Filtering Out the Weight Loss Clichés

It’s quite common for people who are flush with the heady excitement of a recent weight loss to want to spread their freshly-sworn religion. They’re barely used to fitting in armed chairs with their legs crossed and they’re ready to start writing books and announcing their life coach services. Through the years I’ve come upon many stories of men in particular who go crazy on the exercise for a few months. They add some biceps and drop some huge amount of weight. Guys can do that sort of thing. They flaunt their new physique for awhile until they remember how much they like beer and cheeseburgers.

I got an email today from a guy who’s pitching a “step by step” program with his spankin’ new website. He’s proven it works! He lost 100lbs in 106 days. And he’s ready to teach YOU how to get the weight off and keep it off, “forever.” Yes, he does say forever. Hey, he’s kept the weight off since last October so there ya go. And until I called him on it, his website was announcing that the reason people failed at weight loss was “severe lack of motivation.” Take that, you fat lazy slug!

I googled “step by step weight loss” and got 29,000,000 results. For people like us who have been fighting with our bodies all our lives, diets themselves are a cliché. Being pitched the latest sure-fire step by step program is a cliché. Being told to get motivated and inspired and write down our goals is a cliché. Being told to get off your butt and get moving is a cliché. Hearing about somebody’s great new recently slimmed-down success story is a cliché. And it’s all really, really annoying.

When you deal with a weight problem all your life, it’s rarely off your mind. A day does not go by that you are not acutely aware of how you’d like your life to change. And you know only too well what everybody thinks you should be doing and all the “step by step” programs that worked for somebody else that they’re sure would work for you. If only you’d program your mind for success. Or something like that.

One of the primary themes I was thinking of when I started working on my book is the reality that worrying about your weight gets exhausting. When you fail over and over, you can start to wish there was some way you could give up. If you’re like me, there was never a time in your life when you were a “normal” weight so you can’t even think of yourself in that way. Weight loss can seem impossible when the struggle wears you down. The last thing you want to hear is another cliché.

We are bombarded with so much “information” and marketing that shutting it all out and turning your entire focus inward can feel fresh and different. The answers you need will not come from somebody’s “step by step program.” They’ll come from your mind and body. That’s what you have to start listening to.


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    • JoAnn on March 21, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    Motivation was never the problem. Finding something that worked was. Failure is very wearing. It is even more so when you regain and then some so that 40 lbs becomes 70 becomes 150. I stopped trying for a while because I was afraid to that possibility, 150 would lead to 200 to leave. Now that I’ve lost 105 of the 150, it is a real fear that I will not only regain it but then some. I believe I have made significant changes that will help me maintain the loss, but how do I really know? When I finally get there, I think that will be the dominating thought to replace thoughts of how to lose.

  1. JoAnn, I’ve been where you are and you will be where I am.

    Those cycles of failure really take a toll on you. I can still remember certain periods of my life when I was cycled out, drifting. I didn’t even know what I weighed. I just couldn’t think about trying to lose weight during that time.

    Where you are now, I can tell you as the years go by, it changes. You change. I went through a period when I felt an anxiety when I would get dressed for work in the morning. I was afraid one day I’d put my pants on and they wouldn’t fit. It was irrational, I know. I also went through a time when seeing very large women eating would distress me. The best strategy for me has remained keeping things very simple. It’s easy for me because I live alone. I know all my patterns and triggers very well so I do whatever it will take to keep them suppressed.

    Eating well and exercising gives me an encouraging kind of feeling that I’ve got everything under control and I can focus on other things. Not being in control—that is the REAL fear we deal with!

    Just keep living very aware of your own patterns, your habits, what’s been a trigger in the past. The best “strategy” is to get a lot of time behind you. You really do “evolve” when you keep those better habits in place for longer. They become more normal and anything else seems farther away. Re-read the last page of the book!!

    When I think back on years ago now, I realize how many things just aren’t part of my life anymore. That just takes time!! Hey, we’ve got the rest of our lives!

      • JoAnn on March 22, 2013 at 7:07 am

      Thanks for the encouragement. On my best days I know I will make it through to the other side but it’s nice to hear it from someone who’s been there, done that.

      The bad days are exactly what you say, feeling out of control. I can go along well for quite some time and then get blindsided. Then I think, well maybe I don’t have this figured out after all. That throws me off more than I’d care to admit. Now it’s about figuring those things out before they happen or in the mix rather than afterwards.

      Aren’t we all just a work in progress?

        • Dagny on March 22, 2013 at 8:25 am

        I think this proves that we really do fight with something that’s natural for us—to carry more weight and crave food. If it were all about emotion, it would change in a different way and there would be times when we could put cravings and worry about food out of our lives completely but that does not happen. Look at me, eight years behind me and I STILL will get those unwanted cravings, that pie on the counter would be screaming at me!

          • JoAnn on March 22, 2013 at 5:13 pm

          Speaking of pie, it is finally gone. I had a long conversation with my husband about it.Even though he had to pass to get coffee in the morning or plates for dinner, he said he forgot about it. It had no pull on him. He was quick to say “Not that it wasn’t delicious because it was!” He was very surprised to hear that it called to me. It was an interesting conversation. He didn’t have to exercise extraordinary willpower to avoid it. Thankfully this is an exception in our house so I don’t have to resort to willpower often either.

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