Today marks the beginning of the fourth week of my diet program. I was both looking forward to and dreading getting on the scale. Has all of my hard work and dedication paid off or has my body decided enough is enough and is revolting and not taking off the weight? These are the kinds of internal struggles I now find myself dealing with. At the beginning of my diet I weighed myself on January 13th to find that I had reached an all-time high of 210 pounds. I had vowed to myself never to get above 200 and here I was 10 pounds later cursing the bathroom scale like it was the machine’s fault.
I stepped on the scale with my eyes closed saying a silent prayer to the scale gods. “Oh holy being of springs and counter measures. May your justice be swift and may your dial be slow. I pray thee oh mighty bathroom deity cleanse me of the excess weight and I shall praise thy name from the highest toilet!”
Yeah I know, sometimes I can be really eloquent as the words flow through me like a supersized value meal from McDonalds. After a loud and thunderous “AMEN!” I opened my eyes and peered down at the dial hoping for great results. The scale screamed out at me, 194.5!
This would put my total weight loss to date at just over 15 pounds. I know I should be delighted and sing the fat-going-skinny anthem and yell “IN YOUR FACE HOHOS!” but instead I find myself more than a little frustrated and unhappy.
For the week I had lost between two and three pounds. According to the medical profession this is the sign of healthy weight loss. But after losing ten pounds the first week and three pounds the second week I am beginning to see a diminishing scale of success and that frustrates me.
I’ve diligently been following the program eating five small meal replacements that although are nutritionally balanced are less tasteful than the food I regularly had been eating before this program started. My “Lean and Green” meal each night too has changed from red meat 3 times a week to one buffalo burger in 3 weeks.
I’ve carefully measured everything that goes into my body to make sure that I am following not only the spirit of the program but I’m following it to the letter of the law. I’ve been consuming eight 16-ounce glasses of water daily and subsequently been burning calories by running back and forth to the bathroom to get rid of the eight 16-ounce glasses of water.
This week I’ve added exercise to the program taking brisk walks at night to incorporate aerobics into my daily routine. As a thank you, my body has decided that it should slow down the rate of weight loss. To say I am frustrated would be an understatement.
This program is supposed to help me to not only lose weight but to create an environment of healthy choices that will lead to long-term good health. A lifetime of bad choices in food selection and lack of exercise has put me where I began this journey.
I know I shouldn’t look at a 2.5 pound loss as a failure but I still cannot help but be self critical about what I can change to get the weight loss back to 3 pounds a week. Yeah I know, it is a lousy half-pound. It equates to about 250 calories a day. That’s a candy bar or a soda or a small bag of chips. It sounds so trivial that way but in a program where you don’t have candy bars, sodas, or chips those calories have to be accounted for somehow.
My obsessive side of my personality immediately began hatching ideas of what I could do to make up for those calories. The first inclination was to cut out 250 calories a day from eating. That’s what I would have done in the past, just skip a meal and problem was solved.
Unfortunately that is part of the reason I am where I am today. It wasn’t that I was necessarily eating the wrong things (well that was part of the problem) but rather when I would eat them. I would skip breakfast, have a snack of fruit in mid-morning, skip lunch and have some crackers, chips or soda in the afternoon then eat a huge dinner followed by a large dessert. I would then stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning in front of the computer with a bowl of late night sugared cereal then sleep for four hours and start again.
That is not exactly textbook behavior for good health. In that scenario it would be easy to find 250-calorie reduction but the self-defeating behavior would still continue. In my new regime where I am eating small “meals” 5 times a day with a healthy meal of protein and vegetables in an early dinner finding 250 excess calories is quite a bit harder and would likely defeat the program. The body would go into “feast or famine” mode and begin storing rather than burning fat.
Instead I turned my attention to exercise. After getting off the scale I immediately ran to Google and began a search for “Exercise to lose 1 pound a week”. Obviously I am not the first person to use this search term as it returned countless 1,000’s of results. I learned that to lose a pound a week you needed to burn 3,500 calories more than you eat in a week. This would equate to 500 calories a day.
I immediately began searching for 500-calorie exercises. I could run an 11-minute mile, bicycle for an hour, swim for 45 minutes and many others. The problem of course is the same that I have faced my entire life – time and motivation. Where in my day am I going to find an additional hour in my day to suddenly add this intense exercise?
I had already begun to walk each evening for 30 minutes now I somehow was trying to talk myself into finding another 60 minutes to tack on to the walk with a run in order to get me the calorie expenditure I needed. And exactly who was going to come pick me up after I ran away from home for an hour every night?
This of course added to my frustration. I wanted to fix things and I wanted immediate results given the work I was putting in. Although I was seeing progress I am suddenly not content with how quickly it was coming. This wasn’t a diet problem. It wasn’t an eating problem. This was a personality problem.
My biggest opponent and the one that is most critical to what I am doing is me. Like so many other aspects of my life I am the one who is driving myself crazy over a mere half pound. It is me who has introduced additional stress of trying to solve yet another of many problems in my life. It is me who has taken a positive and suddenly turned it into a negative. All of these things I am experiencing are a microcosm of bigger problems I need to deal with in my life.
I need to be humbled and be grateful for what I have not continually want more. I need to realize that while I am accountable for the things that occur in my life many of them are outside of my control and that I need to just be content in knowing that it is not the distance I traveled or the progress I’ve made but rather the experiences I have gained as a result of the journey.
So I may not make my weight goal to be at my optimum weight by Opening Day. It may take a few weeks longer but those extra weeks should be used to be grateful that I took this journey at all. Those extra few days may teach me a life lesson that will help me overcome adversity and build stronger defenses against stumbling and falling and that should be worth the effort.