How do I Stick to a Weight Loss Program?

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Dear Robin:

Long time fan, first time writer!

My husband is tired of hearing me complain about my weight but I’m sure he’d be happy if I did something about it.  When we married almost 20 years ago I weighed 140 but today I am closer to 190.  LOL I haven’t been on a scale in over a year so who knows what I really weigh?

Every time I start a new program I get bored and frustrated that the weight doesn’t come off faster and I quit.  Do you have any advice for me?  This probably seems like a dumb question because I know you have some serious things coming to you every day, but it matters to me.  I am free to talk by email if you want more detail.

Call me, Desperate

Dear Desperate:

First of all, there are no dumb questions, even if there are quite a few curious morons. Second of all, this certainly qualifies for a “serious question” so don’t minimize the impact weight gain can have on your self-esteem and your life.

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Thanks for giving me more information via email.  Your letter wasn’t clear on just how frustrated and depressed you are about being heavy, but I know now this is weighing (ha!) on your soul.

Listen up, sister: you need to either give up and give in or change your entire attitude about exercise and food.  First up, exercise:

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You told me you hate exercise and haven’t done much of it for over 15 years.  You said you gave it up when the kids were born and you felt too busy.  What a coinky-dink, that’s when the weight started piling on!

I used to think everyone needed to find exercise that is fun for them.  I’ve now decided that’s bullshit.  Some people just plain hate working out, and I think you are one of them because you gave me a list of everything you’ve tried and it was exhaustingly comprehensive.  I mean seriously, pole-dancing class?  Horseback riding?  You have tried to find something you enjoy: I’ll give you that.

Now it’s time to give up on loving exercise and just dig in and get the job done for the sake of your health.

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(obviously this goes for women too)

50 pounds is a significant amount of extra weight to carry around.  Here’s a fun exercise: go to your gym and put a 25-pound weight in each hand.  Now try to walk around the track a few times.  That’s how your body feels every time you get out of bed and have to carry around those extra pounds.

But I don’t need to lecture you, I need to motivate you.  As a person who struggles with finding time for exercise I’ve found it all comes down to one thing: scheduling it as you would anything else important in your day.

Like me, you work from home.  Your schedule is flexible and your kids are both in high school.  You make time for doctor appointments, coochie waxing, school committees and volunteer work.  Good for you!  Now it’s time to make time for exercise by engaging in some good old-fashioned accountability work.  You need a schedule.

Here’s mine for today:

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Mommy doesn’t get a glass of wine until everything on the list is completed.  An in-your-face schedule (not hidden on your smart phone) can be a great motivator for getting things done.

You are a busy woman, but no busier than I.  Get an eraser board and put your daily exercise on it because if you don’t reverse this trend pretty soon, you will be facing a serious uphill battle much harder than the one in front of you.  You think 50 pounds sounds daunting?  How does 150 sound?

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My suggestion is you start out slowly for a few weeks with 30 minutes of cardio and 15 minutes of toning work.  Yoga and Pilates are great if you don’t like lifting weights, and as you get more in shape you can add to your program and make it more challenging.

Promise me this: commit to two months before you throw in the towel.  You WILL see results, but you cannot be impatient and give up.  After two months you should become convinced this is a good program for you.  You didn’t put on this weight overnight so it won’t disappear in a day, so try to remember this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Next up: food.  Don’t get mad at me, OK?  Here’s what I noticed about what you told me.  You said you eat really healthy food and you estimate your caloric intake to be around 1,200 calories a day.  I asked if you have had your thyroid checked and you confirmed it was normal.

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It would be extremely unusual for a woman your height (5’5″) to be gaining weight while eating 1200 calories a day, whether those calories were made up of healthy food or crap.  Calories are calories, after all.

However, crap food packs a bigger punch in a smaller serving (duh), which leads to weight gain unless you are very strict about monitoring and limiting your caloric intake or you are familiar with the ancient art of bulimia.

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(actually, this isn’t usually true)

I stalked your Pinterest Page.  Here are some recipes you pinned in the past 3 weeks: Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas, Fried Buttermilk Chicken, Easy Nachos (seriously, you need a recipe to make nachos, and an easy one at that?), Burgers stuffed with Blue Cheese, Chicken Fried Steak with Biscuits and Gravy, and Chocolate Caramel Bread Pudding.

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I’m not saying you can never enjoy the food you like in your weight loss journey, but you should focus upon healthy high-fiber meals that will fill you up with less calories.  They also give you fun stinky gas with which you can annoy your partner!

Visit your doctor or a nutritionist and establish a healthy food plan and record your calories in a journal.  You will be quite surprised at how quickly everything ads up.

I have more good advice to share on this subject but I am supposed to write shorter blogs and I’ve clearly failed at that today, so I will refer you to this post on the same subject: Afraid to Try Again.

In closing I want you to know I understand.

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I think I first deemed myself fat when I was around 8 years old, and until a few years ago I waged an eternal war against my body in an endless cycle of binging and laziness followed by strict and weird diets and excessive exercise.  My stretch marks have stretch marks from losing and gaining the same pounds so many times.

I’m not saying I’ve totally figured it out, because I am still on a quest to find my best body and use it to my advantage in my fame-and-success-seeking project.  However, I do know I am always happier when when exercise is a daily part of my life, even if it’s just running from the police or some Sexy Time.

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Regular exercise makes you happier.  Look it up!  As far as food, learn how to consume for sustenance rather than for entertainment or to stave off boredom and loneliness.  Eat to live, don’t live to eat, as the saying goes.

Losing this weight won’t give you a perfect life.  You will still fight with your husband over who does the (cheesy, grease-soaked) dishes more often.  But if you want to start feeling healthy, confident, sexy and alive make the schedule and make the effort.

As far as your husband goes, you told me he’s a good 30 pounds heavier than when you married.  Why don’t the two of you embark on this journey together?  Strength in numbers and all that…

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Please give it two months to start and let me know what happens.  Weigh yourself, get going on your program and eat better.  Be sure to check in, and best of luck.

-Robin

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Margaret Eccles Yost

    Excellent advice Robin!
    Having changed my work schedule to a home office this past year, I can relate.
    Love the whiteboard. I’m going to Office Depot immediately and buying one.
    I used to have so much structure in my life that I was overworked and exhausted. Now I’m lost without my calendars, reminders, etc. Being realistic is key for me about getting my goals accomplished, so it helps to keep to a realistic and very detailed plan at first so you schedule exercise. Now I go for 1-2 walks per day each day for at least 40 minutes each. I have severe back pain so that’s all I can do for now, but it definitely helps on several levels.

  2. jeff

    Couples embarking on a life style change together can be the best or the worst. It’s up to them to provide encouragement or excuses to each other, but going it alone almost always results in failure, so I say to them “hold hands and head out on a journey to happiness”, understanding that what they really want is a change in lifestyle, not just weight a loss program. It can sound daunting, intimidating, but it’s really much easier than just trying to lose weight and hope it stays off.

  3. Tamara

    She might also find an app like My Fitness Pay to keep track of calories and exercise very useful. I have used it and so have three of my friends. Oh and it’s free! A very good price!

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