Monday, August 3, 2009

Motivational Mondays (Aug. 3)

First, before I get to my motivational post, I want to apologize for not getting CWY up on Sunday. I've been insanely busy for quite a while now and just didn't carve out any time to get it together. Hopefully I can find the time to get it done today and if and when I do, I'll get it up when I do.

Now, on to motivation...


We all need to be patient in a lot of different aspects. Sometimes, it's difficult to be patient though, particularly when it comes to weight loss.

You eat right. You hit the gym. You step on the scale. You want to see instant results. It's natural.

But it doesn't always happen that way. At least the fourth step. Eating right and exercising don't always translate into instant success and weight loss. In fact, there is nothing "instant" about losing weight. You can't lose 20 pounds in two weeks in a healthy manner and keep it off, and if someone's trying to tell you otherwise they're selling you a bill of goods.

All those get-skinny-now schemes are just that, schemes. Crash diets and, well, any diets, are temporary and don't really get to the root of the problem.

If you've gotten past all that and decided that you want to change for the better, eat healthier and exercise, it could be a bit unsettling then if you don't see results quickly. I've lived through it. During my weight loss journey, there were times I grew a little frustrated with losing weight. In a way though I contributed to my own frustration.

When I first started seeing a trainer, on our very first session, we had a weigh in. 308.6 flashed back at me. My trainer took measurements and we went through some light workouts. We also talked about nutrition and he gave me a sort-of meal plan. He had meal suggestions but it was up to me to actually plan my own meals. Anyway, he told me that day that we'd only weigh in once a month. There was a scale in the gym that I could have hit up whenever I wanted to but I listened to my trainer and never bothered to get on it.

The first month was a bit rough... okay, more than a bit rough. It was hard to adjust to both the food and exercise. But the payoff was after the month was up. I stepped on the scale to weigh in and had lost 10 pounds or so. How exciting! I was enthused. Another month went by and this time I lost 13 pounds. It was great to have that monthly weigh in because I could see progress, I knew I was on the right path and it was super-motivating. I remember a week before the weigh-in, I'd try harder, eat better and work out more to try and get an extra pound or two off.

The monthly weigh-ins worked. I lost double-digit pounds for the first four months. By November of '06 (I'd started in late March) I was down 60 pounds.

I stopped working out and didn't really gain any weight over the next three months but certainly didn't lose any, just maintained. But once I began again, I did it all on my own. I started to weigh in more frequently than just once a month. I guess I wanted to see my progress and figured it was good to see the weight come off, even if it was two or three pounds at a time.

It was hit and miss. Mostly miss. The weight was coming off but it just didn't seem like it was coming off fast enough. I remember one particularly bad moment, just like it was yesterday. I was weighing in about once a week at this point. I was down to 236.0, so it must have been around April or May. I remember having dropped from 238 or 239 from the week before, so I was happy about two pounds and happy that I was close to the 220s. I put in a solid week of exercise, shined with my meal choices and felt quite motivated for my Saturday workout. After the workout, I went to weigh in and was expecting a significant loss. I figured 234, 233 and then it would be no time until I got into the 220s.


I was floored. I hadn't lost anything. I was so disappointed, felt like I wasn't moving in the right direction. Felt like I was spinning my wheels but not moving at all. It was rather humbling.

That had two effects on me. First, I changed some things up. I started to use the elliptical more since at the time I was alternating between the (stupid lame) stairmaster and the elliptical (treadmills still scared the crap out of me). I decided to dedicate myself to the elliptical and planned a routine around that.

Secondly, I stopped weighing in every week. I forced myself to go at least two weeks between weigh-ins. Now, all along my weight loss journey I knew I was losing weight mostly when my clothes fit differently. The tent-like XXL shirts that began to drape over my body let me know that I was in fact losing weight. Once my belt reached the last hole and was still not holding up my suddenly-too-big size 40 pants, I knew I was dropping the weight. So that was actually more encouraging than the scale. But the scale offered a different form of gratification. It was visual proof that I was changing, tangible evidence that I could provide to others.

But I tried not to get caught up in numbers and instead tried to focus on the long-term goal, which was to get to 199 or below.

At times, it was difficult. I used to tell myself 'If you would have worked out harder, eaten better, dedicated yourself more, you could already be at 220." I tried to get that voice out of my head but it was tough. Having negative experiences on the scale made it tougher.

I had to be patient and ultimately forced myself to be patient. I figured it was better to take two years to lose 100-plus pounds than not lose the weight simply because I wasn't patient.

Losing weight takes time. Results won't come overnight. They just won't. You could have the best possible workout, crank out 20, 30, 50 minutes on your machine of choice, lift 20 pounds more than you thought, plow through your lunges and bridges, sprints and step-ups and still won't see instant results. It doesn't matter how good you do at the gym on any given day or week even, you won't see significant changes from day to day. I've weighed myself before and after workouts and there is usually a 1-2 pound difference from beginning to end. What does that mean? Nothing, because the next day the weight won't be the same no matter what.

If you are trying to reach a certain goal weight, it's best to weigh yourself once a month or at the very least once every two weeks. You see progress that way, if in fact you are making progress. And if you aren't you get a better reflection of that. It's motivating too, to go a longer time between scale trips. You can really use that as motivation to not only get your workouts in but force yourself to find new ways of working out, maybe trying something different to work out your core or a variation of an existing cardio workout.

Whatever the case, just remain patient. As long as you are putting the time and effort in to get yourself healthier and remain true to yourself, the scale will reflect that. Trust me. I'm in the 180s now, and I don't really care that it took me 20 months to lose the weight. I'll always be proud of the feat.

And you will be proud of yours too.


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I needed to hear this today. And it is like you said, your clothing will tell you if you're losing. My scale isn't budging much, but my pants are now on my hips, not my waist. I'll try weighing myself less often.

I love motivational Mondays!

Angie Eats Peace said...

Awesome post!
This is definitely something I have been struggling with lately, and although I "know" this stuff instinctually, it always good to hear another person's perespective on it.

Willoughby said...

As usual, great motivational post. I always try to remind myself that I didn't gain the weight overnight, I'm not going to lose it overnight, but I still get impatient when I'm working hard at it.

I agree with you on the weight loss schemes. I dropped 15 pounds in no time on the Atkins Diet but I was miserable and looked terrible. Strangers would ask me if I was feeling okay! As soon as I stopped, the weight came back on. And those home delivery food programs? I don't think it has anything to do with the glycemic index that causes you to lose weight, it's simple portion control. You can do that at home for free if you've got the willpower.