Last week at work we gave a lecture entitled “Weight Loss Options” in which we disseminated information on about seven different weight loss programs we offer. Why so many? Each program offers a distinct approach and what might work for one person won’t necessarily work for another. Personal training does it for some, while others prefer group classes. Metabolism testing is a recently available tool, but it needs a working knowledge of calories and meal plans. What about Weight Watchers or any number of on-line options? All of these weight loss programs have merits and can be a key to successful long-term weight management.

However, before we discussed each program on a nuts and bolts level, we discussed what I coined the Ring of Readiness. The point we were illuminating is that if you are not ready to lose weight and keep it off, no program will be the right program. Don’t make the mistake of equating wanting to lose weight with being ready to do what you need to do in order to lose weight.

Losing weight and keeping it off is WORK. Physical work, of course, but mental, emotional, and spiritual work, too. It means eating a nutrient balanced, nutrient dense, reduced-calorie diet. It means eating a sound breakfast, packing a sound lunch and putting together a sound dinner that follows those principals. It means being informed about how to correctly perform strength-training exercises for all of your muscle groups. It means understanding target heart rate or other means of assessing intensity of cardiovascular exercise, such as perception of exertion.

That paragraph you just read? Every day. That’s why it’s work. Anyone can do those things for a short while, but doing it each day requires discipline, and perhaps letting go of a comfy lifestyle of inactivity and a junky diet.

It’s hard! No wonder many people give up or never try. I am currently working with a woman who wants to lose 25 pounds BY April 15 when she’ll be visiting her family in another country. Although desperate, she was smart enough to select Weight Watchers for a nutrition program and an exercise plan I designed for her and so far, she’s lost nearly 10 pounds. That’s pretty good work for three weeks! Every time I see her, though, I have to talk her off the ledge of “I hope I can keep it up.” I remind her of her success so far and confirm that if she continues in her lifestyle changes, she will continue to head in the direction of a lower body weight. I worry, though, that when her weight loss slows down, as it inevitably will, that she may flounder. I’ve been introducing that concept to her, hoping she’ll remain committed to the road. Many people are successful at losing weight, but far fewer can successfully keep it off forever.

The good news is that people do lose weight and keep it off for the rest of their lives. The National Weight Control Registry tracks everyday people who have lost 30 pounds or more and kept it off for at least a year. Anyone can register, and you can read some of their stories at Above all, the keys to their success include long-term application of consistent exercise along with a lower-fat, reduced-calorie diet.

It’s good to have hope for real weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. Going into it aware of the pitfalls to avoid and aware of what exactly it’s going to take is knowledge for your advantage. There is no way around the physical effort and the mental game you need to have lined up to achieve long term healthy weight loss. Instead of cheerleading yourself: YOU can DO it! Go realistically and with knowledge: You CAN do it.


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