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Weight Loss Groundhog Day

Weight Loss Groundhog Day

A Recent Conversation

Here’s part of a conversation that I had recently with a woman (SR) who had just fallen off the weight-loss merry-go-round for the millionth time – or thereabouts. She had started a new exercise program and eating regime on New Year’s day this year. As she does every year. (I’m CH below).

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    CH: “So how’s your eating going?” (I didn’t know the answer at this stage)
    SR: (drops head and avoids eye contact with me)
    CH: “Er, hello?” (trying to make eye contact)
    SR: “Don’t ask?”
    CH: “Why not?”
    SR: “I f***ed up – again.”
    CH: “What happened?”
    SR: “I was going great, I hadn’t eaten anything bad since before New Year and then last Saturday night I blew it all.”
    CH: “You blew five weeks of great work (diet, exercise) in one night? That’s quite the achievement. How did you do it?”
    SR: “My husband and I had a fight, he went to bed and I ate a whole block of chocolate.”
    CH: “And?”
    SR: “What do you mean… and?”
    CH: “Well, after you ate the chocolate, then what did you do?”
    SR: “I felt physically sick and mentally disgusted with myself, so I went to bed.”
    CH: “And when you got up on Sunday, what did you do then? Did you do your exercise and eat a healthy breakfast?”
    SR: “No.”
    CH: “Why not?”
    SR: “I was depressed and angry at myself.”
    CH: “So what did you do?”
    SR: “I ate shit all day because I was mad.”
    CH: “Did you exercise?”
    SR: “No, I was too grumpy.”
    CH: “That’ll help. So the girl who desperately wants to lose weight, eats junk food all day and does zero exercise because she’s mad at herself for eating junk food the night before? Your mind is a strange place.”
    SR: “Well, what’s the point when I had already blown all that good work?”

    An All-Too-Familiar Dialogue

    Now, I know this sounds like an unlikely conversation but it’s actually not; it’s absolutely true and much more common than (some of) you might imagine. But then again, it may seem very familiar to others. I have had this conversation many, many times, with many people. And yes, mostly women. Don’t shoot the messenger ladies, just relaying the facts.

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    What Logic?

    The irony of someone choosing to eat junk food on a Sunday because they are depressed about eating junk food on Saturday night is kind of amazing, but not altogether rare. When it comes to maintaining our fitness regime, our diet and our commitment to changing our body, it seems that many of us are fragile at best. Some of us have a default switch that’s permanently set to junk food, laziness, self-pity and excuses. It’s what we fall back on because we haven’t actually made those healthy behaviours non-negotiable habits in our life.

    If you identify with the above story in any way, here’s a few things to consider and a lesson or two that you might find helpful.

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    1. The woman I was speaking with had lost 7 kgs (15.4 lbs) since New Years day 2009. Now… in order to regain that weight eating chocolate only, she would need to consume 53,900 calories of milk chocolate (her preference) and that would have to be without expending any energy – which is obviously impossible. How many calories did she actually consume on her Saturday night choc binge? 625. That is, 1 x 125 gram block of milk chocolate. How many of those 125 gram blocks would she need to eat to regain all of her weight? Eighty six – and that would be on top of her normal daily (healthy) eating – because her normal healthy diet would take care of her energy requirements for the day and the excess cals from the choc would provide the additional energy for the weight gain. Do I need to say any more? So was her “I blew it” response something of a ridiculous and inappropriate over-reaction? And then some.

    2. It ain’t about about the chocolate anyway; it’s about the reaction to the chocolate. “Oh well, I blew it, I may as well eat everything that isn’t nailed down!” People respond like this all the time. I’ve watched it for years. People over-react, they create problems, they turn a minor hiccup into a major melodrama and they look for an excuse to throw in the towel. Then they wake up six months later, bigger, fatter and more miserable than ever. And so the very predictable and familiar cycle starts all over again. And again. Their life is like a weight-loss version of Groundhog Day. Some people have been losing and gaining the same weight for years.

    3. Of course one block of chocolate can’t make anyone fat but constantly surrendering to destructive behaviours can. For this lady, her problem is largely emotional and psychological, while the consequences are largely physical. Whenever she has a set-back – a normal part of the human experience – she has no coping skills, so she goes back to what she knows; food. A little instant pleasure and comfort… but ultimately an abundance of long-term pain; a life in a fat body that she despises. Her propensity to lose and gain weight is merely a by-product of what’s going on in her head. Does this sound familiar? Very familiar perhaps? The good news is that anyone can lose weight and keep it off. Forever. Is it easy? Not often. Is it possible? Very. Just because you haven’t done something to this point in your life doesn’t mean you can’t; it just means you haven’t. Yet. As I’ve said too many times, take your mind there and your body will follow.

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    4. Setbacks are not a sign of weakness, they are a sign of humanity. Things only have the meaning we give them and if we decide that eating a block of chocolate is the beginning of the end, it will be. Or we could simply choose different to create different. Next time you mess up – and you will – don’t over-think, don’t self-destruct, don’t beat yourself up and don’t seek sympathy. Instead, refocus, acknowledge what you’ve done, do different and get back to work. Princess. Sure I could fluff this message up a little, make it more feel-good, perhaps explore the psychology of it all and possibly talk about your triggers for reactive eating… but that’s really not me is it?

    Okay, do what you need to do.

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    Last Updated on September 20, 2018

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

    If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

    1. Breathe

    The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

    • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
    • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
    • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

    Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

    2. Loosen up

    After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

    Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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    3. Chew slowly

    Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

    Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

    Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

    4. Let go

    Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

    The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

    It’s not. Promise.

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    Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

    Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

    21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

    5. Enjoy the journey

    Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

    Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

    6. Look at the big picture

    The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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    Will this matter to me…

    • Next week?
    • Next month?
    • Next year?
    • In 10 years?

    Hint: No, it won’t.

    I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

    Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

    7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

    You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

    Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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    8. Practice patience every day

    Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

    • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
    • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
    • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

    Final thoughts

    Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

    Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

    Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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