April 5, 2011

A Fairy Tale of Fat Loss

Of course, I was looking for an average looking woman with
a few pounds on her body....but all I found was the usual
princess on her unicorn (so boring...but not surprising).
This is a story of two friends, Angela and Karen. Both are wanting to lose weight. Angela joins Weight Watchers and starts attending weekly meetings and weigh-ins while counting her points. She starts loosing weight soon enough.  Karen, on the other hand, decides to alter her diet focusing on the Canada's Food Guide (Yup...you know where this is going)....and adding a small amount of physical activity to her day.  Over a six month period, Angela has seen a 20 lb weight loss while Karen is becoming a bit frustrated with her piddly little loss of 8 pounds. However, Karen is eating a diet rich in green leafy veggies and has slowly removed all processed foods from her diet. She is physically active every day, injury free, and excited about exercise. She has a higher level of energy and feels (otherwise) really good about her changes. The only frustration is with the slow weight loss. At times she feels discouraged and fights the urge to drown herself in a bag of Doritos....but she goes back to the reasons why she is making the change....her health.

Jump ahead six months later and Angela has fallen off the wagon after her weight loss success. She felt confident enough to leave the program and go it alone after the first six months. Unfortunately, she fell back into old behaviours due to her continued passion for junk food (although she monitored points, she didn't focus on eliminating processed/fast foods). She didn't learn a new way of eating or approaching food, she also didn't focus on creating an exercise habit. Needless to say, Angela has gained back most of her weight and is feeling really deflated. 

I don't think we live "happily ever after" once we
change our behaviour. We also need to maintain
our behaviour. This takes constant attention
and awareness
Over the last 12 months, Karen learned how to live her life in health. She learned how to cook, shop, and eat for health. She learned how to exercise properly and was progressive enough that she didn't become injured or bored. Karen has lost only 15 pounds over the last year, but she has gained a new understanding of what living healthy really means. She has adopted behaviours that will follow her into her old age and (fingers crossed) she may enjoy a healthy and active retirement.

Although Angela and Karen are fictional characters, their stories are real. I have met more and more people who have tried every weight loss program on the market and continue to struggle with permanent weight loss.  It is the people who decide to take it slow, to focus on health related goals, and to accept (and learn from) their slip-ups along the way that make changes for life. The hardest part is the shift from weight loss to health.

Get rid of the scale or get on it 1-2 times per month. Do not concentrate on the number in the inseam of your pants, it doesn't matter. Do not focus on what you think you can't do...focus on what you can do. You can lose weight. You can make a change. You do have control over your behaviours. You will succeed. Every night as you lay in bed to go to sleep, close your eyes and envision the person you want to be in one year (not 8-12 weeks or 6 months). What do you look like? How do you feel? Visualization is a powerful tool and can help you to create the life you really want. You won't get it by stewing in your negative juices.

By making small changes in your eating habits and taking a short walk every night you will see and feel the results over time. But...you have to find the patience, keep the commitment, and focus on health!


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