While watching a video of 1%er Peter Schiff at the Occupy Wall Street movement, I was reminded how few people seem to possess the skills necessary to have a calm, rational thought process about many topics. Politics is one of these topics. Weight loss is another.
Let’s discuss a few scenarios where rational and flexible thinking can help weight loss.
Martha, a 39 year-old mother of 3 is on a weight loss plan. She’s not been tracking her calories, but instead has limited her food choices and controls her portion sizes. It’s been working nicely and she’s lost an average of 1.5 lbs per week for about a month now. She came to work today with her lunch packed and a snack ready for between work and the gym. When she gets to work and goes to put her lunch in the fridge, she sees that someone brought donuts from a local bakery. These aren’t those disgusting things from the big chain, these are from Schubert’s Bakery. They’re delicious. Coworkers bring stuff in all the time and she never cares, but this is tempting.
Martha hasn’t had one food that is “off-the-plan” since she started this weight loss process. She thinks “If I go eat this donut, it will ruin everything. I’ve been perfect up until now and this will blow it.” She starts to feel like this is impossible and she’ll never be able to do this long enough to reach her goal.
Martha has a few options:
- Find out who brought the donuts in, march over to their desk and scream “Do you want me to be fat forever you inconsiderate asshole?!?!” while mooshing a donut into their keyboard.
- Sit in the lunch room and proceed to eat every single donut in the box while crying.
- Decide to eat one donut, not because she “deserves it” or some such nonsense, but because one of these donuts will be enjoyable to eat, including bringing back memories from when her Dad used to take her to the bakery on special occasions, and because she knows enjoying one donut will not make a single bit of difference in the long run. She eats the donut very slowly, enjoying every bite, and notices that by the end of it she isn’t even craving the last bit. She throws it away, smiles, and knows she’s in a good place.
Jacob is 26. He likes working out at his gym, specifically lifting weights. Since he started controlling his food intake, he’s dropped a few pounds of unwanted fat and gained some strength. On Saturday, he gets to his gym only to realize they’re closed this weekend due to renovations.
He has a few options:
- Scour the parking lot for a rock while muttering “you sons-a-bitches are gonna let me workout one way or another”
- Realize that while he can’t get the workout he was planning, he could just as easily go home and do a bodyweight workout to hold him over until Monday when he can do his regularly planned workout. He’ll even save some time since he won’t do as much as he would normally do and he can use that time to pay his parents a surprise visit.
- Drive home pissed off and frustrated and continue by sitting on the couch playing Madden all day. Later, he orders pizza and wallows in self-pity.
Kim started a new diet Monday. It’s now Friday and she’s been invited to happy hour. She’s done great all week, eating exactly as planned and she plans to do the same at happy hour. She’ll drink only water or tea and stay away from appetizers.
Fast forward 3 hours and Kim is on her third apple martini, washing down a plate of chips and salsa.
On her cab ride home (do you see how Kim is a responsible adult?) she thinks:
- Well, tonight was fun but I totally blew it. I probably won’t lose any weight this week at this point, so I’ll just start again on Monday.
- Well, tonight was fun and if I jump right back on track tomorrow and maybe even compensate a little bit by increasing my exercise time I’ll probably still see some change on the scale Monday morning.
- My friends suck. Freakin’ jerks knew I’m trying to change my lifestyle and they invited me to happy hour anyway. Dicks. Don’t they know that a healthy lifestyle means never having any fun?
I know what you’re thinking. “Matt, you set up such obvious extremes. Why didn’t you write more realistic options?”
Trust me, the likelihood of a fat loss coach hearing Martha’s, Jacob’s or Kim’s options 3, 2 or 2, respectively, from any client is small. The likelihood of hearing the others? Well, if I had a dime for every time I’ve heard a donut/keyboard mooshing story…
There’s a balance to be had. If you find yourself “rationalizing” these things all the time and you’re not seeing the results you’re looking for, well that’s no longer rational. There’s a contradiction there. Check your premises. Do you want the results or the frequent treats? It’s okay no matter what you decide; it’s your life. Just don’t try to have both because you’ll be let down on one or the other. So, think rationally and I promise losing weight will come much more easily.