I know I’ve been talking a lot lately about the mental side of weight loss. If it’s getting redundant, I apologize. It’s on my mind often because this is the first time everything has clicked for me and I’m finally understanding the way weight loss is supposed to work.
This morning I was thinking about realistic timeframes for weight loss and it occurred to me that it makes sense to think of them as similar to running a marathon or half marathon. A little over a year ago, I committed to completing a half marathon. I’d never run more than a 5K before that so this was a big deal for me.
I remember when I first started training, how crazy impatient I was. The moment I started a run I wanted it to be over. I was constantly checking the time and my distance, thinking it was taking way too long to finish a measly 3 miles. I was stressing myself out. Finally, I switched gears and told myself to enjoy my runs no matter how long they took. I stopped focusing on my time/distance and turned my attention to the beautiful neighborhoods I was running through. I celebrated when I felt good after a run or had an improved pace, rather than celebrating that the run was finished.
I know now that I had the same impatient attitude with previous weight loss attempts as I did when I started running. I was constantly analyzing how much I’d lost, wondering why it wasn’t dropping off faster. As I’ve been going through this challenge I’ve come to realize this impatience was based around more than how much I lost. It was more about wanting to be done with weight loss altogether – in other words, done with working out and eating healthy.
The problem is, you can never be done. How many people have worked incredibly hard to lose a ton of weight only to gain it all back again? I know I have. That’s why, when I started this challenge, I thought of it as a long-term plan spread out over a year instead of just a number goal. Would it be nice to lose 50 pounds in just a couple months? Of course! But if it took me a year because I was losing at a healthy 1-2 pounds/week would I be any less happy to be 50 pounds lighter a year from now? Absolutely not!
To keep myself in line with this mindset I used my calendar to map out where I “should” be for healthy weight loss. Then, if I get discouraged about not losing large chunks at once, I use that to remind myself that I’m really on track. After the first month or so the smaller amounts didn’t bother me and more. Now, I find myself enjoying other aspects of my weight loss – the way I look in my clothes, the way I feel, etc.
I guess my point is that health professionals are right when they say we should be making a life change, not dieting. I’ve “known” that for a long time but never really thought about what a life change meant. It means being in this for the long haul – for the marathon. So there’s no point in watching the clock.