Monday, April 19, 2010

Weight Loss- "Honey Do You Think I'm Fat?"

Recently I've had a revelation.

Successful weight loss has nothing to do with knowing how to lose weight.

Bear with me.

Lets take the example of smoking cessation which I think shares many parallels with our topic here. Everybody knows how to stop smoking. You cease to place lit cigarettes between your lips and take a drag. Simple.

How about weight loss? A little more complicated but not by much. Most researchers agree that calorie restriction is the most reliable method to drop the pounds and regular physical activity for maintenance of the loss. Again, simple.

Is there a reason to quit smoking or to lose weight?

No sane individual these days can doubt the harmful effects of cigarettes. This gives us a reason to quit and as we saw before there is a way to do it. Yet many including some with undoubted intelligence and character find it hard to kick the habit.
Take me for example. I stopped smoking in 1997 after many previous failed attempts and despite full knowledge of it's harm. Well meaning people would tell me "you should know better" or "so and so just decided to stop one day and never looked back". Great! Whoop-de-doo for so and so and yes I certainly knew better.

There was more help, guidance and research available if you were hooked on hard drugs than if you were addicted to cigarettes. It wasn't until some people figured out how to make money with patches, gums and pills that more research became available. And they made some of their money from me trying all these products three or four times before I managed to stop. The act of ceasing to smoke was simple but it required a change in behaviour which was the hard part.

What are the harmful effects of being overweight?

There is increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, hormonal imbalances and emotional and psychological disturbances. There is also an obvious decrease in life expectancy because of these risk factors. Just like with smoking, most of you have heard these a thousand times before.

So there you have it. The reason to lose weight and how to achieve it. But what about the change in behavior?

It's a cliche and also a well understood concept among psychologists that the first step is to admit that there is a problem.

It's easy with smoking. Nobody asks their spouse; "Honey do you think I'm a smoker?" One either is or isn't and no one is likely to spend the night on the couch by providing the wrong answer.

Confronted by a similar question about weight however may present some difficulties. One untested approach may be to be factual and say; "Well sweatheart according to your BMI, fat is not the correct terminology. Overweight? Yes."

Let's stop being ashamed of being overweight. It is not about having a weak will power. Don't wallow in self pity or envy those that can apparently eat like a horse and not gain an ounce.

Don't tell yourself; "I've brought this onto myself and I just need to get myself out of it" or "I know what to do. I just need to do it". Don't feel silly for having weight loss as an issue. Nobody will care as much as you should.

Demand help! Demand from your physician and find one that can give you practical help on how to change your behaviour. Demand better food at work. Demand better food at schools for your children. Treat it as you would if you found your 6 year old with a cigarette in her mouth.

Successful weight loss has nothing to do with knowing how to lose weight.

Calorie restriction and exercise WILL result in long term weight loss. Not juices or shakes or magazines promising results with just five minutes a day of exercise. Relearning of behavior is what is necessary to incorporate these in your life.

Step one: Acknowledge the problem.

For weight loss affirmations go to