Losing weight is hard. So is keeping it off. Both require long-term motivation and commitment. Both require sacrifice and willpower. Motivation, commitment, will power, and a willingness to sacrifice can wan over the long haul. So, what do you do when staying the course seems like more effort than you want to expend?
Keep doing something.
I’ve got a confession to make: I have not felt like running this summer. Last summer, I ran all summer long – double-digit long runs in the heat of the summer. I just haven’t wanted to do it this summer.
And, the treadmill? Boring! Until Monday, it had been weeks since I’d really run.
Even though I wasn’t doing much running, though, I did keep moving. I rode the stationary bike (while watching Friends). I walked, with intermittent jogs, on the treadmill. If I was feeling really industrious, I’d hop on the elliptical.
None of these options provided the intensity or the calorie burn that I’d been used to with running, but they definitely provided more than sitting around doing nothing. Even when your motivation is flagging, something is always better than nothing.
Be honest with yourself.
Deceiving yourself accomplishes nothing. Be honest with yourself about your calorie consumption, your exercise habits, and any weight gain.
For the last couple of months, I’ve been sitting about 3-4 pounds higher than I’d like to be. I was okay with that, for a time, as long as I was maintaining there. For the last couple of weeks, though, I’ve been a couple of pounds over that.
When I weighed yesterday, I was about 6 pounds over where I’d like to be for the high end of my weight range. That means, it’s time to reel it back in and get serious about working out and about tracking my food.
It’s been my experience, over the last three years, that it’s kind of rejuvenating to spend a little time relaxing on the eating habits and the workouts a bit – as long as you’re still doing something (exercise), you aren’t going crazy with the eating, and you aren’t quitting. As long as you are honestly willing to reel it back it when it’s clear that it’s time.
For me, it’s time.
As long as you’re willing to be honest with yourself, taking a week – or a few – off from heavy workouts and strict calorie counting can help you jump back in to weight-loss with renewed focus and commitment and a stronger intensity.
Find someone to hold you accountable.
It’s really important, wherever you are on your weight-loss journey, that you have someone you can trust to hold you accountable. You need someone who will call you on it if you’re not being honest with yourself.
You need someone who will hold you accountable for your choices and remind you of your commitments without being preachy. I told Brian on Sunday night that I was going running on Monday because I knew he would ask me, later, if I had done it. I didn’t want to have to tell him no.
I ran on Monday.
The kids wanted to stop for a Dairy Queen Blizzard on Sunday night. I did, too. Brian didn’t stop. I would have eaten one. I would have gotten a snack size one, but still, I didn’t need it. I was glad that Brian was willing to be my willpower for me when mine was feeling weak.
Find someone that you can trust and that you’ll listen to without getting defensive. Ask them to be your accountability partner. Then, let them.
Take a look back.
When your willpower and commitment have taken a back seat, remind yourself of how far you’ve come. Look at photos and videos of yourself at your starting weight – and at your milestones along the way.
Think back to how you felt at your starting weight – physically, emotionally, and mentally. Remember how excited, strong, and empowered you felt at each weight-loss milestone you’ve reached.
Think about the things that you can do now – or can do more easily – that were difficult at your starting weight. I think about how I used to get out of breath tying my shoes or walking up our stairs. I remember how my knees and feet hurt. I’ll never forget how low my self-esteem was.
This past weekend, Brian and I were looking at a video tape from 4 or 5 years ago – when I was still obese. There was a time I would have been disgusted by that video – ashamed of it. I didn’t feel that way this time though. I would describe what I felt as “morbid fascination.”
I had almost forgotten how difficult it was to move and how ashamed of my body I was. It was a good reminder. It reset my resolve to never be that woman again.
I tried to lose weight many, many times in the 16 years I was obese. None of those times ended in failure because I kept doing the right things and just didn’t succeed. They failed because I quit.
If you need to take some time to regroup, to rest, to let your body find it’s new set-point, do it. But don’t quit.
Know where you want to be, where you’re willing to be, and where you don’t want to be. I know what my goal weight is. I know what my “happy weight” (the weight where I could be happy and which I can maintain comfortably) is. And, I know where I’m unwilling to be.
When I weighed yesterday, I was getting into that “unwilling to be” territory. That means that it’s time to quit playing around and get serious again. That (and the gorgeous fall weather) is why I’m getting back into my running routine. It’s why I’m tracking my food again.
Don’t spend too long in the valley.
It’s normal to have ebbs and flows in your motivation, commitment, and willpower over the course of your weight-loss. True weight-loss isn’t a short-term fix. It’s not something that you’re going to do for a little while, then go back to your old habits. It’s a lifetime change – a lifetime commitment.
Marriage and weigh-loss have a lot of similarities. Just as a marriage takes continuous work and effort, so does weight-loss and maintenance. And just as a marriage is going to have it’s peaks and valleys, so does weight-loss and maintenance. Just as a marriage is worth the work, so is weight-loss and maintenance.
I think the problem comes when you start considering weight-loss something you’re going to quit doing some day (kind of like if you consider divorce and option for your marriage). If you don’t realize that it’s a complete lifestyle change, it’s easy to quit when things get tough, instead of recognizing that it’s a day-by-day – or hour-by-hour – commitment.
When you realize it is, in fact, a lifestyle change, though, it’s easy to see the valleys for what they are – just temporary lows or resting places before you start the climb to the peak again. You know the peak, right? It’s the exhilarating place with the gorgeous view where you can look back on how far you’ve come and feel the pride of making the journey and reaching your goals.
Where are you right now? Are you making the climb, resting in the valley, or enjoying the view from the peak? Or maybe you’re just getting started. I know the road seems long and hard, but it is so worth it from the other side!