Posted by: thehungryrunner | January 30, 2008

A seemingly unlikely key to weight loss success: Lower your expectations and release wishful thinking, part 2

Okay, so I made my case for the fact that there’s still a great deal of wishful thinking and elevated expectations out there on the subject of weight loss, and that keeping these can derail even the most resolute weight loss plan.  But what exactly do I mean by wishful thinking and elevated expecations?  The following is a list — by no means comprehensive — of some of the more common examples of these myths and their accompanying realities.  The sooner you can make peace with them, the sooner you’ll find yourself on track and seeing the results you’ve been hoping to see:

  • Appetite Reduction:  By and large, the appetite you have is the appetite you’ll always have.  Let go of the notion that eating certain foods, performing certain exercises, or taking certain supplements will dramatically alter this.  Granted, there are still ways to minimize one’s appetite (probably the better term is to avoid further stimulation of it), and indeed you can certainly *adjust* to a different food intake.  But if you’ve always been a hearty eater, there isn’t a high likelihood that this will change much under the influence of, say, vigorous exercise.
  • Hunger:  Sad but true, hunger is unavoidable.  In order to adjust your eating to successfully shift into a weight-loss mode, there *will* be times in which you’ll feel hungry.  Thankfully, there are foods and strategies that will help ensure you feel extremely satisfied and satiated with your meals, but don’t panic or worry that “wait a minute, something must be wrong here” if you’re feeling some strong hunger signals.  Luckily, it doesn’t always mean it will be a daily occurrence; when you eat and what you eat can certainly help offset hunger.  But it only stands to reason that in order to eat fewer calories than your body needs to stay at its present weight, you’ll experience a rise in hunger signals.  Hey, your body doesn’t know you’re trying to lose weight; it just knows that you’re suddenly taking in less than it needs right now!
  • Results:  This is a toughie as no one, myself included, likes to be the bearer of this reality.  If you’re really, truly, consistently (that last word being key) eating fewer calories than you’re burning, you should start to see changes in your weight fairly quickly — as in, within a week or two of beginning a change of eating.  If time goes by and still there’s no change, chances are high that it simply means you’re still consuming too many calories.  Either you’ll have to adjust down or you’ll have to check and see if you’re taking too many days “off” or allowing too many “cheats.”
  • Exercise alone is not likely to cause weight loss:  We’ve all heard stories, usually reported by men, that all they did was start a walking program, and how about that, the weight just fell off.  Unfortunately, assume this won’t be the case for you.  It’s almost a certainty that the person, upon embarking on exercise, also subconsciously made some changes in his or her eating, further contributing to their daily calorie deficit.  Exercise is excellent for you, but weight loss is stll more or less a 90% nutrition, 10% exercise proposition.
  • “Knowing” what you’re eating vs. using a food journal, measuring cups, etc.:  If you really, truly are intent on losing weight, think twice before dismissing the use of a DETAILED food journal.  Ditto for measuring cups, measuring spoons, and a food scale.  You really can’t appreciate how much we eat in a given day until you really take the time to measure it out and write it down.  If anything, this should make the prospect of losing weight less daunting; when you realize how many “hidden” calories you really do get, you’ll realize that there are plenty of places to “painlessly” cut back.  And do you honestly know how *small* a 1/2-cup serving is?  Much smaller than you think. 
  • “It” will probably take longer than you think it will:  This is not meant to discourage you, but most of us sorely underestimate the amount of time it will take to lose weight, even under the most ideal of circumstances and when we’re doing everything “right.”  Whatever time frame you estimate for yourself, go ahead and act on your plan accordingly, but assume it will take much longer.  If it doesn’t, consider it a pleasant surprise/bonus.  Note, this isn’t to suggest you use this as a reason to back off of your plan when things slow down.   On the contrary, it’s important to keep your momentum strong even if you’re momentarily plateauing.  As long as you’re still seeing some progress — albeit extremely slow progress, and as long as you can honestly confirm you’re being consistent in your follow-through, then hang in there!  You will get to your goal even if later than you initially expected!

Sure, it can be depressing, frustrating, and extremely challenging, the process of trying to lose weight.  But it can be done!  Knowing what you’ll be confronting and knowing what traps to avoid letting yourself fall into can make all the difference in your success!  Good luck!


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