat your body to “self-respect.” Take the time to sit and identify your weaknesses. Take the time to learn where you struggle. Give yourself the space to error, and then sit and think about what happened. Did you buy something you wanted to give up? Why? What do you need to do to prevent from having to deal with this situation again?
Use this as a self-esteem building experience. Don’t think I’m saying you have no self-esteem if you’re wanting to lose weight. However, understand that learning where we’ve gone wrong and how much work it will be to change and fix this is kinda demoralizing. Actually, it’s really demoralizing. It sucks. Trust me. I had an ego before I began. I got humbled. Verily. However, when I take the time to think about what I’m feeling instead of reaching for something that I know would make me feel better, I take pride in that. Not because “being able to say no” is some great moral platitude, but because I was able to teach myself how to say no to something I could never turn down before. It’s a new ability that’s hard to develop, and you should always allow yourself the ability to revel in the joys of that kind of success. It feels good. Yes, this good.
Again – be compassionate toward yourself. Remember – if the weight doesn’t come off as fast as you’d like, and you’re positive that you’re not cheating yourself by sneaking things you’ve aimed to get rid of, then don’t beat yourself up. I’m not a proponent of the scale – though many of my readership are – and I find it pretty annoying as a weight lifter, but that’s because the numbers never tell the full tale of how changing the way you live can improve your health. Don’t be mad that you can’t always see the changes you’re going for. Just appreciate the progress you are making, allow yourself to become excited by the possibilities of a healthier tomorrow and give yourself the time necessary to make the strides you want.
As for the mechanics of weight loss, I’ve written quite a bit about that all over the blog. I’m a calorie counter, but not in the sense that I have to compute every meal before I ingest it. I learned calorie counts, protein and fat percentages by learning how to cook and learning what ingredients belong where and what certain ingredients do to certain dishes. I can look at a dish and estimate the amount of calories and how far it’s going to set me back in my calorie wallet. That’s the knowledge that keeps me from eating the mess I was eating before. It might look good, it might taste good, but it’s not helping me get to where I’m going.
The final point that I have to share is to be patient. Patience is the enemy of desperation, because if you want to come out of dire circumstances immediately, the last thing you want to have to do is be patient. It prevents you from taking drastic measures to “save yourself.” We’ve talked about those measures already.
Sure, I could’ve written about calories and protein and treadmills and diets, but I think the things I’ve listed above are far more important and take precedence over the others, simply because a person who uses a word like “desperate” is signifying a very specific need and urge, and I can’t entirely ignore that. Do you think I left something out? Let’s hear it!